Some of the elder members of the Tristan da Cunha community are involving the younger generation in the creation of a traditional longboat.

Throughout the 20th century the Tristan community used longboats to sail to nearby Nightingale and Inaccessible Island to gather food and resources.

The longboats were built by the community and owned by groups of 6-7 men.  The designs were lightweight to allow access from the islands’ boulder beaches. They were powered by sail and based on old whaleboat designs.

Longboats are no longer used by the community as they now have inflatable RIBs and dinghy’s. The old remaining boats are in disrepair and sailing isn’t practiced.

The elder members of the community with the skills and knowledge of longboats and sailing are involving the younger members of the community so that key skills can be passed onto the next generation.

One of the men working on the Longboat, Allan Swain said

“It has been such an interesting project so far, as it is even jogging our memory, as it has been such a long time since one was built.’’

Another community member, Jack Green said

We have been having a great time so far, with a few challenges along the way. But we are very happy that we will be able to show some of the younger generation the skill we once used so often”

Residents on the island of Tristan da Cunha building a longboat
An old photo of residents on the island of Tristan da Cunha building a longboat

The longboat restoration is one of many activities organised by the Atlantic Guardians that involves the community with their marine heritage and management of the Marine Protection Zone.

The Tourism Department, Tristan da Cunha Government are leading the works. The longboat creation is progressing quickly and is likely to be completed in April 2023.

To mark the first sailing of the boat the community are planning a celebration event on the beach and then a community party in the Prince Philip Hall.

Video showing the current progress of the longboat construction.

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