Article in National Geographic with Acting for Climate

Our long-time partner Acting for Climate talked to National Geographic about their performances on Hawila.

“Our focus is on what we can do. How do we want the world to look?”.

Our collaboration with Acting for Climate is founded on our mutual care for the environment, our aim to raise ecological awareness and to trigger a wider debate on sustainable development.

This summer Hawila Project and Acting for Climate will join forces again for the upcoming performance Ripples which will take place across the Baltic Sea and reach ports in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Estonia.

Read the full article to learn how creative collectives worldwide are committed to inspiring people to act for a more sustainable future.

The bulkheads on Hawila

Hawila was originally built in Norway as a small cargo ship in 1935, and converted afterwards for sailing in coastal waters, long before bulkheads were a requirement by law. Soon her purpose will evolve to a completely new level: crossing the Atlantic, either laden with about 25-30 people onboard, or a full load of cargo. The world is now very different compared to the day her keel was first laid, and Hawila shall therefore fight her way through stringent international safety rules and regulations which were written for giant steel ships, a dozen or hundred times bigger than her, yet, we still have to comply with the same rules to be able to sail cargo.

For the first time in this refit, we go beyond the restoration and start modifying Hawila into something completely new. We have always been able to visually read what needed to be changed or modified, but now we get to build something which was never there, that gives us a new and exciting building challenge, while complying with new, up-to-date regulations.

Why do we need bulkheads?

We need bulkheads in order to divide the ship, separate cargo and living areas, and contain potential localized flooding, and, or fire. To meet the present regulations, four bulkheads are being built onboard. Each bulkhead needs to be water tight and act as a fire retardant. Originally, our surveyor wanted these in steel, but steel generally doesn’t work good with wooden ships as it is stiffer than wood and can rip itself from the hull when the vessel naturally deforms through the waves.

We try, where possible, to adapt the bulkheads’ location to our needs, and these should enable us to carry at least 50 tonnes of cargo and possibly a maximum of 65, split over two cargo holds. Each of those cargo holds will be convertible, and can be used as a dormitory with 8 sleeping spaces bunks for trainees. This will ensure that we will continue to sail with members, host cultural, and educational events, keeping Hawila’s heritage as a training ship, alive.

We have fitted two very large bolted doors panels on the central bulkhead, separating the two cargo holds. While being watertight, removing those doors, once open, will allow us to open the space entirely between the two cargo holds, to perform loading-unloading, as well as host cultural events in harbours. In addition, the bulkheads strengthen and make the ship rigid to be able to sustain enormous weight and force from both heavy cargo and heavy weather.

The aft bulkhead will be completely sealed, hatches are being built parallel to the mizzen mast for the crew to enter the engine room and the port aft cabin. While sailing with cargo, about 17-16 persons will be able to stay onboard, up to 10 in the forward part of the ship, split in 3 cabins, and 7-6 in the aft in 3 crew cabins. Then, with no cargo we can host a maximum of 8-16 additional trainees.

Each bulkhead structure were made with 15cm oak beam assemblies, reinforced and sealed with 45mm x 40mm pine cladding. The cladding is made with tongue and groove, and screwed to the frames, the keelson, the bulkheads beams and the deck beams. Joints will be tarred and/or caulked whenever necessary. Well-adjusted coamings are running along the inner planking to support the bulkhead cladding, while plugs are inserted into joints between the inner planks to prevent water circulating through these. Watertightness between the existing frames and inner planking will be improved by injecting material, or by working from the outside when replacing the planking. If necessary, concrete sealant will be poured in between the two frames next to each bulkhead location, acting as ballast and ensuring watertightness in this area.

With a combination of a naval architect, surveyor, and a team of professional boat builders, we look forward to finishing the bulkheads, getting ready to sail and transport cargo!


[English below]


Er du tømrer, bådebygger, smed, mekaniker eller sandhedssøgende eventyrer med mindst 1 måned til rådighed?

Du vil blive en del af et stærkt og godt fællesskab
Få unikke oplevelser
Lære Håndværk af dygtige fagfolk, så vel som selv at få mulighed til at lære fra dig
Være sammen og have det sjovt med ligesindede fra hele Europa
Få 200 år gammelt egetræer til at blive en del af et stort historisk sejlskib I Danmarks største træskibshavn
Bruge din erfaring, viden og kærlighed til den store renovering af en 86 år gammel norskfødt dame.

Du vil blive indlogeret med fuld forplejning i vores hyggelige kollektiv i Holbæk med dine kollegaer. For dit arbejde vil du også optjene sejldage med Hawila.

