Mystic Seaport Lighthouse

Iain Oughtred - Norwegian Hardanger Faering

Sometimes beauty transcends reason. Form does not always relate to function, though in this case it is a marriage. Elf is a Norwegian Faering, or at least Iain's interpretation. This is a functional, seaworthy incredibly beautiful small ship. It is also one of the most ancient hull forms.

Faering Project

Iain Oughtred drew this 15ft Faering from extensive research in Norway. Woodfish is basically a traditionally constructed version of his plywood Elf, but redrawn for solid timber, larch in this case. She is his 100th design.

What is a Norse Færing?

The term "færing" refers to the number of oars on the vessel, not its site of origin in Norway (or anywhere else). "Færing" is a contraction of "firæring", which is a boat with four oars (two pairs). "Fire"="four". Therefore a "færing" refers to a norse boat of a particular size, rather than a special kind of boat. Note that a færing must be built within the norse boat building tradition to qualify as a færing. More info.



Faering Dory Under Construction

The Faering Dory is a design that I came up with after seeing Iain Oughtread's Elf Faering rowboat on the Internet. I liked the flare that the boat had, it appeared very open and inviting. I liked the wishbone framing in the fore and aft ends, and the symmetry of the hull. I have always liked the Norwegian prams with their radical curvature, and the chamfers cut into the woodwork as opposed to radiussed edges.

John Maxson poses beside his Faering dory.

Faering Dory

I wanted to build a boat that would really stand out. Lots of flare and sheer, a curve from any angle of perspective. Full of clear wood with interesting grains.

I designed the Faering Dory so I could make the hull out of a single skin on each side and a flat bottom. I did leave about 4" of rocker in the bottom to give the thin bottom some stiffness. The plywood is 1/4" thickness. I wanted to make the boat as traditional as I could but using the simple sheet hull. The boat is 13 1/2' LOA, 47" beam.

I made a 2-station mold to form the hull. The side planks were fastened to one stem, and at the opposite end, fastened to the other stem on one side only. The sheets were then wrapped around the mold, upside down, and the last sheet end fastened to the stem to complete the shape. It was tricky to get the screws into the last stem in the correct position while the 3M #5200 sealant was getting messy. Luckily, I have a very skilled neighbor who can do the seemingly impossible, he came over to help with the task.
I steam-bent the white oak chines on a jig and laid them in the hull, the mold having removable sections at the top to accept them.

Hull under construction on the mold

Hull on mold

I attached the bottom sheet, pulled the hull out of the mold, plumbed and braced it, while I made the douglas fir frames.

The breastplates are made with 4 pieces of douglas fir each, laminated to give me enough thickness to work with the flare of the hull. The pieces were grain-mirrored, all the grains in the fir really show off nicely.

I made the inwhale spacers, using leftover plywood strips, by chamfering the edges of 2 strips, and gluing them over a square strip to create a chamfer feature within the spacer. Just a little added touch.

The outwhales are African Ipe, a gift from Phil Behney. The Ipe bends really easy and the plank was a 16 footer, plenty long for a continuous outwhale. The inwhale is Douglas fir. It was steam bent as well. It stops about 18" shy of the breasthook, ending at the wishbone frame. I thought that this would give the inwhale ends a little detail, instead of being a continuous line right to the breastplates.

Faering dory under construction

Slocum River Regatta Poster

The thwarts are Redwood that was given to me by a friend, Doug Howard. The planks were old growth from the 1960's, straight as can be. The grain matches that of the inside of the inwhales.

I have the inside carpentry complete, I need to varnish the pieces, assemble, bung some more screw holes, and then varnish more. Then I will be ready to flip her over and make the outer stems and bow nosepiece out of white oak. many thanks to the bargain cart at General Woodcraft. The bottom will get a skeg that blends into the aft stem.
I guess I am putting alot detail into the boat that may seem trivial, but has been enjoyable, not tedious work, that some may think. designing the boat, making paper models, it has all been really fun.

I really want to build another boat like the Fearing Dory, but change the lines a little. I can vary the hull shape simply by the cut of the sheer line in the plywood sheet, or adding a small transom to replicate a Finnish rowboat.

Looking inside the Faering dory

Slocum River Regatta Poster

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