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My grandfather Ingvald Solstad (born 1884 - d.1983) started to fish by rowing in the early days. Below where we have our house today, there was a big boathouse, where they stored their boats and equipment. The boats were moored out on the bay, and they had to row to get out to the boats. It could be difficult both because of the weather and the long and shallow shore. In the winter there could also be ice on the shore. Every day they had to pull the small boat up to the boathouse, as the weather could easily drag the boats out to sea.

They used a horse to carry the fish up from the small boat to the boathouse. Most of all atlantic cod was hung out to dry. The largest fish was salted to be sold or used as cutfish. Grandpa also bought fish from other boats. His brother Einar bought fish from the liners on Ure. Grandfather rowed with nets, and was therefore always the last to come home from work on the sea later in the day, with catches totaling up to 2000 kg in the boat. Roe and liver were taken care of, and grandfather had employed a man who produced the liver. Cod liver oil was boiled in a large iron jug, where they used coal to heat the kettles. Afterwards the oil was filled into barrels clod with aluminum. It was a job that required great accuracy. The oilhouse that was used was 5 X 5 meters and stood on the farm where our house is today. An agent from Møller often came to visit, and he gladly bought the oil. My father told us that in his upbringing they used to be inside the oilhouse to warm up, and get a taste of freshly cooked cod oil. Due to all the problems with the tide, it was decided that they would build a fisherman's cabin with a pier where it was easier to get back and forth between the boat. The winter time was particularly challenging, as it was heavy to carry the fish up to the boathouse.

In the fall of 1934 my grandfather received a loan of 4,500 crowns from the Norwegian Fisheries Bank. That was enough to build rorbua without the docks. The materials from which rorbua is built was purchased from somewhere in Helgeland. It was brought to Lofoten in a ferry, and the materials were of first class quality. Rorbua we can see today is a testament to that, 65 years later.

Sigvart Larsen and Torleif Olsen built rorbua in the summer of 1935. Both Sigvart and Torleif lived here in Sennesvik. Rorbua was built during the period between June and August. According to my father, there was not a drop of rain that summer, which was crucial to the fact that rorbua stays so well, so many years afterwards. The panel that inhabits the living quarters is quite air tight. They used the jack in the windows when they paneled, and thus the panel is so tight. Rorbua is built with a continuous dragon on the first floor. The shelves go up where the ark is. Both of the equipment rooms were 6 X 7 meters.

Sigvart and Torleif got 700 crowns for the job. My dad tells them they received 50 cents per hour, and that they worked 6 days a week. The land and rorbua were called Solodden. The origin of the name comes from a story where Solodden had been given due to the early rise of the sun in the winter. The sun also stays for a long time in the autumn.

 The living room had one equipment room to either side, and with the living room having two floors with two bedrooms on the second floor. Each of the bedrooms would accommodate 6 people, which was common on the old fishing boats. A chimney goes through the living rooms, and they could fire  the furnaces, to bring heat on both floors. In the living room you could find a large oven, where dinner was made. All meals were eaten in this room. The second room down was used as a baiting room. There were two people that baited the fishing lines. The liner boats had four men on the sea, one liner on land, and one cook. The fishing boats had six men on the sea. All work was done manually, meaning that both the line and the nets were pulled aboard by hand.

The docks were large and was built the year after rorbua was completed. The foundation for the dock was rails from the railway, and it encircled the whole house. An outlying pier went out from the middle of the dock and was about 30 m long. On the very end they built a large square for the workers to store lines, buckets, catch, equipment and so on.

In the winter of 1936, rorbua was used for the first time. Oskar Hansen was my grandfather's cousin and he rowed the fishing lines, while grandfather rowed with nets. After the Lofotseason the workers went to Finnmark, which was common for most of the boats that were from Lofoten. The trip from Lofoten to Finnmark with Havgula took about two and a half days. To make most of the time, grandfather rowed fishing in the following ports of Finnmark: Vardø, Kiberg and Båtsfjord. Just east of Vardø there is a small fishing village called Kiberg. There, my grandfather Thomas Hansen had a small house where they received the catch to produce it and sell. The fishery was on a small island called Thomasholmen. There were also Russians who bought fish in the various ports of Finnmark, and they usually paid some more for the kilo than the local merchants. In the spring they fished cod. and in the summer they fished haddock. Grandfather fished in Kiberg for many years.

Every summer there was a large market in Kabelvåg, where fishermen and merchants came from several places along the coast. From Helgeland there were people from Salten and Rana who sold various wood products. Some also sold boats. To the market in Kabelvåg they brought drawings and models of different boats. Grandfather met a boat builder on the market and invited him home to Solstad. At the kitchen table, he sketched a model for a boat, which later became M/S Havgula. It was built on Rognan by Nils Roghell.

Havgula was 40 feet long, and cost about 7,000 crowns to build. Grandfather got Havgula in the fall of 1932 and the motor was installed in Svolvær. The engine was a Rapp that had 24 horsepower, and cost 5,000 crowns.

In those days it was a big engine, and Havgula could reach speeds of 10 knots. The story says that the first summer they went to Finnmark, they passed over twenty five boats on the trip north. In 1938 it was electrically mounted. The first years they used petroleum oil to give light to the signal lights, and for as long as it was in the ownership of our family, a sonar was never mounted.

Havgula was sold to a man in western Lofoten in 1964.

From 1934 until 1964, many different people lived in rorbua. Most came from the islands on the Helgeland coast. My grandfather enjoyed their company and industriousness. They were good sailors and to be trusted on seamanship and other duties related to the fishing equipment.

In 1989 I bought rorbua.

 


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