The advent of the limfjordsjægt can be linked to an environmental change when storm floods in 1825 and 1862 pierced through the western isthmus, which seperated the Limfjord from the North Sea since the Middle Ages. As a direct result, the Limfjord changed from a limnic to a maritime environment and the fishing prams were no longer suited for the rougher conditions. The local fishermen sought to import a new type of boat and introduced a Norwegian type, allegedly sailing Norwegian sjegts across the Skagerrak to the Limfjord in the 1840’s.
This type was clinker-built and sprit-rigged and measured between 14 to 22 foot (4.3 to 6.7 metres). The Limjord-Sjægt was valued for its seaworthiness and speed. In times of fishing control, a sophisticated warning system with beacons was set up along the Limfjord’s banks by the local population in order to warn the fishermen of approaching control vessels, allowing the fishermen who broke the regulations to escape fines in their swift sailing sjægts. The economic incentive for swiftness encouraged optimisations of the rig and trim, and eventually, this lead to sjægt-regattas in the late 19th century. This is quite extraordinary, as regattas were normally the tournament for refined “gentlemen sailors” in classic yachts, rather than for rugged fishermen in small working boats.
The Limjord-Sjægt was operated for almost a century and was gradually displaced by carvel-built vessels fitted with engines in the course of the 1920’s. In the 1970’s, the local population rediscovered its interest in the region’s maritime legacy and a couple of sjægts were reconstructed. The inofficial “capital” of this boat-type is the small village of Hjarbæk, where almost 20 boats are part of a guild called Hjarbæk Sjægtelaug. Thus, SCYLD is a unique vessel in many respects. With 6.9 metres in length it is an extraordinarily large sjægt-reconstruction, and one of the very earliest, built in 1975, when the “sjægt-fever” just started. It is arguably also the only Limfjord-Sjægt to be in German ownership, since 2013 moored in Flensburg and since 2017 near Schleswig. It’s in fact the southermost “migration” of this type, which started two centuries ago from southern Norway.
- Pedersen, H.N. (1976), Limfjordssjægten. Esbjerg: Fiskeri- og Søfartsmuseets.
- Van Damme, T. (2013), Innovation in Times of Crisis – The Western Limfjord: Sjægt and Danish Seine. Esbjerg: Syddansk Universitet.