Hvis du vil lære mere om denne enestående mulighed, skal du kontakte Hawila-teamet på eller ringe til Johan Bech på +4522891802



Are you a carpenter, a boatbuilder, a blacksmith, mechanic or truth-seeking adventurer with at least 1 month to spare?

Being part of a great team
Gathering unique experiences
Learning from each other, teaching one another
Having a great time with like-minded people from all over Europe
Transforming 200 years old oak trees to become parts of a great historic sailing ship
In the largest wooden ship harbour of Denmark
Putting your experience and knowledge to good use
For the grand refit of a 86 year old, Norwegian-born lady

You will be hosted and fed in our house near the ship in Holbæk. In exchange for volunteer time you will get sailing time onboard Hawila.

If you want to learn more about this unique opportunity, contact the Hawila team at or call Johan Bech on +4522891802

Why is sailing cargo important for Hawila?

Hawila was built in 1935 as a cargo freighter to carry ice. The ship would be run by a single family and sail from Sweden to Norway. In the pits, they would harvest the ice, load it onto Hawila’s belly (up to 100 tons), and then sail it back to Sweden where it would be sold to fishermen to keep their catch fresh.

When we started the Hawila Project in 2015, ice did not need to be shipped anymore for many years – today it can be locally sourced in the nearby factory or goods kept fresh in a fridge. Even if today, most of our goods can be produced locally, globalisation makes it cheaper to produce things thousands of kilometers away from where they are consumed. It is an economic solution but an ecological disaster.

How can we deal with this in our daily lives?

What does really need to be shipped, and what not?

How can we transform such an ecologically damaging supply chain?

The Sail Cargo movement and all the people involved in it are trying to answer those questions with their actions.

For those curious about sail cargo around Denmark check out #Fairtransport who today, depart from Bornholm, arriving in Copenhagen and bringing beer from our friends at the wonderful brewery of #Svaneke and a huge amount of curved, dried oak for our refit, by sail!!! #Grayhoundventures are currently laying alongside Hawila in Holbaek Harbour ahead of schedule. She will stay a couple of days before departing for Odense, then to Göteborg to load her cargo of beer which she will sail to Germany from Feel free to drop by and say hello!

Grayhound Lugger Sailing


New Dawn Traders



Sail Cargo Alliance


Blue Schooner Company

Les Caboteurs de Lune

TOWT – Transport à la voile

Hawila LIDAR 3D Scan:

(English below)

Vivien, vores skibsarkitekt arbejder ustoppeligt på Hawila’s indledende og fremtidige tegninger. Han baserer det meste af sit arbejde på LIDAR 3D scanninger, der er blevet lavet tidligt i ombygningsprocessen og er produceret af vores kære ven “Stig Anton AN” fra

3D scanningerne viser de fleste elementer i skibets skrog, og giver os et nøjagtigt billede af skibet – på den måde kan vi bestemme den absolut bedste måde at designe vores fremtidige skib. 3D scanningerne tjener flere formål: det giver os ikke blot overblik over mål og dimensioner for skibstømrerarbejdet, men hjælper os også med at planlægge hele layoutet af rør- og kabellægning, tanke, inventar og skotter og giver os forståelse for skibets masse og stabilitet indtil den endelige ballastning og hældningstest. Scanningerne giver os mulighed for at forberede Hawila på de forhøjede sikkerheds- krav og reguleringer, der følger med i hendes nye transatlantiske liv. Desuden giver scanningerne os mulighed for at undersøge deformationer i skroget, og endeligt, giver de os mulighed for at dokumentere arkitekturen og transformationen af et historisk skandinavisk skib. Hawila har den første halvdel af sit liv været et fragtskib, og senere hen været et øvelsesskib – vi håber at kunne bære hendes stolte traditioner og historie med ud i fremtiden.

Se her de indledende tegninger af skibet – vi vil løbende dele flere, som processen skrider hen.

Vivien – our volunteer naval architect – is working relentlessly on the actual and future drawings of Hawila. He bases most of his work on LIDAR 3D scans kindly made by our friend “StigAnton AN” from at the early stage of the refit and showing most of the elements of the ship’s hull.

From this, we have an accurate mapping of the ship used to determine the best possible way to design the new vessel.This serves multiple purposes: not only to provide dimensions for carpentry work in the current refit, but also to plan the whole layout (including piping, cabling, tanks, furniture, equipment and bulkheads), to assert the ship’s mass and stability until the final ballasting & inclination tests, to prepare Hawila for heightened safety requirements and regulations that will come with her new transatlantic life, to study the deformations of the hull, and as an extra, to document the architecture and transformations of an historical scandinavian ship. Hawila spent half of her life as a cargo ship, the other half as an educational sailing ship, and we hope to retain both sides of her history in her future.

