Thomas Frank and Jevgeni Dernovoi, who undertook the sea voyage from Soomaa to Tallinn in a dugout canoe made from a hollowed tree a week ago, were welcomed at the Seaplane Harbour Marina.
‘It is a remarkable opportunity to welcome one of the oldest types of a boat, a dugout canoe made from a hollowed tree, which was mainly commonly found among indigenous people, including Finno-Ugric people. As of 2021, the dugout canoe is also included in the UNESCO world heritage list,’ said Hele Kiimann, Head of Research of the Estonian Maritime Museum.
The dugout canoe man Aivar Ruukel explained the background of how and with whom the boat arrived and where the idea came from: ‘In September 2021, I happened to read on Facebook about Thomas Frank’s expedition by the waterways (primarily by the Volga River) from Staraya Ladoga to the Caspian Sea, the route which is referred to as ‘from the Varangians to the Persians’ by historians. In December, we had a zoom call with Thomas to discuss the details and, in March 2022, he already visited us in Estonia to pick a dugout canoe. This is also when he met his boat mate, Jevgeni Dernovoi.’
Aivar Ruukel also shed light on the plans for next year: ‘The destination of the expedition to be undertaken in 2023 is Slusegård Village on Bornholm island. A ship burial from around the year 100 AD was found there. The majority of those two thousand years old boats were dugout canoes with ‘spread out’ boards. According to the scientific hypothesis of Thomas Frank, the Scandinavians learned this shipbuilding technology – using fire and water to bend the boards open to increase the load-bearing capacity of a dugout boat and improve its performance – from the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. Thomas Frank claims that dugout canoes were used for long maritime journeys a thousand years before the Vikings, from west to east and from east to west, and he is aiming to prove this by his expeditions.’
‘The dugout canoe was built by Jaan Keerdo eighteen years ago, in 2004. The boat is six metres and 35 centimetres long. It is one meter wide. Its side height is 35 centimetres. In its eighteen years of history, ‘Lendav Hollandlane’ has been seen sailing in Käsmu, at the Tallinn Maritime Days, at the Võhandu Marathon, and at the relay of the flame,’ said Aivar Ruukel about technical specifications of the canoe.
Urmas Dresen, Board Member of the Estonian Maritime Museum, adds: ‘There are two dugout canoes hanging from the ceiling at the Seaplane Harbour: the first was built in approximately 1880-1885 and was collected by the museum in the end of the 1970s from the banks of Kasari River. This dugout boat was used on the river and on the Matsalu Bay. This boat was also included in our previous Fat Margaret exposition on the fourth floor in the fishery section. The other is quite modern and was obtained from Soomaa. It was built in 1999–2000. The structure of the bows and sterns of those dugout canoes have certain peculiarities which better specialists will notice.
The main thing that Thomas Frank, the Danish researcher of the routes of eastern Vikings, and Jevgeni Dernovoi attempt to prove by this trip and especially by arriving in the Bornholm Island next year, is that this archaic boat type was suitable for sea-fearing as much as a thousand years before the Viking Age.’
Photos: Arrival of the dugout canoe at the Seaplane Harbour 03.06.2022 (Aron Urb).
Lets make it together!Read more
The Seaplane Harbour will be closed from January to May 2024 to prepare an updated and fully engaging exhibition. The partners of the Estonian Maritime Museum in renewing the permanent exhibition of the Seaplane Harbour are KOKO architects and MOTOR.
The Estonian-Italian collaborative exhibition ‘VENEZIA – Queen of the Seas’ opened at the Seaplane Harbour on 25 March 2023 and was scheduled to be open until the beginning of January 2024. In the course of interim negotiations, it was agreed that the exhibition at the Seaplane Harbour will remain open until 3 September.