top of page



Our Norwegian history of viking ships is also a history of an exceptional knowledge of boat building. And the knowledge has been inherited, and it has been crossed between districts, different uses and between the region's ethnic groups. In Heimskringla it is written that Sigurd Slembe in 1137 had two boats built by the sea Sami. Sigurd was the half-brother of King Øystein and the legendary  Sigurd Jorsalfare who sailed far east to Myklagard (Istanbul) with his ships. It is not unlikely that some of the ships that sailed to the far east of the Mediterranean were built by the Sami, nor is it unlikely that ships built by skilled fists in the Rana district sailed to Istanbul in the year 1108.

Nordlandsbåt, ranværingsbåt, Mo i Rana, båtbygging

Typical version of boats with the common name Nordlandsbåt. (The Museum in Nordland)

We do not know how the boatbuilding traditions were maintained and about the origins of the craft, but we know that it was especially in the fjords that the boats were built: in Rana, in Vefsn, in Salten and in Bindal. There was good quality timber here, but here the Sami population was also in the majority for several hundred years. In a census of the coastal Sámi population from 1601, the Sámi are described as yacht builders in several places in northern Norway. In the 18th and 19th centuries, we know for sure that the Sami built Nordland boats and were associated with a number of industries. There are similarities between the riveted Nordland boats, the Viking ships and Sami river boats, but no one knows which way the relationship goes.  

In the winter, ice often formed on the fjords, and the permanent residents who lived in the fjord bottom often had to make a living from other things than winter fishing. So even on the farms far up in the valleys, a first-class boat-building tradition was developed. When the winter was in full swing, the boats were towed to fjords by horse to be sold or exchanged for goods such as grain, salted herring and other necessities of life.

Mo i Rana, båtbyggertradisjon, ranværingsbåt

From around 1800, the fisheries changed, and more and more people on the coast specialized as fishermen. It provided a market for several boats, and inside the Ranfjord a very special and distinctive boat building industry developed. The boats were built more and more according to fixed goals, and there was room to specialize in oars, masts, tofts and other equipment.

The merchant in Mo i Rana, LA From around 1860 Meyer organized both production and sales, and he became a link between the skilled boat builders and an ever-growing market along the entire coast. Demand was good, and the large production also contributed to active quality improvement and adaptations of new equipment and technology. For long periods, sales were more than a thousand boats a year.

Nordlandsjekt, Mo i Rana, Meyer

The larger Nordland projects were mainly freighters (Digital Museum)

Larger boats were also built by the fjord, and clean boat buildings with employed craftsmen developed. Those who owned the boat buildings were among the richest inhabitants of the district.

Boat construction also took place up along the larger rivers. In Ranelva, Jektneset is more than 5 km from the estuary.

After the steel industry became extensive inside Mo i Rana, there was for many decades industrial construction of wooden boats on Hemnesberget, and gradually the production changed to fiberglass and later to aluminum.

Mo i Rana, Ranabåt, båtbygging, Hemnesberget

Although production has ceased, there are still thousands of Rana boats along the coast

At Hemnesberget, halfway out in the Ranfjord, boat building and boat culture are strong. Every summer at the end of June, this is marked with a separate festival. The production of wooden boats and plastic boats has ceased, but Hemnes Mekaniske Verksted produces Haarek Boats, renowned special boats in aluminum. The workshop delivers boats for fire and rescue, to the aquaculture industry and fishing.

Sjøsprøyt, Haarek Boats, Mo i Rana

Oslo Brannvesen's boat, Sjøsprøyt, is produced by Haarek Boats on Hemnesberget

In Mo i Rana, boat production returned after many decades of absence when Helgeland Plast, the world's largest producer of salmon cages, also started production of boats in polyethylene. The Arctic Circle boats are sold all over the world, and are especially recognized where conditions are extreme. The boats have followed expeditions to both the Arctic and the Antarctic, and are in use in the Pacific, Atlantic and Mediterranean.

Båt, Mo i Rana, Polarcirkel

The Arctic Circle boats are available in a number of models, and most are specially adapted to the customer's needs.

Radio interview with boat builder Even Bustnes 1958

bottom of page