The Restauration sets sail again
A historic journey planned for the summer of 2025
There will most likely not be any births on board when the Restauration leaves Stavanger exactly 200 years after the first voyage to America. Nor any involuntary drunken orgies that could have ended in a horrific bloodbath.
The enthusiasts behind the 53-foot sloop Restauration hardly know what sea legs they are going to stand on. Halvor Håvarstein and John Andersen from the Venneforeningen, the Restauration friends organization, and owner Cato Østerhus have not only made sure that the ship was salvaged but will continue to have a home port in Rogaland County, more precisely on Mosterøy. They also have big plans for the coming years.
In 2025, it will be 200 years since the first Restauration left the dock in Stavanger and set course for America and freedom with 52 people on board, most of them Quakers and other religious dissidents from Rogaland. In 2025, this journey will be repeated: on July 4, the same date the journey started in 1825, the sloop will set sail out of Byfjorden, pass through Dusavika, and continue westward the next day.
This time there won’t be 52 or 53 people on board, according to Håvarstein. He has calculated that the 52 who shared the space on board at the time lived as cramped as if five football teams were to be crammed into a 53-foot-long arena.
So who is going?
The friends organization, Venneforeningen, has a little over 30 members; the core will probably come from there. “But we want more members, preferably with knowledge and experience of sailing old schooners. And a doctor wouldn’t be frowned upon,” says Håvarstein.
“But no one gets a free ticket. Everyone must be prepared to stand up also in the time before departure. Among other things, we have the task of testing both the ship and the crew in the next few years,” says Østerhus.
During the voyage itself, there will probably be a shift of 12 women and men, plus guests. Eighteen people is an estimate, but there will certainly be changes in both crew and guests along the way.
And we also have to avoid misunderstandings: For one, there will be no requirement for any religious affiliation nor any requirements about pregnancy or a predisposition to drunkenness.
Why avoid these misunderstandings? The explanation follows:
Birth and insobriety
It has been said that the 52 who left Norway had become 53 when they arrived in New York 98 days later, on Oct. 9. The leaders of the emigrants and the ship’s captain, Lars Larsen Geilane, and his wife, Martha, had their first child during the crossing.
The birth was not the only dramatic event along the way. Off the coast of Portugal, the travelers found a barrel floating in the sea. It contained the fortified wine Madeira, named after the island they approached. They had no water and naturally tasted the goodies and got so drunk that the ship drifted into the port city of Funchal without raising its flag.
Thus, the population on land feared that this was a ship and threatened to fire the cannons. One of the passengers had the flag hoisted at the last minute, and instead of bombardment, they were received with goodwill by the American consul on the island. He took care of the Norwegian boat refugees for several days before they sailed on across the Atlantic—to the salute of the cannons that a few days before were about to sink the schooner from Stavanger.
Once in New York, they were met by Cleng Peerson, who led the party farther westward in America. This was considered to be the start of the Norwegian emigration, and, all told, almost a million Norwegians would travel across the Atlantic.
That is why the interest in this story is also strong in the United States. Norwegian consulates in the United States have been informed of the plans that were presented on Sept. 1. The Norwegian American newspaper, based in Minneapolis and Seattle, will be reporting on the story.
The friends association, Venneforeningen, has 1, 500 social-media followers on both sides of the Atlantic. Liv Ullmann has shown interest in welcoming the crew when they arrive in New York City.
Major movie and busy days
Recently, the Restauration has been busy. The sloop was present front and center during the film festival in Haugesund in August, in connection with the screening of the Norwegian-Swedish blockbuster film The Emigrants. The film had its premiere in Stavanger on Sept. 1, with lead actress Lisa Carlehed in attendance. Strictly speaking, the Restauration has nothing to do with the film, but Norwegian and Swedish emigrant history have a lot in common.
The ship Restauration gives a realistic picture of what the journey was like. It also links the Nordic emigrant history and today’s refugee crisis together.
“We sailed with refugees earlier this summer, and it was powerful to meet people who had fled across the Mediterranean. This story is also about boat refugees, even if we use different words to express it,” says John Andersen.
Facts about the Restauration
• The Restauration was originally built in Hardanger in 1801 and was rebuilt in Egersund around 1820. At first, the boat’s was named Emmanuel, but after it was rebuilt, it was called Restauration.
• In 1825, the 53-foot boat departed from Stavanger to North America. This journey is often referred to as the beginning of the Norwegian emigration to the United States.
• Today’s ship is a replica, which was built at Finnøy in 2010. In 2020, Cato Østerhus bought the boat. He owns half of the housing construction group Øster Hus, with the rest owned by his younger brother, Njål.
This article first appeared in Stavanger Aftenblad, Sept. 1, 2022, and is reprinted with permission.
Translated by Lori Ann Reinhall
For more information, visit restauration.no.
This article originally appeared in the October 7, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.