The Peipsi barge or lodi in Estonian is an unique one-masted sailer adjusted for transport on lake Peipsi and its rivers. According to historians lodi was used in hanseatic trade on River Emajõgi already in the 14. century. Peipsi barges brought from Russia to Tartu furs, wax, honey, flax and hemp, also most of the firewood ended up in Tartu the same way. Even though Peipsi barges were big, reaching up to 35 meters in length, they were often towed to their destination by human labor from the shore. This helped the barge crews up-stream in case of bad wind and provided local farmers with extra income. Most of the barges were built by shipwrights of Lake Peipsi – the biggest centre being the village of Podlipka in Oudova county. The builidng of Peipsi barges stopped in 1918 and last of these unique sailers were turned into sail-less transport hoys during the First Republic, towed by steam-engine powered ships.
Emajõe River Barge Society has built according to the gathered information the world’s only Peipsi barge, which offers a wonderful chance to sail on the ancient hanseatic trade routes from Lake Võrtsjärv to Lake Peipsi, enjoy the pristine nature of Emajõgi and get to know the local cultures.


Technical information and construction


The methods of building the Peipsi barge have remained unchanged for centuries. The most characteristic feature about its construction is the clinker-planked hull and the cold-bent planks that are slatted with strips of wood and reinforced with iron clamps – a technic which was replaced by newer ones in the rest of Europe already 500 years ago. For construction mainly pine was used, in case of smaller barges also spruce was common. Despite the fact that hanseatic barges had a shallow draught, were short and squat (length and width ratio 2:1,3), they had a very decent carriage capacity, which depending on the size of the boat was between 16-200 tons. The barge built by Emajõe River Barge Society in 2005 is 12 meters long, 7,5 meters wide and with 0.7 metre draught. Mast is 15 meters tall and the main sail amounts to 100 square meters.


Interesting facts and stories

  • According to Estonian Maritime Museum Peipsi barge is one of the world’s biggest clinker-planked river ships in the whole history.
  • In 1472 Peipsi barges left their mark in the history, when fiance of czar of Moscow Ivan III, Sofia and her retainers used these vessels to bring to Russian princes the Byzantine coat of arms – the two-headed eagle, whose one head watches east and the other west. This eagle is now on the coat of arms of the Russian Federation.
  • Lodi was also extensively used by Russian merchants, who transported their cargo on them from Pihkva to Tartu, where they even had two separate districts with two orthodox churches.       

Peipsi Barge Routes