The Journeying Men

Have you ever come across a young man or woman, clad in black ornamented bell bottom suede pants, matching waistcoat, and a broad rimmed hat?

If he or she furthermore emits a distinctive aroma of wood, metal or masonry, you can consider yourself privileged, because you have very likely met a journeyman.

But there are much more interesting things about journeymen besides their distinctive and aromatic fashion.  

Here’s their story and how it intersects with Hawila’s.

A centuries old tradition

The tradition of wandering craftsmen emerged in the late Middle Ages, in 15th century Germany. At that time, cities had grown to be a third factor in the balance of political power in the traditional feudalistic societies of Europe. Before, absolute political power was shared only by the nobility and the Catholic Church.

All technological and humanistic knowledge had been concentrated in, developed and exclusively owned, by the many monasteries. The monks were not only the guardians of religion and spirituality but also scientists, craftsmen, engineers and teachers.


When cities became economically independent, and politically powerful, all this changed, leading to a new world order. Feudalism was based on agriculture, where few owned all of the land and 95% of the population were forced to work in slave-like conditions for their noble overlords. This new world order led to the end of serfdom, the emergence of industrialism and, eventually, democracy.

Until the early Middle ages, 99% of the population of Europe lived in the countryside. Today, after almost 1000 years of urbanisation, 75% of the population on the European continent live in cities.

The Guilds

Soon merchants and craftsmen in the cities of Central Europe began organising themselves into associations, called guilds.  

The guilds soon established their own professional standards, education systems and rules of conduct. If one wanted to learn a profession, he (women were not yet allowed to learn crafts) had to approach the local guild and apply for apprenticeship with a master craftsman. After a basic education of 3-5 years, the apprentice would, upon successful completion of an exam, gain the title ”Geselle”, or Journeyman. 

Being a journeyman entitled you to seek employment with a master craftsman, but only in the town where you had learned your trade. In order to become an independent craftsman, you had to gain the title of ”Meister” – Master Craftsman. But it was required that the Geselle had to travel for a minimum of 2 years, the exact duration determined by the guild before they could call themselves a Master.

Sending young craftsmen on year-long journeys made sense: Travelling journeymen were the primary bearers of cultural exchange, from the Middle Ages until the end of the 19th century. By travelling and seeking employment in foreign countries, they not only could enrich their professional knowledge, but also gain valuable life-experiences.  

Sending the young professionals away for a couple of years was also a convenient way for getting rid of undesired competition for the established master craftsmen. So that is why Journeyman where organizing themself in special guilds to have more power in negotiations with the master guilds, it was the begining of getting more workers rights. Although journeymen enjoyed international legal and political protection, travelling in the Middle Ages was still perilous. Food was scarce and there were robbers and highwaymen. One condition for the sanctuary state of the journeymen was that they were not allowed to carry arms. 

After the wandering years, the journeyman could return home and apply for the title of Master craftsman, subject to passing the master exam before a committee of the guild. Then he would become a member of the guild and get permission to start his own business.

By the end of the 19th century this century-old tradition began to disappear, as the power of the guilds was broken by political changes and the transition into the industrial society of the 20th century. 


In the 1990’s the tradition of travelling professionals began to resurface on the periphery of a ”back to the roots” movement. Young professionals, now both men and women, would rediscover these traditions and cherish the romance and adventure that came with them.

Today, journeymen, adhering to the ancient rules and traditions, are again travelling all over Europe, even all over the world. They have formed their own local and international organisations and enjoy growing respect for their high level of craftsmanship and work ethics.

Travelling was never about making money, but gaining experience. That’s why you today can find many journeymen and women working as volunteers in non-profit projects – like Hawila Project.

Journeymen on Hawila

We had the pleasure of recently hosting four talented journeymen and -women on Hawila. The reason being, originated from last summer, where we had the privilege to witness a journeyman being pierced with a long nail to the beam of Hawila in celebration of their rite of passage from the master. Here, everyone came together in a magical moment of song, celebration and tradition, a beautiful moment where the young journeyman was nailed to the beam for the ceremony. After this, the journeyman carved his name in the beam with the agreement that they would return to work on the ship.

This is exactly what he did. Travelling with three others the journeymen and -women made new hatches on deck, prepared the bulkheads and brought a great working spirit with them. The time shared with them made us reflect upon this broader idea of community, it was very inspiring to see the camaraderie, professionalism, skill and dedication of these craftsmen.

Under all circumstances, journeymen have a well-deserved reputation for being competent and highly qualified workers. Their lifestyle enables them to gain experiences others can’t even imagine. For many, this is a sound investment in their own professional and personal development and future. 

We always praise ourselves lucky, when a journeyman decides to join our work, how briefly it may be, and so should you. We learn a lot from them and they can learn a lot of us.

