The 35 meters long and 8 meters wide three-masted trader “Ernst Jaakson” is the biggest preserved historic ship in Estonia. This majestic ship was built shortly before the Second World War during 1937-1939 in Hiiumaa on the coastal meadow of Õngu village. At first the ship transported bricks form Loksa to Saaremaa island and timber back to Tallinn, but most of its youth was spent abroad. Now after half a century the giant has been brought back to its island of birth to be restored in the Sõru port in the Center for Wooden Ships Restoration – a unique facility in Estonia and the Baltic states. According to Estonian Maritime Museum “Ernst Jaakson” sailed under the name “Arne” until 1950 under the flag of Panama. Later named “Alar” under the flag of USA. From 1969 the ship stood anchored in Hobro port, Denmark. Only in 1998 was the ship towed back to Hiiumaa island from Denmark and renamed “Ernst Jaakson” according to the man who initiated the building of the ship.

Today the “Ernst Jaakson” awaits historic ship fans in Sõru port in the only Center for Wooden Ships Restoration in Estonia. The quests are welcome to get acquainted with construction and restoration of various wooden vessels, to visit Sõru Maritime Museum and to relax in the scenic and junipery nature of Hiiumaa island.


Technical information and construction

    The builiding of “Ernst Jaakson” is clearly remembered by two local men Valter Vannas and Hartvig Engso who were just boys back then. Master shipwright Peeter Himmist with blacksmiths were called from the neighbouring island of Saaremaa, this is also where the timber came from. First the master built a platform with actual size arc-patterns. According to these real arcs were hewn out of oak and attached to the keel by tenons. After finishing the arcade in this manner the shipwrights started to bend steamed planks around the arcs of the ship. The planks were riveted to the arcs with large zink rivets for which holes were drilled first. From the outside the rivets were covered with spruce clogs. The sails were also sown in Hiiumaa in the village of Õngu in Peedu farm. Only the masts and cabins were built when the boat was towed to Loksa.


Interesting facts and stories

  •           After the sinking of two-masted gaff shooner “Hval” near Helsinki in summer 2004 “Ernst Jaakson” is one of two remaining sailing ships built in Estonia. Unfortunately the other sailer built in Estonia “Hoppet” is in Sweden.
  • Valter Vannas from Hiiumaa remembers that master shipwright Himmist had put a two-kroon coin under the fore stem of the ship, which was attached to the keel with a tenon. This was a wide spread custom those days that was believed to grant the ship’s owner good luck in business.
  • There was also an accident during towing the finished ship towards water, Vannas remembers. One morning two workers went to do the laborious work of towing and pushing the vessel towards the sea. For that they used all sorts of lever and rope systems. So it happened this morning that one man released a lever, which was under great pressure yelling: “Lazitt” (“Lie down” in Russian), but the other man did not understand Russian and flew into the sea. 
  • In 1944 late summer “Ernst Jaakson” tried to flee towards Sweden from Kõrgesaare port, but was stopped by the German fleet. Fortunately the second attempt from Haapsalu was a success.


"Ernst Jaakson" Routes