lunes, 20 de febrero de 2017

The history of a classic boat.

1.- The research.

When Emilio “Tato” Reza, in 2012, told me that the “Timian”, my classic boat, was a Knud Reimers Stor Tumlaren I believed him. Being Tato the previous owner and a skilled and experienced sailor who would think otherwise. I started to search information on internet and i found the Albatross (or Stor Tumlaren) plans in the Stockholm Maritime Museum, one friend passed me the Adlard Coles book “Heavy Weather Sailing”  (I could examine the famous Cohoe drawings and pictures),  and I saw some Stor Tumlaren photos in the net, and yes, my “Timian” and the Stor Tumlaren seemed very similar.

The “Timian” in Canary waters. 2016. Courtesy of Victor Alonso.

With the time I started to have some doubts… to my eyes, the “Timian” stern seemed to be more slender, not so rounded, comparing with the Stor Tumlaren one, and the beam, really was lesser, just 2.1 meters...the underwater profile was different, the rudder blade tip did not reach the ballast low side. Yes, I started to have some doubts but, unfortunately, my nordic double enders knowledge was the minimum.

When I had the boat ashore on the shipyard, on December 2015, a Nordic man told me… “your boat is a Spissgatter”,… how? A Spiss…what? What a strange word for a Canary Islands sailor. Again in Internet I learnt that a Spissgatter was a sort of racing double-ender yacht quite popular in Denmark and Norway in different sizes.

Meantime I contacted with two previous “Timian” owners, the Beerthuijzen couple, and Diederik Leemans, thanks to the Facebook, and one old Registry Certification. I could go back in time up to 1979 approximately when, in some papers, the yacht was established as a Tumlaren built in Oslo, Norway, between 1935 and 1937, depending on the documents. But, the possible designer, Knud Reimers, Danish and living in Sweden, could pass the drawings to a Norwegian builder in 1935? It seemed strange.

Well, at least one thing was clear at that time, “Timian” was built in Oslo, Norway, this was logical if we keep in mind the boat name, “Timian”, the Norwegian word for thyme, an evergreen herb, tomillo in Spanish. 

I searched again in the net and I could not find anything else. I focused my works in other researches. Some time later, by chance, I found a very similar spissgatter in the facebook group “Classic Yachts in Baltic Sea”, a Norwegian Iversen’s design, but I did not find any relationship with my “Timian”.

Last December I was, once more time, on internet, looking for information about one international eight metre yacht, the “Sarina”,  and in one Norwegian magazine , “Klassiske Linjer”, i found a picture of the construction of a Spissgatter 40kvm  (the sail is 40 square meters), and I recognized the structure of the “Timian”, was exactly the same that in the picture. The article referred to a boat constructed by Sigurd Herbern in Oslo.

KTK, Klassiske Linjer nº11. November 99. Sigurd Herbern shipyard.

After few searches I found a document in the Norsk Maritimt Museum webpage, a list of the Sigurd Herbern constructions, in the next to last page appeared one Spissgatter 30kvm, the “Timian” two. The boat was built in 1946.

Sigurd Herbern constructions list. Norsk Maritimt Museum.

Well, the information included the sail number T 10, and the name of the first owner, Aage Walberg, citizen of a small town near Oslo, Sarpsborg. I contacted with Mr. Per Gisle Galaen, the Senior Librarian of the Norsk Maritimt Museum, and he supplied me the first owner’s son contact, Arne Walberg.

Arne Walberg, 70 years old, was a child during the “Timian” early years but he remembered the boat and passed me some old photos. At that time for me was clear that I had found the boat origin but doubtlessly the opinion of the first owner was critical to confirm if my theories was certain.

Arne came to Gran Canaria this February and sailed in the “Timian”, in the Atlantic waters, far from his home, in the Canary Islands. He checked all the boat, carefully, as an expert (he is a sailor too). The memory after almost 55 years was important but the pictures aided too. He identified the original roof, the odd squared windows, the mahogany cockpit coaming, the old holes made to attach the cleats and winches removed some time ago, the entrance hatch, one winch, and even one original winch handle, -70 years old, made from nickel-plated bronze, the nickel-plated is now almost dissapeared-. Arne remembered the handle form and we could confirm it with an old photo. Finally we could finish the puzzle, the boat was the original “Timian”, or “Timian II”.