We are proud to be able to support this great tradition and we’re looking forward to meet more of these fantastic and dedicated people.

Set of Iron Clad Rules

In the Wikipedia article ”Die Wanderjahre” you can learn more about their set of rules and code of conduct.  

Hawila is out of the water again, this time until the end of March!

After cleaning and stabilising the vessel, we started right away to look at accesses to remove the first two planks and our keelsons.

Our ambition is to replace the keel bolts, as well as galbord, ribbord, keelsons and side keelsons.

Thank you Den Gamle Bedding Holbæk for your dedication to hoist us up.

The whole process took two tries over two days, and a total more than 8 hours on a light south-west wind, including a night time repair of the slipway in between trials!

Thank you all for the amazing teamwork!

Hawila’s refit in Holbæk has begun!

In the second half of September we started a large refit of Hawila in Holbæk that should last until October next year. A group of skilled volunteers joined the permanent crew and started to take down sails and rigging.

We gathered all our local friends over a long weekend to remove together the 30 tons of ballast put in the bilges in the 80’s by our predecessors from MBV. The pieces of iron varied in size and weight, oscillating between 30 and 300 kilograms. The smaller bits were carried by a human chain, the bigger ones were removed by crane. Thank you all again for this collective effort, after all this mass we removed, Hawila has raised nearly one meter above the water!

The work of the crane gave us thrills also when removing the masts. We gathered to watch this breathtaking moment amazed to find an impossible to read all rounded luck-coin under one of the masts- a maritime tradition dating as far back as the Roman times.

We are now dismantling the inside cabins to access the bare hull. During this week Hawila will be covered and we will remove all the midship and forward deck to assess properly the state of the vessel.

We are very much looking forward to being hoisted on the slipway on the 9th of November. The next challenge will be the necessary work on our keelson, galbord, keel bolts and frames.

Stay tuned, there will be way more to come in the coming weeks!

Fair winds

The fascinating story of Hawila’s wood for the refit 2020/2021

The decision to plant thousands of ship oaks in 1810:

In 1810, after events of Napoleonic wars, the king Frederik made the decision to plant thousands of oak trees between Hillerod, Esrum and Helsinge, an area since known as the Gribskov (Vulture forest) to make it possible to rebuild the Danish fleet 200 years from then, since that is the time oaks need to mature into ship oaks.

In 2010 the time had come. In a public announcement, the Royal Forestry Commissioner of Denmark informed Queen Margarethe II that the oaks were now finally ready to be used for the rebuilding of the Danish Navy. Of course, this announcement sounded odd in our modern times, but the legal obligation from 1810 for the Royal Forestry Commissioner to announce to the reigning King (or queen) the day when the oaks officially would become ship oaks, was still in force.

The obligation was duly fulfilled.

Hawila’s incredible luck (based on a good deal perseverance):

Now, at the antique sawmill of Kagerup, 15 of these matured ship oaks finally are waiting to fulfil their destination. Not by becoming ships of the Danish Navy, but by becoming a part of Hawila during the Great Refit, starting September 15th in the Isefjord town of Holbaek.

It took several months of negotiations until 15 of those beautiful 200 years old oak trees were ready for Hawila to purchase them.

On February 20, the trees were felled and transported to the sawmill in Kagerup, soon to be milled into planks, ribs and deck beams for Hawila.
The final comment when we thanked Peter Chrois Moeller, the sales manager of Naturstyrelsen, who made it possible was:

“It makes me happy that at least some of our great ship oaks can fulfil their destination and become part of a great sailing ship.”

We feel privileged and grateful to Peter Chrois Moeller (Naturstyrelsen) and Gribskov’s forester Jan Erik Løvgen, for making this happen!

Without their support it would not have been possible.

LAG Midt-Nordvestsjælland supports Hawila’s refit

We are happy to announce that Hawila has received financial support for the refit in Holbæk from LAG (Local Action Group) Mid-Northwest Zealand. LAG is an association supporting projects that contribute to the development of projects and activities in Lejre, Holbæk, Sorø, Odsherred and Kalundborg municipalities. In 2020 LAG has a focus on sustainable development and green conversion. Its funds come from the Danish state and the EU’s Rural Fund.

We feel honoured to be recognised by the local actors as a desired element of the sustainable development of the region.We are looking forward to becoming part of the local community, contributing to the development of the area with innovative and green approaches to maritime transport, maritime cultural heritage and sustainable tourism development of the region.

We eagerly anticipate further collaboration with the local community as well as getting to know the people of Holbæk and the surrounding area to co-create activities and work on sustainable entrepreneurship development.

Hawila needs YOU!

Join a one year refit in Denmark

Hawila is looking for volunteers from October 2020 to October 2021 for major refit in Holbæk, Denmark.

