Back in 1897- the ordinary man
became a mariner...

The motorboat are a pretty new phenomenon in Sweden, the first known boat build for joy and pleasure are not much older than a hundred years. It is very difficult to say with certainty who made the first boat powered by a engine. But if we should belive in books it seems like the VULCAN engineering industry in Norrköping were pioneers. In 1890 they started to build small engines witch later were put in to the existing boats at that time, lifeboats and launch or longboats. In the early years of boating you had to be really brave to take a trip on the lake a sunny afternoon, exploading motors were somthing that every mariner had to consider.

The Vulcan motorboat 1891

At the world exhibition in Stockholm 1897 were a number of boats ready to be shown to the world. In the following years the engines used dry battery ignition. But in 1910 came the high voltage magnet ignition witch made boating more comfortable, boat owners did'nt have to row the boat all the way back home, cause the early engines had a bad habbit to stop when ever they felt for it. Man has always had a need to compare themselves to echother, even the boat owners. In 1903 where the first motor boat exebition held in Stockholm, nine boats particepated in the show and somebody made a suggestion that a race should be arranged the following year. Said and done, in the summer 1904 the first race for motor boats took place with 40 boats in the starting field. A couple more races were held that year. People were exited and everybody who could afford a boat just had to buy one. Shipyards, boatbuilders and designers had a hard time to deliver all the boats that was ordered during the spring 1905.


Boats shown at the exibitions and races were never bigger than 8 meters, 1905 people wanted bigger boats but the builders were skeptic, they did'nt belive in the type of construction, they ment that the light and proportionately thin hulls would break. But the Sjöexpress shipyard had already built the nine meter long "Sölve" in 1904 so it was proven that it could be done. Up to this point all engines made for installation in smaller wooden boats had been of one cylinder type. The engineers kept on working and the 2- cylinder engine became more and more popular. Some one came up with a 3-cylinder 4-stroke engine wich never became all that succesful, the vibrations was a even bigger threat to hulls than the lengh. "Sölve" was powered by a 4-cylinder engine witch gave her a top speed of 12 knots.

"Sölve" became the pattern for almost 30 years!

It now becames popular to put more into a boat than a steeringwheel and motor, people wanted somthing more out of their boats. Like "Sölve" boats were built with comfortable saloons as shelters when the weather was different to what an open boat recuired. In 1906 one of the first boats close to 12 meters were built. It was the 11,93 meter long "Marjo", one of the legendary swedish motor engineering industry Motor AB Reversators first boats with their typical negative "torpedo stern". "Marjo" came to be the pattern among boat designers in Sweden for many years. At the second boat exhibition in Stockholm 1907 the engine was no longer a brand new developing from the greatest engineers, it was somthing that just had to be there, the more powerful the better. The potential buyers could now strawl around among the 42 boats particepating and choose the perfect combination of speed and comfort. Everything was bigger, the boats had become almost 4 meters longer, covered with one saloon more beautyful than the other and the power of the engine seemed to have no limit.

From dare devils to mariners...

In order to make boats and boating safer offshore races were aranged. Everybody in the buisness and the goverment as well belived that races held in rougher and more open sea would force the designers and builders to build safer and stronger boats. In 1908 the first offshore race in Sweden were held. A 114 NM long trip in the archepelago of Stockholm. The winner was a 14 meter long and 5,3 ton boat with a 30 hp engine, average speed 10,4 knots! Now the boats had become safer and could without problem be used on the open waters. Next step was to force the mariner to become more trained in navigation by night. So therefor a race by night were held in october that same year. In 1910 people became more interested to spend their weekends in the boats than just race them. In just a few years the boats had changed from small open launch boats into big yachts, 15 meters or more.

The status symbol...

Boats became yachts and yachts became ships witch left the ordinary man behind. Legendary designers like CG Pettersson, H Schubert, K, Ljungberg vent into to the fast expanding buisness. Yachts like the 18,3 meter long "Ayscha" were built in finest mahogany 1915 powered by 50hp Thornycroft engine. Owners of these beautyful yachts kept on competing with echother, who owned the biggest, fastest and of cause the most expensive yacht. Every year in springtime new masterpieces were brought out in daylight on every shipyard round the costs of Sweden. Nothing much happend the folowing decade concidering the developing of new boats. They only became bigger

Ayscha 1915.jpg
"Ayscha" 1915 - designed by Albert Anderson.

The "Pettersson boats" arrives...

In the mid 10's the smaller boats made a break thru. 7-10 meter long plain boats built for shorter trips close to shore. They became very popular among ordinary people and significant to boating in Sweden. CG Pettersson was one of the designers who took the leading position of designing these boats. Even today, they all goes under the name "Petterssonbåtar" (Pettersson boats) even if other designers made boats CG Pettersson will always be remembered as the man who gave people the boat. Thousends were built the following three decades. "Wiking V" was built in 1915, design by CG Pettersson and what we call a typical "Pettersson boat". The rest is history!

Wiking V. jpg Wiking V. jpg
"Wiking V" in 1915
"Wiking V" today - an 84 year old lady still going strong.

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Check out Classic Wooden boats"Legendary designers" page!

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© 1999 Anders Jelving - Classic Wooden Boats - SWEDEN
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