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Kysten som skapte hurtigruten

f. 1940, dr.philos. 1987, professor emeritus ved Universitetet i Nordland.

jon.gulowsen@uin.no

  • Side: 391-412
  • Publisert på Idunn: 2011-09-23
  • Publisert: 2011-09-23

Posttrafikk med dampskip til Nord-Norge ble innledet i 1838, men postdampskipene hadde få avganger og brukte lang tid. Skipene lå i havn om natten. I 1893 ble hurtigruten startet på oppdrag fra postverket. Den utnyttet dampskipets evne til å velge kurs, om så stå rett mot vinden. Ved å navigere etter klokke og kompass, kunne et trygt seilingsforløp gjentas i uvær eller stummende mørke. Dette var en nyvinning når det gjaldt navigasjon. Ved å seile både dag og natt, reduserte hurtigruten reisetiden på strekningen med anslagsvis 40 %. Dette var et stort gjennombrudd for rutegående dampskipstrafikk langs norskekysten, men metoden har ikke spredt seg til andre, fremmede farvann.

Coastal navigation by clock and compass

In northern Norway, postal traffic by steamship dates back to 1838, but many years later, in the 1880s, still there were few departures and ships remained overnight in ports. However, in 1893, the Norwegian postal service started a new practice. Unlike sailing ships, which navigated according to the winds, steam ships could sail in any direction, even directly into the wind. With the aid of a chronometer and compass a captain and pilot could chart a safe course in fair weather and repeat it in bad weather or darkness, even in dangerous waters close to the coast. By sailing at night as well as during the day, the sailing time of steamers could be reduced by about 40%. This was a major breakthrough for postal traffic, but it was confined to the Norwegian coast and did not spread to foreign waters, not even to nations around the North Sea. How could this navigational breakthrough in Norway have passed unnoticed among British navigators? Three reasons stand out: the first the natural characteristics of the British coastline, which is mostly open to the sea, unprotected by reefs and islets. There are few good natural harbours. The main ports located in estuaries and encumbered by large tidal variations is a challenge to all ships’ traffic, in particular for vessels sailing in accordance with schedules. Operation of a schedule with fixed arrival and departure times each day of the year would be impossible. Second, there is the risk of major accidents. Along the coast of England, and particularly in the English Channel, the traffic is intense, often in dense fog, and the risk of collision is great. Third, a more suitable option for the British postal service is rail, where even along the coast a rail-based mail system is more conducive to one based on the sea.

Keywords: coastal steamer, entrepreneurship, local knowledge, navigation
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