The refit will last up to a year to convert Hawila into a commercial registered vessel with a transformation of the mess-room to allow the transport of cargo.

The team will consist of 8-16 people. We aim to keep an enriching working atmosphere that sustains a good community life.

You will join as a volunteer. In addition to becoming part of the Hawila community, being hosted and provided wholesome meals we will make specific arrangements with each volunteer depending on the length of their volunteering period, their skills and previous experiences.

As a common reward, all volunteers will be offered days of sailing in exchange for their time and commitment. Specific details and arrangements will be explained once the application round will be closed.

Tools and working clothes will be provided by Hawila but you are welcome to bring your own beloved toolbox.

A minimum commitment of 1 month is required for all volunteers; we believe that’s the minimum to integrate within the community and sustain a continuous, efficient and interesting learning/volunteering experience.

Needed from October 2020:

woodworker, carpenter, boatbuilder, jack of all trades. Later in the refit (from spring 2021): Sailmakers, Riggers, Electricians, Mechanics.

Refit plan:

Framing and planking below and above water line, keel work (mid-ship keelson, keel bolts), caulking, decking, rigging work, 2 additional bulkheads, new sails, new electrics.

How to apply?:

If you are interested, send us an application email with a few words about you, your motivation to join the adventure, your experiences and possibly a CV to

We will be receiving applications until August 15th.

Fair Winds!

Hawila Crew

STEAM [science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics] workshops for kids in Isefjord

Are children interested in building a robot or studying marine electronics?

We have a chance to find out when spending a week with amazing boys and girls and their guardians in Isefjord. Together with kids and parents from the French-Danish school Hawila Project organised STEAM [science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics]- a week of non-formal education workshops for kids taking place in breathtaking nature onboard Hawila and on a farm inland.

Our little fellows have a chance to immerse themselves in practical knowledge on how to weld, make print on a T-shirt, program a robot, work with analog photography and sound.

Amongst the workshops there are also possibilities for adventurers to try sailing with Hawila, tree climbing, steering a little boat or challenge themselves when climbing the main mast.

Our amazing chefs provide delicious meals prepared from organic ingredients to fuel the body and spirits of the kids crew.

We are looking forward to the last days of workshops!

Hawila: one year refit in Holbaek starting in October 2020

Hawila’s life story has been full of twists and changes. She started as a cargo vessel transporting ice at the beginning of the century, she was used for fishing and smuggling during WWII, in the late 70s and 80s she became a platform for non-formal education for a creative group of teachers. Since the Hawila Project runs the vessel, she has been a place serving a community, inspiring artists and ramblers.

In 2020, she will begin another transformation. This one will bring her back to her roots, Hawila will gain yet another dimension.

We are happy to announce that starting from October 2020, Hawila will be staying in Holbaek where she will undergo a major restoration in the local shipyard. This work will allow her to safely transport large quantities of cargo by sail by late 2021.
As a sailing cargo vessel, Hawila will provide an environmentally friendly, sustainable alternative to long distance maritime transportation. More details about our future routes and ambitions will come in following posts.

We are very grateful for excellent collaboration with our partners from Holbaek: Kystliv Holbæk ,Det Gamle Beddinger, Holbæk Museum – en del af Museum Vestsjælland, thanks to whom we felt very much welcome and fitted in the local maritime environment. The city of Holbæk has a rich boat building tradition to share as well as charismatic personas leading educational and innovative projects on site. Hawila Project is honoured to be a part of a local Holbaek community!

There is a great amount of work ahead of us. We estimate that Hawila will stay in the shipyard in Holbaek for 10 to 12 months. We aim to replace most of our bottom planks (galbord, robord…), maintenance work on our keel, keelson and keel bolts. We will install a new pine deck and covering board as well as 3 wooden bulkheads. Lastly, Hawila will get a total rigging refit and perhaps a new set of sails.

We are looking forward to the support of local and international carpenters and boat builders. We will soon publish an official volunteer call with more details of the planned work, but if you are already curious about the volunteer possibilities, please contact us by sending an email to: .

COVID-19 Hawila sailing updates

Alterations in Hawila sailing plans for the summer 2020

Dear sailors and friends!

We hope this message finds you in good health and well-being!

It is with great sadness that we need to inform you that due to the current coronavirus situation and travel restrictions in Denmark we found no way to make the Ship of Opportunity project happen this year.

We have been researching, trying to find ways, changing routes, but we couldn’t come up with a solution that would not be putting you at risk of being returned from the border.

We put a lot of work and heart in planning the residency and we really appreciate as well the efforts of potential participants, the applications and amazing ideas that those inspiring people came up with and wanted to contribute and share with others.

We do hope we can stay in touch and think about resuming the project in 2021 or 2022, depending on the availability of our beautiful Hawila that will spend next year in the shipyard.

