Restoration of Brottsjø

., Boat building

Almost 10 Years ago I worked for the Nordnorsk Fartøyvernsenter og Båtmuseum in Gratangen Norway as a wooden boat builder. There are three of these “fartøyvernsenter”, (boat preservation center) in Norway, two are specialized in restoring wooden boats and one is specialized in steel or iron boats.

I started working in Gratangen in 2006 as a boat builder and in 2010 I was responsible as project manager for the Restoration of Brottsjø together with the help of the other experienced boat builders. Because my Norwegian writing skills were not good enough I started a blog where I wrote in English and kept a relative detailed rapport on what I was doing on a weekly basis.

I started to convert the blog into a book for myself and thought it might be interesting for the people that are interested in old wooden boats and Restoration projects to follow me. I will try to work on it everyday.

Brottsjø was built by Stensen og Sønner in Hemnesberget in 1936 for Trygve Nilsen. The boat was in use with its 1-cylinder semi-diesel, 42 hp Finnøy, until 1988. Trygve Nilsen died just before Christmas in 1988 and Brottsjø was taken over by Gratangen Båtsamling in June 1989, exactly at the midnight sun, Brottsjø left the harbor, laden with fishing gear and equipment that had belonged to the boat for the more than 50 years of fishing in all the fishing grounds in northern Norway as far as Bjønøya.



Crew Picture from approx. 1955 on board the MK Brottsjø, T19K with owner and skipper Trygve Nilsen Skorøy from the wheelhouse.

Trygve Peder Nilsen

Trygve Peder Nilsen was born August 25, 1914 at Skorøy, and died 21.desember 1988. He was married to Helene Sigrun ft. Jeremiassen from Slettnes, born 19 December 1924, and she died April 30th 1962. The parents of Trygve were Nils Peder Nilsen and wife Rikarda, both from Skorøy. Trygve and Helen had five children; Øyvind, Bjorn, Inger, Sonja and Trygve Richard, and the oldest and youngest of his sons followed in his father’s footsteps and had the sea as a workplace. In 1947 the family moved to Valan, where they built a large and spacious house. Eventually, they also build a storage houses on the site, and Brottsjøhad also a good place to stay.



Picture from Valan on Vannøy around 1960. The big white house and the pier in the foreground belongs to Trygve Nilsen who moved here from Skorøy a decade earlier.Today, much of this area of Valan is now wooded. MK Brottsjø is usually used to be moored at the pier, but here we must assume that it and Trygve Nilsen is out on the fishing field.


Brottsjø på fiske ved Bjørnøya

Brottsjø has fished as far as Bjørnøya Island, impressive for such a small boat. Bjørnøya Island is a Norwegian island in the Barents Sea 178 km ² (74 ° 18 ‘N 19 ° 06’ E), a bit south of Spitsbergen. The island is part of the Svalbard archipelago. The island was discovered by the Dutch explorer Willem Barents of 1596. On the way into the country met his people, a swimming polar bear, and hence gave the island the name Bjørn.


Ute på storhavet. Mannskapet arbeider med linedraging.

For Trygve there was no other career choice than the to become a fishermen, he was with his father on fishing before he was 16 in 1929. As a youth Trygve traveled with his father’s boat until he got his own boat; “Brottsjø” in 1936. He experienced the 1930s financial crisis in the fisheries and the fishermen had problems with the turnover of fish, and it affected him also. Trygve was a strong advocate for fishermen and their organizations. Among other things he experienced during the autumn fishing outside Vardo in 1937 was a strike among fishermen to get up the prices. Seasons were divided into parts, they could go fishing off the coast of Finnmark in January-February and then it was time to go to the Lofoten Islands, and in the spring and summer, it was Jigging fishing at Bjørnøya. During the war, it’s was mostly fishing in the vicinity until the times were more normal.


Femten døgn

Like several other boats, “Brottsjø” did what was called “halingsfiske” with forty tubs of line (a rope with hooks attached with bait on them), and a crew of five or six. In addition, there was bayworkers who was responsible for putting on the bait. It was hired both men and women, and the boats fished with what was called “double haling”, which means that when the boat came in from a haling, there was fresh baited tubs with line ready. As soon as the fish was delivered, the line was taken on board, and “Brottsjø” headed back out to sea. The crew was resting mostly when the boat was going in and out. Once the line had been set, the crew could rest for a few hours while one of them, usually the cook had guard. He had to maneuver the boat so that it always remained close to the lines flotation, and not let it out of sight. After the line was drawn it was full speed back to the bay for delivering the fish – and fetching baited line for a new tour. When pulling the line, the fish also butchered and preserved the best way for delivery ashore. Such a round trip lasted, depending on the weather, about a day. Once, under such a “halingsfiske”, “Brottsjø”s engine ran fifteen days without being stopped!






On this short video you see the process of putting Brottsjø on the “slip”.



The first week


After we put up the scaffolding and cleaned the boat we started our work.

After taking pictures, labeling and taking the necessary measurements we started taking away all the parts that are bolted or nailed to the deck and the guard rail

At the same time I started measuring the boat and put fixed points and lines on the boat that we can use to measure from so we can put everything back at the right place when we start rebuilding.

Here you can see a line going through the length of the boat and one across.

Here technician Kazimierz is carefully lifting part of the hatch with a hydraulic jack, we try not to break parts if we disassemble them so for this project we use these hydraulic tools wherever possible instead of the old chainsaw and crowbar.

Part of the job now is assessing the costs of restoring the rusted and damaged parts of the boat.

The same with the electrical system on board.

Is it from the thirties, fifties or sixties?

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