“Iris” is the only preserved two-masted gaff schooner type traditional sailer under Estonian flag. It was built in 1945 in Finland. This type of vessels were used by coastal people for cargo and transport in Estonia and other parts of Scandinavia. “Iris” itself was built for transporting timber in the Gulf of Finland. The high time for schooners ended with the first half of the XX century, after the Second World War they were gradually replaced by engine-driven vessels. “Iris” is a variation of a coastal gaff schooner called kaljas in Estonian, though because of its stern mast is shorter than the fore one, it is not a kaljas in the narrower sence. Gaff schooners like “Iris” were one of the most popular cargoships on the Baltic Sea in the XX century.

Today this two-masted historic wooden ship sails the Baltic Sea under the watchful eye of captain Ain Raie – it visits the islands in Väinameri sea and around Estonia, checks out the silhouettes of Tallinn and Pärnu from the sea, and sometimes even sails to Riga, Gotland or Aland.       

Technical information and construction


Gaff schooners were built in different sizes, sailer “Iris” was among the biggest of its kind on the Baltic. It is 30 meters long, 6.4 meters wide, the draught reaching 2.5 meters. Two sails give 226 square meters altogether. In case there is no wind the ship has a 210 horse-power Scania TD engine. “Iris” has a displacement of 130 tons and it can take on up to 36 passengers.


Interesting facts and stories

  • In Northern-Estonia it was believed that to make a really fast ship the keel tree had to be stolen from another mans forest.     
  • Old folk believed that every bigger boat had its own guardian spirit, who was called a ship sprite in the regions east of Tallinn and kotermann in the parts west of Tallinn. The ship spirit came into the vessel during the building and, if well cared for, protected the ship and the crew against bad luck and storms.


"Iris" routes