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Postby aukepalmhof » Sun Sep 08, 2019 8:37 pm

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2019 johanna tg 326.png
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The Smack Period
The smack period is a term denoting the time from 1872 up to the Second World War, when the Faroe Islands evolved from a medieval feudal peasant society to a modern fishing nation.

The Monopoly Trade and Abolition of the Boat Bond
Subsequent to the Danish Royal trade monopoly being abolished in 1856 and after the so-called "boat bond" was terminated in 1865, it became possible for the Faroese to buy and build ships for sea-fishing. The trade monopoly prevented the Faroese from operating independent export enterprises and was, in general, a serious obstacle to development and innovation.
The boat bond was a medieval system that obliged farmers to keep large boats manned by the male-gendered peasantry. This feudal scheme of the nineteenth century gave rise to much dissatisfaction. Disagreements often arose since the men had no choice whether to obey or refuse the coastal fishing duties imposed on them. When the trade monopoly was abolished and the boat bond terminated, the Faroese were left free to decide if they wanted to run land-based businesses or become full-time fishermen.

FOX - Mother of the Smack Period
From 1855-1865 fishermen in the Shetland Islands, not being constrained by the same administrative hurdles as the Faroese, operated large-scale fisheries in Faroese waters, with so-called "Faroe smacks" – small vessels often rigged as sloops. Many Faroese sailed with the Shetland smacks, acquiring skills and knowledge in fishing. In 1872, when the obstacles to regular Faroese sea fishing had been removed, three brothers from Tórshavn bought the English smack "FOX" for fishing purposes. This event is regarded as the inception of the smack period. Soon others followed suit, but only around the turn of the century can effective fishing industry be said to have started in the Faroe Islands.
The smacks fished in Faroese waters, all the way south towards Rock All - and later, to a large extent, in Icelandic waters. In general, the smacks were anchored in winter. In February / March, they went on their first fishing trips, most often in coastal waters south of Iceland. The ships usually returned home in May, at which time the crews were able to spend a couple of weeks together with their families. Then they went back to sea, usually not returning until late September. During these later trips the smacks frequently fished in waters east and north of Iceland.

Cramped Conditions
Life aboard the smacks was fraught with difficulties. The crew fished with handlines and the individual's profit depended on the number of fish he caught. This type of fishing required a fairly large crew and the conditions on board were quite cramped. There is even talk of smacks having more crew members than berths, which meant that men working different shifts had to share the same berth. There is no doubt that the tuberculosis epidemic, which ravaged the Faroe Islands around and after the turn of the century, was largely caused by the cramped conditions aboard the smacks.

Deadsailers and Motorized Ships
The first Faroese smacks were so-called “deadsailers”, i.e. sailing ships without an engine. On the high seas these ships presented obvious perils. Many shipwrecks occurred in the smack period and ships frequently lost their way over long distances due to weather and wind.

After approx. 1925, engines and wheelhouses were installed on many of the smacks. This proved of great benefit as regards operation and safety, but the engines were often ineffective and even defective - and had to be supplemented with sails.
Sailing in Times of War

During World War II, most Faroese smacks performed the functions of cargo vessels. Fish was being transported from Iceland to Great Britain which at the time was suffering from serious food shortages. These were extremely perilous journeys. Many Faroese ships were sunk by German submarines, bombers or mines - and compared to the population of the Faroes, so many seamen lost their lives that statistically, the Faroe Islands are among the countries that lost most people per capita during the war.

After the Second World War, the heydays of the smacks were over. As they gradually slipped out of the fishing fleet, most of the old ones were sunk - and today only a handful of them remain.

The two smacks featured on the stamp are JÓHANNA TG 326 on the left, and WESTWARD HO TN 54. Both of these smacks are celebrating their 135 anniversaries this year.

JÓHANNA was built in 1884 at Collin Hoads shipyard in Rye, Sussex. The owner was John William Haylock in Surrey and the ship’s original name was OXFORDSHIRE.In 1894, Oxfordshire was sold to George Edward James Moody, a shipowner in Grimsby. That same year Moody sold the smack to Jákup Dahl, a Faroese businessman running commercial activities in Vágur in Suðuroy. JÓHANNA was Dahl's first ship. He gradually expanded his fishing fleet and eventually had 20 smacks and schooners. A/S J. Dahl became one of the Faroe Islands' largest companies involved in trading, shipping and fish production.

During World War II, JÓHANNA transported fish from Iceland to Britain and managed to escape unscathed from the ravages of war. The smack was engaged in active fishing until 1972. JÓHANNA lay at quay in Vágur until 1980 when the decision was made to sink the vessel – but due to a last-minute effort it was rescued by an interested local group which bought it for 1 Danish crown. JÓHANNA was moved ashore and restored extensively, most of the work being+ done by volunteers in the town of Vágur. Eventually, the proud ship was brought back to its original condition. Today, the smack JÓHANNA is the pride of the town of Vágur, used for excursions around the Faroe Islands and to neighbouring countries - and as a tourist attraction.

(Dim. BRT 95.92 ton. Dim. 34.15 x 6.19 x 3.7m. (draught)
1887 Owned by J. Sergeant.
1897 Owner given as Joseph R. Farrar, Wakefield, Yorkshire.
1930 Fitted out with an engine. Source Internet)

WESTWARD HO was built in Grimsby in 1884 by Leaver & Co. - the same year as JÓHANNA. In 1895 the smack was bought by Hans Georg Thomsen of the Trade and Shipping Company T. F. Thomsen in Tvøroyri, Suðuroy. When the trade monopoly was abolished, T. F. Thomsen had established his business in Tvøroyri, owning approx. 20 smacks, schooners and smaller boats. On arrival in the Faroe Islands, the smack was renamed VIKING, but got back its old name in 1908.
As other smacks of this period, WESTWARD HO was a deadsailer. However, in 1925 it was equipped with an engine and a wheelhouse. As a fishing vessel, WESTWARD HO went far and wide, fishing in Faroese and Icelandic waters, at Rock All, Greenland and Bear Island.
Just like most other Faroese smacks, WESTWARD HO was used to transport fish products from Iceland to Britain during World War II - and did not suffer any damages throughout the war.
During its last years as a fishing vessel, WESTWARD HO was used for line fishing in spring and herring fisheries in autumn. The smack has always had a special significance for the present writer, his father being the skipper of WESTWARD HO's in the late 50’s.

In 1964, WESTWARD HO saw its last days as a fishing vessel. It was moved ashore in Tvøroyri and restored back to its original form. In 1967, an interested society, "Sluppgrunnurin" in Tórshavn, purchased the smack and it was re-registered as TN 54. It was used for some years and maintained by volunteers. Gradually, the enthusiasm declined and the ship lay at quay in neglect for some years. Finally, the Tórshavn municipality took over the ship and sent it to Fraiserburgh in Scotland for a thorough restoration and engine replacement. In 2005, WESTWARD HO returned to Tórshavn and has since then served as the representative ship of the city. This beautiful sailing ship is now used for excursions around the islands and to the neighbouring countries. It is also being used for the instruction of school children and can be rented with skipper and crew.

More is given on her: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6205&p=15830#p15830
Anker Eli Petersen
Faroe Islands 2019 11 Kr. sg?, scott?
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Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 1:28 am

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