We are preparing alternative summer plans for August at the moment, we will shortly publish them. If you live in Denmark or if you know you can legally cross the border, you are still warmly welcome to contact us and join one of the alternative sailings.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Please use our Hawila email for communication with Hawila about sailing this summer:

The email can be used to contact Agata, an artist with whom the Ship of Opportunity project was co-designed.

All our best and may the winds always be in your favour,

Hawila Crew and Agata Engelman!

Residencies- summer 2020

COVID-19 update: Because of the COVID-19 pandemia we needed to make a decision to postpone our summer project. At this moment we decided to begin the sailing on the 5th of August until the 28th. We stil believe it will happen although it might be again altered if the circumstances will require it. The legal and health authorities requirements will also affect the route. At the moment it seems like we might be able to sail in the Danish and Swedish waters. We will take decisions on the route based on the winds and the circumstances on a daily basis.  We see this challenges as an opportunity to connect with the uncertainties, let go of the fixed plans and destinations, observe the wind and the nature to work alongside. Therefore resilience as a theme of our journey becomes even more relevant.  This also gives us and you more time to apply for additional funding. 

Dear friends! The deadline for applications got extended until the 07th of April 2020

The Ship of Opportunity invites artists, scientists, and storytellers to embark on Hawila, a 32-meter gaff-rigged ketch built in 1935, departing from the Danish island of Bornholm and arriving 23 days later in the town of Turku in Finland. We will follow the weather and winds to travel between those two points. Destinations will be suggested by the crew on a daily basis based on the group preferences and weather conditions. All residents will be invited to participate in sailing the ship. We will provide basic training in navigation, interaction with the wind and water, and understanding the nature of the ship. The group will also be invited to support the cooking and maintenance works. While on the ship, we function as a community, working closely together, sharing responsibilities, stories, skills. We will make sure there is enough time not only for absorbing experiences but also for independent work. The participants’ individual projects do not need to address any specific themes and there is no requirement to produce finished work during the residency, the programme mainly aims to provide a space for experimentation and exchange.

The Ship of Opportunity is a collaboration between the members of Hawila Project and artist-researcher Agata Engelman – diverse group with a variety of experiences, and working on our own projects, we want to invite a variety of people to join in for the journey. We are looking for artists, scientists, researchers, storytellers and explorers. Attentive to the environment in which we will be sailing, one of the aims of the project is to inquire into the changing condition of the Baltic’s human and nonhuman communities and multispecies entanglements, and searching for, exchanging, and sharing situated knowledges. This year we will place particular focus on the topic of food. When sailing on a ship, everyday conveniences become limits, such as storage space, electricity, water and gas. Facing scarcity of resources, we become particularly mindful when preparing the food and storing it. Food provides an insight into community, culture and resilience, we are interested in learning about local knowledges and practices. We also plan to transport seeds and local goods between the harbours. Our guests get to experience delicious, high quality, mindfully cooked food prepared in challenging conditions. Facing climate change and resource scarcity, we find it important to shift the focus to something positive and local. By using the power of the wind, on a small-scale sailing ships can provide an alternative to the transport practices that harm the environment. We see this niche practice as being important symbolically, provoking critical thinking and inspiring changes that are needed on a larger scale.

We will organise events in some of the harbours we visit, sharing food, stories and art, meeting local communities, learning about local food production, wild harvesting or traditional methods of food preservation, like fermentation and drying. Everyone will be welcome to participate in those activities, but there are no fixed expectations. We want to visit several places on our way that we find interesting for the project and the residents, including a permaculture community farm on a Swedish island of Gotland.

1) your CV/ portfolio / link to portfolio or short bio (max 1 page A4)
2) your proposal (max 1 page A4), please address the following:
● why would you like to join us;
● what would like to engage with during the journey;
● how would you like to contribute to the voyage;
● what inspires you based on the above residency description,
● state also your expectations and what would you need to feel comfortable living and creating onboard.

Please bear in mind that the space on the ship is limited. Hawila is an old wooden vessel, the things that will be stored inside can get wet and messy if not secured properly when the weather gets rough. Hawila is not a luxurious ship. The experience it offers is unforgettable, the crew is experienced, warm-hearted and will do their best to keep you safe, warm, well fed and respected. Nevertheless, please remember that it can get wet, cold and challenging in many ways. The residents will be free in their exploration and creations as long as safety and integrity of the group on board is not compromised. For safety reasons the applicants need to feel confident moving around the boat, on very steep steps and wet deck during rough weather. The residency is designed for people above 18 years old.

Send your application, including any questions you might have, to
Please put your name in the names of the files that will be attached.

Deadline for applications: 07.04.2020

We will inform all of you about the results within several weeks.