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Voyages on Onego lake and White sea. June-August 2005

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In summer 2005 shnjaka sailed from her place of origin (Koskosalma village at Vodlozero lake), to her port of destination -- Prosperity haven on Bigger Solovetski island in White sea. The boat is now owned by Nordic Seafarers Association -- a non-profit foundation, which is engaged in reconstruction and revitalization of traditional Pomor shipbuilding and navigation.

At the same time, the expedition was a good test for our newly built boat in her natural conditions and habitat. If not for this trial, our archaeological experiment would remain inconclusive, leaving the consistency of reconstructed withy-sewing technique under some doubt. So we did not take shortest rout for our voyage, on the contrary, we strived to use all available time up for more sailing. The resulting route was following: Koskosalma - Kuganavolok - [land transport] - Kashino - Povenets - Kizhi - Olen Isles - Petrozavodsk - Povenets - [towed trough Belomor canal] - Belomorsk - Solovki - Sonostrov - Krasnaya bay - Solovki.

Along Onego lake and White sea shnjaka covered some 900 km, under her own sail, moreover, part of this way (200 km) she towed another 8 meter boat. Total sailing time, with anchor hoisted, amounted to ~220 hours, which puts average travelling speed at ~ 4 km/h. Not very impressing, but this result can be stated in more optimistic fashion -- our daily average progress was 100 km (4.1km/h * 24h = 100km). Highest speed in this expedition, sustained for some 10 hours, was 6-7 knots, or 11-13km/h.

Our main attention were withy seams, that keep the ship together, -- and these seams passed the test without slightest reservation. Hull's integrity gave no cause for anxiety, leaks remained quite slow for a 3 ton wooden boat -- less then 10 buckets per 24 hrs anyway.

Loading on truck in Kuganavolok

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Land transport from Vodlozero to Onego lake. Photo Henri Bergius.

In Kuganavolok the boat was pulled on a beach by tractor, and on June 27th loaded by means of a truck crane onto a trailer, and transferred to Kashino village near Vodla river mouth. (This same river flows from Vodlozero to Onego lake, but its upper reaches are not navigable on account of rapids and cataracts).

This 90 km land transport along bumpy dirt road was probably the hardest trial for any withy-sewn hull in history. I watched with anxiety if the boat would get filled with water and sink directly after launching in Kashino. Fortunately, this did not happen, no leaks appeared after the road's shakes and shocks.

Making tackle into order

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Making tackle into order after launching in Vodla. Photo Henri Bergius. June 2005.

Near Vodla mouth

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Near Vodla mouth. Left to right: Theodos Travin, Fredrik Koivusalo, Misha Naimark. Our crew on different stages counted from two to four people. Photo Henri Bergius. 2005.


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Calm on Onego lake. June 2005. Photo from inflatable dinghy: Fredrik Koivusalo

Arriving at Prosperity haven on Solovki
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Arriving at Prosperity haven on Solovki islands. July 2005.
Krasnaya bay
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Northernmost point of our route -- Krasnaya bay, cape Kuzokotski, 7 miles left till Polar circle. August 2005. Photo: Stas Markin.

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