Lodjakoda shipbuilders on Emajõgi river work on new 24 meter two-mast barge

The shipbuilding hall of Lodjakoda.
The shipbuilding hall of Lodjakoda. Source: ERR

A two-mast traditional barge will be completed in Lodjakoda's shipbuilding hall on the Emajgi River by 2024. It will be the largest wooden sailing vessel built in Estonia since World War II, measuring 24 meters long and nine meters wide.

The barge "Jõmmu" has been sailing on the Emajõgi River for 17 years now and will soon need some major repairs. However, a new two-mast vessel twice the size of "Jõmmu" is already being built in Lodjakoja shipbuilding hall.

Opened almost two years ago, the Lodjakoja shipbuilding hall can precisely fit the new boat. Priit Jagomäe, head of the Emajõgi Lodjaselts (Emajõe Barge Society), a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the tradition of wooden barge building, said that the new hall and experience gained thus far will make it twice as easy to build a twice as large vessel.

"We are learning from our mistakes with 'Jõmmu.' Then this new barge should last for more than a century," he said.

"In the process of constructing this barge, the next generation of wooden boat builders should emerge, who will then be able to build boats in the future, should anyone desire them," Jagomäe added.

The Emajõgi-Peipsi barges were unique wooden trading vessels that sailed the inland waters for more than 600 years. In the 19th century, there were more than 500 of them on Lake Peipsi and over 200 could be seen anchored in the harbor of Tartu. However, by the 21st century, there were none left and no living boatmen documented.

For boat builder Siim Leenurme, who was giddy as a child when building "Jõmmu," the process of creating a historic barge for the first time was an exciting challenge.

"The most interesting part is definitely getting the planks in place; the anticipation of whether or not you will hear a breaking crack when you are placing the plank that came out of the steamer. This material writhes a bit on its own, and the suspense of determining whether a steamed log that has been resting overnight is unbroken or not is thrilling," he said.

"Making the hull watertight by smoothly planking it is one of the most critical challenges for keeping a ship afloat. Curving the planks is a tough job: we have to steam them for two hours in a steam chamber before they can be bent or twisted into a propeller shape. There are no straight planks on this ship; everything is twisted or cut into a curved shape in some way," Jagomägi explained.

The launch date for the new barge is April 24, 2024. As with "Jõmmu", there will be a competition for the new boat's name.

"Jõmmu" barge. Source: Emajõe Lodjaselts


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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