Current project: Leif Erikson’s tender

We’re just finishing our current boat, an exciting one: a 15-foot Norwegian faering. This is a 1,000-year-old design of a small rowing boat actually used by Vikings. Leif Erikson or his father, Erik the Red could have towed a faering behind their longships when they discovered Greenland. Or North America. Our faering is a design by Iain Oughtred, a traditional small boat master from the Isle of Skye, off the northwest coast of Scotland. Oughtred’s interpretation of the faering uses the traditional three planks per side, with high peaks at each end. It is built from gorgeous sapele plywood, a dark, deeply-grained African mahogany. We finished the boat with Deks Olje,  a traditional low maintenance oil that saturates the wood.

The faering is an easily-rowed boat that can handle relatively rough conditions. It would make the most interesting tender in the harbor and would attract attention on next summer’s Maine cruise.

And it has one feature that we guarantee no other boat in the harbor will sport. Check this out:

We couldn’t resist carving this dragon for our faering. OK, only longships actually had dragon heads but what the heck. His name is Puff.

Our faering was built using modern glued seam plywood carvel planking over a frame. All the non-plywood parts are Khaya, another form of African mahogany. It is a dense wood, a bit heavy but with excellent rot resistance and a striking brown color. The forward and aft stems are laminated from a dozen or so layers of quarter inch Khaya strips, as is the keel. The oarlocks are traditional Norwegian kabes, although thole pins or even bronze oarlocks could be fitted.



Since it has dragon, we decided this fearing should have a traditional square sail, like a long ship. The rudder is built, and the mast step and thwart. Yet to be built are the mast, yardarm and square oars.

This is Iain Oughtred’s Elf design of a Norwegian faering. We got a tad carried away and carved a dragon head for the bow.

On our travels through France we visited the Bayeux Tapestry Museum in Normandy. This museum has the original of the 225-foot Bayeux tapestry from the year 1066 depicting William the Conqueror’s crossing of the English Channel and victory at the Battle of Hastings. Midway through the tapestry is a depiction of the crossing, in boats strikingly similar to our Faering, although a bit larger. A replica of the boat is on the museum’s second floor. Here’s what the tapestry shows.

The Normen (the French term for the Vikings’ descendants) crossed the Channel in a larger version of our Faering.

Here’s what one commentator had to say about this design:

“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. Seeing her for the first time reminded me of the Sutton Hoo boat in Greenwich, thousands and thousands of years old. And all lapped planks and sewn together.”

Our faering should be ready for sale by Fall 2019.


One thought on “Current project: Leif Erikson’s tender

  1. Tim Ford April 9, 2019 / 7:02 pm

    Did this boat sell?


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