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Shipbuilding a Dying Art in Iceland

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Shipbuilding a Dying Art in Iceland

Wooden Boat

Photo: Ian Funk.

The building and repair of oak ships is a dying art in Iceland. Shipbuilder Árni Freyr Antonsson told RÚV there are not many who still know the craft, and few who practice it.

Huni II is an oak ship currently undergoing repairs to its upper parts in Akureyri, North Iceland. It is the largest oak boat still sailing in the country. It was built in Akureyri more than half a century ago and is considered a good example of how long well-made wooden boats can last.

The planks being replaced on Huni II are not rotten, rather damaged for other reasons. “It chafes and hits against the pier and the top planks get damaged the most. But down on the bottom the planks are from 1963,” Árni says.

Árni is saddened by how many wooden ships have been destroyed in Iceland, since even their repair is a dying art. He is, however, satisfied with the many boats which have been restored and are now being used for whale watching. “And they will last as long as we live, they are so long-lasting. Many of these boats could last another 100 years, which are in use today,” he adds.

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