Me (left) and Arne Walberg (right) on board “Timian”. 16 February 2017. Las Palmas. Canary Islands.

I am going to try to trace the guidelines of the “Timian” history. The history is still not completed, but has enough information to be told.

2.- The history.

The first owner of “Timian” was Aage Walberg, from Sarpsborg, a town near Oslo, in Norway. He ordered the construction.

The boat carpenter and designer was Sigurd Herbern (1900-1987), a known builder and sailor.  The shipyard was located in the Killingen Island, near Oslo. Sigurd Herbern learnt from his uncle Magnus L. Herbern the boat construction skills since 1916, and after his uncle death he was in charge of the boat carpentry since 1921. Self-taught (he did not have ruled education on naval architecture), he started to design, being specialized in Spissgatter boats, mainly 19.5 Sqm. Many sailing yachts were designed by Sigurd, unfortunately a fire in the shipyard, in 1975, burned many Herbern plans and drawings.

“Timian II” racing yacht file. Norsk Maritimt Museum.

According Arne Walberg memories, son of Aage, “Timian” construction was begun during the World War II but was during 1946 (or perhaps in 1947) when the 30 Square Meter Spissgatter was finished. The racing class was growing in that years and several boats were completed, the sail number assigned for the “Timian” II was the T 10, being the letter T the representative for the 30Sqm Spissgatters. Recognized Norwegian designers were interested on the class, Anker and Jensen, Kristofersen, and Sigurn Kufaas, among others, also completed their 30Sqm Spissgatters. There was just 17 T boats, the last was constructed on 1949.

Seilsports Magazine nº5. 1978. The Spissgatter 30sqm T 6. Norsk Maritimt Museum.

The “Timian” not only sailed in races. The boat served for the amusement of all the Walberg family, and Arne grow beside the yacht as we can see in the attached images. 

The “Timian” or “Timian II” hull in 1948. Courtesy of Arne Walberg.

Originally the boat did not have mechanic propulsion, just sails, the deck was covered with canvas and pine and mahogany was used in the hull construction. The boat, a sloop, had a mainsail and two jibs of different sizes not overlapped. With mast was divided with two spreaders, had  running backstays, tensioned longitudinally and a backstay, fixed to the rudder blade head!

Arne and his mother on board Timian. Around 1950. Courtesy of Arne Walberg.

 The “Timian” anchored in 1951. Arne Walberg is over the cabin. Courtesy of Arne Walberg.

The “Timian” (with the white hull) anchored in Norwegian waters. Courtesy of Arne Walberg.

Our Spissgatter T 10 racing before 1950. Courtesy of Arne Walberg.

The Walberg family maintained the boat up to 1963. In that year an Oslo brokerage agency was contracted to sell the boat and Arne told me that probably “Timian” could we sold to Netherlands. 

After a 16 years period without any information about the “Timian” life, in 1979 a document proves the boat transfer from J. Feldheim, (I don’t know if was the owner or a broker) to M. Holsters, A. Holsters, E. Keppens and M. Van Holsbeke being the purchase price 80000 Belgian francs. In that papers appeared that the boat was a (generic) Tumlare type, built in Oslo in 1935 (probably the misunderstanding about the boat type started here). Also the evidences proves that was fitted a 300cc small engine. Of that age, 1980, there is a rating document that proves that “Timian” was racing in Belgian waters.

In 1984 Diederik Leemans bought the boat in Belgium in a very bad condition. He started to refit the boat, he was carpenter, and after the repairs he decided to do a long voyage with the “Timian”. In 1986 he did the voyage to Canary Islands, without engine. He made a call in A Coruña, Spain after cross the Biscay Gulf in tough meteorological conditions. When he arrived Lanzarote, run aground inside Puerto Naos, Arrecife, it was not a warm welcome to the islands, really. In that time the hull over the waterline was blue, not white.

A call in A Coruña. 1986. Courtesy of Diederik Leemans.

He and his brother HIlbrand, as experienced sailors, said that, of her size, was the better and seaworthy boat that ever sailed. 