Have a look at the preliminary drawings, there will be more details later about the whole mapping process and the design of the ship!

Hawila needs your vote to get support for the refit!

//For dansk, scroll under//

Hawila Project is applying for Realdania Funding to finish the refit of the ship so she can continue being a platform for culture, education and trade.We need 500 votes to be considered for this fund – and that’s where you come into the picture! Click on the link and give your vote to us by pressing the heart and write a comment about why Hawila is an important project for culture and community!

Hawila Project søger Realdania Fonden for at kunne gennemføre vores ønske om at ombygge skibet, så det kan fortsætte med at vores en platform for kultur, uddannelse og fragt.Vi skal bruge 500 stemmer for at blive valgt til puljen og det er dér, du kommer ind i billedet. Klik på linket og afgiv din stemme ved at trykke på hjertet – og skriv en kommentar om, hvorfor Hawila er et vigtigt projekt for kultur og fællesskab!

What did we do to Hawila’s keelson?

The keelson is of primary importance in the structure of a wooden vessel. It can be seen as the mirror of the keel, inside the ship, going from the stem to the stern with frames and floor timber sandwiched in between. On Hawila, the central keelson is also strengthened by sister keelsons on both sides, bolted through the frames and through the keelson, making a coherent structural unit.

We replaced 2 of the 3 central oak pieces making Hawila’s keelson -joint between them with a 2,5m scarf- in addition to the two sister keelsons. The original Keelson was about 25x20cm, we increased the size to 50x25cm over a length of 18m. The aft keelson was very well preserved and left in place. We integrated the keelson in the bow, sandwiching it between two deadwoods at the apron.

Before starting to work on the new keelson, we had to dismantle the old keelson and sister keelsons, which were firmly bolted in the keel and the frames. In some places the wood was well rotted, in other places, it seemed to have started a fossilization process making it unbelievably hard to cut and drill. After removing the whole keelson, we did a comprehensive bolt mapping to track each bolt hole and plan the fastening of the new keelson. In the 1980’s a second keel was bolted underneath Hawila’s original keel, trapping the old keel bolts which we could not remove and preventing us from doing much work on the old keel. As such, we chose to keep as it was and to accommodate the keel deformation on the new keelson.

To take the measurements, the center line of the ship was established, we then made a level to work and map the future keelson shape. Multiple measurements were taken in the ship to guide the future fairing of each frame and the cutting of the keelson. We used a string which represents the top of the new keelson and took measurements to establish the way of cutting the wood. The shape of the new keelson and sister keelsons were then traced on the new pieces of 200 years old oak. Tracing is a crucial part of the process and the features had been checked with particular attention, because the dry fitting process has to be as efficient as possible. Only after accurate checks of each measurement can the timber be cut, first with power tools, then with more precise and tools. All knots and damaged parts were then plugged with dutchman.

We brought the circa 1 ton central keelson with a crane using a hole made in the frames on port bow. The whole process had to be well thought in advance as with such a heavy piece nothing can be left to hazard. With serious preparation and great teamwork, the lifting went smoothly. The smaller forward keelson and the two sister keelsons were lifted only with straps and chains block.

Once inside, it took less than an hour of local adjustment to dry fit the keelson which fitted perfectly, not a millimeter of error, very impressive on such a large piece with difficult assemblies!

Once dry fitted, they are ready to be fastened !

How do we replace hull planks on Hawila?

Hawila was built in 1935 as a coastal sailing cargo vessel, planked in 50mm oak with length up to 6m. Planks were fastened using treenails going through the frame and wedged on both sides, the seams were then caulked with hemp, and later filled with pitch.

The last month we replaced more than 260m of the old Hawila’s planks, some of them in still good shape of preservation and still holding strong to their treenails! On those oak planks we replaced, we chose to increase plank thickness from 50mm to 65mm, with length of 11 to 14m, this in order to add more strength and durability to the vessel. The Danish oak we used was planted 200 years ago, and air dried outside for 2 years before being fastened to Hawila. In addition, we increased the thickness of the galbord to 85mm, nearly twice the original thickness.

In this short video, we present a sum-up of the processes used to replace a planks.

Stay tuned, more video will follow!

How to make treenails?

When Hawila was built in 1935, frames and planks were fastened using treenails: a traditional and reliable fastening solution on many kind of wooden ships and constructions. From our experience, treenails present a longer lasting fastening solution than galvanised bolts in oak as they won’t deteriorate with time, but are longer to produce and harder to use.

In this short video, we present the process we used to produce and insert oak treenails in our oak planks.