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Rahschlup from Pomerania (c. 1846.)

• A modelling project under development •


Watercolours by Friis-Pedersen
? Handels- og Søfahrtsmuseets på Kronborg)
Lines and sail plan drawn in 1852 by H.P. Steffen, Lübeck
(from SZYMANSKI, 1934)


Research on German coastal craft and on this particular type of ship is particularly difficult. All physical evidence has long gone, as have the man who built and sailed them. The German literature on coastal craft from the Baltic and the North Sea is rather scarce. Really the only books of some use are those written by SZYMANSKI (1929,1934). He was able to travel much of the area post-WWI to inspect pictorial evidence and collect narrative recollections from people who witnesses the last few decades of coastal sail. Some of his tracings of builders' plans are now in the Deutsche Technikmuseum Berlin, but what has not been in other public collections is now largely lost. WWII and the lack of care and interest by builders' and owners' descendants have taken their toll.

Surprisingly there were very few serious post-WWII maritime historians in both, Eastern and Western Germany, as well as in Poland, to which now most of now Pomerania belongs, who had an interest in coastal craft. Wolfgang Rudolph is one of those exceptions. Most historian until today have mainly either an ethnological or an economic interest in the subject and typically very little background in and understanding of shipbuilding. To my knowledge there is no study on the complex interaction between economic and societal developments, resources available, and the development of the various coastal ship-building traditions in the 18th and 19th century.

Starting from a wide variety of Baltic craft, as illustrated for instance by AF CHAPMAN (1768) for the middle of the 18th century, by the 2nd Quarter of the 19th two types craft seem to have dominated the group of single-masted vessels: the Jacht (or Jagt in Danish) and the Schlup. The Jacht was more prevalent west of Rostock, i.e. in western Mecklenburg and Schleswig-Holstein (and in Denmark), while the Schlup occurred more frequently in eastern Mecklenburg and, indeed, in Pomerania. The Jacht has two distinctive features, a very pronounced sheer (less so in Danish vessels) and a pole-mast, the top of which has a slight curvature forward. These features were kept right to the end of wooden ship-building at the Baltic coast. The Schlup followed more the fashion of deep-water ship-building of the day. The mast always carried a top-mast. She largely resembled those craft that would be called a smack in British waters.

Sail plan and lines drawings of a Rahschlup drawn by Joachim Möller, c. 1846 (© Schiffahrtsmuseum Rostock)

Sail plan and rig

As the name in German indicates, the Rahschlup has one features that distinguishes her from other types of Schlup, that is she carries a heavier top-mast with two top-sails. This is a rather lofty rig for a humble sailing coaster, resembling the rig of the British naval cutters and the Swedish packets (CHAPMAN, 1768) of the late 18th and early 19th century. Such rig would require four to five men to sail her safely. To the contrary, a Jacht could be handled comfortably by the master and a mate, or even only a boy (cf. RUDOLPH, 1958, on crewing). By the mid-19th such a rig appears rather anachronistic and uneconomic. However, it would have had its advantages for working the coastal lagoons (Bodden, Haff) of Pomerania (now Poland) and Eastern Prussia (now divided between Poland and the Russian Federation), as well as the coast of Southern Sweden. Dunes and rocks overgrown with shrubs and light woods would blanket near-surface winds.

Pictorial evidence from the middle of the 19th shows are fairly uniform arrangement of loose-footed gaff mainsail (the gaff being considerably longer than the one on a Jacht, which would also be curved), a square gaff-topsail set flying on a light yard, two (sometime a flying third one is seen) headsails. Like on the foremast of a topsail-schooner, there was a main yard below the trestle-tree and two light yards running on the topmast and spreading two topsails. A rather large square foresail could be bent to the main yard. In the earlier days a full complement of lee-sails may have been carried.

The mast was supported by three to four fully webbed shrouds and a couple of backstays set on tackles. The topmast was supported by shrouds on the trestle-trees only - apparently no backstays were used. The mast also had the usual complement of stays leading to the bowsprit and a fixed jibboom.

JOHANNA of Copenhagen, 1839
(© P. Tamm, Hamburg)
Rahschlup of 1836
(© Schiffahrtsmuseum Rostock)
(© Schiffahrtsmuseum Rostock)
HANNA of Horsens
(© P. Horsens Museum)
DER JUNGE PRINZ of Rostock, 1819 (painted 1832,
© Schiffahrtsmuseum Rostock)

 Constructional arrangements and deck layout

The Schlup ranged in length between 10 and 25 m with a width of as much as 7 m and a depth of up to 3.5 m. The Rahschlup naturally tended to be at the upper end of the range. She was always built carvel with a medium sharpness in the waterlines, a rising floor and usually some tumblehome. The entrance was rather bluff (certainly above the water), the run with some hollow. The sheer practically disappeared from the second quarter of the 19th onward (as was indeed the fashion with larger seagoing vessels at that time). The stem slightly curved or straight with only a little rake. The sternpost had considerable rake and was crowned by a large transom above the water. The rudder run inside and was nearly always worked with a tiller.