“Timian” run aground in Puerto Naos, Lanzarote. 1986. Courtesy of Diederik Leemans.

The “Timian” had to be repaired in Puerto Naos. The two brothers changed the keel, the deadwood, some floors, changed and added new frames in between the existent ones and placed new skin planks in the bottom. They installed a small engine with an inclined shaft, not in the centerline. After that major works the yacht went to Playa Blanca, in the south of the Lanzarote island. Diederik leaved Canary Islands around 1990, to go to Gerona, Spain, and in 1995 Edo and Mirjam Beerthuijzen bought the boat, through Diederik brother, Hilbrand, that still lived in Lanzarote.

 The boat being repaired in Puerto Naos, Lanzarote. 1986. Courtesy of Diederik Leemans.

“Timian” drydock in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote. Courtesy of Tato Reza.

The “Timian” sailing to Puerto Naos from Playa Blanca, Lanzarote. April, 21th, 1995. Film. “Les Jumeaux de la Mer”. Capa Presse TV. Canal + France. Berque Twins.

With the boat just bought the Beerthuijzen couple sailed from Playa Blanca to Arrecife again. On April, 21th, 1995, they sailed exactly to the course of the famous Berque twins that casually leaved Lanzarote for another Atlantic crossing. The moment is filmed and appears in the minute 10 approximately of the film “Les Jumeaux de la Mer”.
The Spissgatter passed to be anchored inside Puerto Naos sound and the couple lived inside there at least two years. They even took out the engine to gain space.

Puerto Naos. 1995. Courtesy of Mirjam Beerthuijzen

Around 2001 Edo and Mirjam sell the boat to Emilio (Tato) Reza, spanish owner of a touristic schooner based in Morro Jable, Fuerteventura. Tato, professional seaman and with a huge knowledge on wooden boats started to improve the “Timian” conditions. He installed a new 16 HP Vetus engine raising the cockpit floor. In 2007 he covered the hull with a thin layer of epoxy and fiberglass, painted the hull over the waterline and changed the stanchions and handrails. In 2008 an iroko planking deck over the original deck was installed improving the boat general aesthetic.

The “Timian” outside the water in the Puerto Naos shipyard. 2001. Courtesy of Tato Reza.

Morro Jable, Fuerteventura. Courtesy of Tato Reza

Tato Reza at the helm of “Timian”. Morro Jable. Fuerteventura. Courtesy of Tato Reza.

Covering the hull wit fiberglass and epoxy. Courtesy of Tato Reza.

The new iroko deck installed. Courtesy of Tato Reza.

In September of 2012 I bought the Spissgatter and brought her from Fuerteventura to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. Since 2012 to now many maintenance work has been done, a mast refit,  works in the rudder blade and their fittings, new hatches for the cockpit, reinforce some hull parts, change some rotted hull planks, replace the frames under the shrouds chainplates, paint again the hull over the waterline and a big list of minor repairs, and, obviously, paint, varnish and paint, varnish, etc.

2016. The spissgatter T 10 ready to go to the water again. Las Palmas.

Some repairs in the hull, new frames and planking. 2016.

The “Timian” sails actually as a day sailing boat, maintaining the Herbern’s original concept. The seaworthy “Timian” shows, day in and day out, her ability to cope with the trade winds and long waves here in the Canary Islands. In 2016, “Timian” participated in a race against other 20 more modern boats, almost all bigger than our boat, the Organization assigned me a provisional rating and we finished 14th in real time and in corrected time.  Well, looking at this we can say that our Spissgatter is still healthy, can’t we?

Sailing in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. 2015 – 2016. Courtesy of Victor Alonso.

2017 – Daniel Rodríguez Zaragoza.

Thanks to.

Víctor Alonso.

Edo y Mirjam Beerthuijzen.

Per Gisle Galaen. Norsk Maritimt Museum

Diederik Leemans.

Emilio, “Tato”, Reza.

Arne Walberg.


KTK, Klassiske Linjer nº11. November 99.

Seilsports Magazine nº5. 1978.

Film. “Les Jumeaux de la Mer”. Capa Presse TV. Canal + France. Berque Twins.

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