16′ Smakke Jolle – Angus Biles

Smakke Jolle ‘Helge’ is a traditional Danish boat, built using plans from a Danish museum. She is a 16’ square sailed double-ended workboat built entirely in oak. Once completed commissioner and student Angus Biles will take her to Snekkersten, a former fishing village in the region of Helsingør in eastern Denmark. The offsets were produced from drawings belonging to Angus, the fit out and rig were based on photos he took in Snekkersten.  ‘Helge’ is typical of workboats in many Scandinavian countries, ferrying goods, people and livestock until the early 20th century.

Boats of Helge’s design were traditionally made from whatever boat building timber was available locally.  Because of a lack of straight grain English oak we used European oak (this was still challenging).  Almost every plank during the clinker hull building process was joined using at least one scarf joint and most had to be steamed and bent at the hood ends.  Glue is not used on plank seams in traditional clinker planking; a skilfully crafted wood on wood flush bevel seam created a watertight seal on each overlapping plank edge. These were then clenched together using copper rose-head nails and roves (rose-head nails for aesthetic reasons). Sawn oak frames and floors then give the hull its rigidity.

Cuprinol wood preserve was applied to the interior timber, followed by a total coating of oil, then coats of a UV resistant exterior Osmo oil. The exterior of the boat was coated in thinned down pine tar mixed with linseed oil. This finish darkens the oak, preserves the wood and seals it from the elements.  The workshop smelled amazing.

‘Helge’ is powered by the traditional rig; spritsail, jib and top sail. Her sails were made by Angus and classmates on the Sail Making phase of the course, under the watchful eye of visiting instructor Jeremy White of Elvstrom Sails.

Main timbers used

European and English oak

Mast and spars – Douglas Fir


West System GFlex epoxy – G/flex 650 epoxy


Everbuild everflex 145 – grey Butyl rubber Mastic


Auson Genuine Pine Tar

Terebine Driers

Boiled Linseed Oil

Cuprinol wood preserve – Wood Preserve



Spritsail, made on the course with Jeremy White of Elvstrom Sails