Typically the deck was flat, but could also have a raised quarterdeck, as was usually the case for the Jacht. The Schlup would have a small hatch before the mast and a larger one after the mast. Small companionways provided access to the crew's quarters between the small hatch and the spill and to the main cabin in the stern respectively. Sometimes a small portable caboose would be lashed to the deck. The compass would be live together with the lights in a housing with sliding doors lashed to the deck within convenient distance for the helmsman (i.e. usually the master).

Davits over the transom were provided for stowing the dinghy, which was, however, often towed. On some boats the dinghy was stowed in chocks behind the mast.

Mechanical devices to make heavy work easier were, of course, an anchor spill in association with the post providing the footing of bowsprit and a cargo winch behind the mast. The anchor spill followed the technological development of the time from its simple form with an eight-sided trunk to the more sophisticated patent or pump-spills of the time.

Also the simple wooden pumps would make room to the more efficient cast-iron variety.

EMILIE of Barth, 1851
(© Schiffahrtsmuseum Rostock)
(© Museum Stralsund)
Jagt by C.W. Eckersberg
Statens Museum for Kunst, København)
Schlupen drawn by C.W. Eckersberg
Statens Museum for Kunst, København)


Also in this respect the Schlup would largely follow the fashion of contemporary deep-water sail (as opposed to the Jacht that seems to have been more conservative). The colour scheme developed from scraped and oiled sides with black rubbing strakes to one with several strakes in different pale colours, such as pale blue, green or brown, and white. In later years the body above the water was generally painted black with white rubbing strakes and sometime one broader varnished strake. Below the waterline coal-tar was sufficient in most cases, as these ships normally would not leave the Northern European waters (those registered in Schleswig or Holstein, however, would have carried the Danebrog until 1864 and could have traded freely e.g. to the Danish Westindies).

The inside of the bulwarks would have been often painted in pale green, pale blue or pale ochre before the middle of the 19th century, when white generally became the preference.

Spars would have been either scraped and oiled in their entirety or would have tops in a colour matching the rest of the ship, i.e. pale green, blue, ochre, or white.

Their trade

As was mentioned already their main area of operation was the Baltic Sea, with journeys round Skagen to harbours along the German, Dutch, Belgian, Norwegian and British Northsea coast. Some also traded as far as the Mediterranean, bringing back fruit and wine in exchange for e.g. wheat (Mecklenburg), hemp and pitch (Baltic states, Russia) or perhaps salted herring. Bricks ('Flensborg stone') and masonry blocks (from e.g. Bornholm, Gotland and Skane/Southern Sweden) might have also been commodities of interest.

The Model

has yet to be built ...

The reconstruction will be based on the drawings by Joachim Möller from Rostock(?) preserved in the archives of the Rostock museum of shipping. Much of the details of the deck layout, the rigging and other details will have to be taken from contemporary illustrations and photographs of similar craft that survived into the late 19th or early 20th century.

A valuable source are the books by NIELSEN (1973), FRIIS-PEDERSEN (1980/1983), and FUNCH (1846). The earlier books by FUNCH might also contain interesting information, but are extremely rare and don't seem to have been reprinted. General information on contemporary building practice can be found in KLAWITTER (1835) and STEINHAUS (1858). Masting and rigging details are obtained from STEINHAUS (1869).

Other contemporary (text)books on shipbuilding and rigging were consulted also, but with caution, as they typically reflect the practice in larger ocean-going vessels. However, tables on spar and rigging proportions are still useful.

Various resources

No Web-site mentioning this type of coastal craft could be found yet.

There are, however, some sites that feature the Jacht, or Jagt as in Danish. The most interesting site is the one documenting the restoration of the Jagt 'Jensine af Haderslev' (Haderslev, South Jutland) from 1852. Many photographs show original details and the steps of reconstructing unsound or missing parts: www.jensine.dk.

A replica of a Danish Jagt has been constructed at the museum shipyard of Flensburg on the basis of the lines of the DE FIRE BRØDRE (1794), whose lines are reproduced in NIELSEN (1973). Unfortunately, their Web-site does not give any details on this project beyond the launch that took place in 2009. Pictures of her construction can be seen here: http://www.arbeitskreis-historischer-schiffbau.de/ontour/reise/flenswerft/flenswerft1.htm.

The Altonaer Museum in Hamburg has a fine collection of models of small 19th century merchant ships. These models were constructed in 1/24 scale between 1909 and 1912 from plans in the museum collection and plans on loan from various shipyards of the region (TIMMERMANN, 1974) by a boatbuilder, a blockmaker and a sailmaker. While these models are not contemporary to their prototypes, their builders were presumably close enough to the time to have reproduced reasonably well the then current practices of construction and rigging. Below are detail pictures of the Schlup ELBE (1836).

Model of the Schlup ELBE (1836) in 1/24 scale. Built by D. Behrens in Schulau (near Hamburg) for Hans Oestmann.
She was 24 Commerzlasten/50RT big (Inv. Nr. AB 1813, Altonaer Museum, Hamburg)


CHAPMAN, H. AF (1768): Architectura Navalis Mercatoria.- 103 pp., Rostock (Reprint 1968 at VEB Verlag Hinstorff).

