Dutch Barge Groninger Tjalk

  • large ship, 60 ... 100 tons
  • wide skin plates in the bow
    somewhat plump
  • simple appearance, little decoration
  • entrance deckhouse on the starboard side
  • angular chimney

The peat Tjalken (a type of sailing ship) only went to Holland "over sea" during good weather, while the Groninger Tjalk was used for inland navigation. Its shape allowed it to carry a lot and navigate almost anywhere. The Groninger Tjalk is a sturdy and rugged ship, sometimes slightly clunky but usually with smooth lines.

A characteristic of Groninger shipbuilding is the use of wide skin plates (sometimes up to almost one meter wide) in the bow and stern. This allowed for cheaper construction than using narrow plates. Other aspects of the construction were also simple, such as the decking often only consisting of a piece of angle iron.

For the Groningen skippers it had to be strong and indestructible. Decorative, which also did not fit well with the character of the Groningen skipper, was rarely used. The size of the Tjalks varied considerably and was between 70 and 140 tons. The larger Tjalken were sometimes also used for small coastal shipping. For this one had to have a sea letter. This was issued by the shipping inspectorate if the ship met the requirements after adjustments. These inspections were carried out very precisely. Due to the modifications, a Tjalk naturally did not become a real seagoing vessel. A sea letter was therefore issued for a limited duration (1 year) and an often limited sailing area (eg to Hamburg and the Baltic Sea).

The Groninger Tjalk were rigged with one mast, with a large sail with a long straight gaff, a jib and often a yankee. Because of the long gaff, a long top was also needed and so the Groningen ships, the so-called 'long toppers', could be recognized from afar. a long top was needed, making the Groninger ships, the so-called "longtoppers", easily recognizable from far away.

The Groninger Tjalk differed in this respect from the Frisian Tjalk. The Frisian skippers were more focused on ornamentation than their Groninger colleagues. Their Skûten and Skûtsjes had a relatively short, curved gaff, which required a much shorter top. 

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