Kale is a traditional clinker-planked wooden trawler-sailer used in Võrtsjärve region. Because of its slender appearance it was often used for regattas and leisure cruises as well. This graceful ship has two triangular sails –bigger main sail and smaller jib sail in the fore. When trawling kale sailed down the wind towing a 3-4 meter wide funnel-like trawling net with 4-5 meter wings behind it. The name of the ship kale itself comes from the name of the large-meshed trawling net or kale. During the high times in the 1930ies to 1970ies there were more than 70 kaleships on Lake Võrtsjärv, but due to the change of fishing methods all of them were destroyed during the Soviet times.

Kaleship “Paula”, built according to the instructions of the last surviving shipwright Väino Leiaru in 2005, is the only one of its kind and now offers study and pleasure cruises to people interested in historic wooden vessels and traditional fishing on Lake Võrtsjärv and its islands.       

Technical information and construction

Sailing ship “Paula”, the one-masted kaleboat is 12 meters long, the mast reaching 15 meters in height. It has a shallow draught, but in addition kale has a centreboard that can be lifted up when landing, which reaches only meter and twenty centimetres below the surface. The gaffsails on kaleboat enable it to be manouvered at a 45 degree angel against the wind. Like Peipsi barge the hull of kale was clinkerbuilt according to archaic methods.

Interesting facts and stories

  • The only existing kaleship was built in 2005 according to the instructions of the last surviving shipwright, who passed the knowledge learned during his childhood on to the fishermen of Valma village during the building of “Paula”.
  • When the modernisation of fishing methods left the kaleships unused, local people decided to start organising sailing competitions – that is how the famous Võrtsjärve Regatta started.

 Kaleship Routes