FLEISCHFRESSER, K., HOFFMANN, R. (1975): Segler von Haff und Bodden. Pommersche Küstenschiffahrt.- 96 pp., Hamburg-Norderstedt (Verlag Egon Heinemann).

[FRIIS-PEDERSEN, J.] (1980): Sejlskibe - Danskbyggede traeskibbe opmålt, tegnet og fotograferet.- Handels- og Søfahrtsmuseets på Kronborg Søhistoriske Skrifter IX: 107 pp., København (Høst & Søn).

[FRIIS-PEDERSEN, J.] (1983): Sejlskibe - Nordiske fartøjer opmålt, tegnet og fotograferet.- Handels- og Søfahrtsmuseets på Kronborg Søhistoriske Skrifter XI: 96 pp., København (Høst & Søn).

FUNCH, D.H. (1833-34): Praktisk Skibbyggerie. Et Forsøg.- 76 folding lithographed plates, including 28 in full color & many others tinted or heightened in color. 76 pp., 1 leaf of errata; 64 pp.; 223, [4] pp., 1 leaf of errata. Three parts in one vol., Kjøbenhavn (Luno & Schneider).

FUNCH, D.H. (1843): Afhandlig af coffardiskibets constructionen. Et Forsøg.- 2 bd. (6) + 74 + (2) +92 pp., 17 fold. plancher, 9 tabeller og 3 blade med forklarende tekst, Kjøbenhavn (trykt paa Forfatterens Forlag).

FUNCH, D.H. (1846): Dansk Marine-Ordbog, 1ste Part.- 170 pp. + 67 Pl., Kjøbenhavn (Forfatterens Forlag, reprint 1976 by Høst & Søn, Copenhagen).

GØTHCHE, M. (1980): Sluppen Ruth – rapport om restaurering af Nationalmuseets slup..- Maritim Kontakt, 1: 59-77, København.

KLAWITTER, K.G. (1835): Vorlegeblätter für Schiff-Bauer für die Königlichen Schiffbau-Schulen.- 40 pp., Berlin (Petsch, reprint 1978 by H. Hamecher, Kassel).

MONRAD MØLLER, A. (1988): Jagt og skonnert. Studier i den danske provinssøfart i tiden fra 1814 til 1864.- 273 p., København (Forlaget Falcon).

NIELSEN, C. (1973): Danske Bådtyper.- 152 pp., København (Høst and Søns Forlag).

RUDOLPH, W. (1958): Die letzten hölzernen Frachtfahrzeuge der kleinen Küstenfahrt auf Rügen (m. Pers.-Literaturangaben u. Abb.).- Balt. Stud., NF, 45: 137-43.

RUDOLPH, W. (1958): Die Schiffstypen der ländlichen Frachtschiffahrt in den Gewässern der Insel Rügen.- Dt. Jb. f. Volksk., IV: , Berlin (Ost).

RUDOLPH, W. (1962): Rügischer Schiffbau auf den Werften zu Seedorf.- Greifswald-Stralsunder Jb.: ?.

RUDOLPH, W. (1966): Handbuch der volkstümlichen Boote im östlichen Niederdeutsch-land.- 150 pp., Berlin (Akademie Verlag).

RUDOLPH, W. (1967): ?.- Ethnogr. Archäolog. Z., 8: ?.

RUDOLPH, W. (1969): Segelboote der deutschen Ostseeküste.- 145 pp., Berlin (Akademie Verlag).

RUDOLPH, W. (1974): Boot – Schiffe – Flöße.- Zürich/Leipzig.

RUDOLPH, W. (1974): Inshore Fishing Craft of the Southern Baltic from Hostein to Curonia.- National Maritime Museum Monographs and Reports, 14: 32 pp., Greenwich (NMM).

STEINHAUS, C.F. (1858): Die Schiffbaukunst in ihrem ganzen Umfange – I. Theil: Die Theorie der Schiffbaukunst, II. Theil: Die Schiffbaukunst in der Praktik.- 158+170 pp. + 4 Tafeln, Hamburg (P. Salomon & Co., reprint 1977 by Horst Hamecher, Kassel).

STEINHAUS, C.F. (1869): Die Construction und Bemastung der Segelschiffe.- 137 pp., Hamburg (L. Friedrichsen & Co., reprint 1977 by Horst Hamecher, Kassel).

SZYMANSKI, H. (1929): Zur Geschichte der schleswig-holsteinischen Jachten im 19. Jahrhundert.- Der Kleinschiffbau – Z. f. Gebrauchs- u. Sportfahrzeuge aller Art, ?: 209f., Berlin.

SZYMANSKI, H. (1929): Die Segelschiffe der deutschen Kleinschiffahrt.- Pfingstblätter des Hansischen Geschischtsvereins, Bl. XX, 81+XXI pp., Hamburg.

SZYMANSKI, H. (1934): Deutsche Segelschiffe.- Veröff. Inst. f. Meereskunde, N.F. B, H. 10: 167 pp. + 92 Taf., Berlin.

TIMMERMANN, G. (1974): Das Schiffbauhandwerk.- Schausammlungen des Altonaer Museums, H. 1: 93 p., Hamburg (Altonaer Museum).


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