By Vadim STARKOV Dr. Sc. (Hist.), RAS Institute of Archeology
The craft of building sailboats, which blossomed up on the Pomorye shores of the White Sea more than 400 years ago, has left a significant trace in the history of this nation. Within a relatively short span of time the country received a whole fleet of seagoing sailing-and- rowing boats, which proved to be instrumental in a range of economic activities including the intensive development of the northern territories of Eurasia.
Already by the middle of the 17th century the Pomors-as the local residents were commonly called-were navigating on the expanses of the Barents and Kara Seas and went as far as the eastern fringes of the seas of Norway and Greenland. Within their reach were the Spitzbergen archipelago, Novaya Zemlya, islands of the Barents and Kara Seas and the northern shores of Western Siberia. Their daring voyages paved the way for the subsequent colonization of Siberia's north.
The Pomorye shipbuilders also paved the way to the subsequent development of the Russian Navy, and the self-acquired skills of the local people enabled them to plough the main as doughty sailors.
As most experts agree today, the early "fleet" of the Pomors included two main types of boats, called ladya and koch, with the two names often used interchangeably and being commonly applied to practically any seagoing boat in general. But, as we can see on one of the early 17th century engravings, the Russian ladya differs in more than one respect from the surrounding koch boats. The drawing is taken from a book describing the first Dutch expedition to the Northern seas (1594) which was published by one of the captains of the voyage, Jan Huygen van Linshoten, in 1611.
The ladya is shown as a long boat with low sides. Its bow is tipped, elongated and raised upwards which simplified the task of the attachment of the forward shrouds(*). The boat was single-masted and carried one square sail. By its looks, it was not intended f ... Read more