Kata Rocks
THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
The Phuket News Novosti Phuket Khao Phuket

Login | Create Account | Search


Poles revive the ancient tradition of timber floating

Poles revive the ancient tradition of timber floating

POLAND: A group of Poles have assembled tree trunks into a long raft and are streaming down the country’s longest river, the Vistula, to revive the ancient tradition of timber floating.

constructionlandmarineculturetransport
By AFP

Sunday 13 August 2017, 02:00PM


A group of Poles have assembled tree trunks into a long raft and are streaming down the country’s longest river to revive the ancient tradition of timber floating. Photo: Janek Skarzynski/AFP

A group of Poles have assembled tree trunks into a long raft and are streaming down the country’s longest river to revive the ancient tradition of timber floating. Photo: Janek Skarzynski/AFP

Their day begins at dawn with a prayer – “When dawn breaks, the earth, the sea, all of nature praises you” – which captain Zdzislaw Nikolas sings in his bass voice while the whole crew stands around an image of their patron saint.

They sing it at night too like their ancestors, says Nikolas, who sports an impressive handlebar moustache.

“Saint Barbara was the patron of those with dangerous jobs, like miners and firefighters and also raftsmen, because that too was a dangerous job: there was a strong river current in the spring,” he adds.

For centuries, timber floating brought wealth to many villages along the Vistula and its tributaries. Men sent merchandise of all kinds but especially wood from the forests of southern Poland downstream to the Baltic port of Gdansk.

“As soon as the ice melted on the Vistula and the currents of the Vistula and the (tributary) San were flowing freely, raft makers got to work and sent the wood floating down to Gdansk,” Nikolas says while steering from the back.

“The whole village of Ulanow did this job and it was often a family affair passed down from father to son. It disappeared with the beginning of the war in 1939 when the German army’s bombs destroyed the bed of the Vistula river.”

After the war, timber floating was replaced by trucks and trains.

In 1991, Nikolas revived a brotherhood of Ulanow raftsmen who organised their first descent last year.

“Ours is the most extensive timber floating today in Europe... We do it out of passion, to revive this trade. Not for financial reasons,” he said.

The crew left Ulanow, a village in the southeast of Poland, on July 2 and floated down the San. They hope to do the 724 kilometres between their village and the Baltic in 29 days.

Two weeks in, they were docked on a beach in Gassy, a couple of kilometres from Warsaw.

Their raft is made up of four smaller ones assembled by tying together long planks of pinewood. It weighs 50 tons and is 70 metres long. The first and last rafts are used to steer.

This year the descent is happening as Poland celebrates “The Year of the Vistula”.

It is a very wild river that has known little development and dredging. Shallow in some areas, there are tree trunks hidden underwater that can jam a raft.

Back in the day the raftsmen put a whole lot at the mercy of the river, Nikolas said.

“Wood merchants would entrust their merchandise with the raftsman, who often risked losing everything he owned, his house, his wife and children – all of which he would bond,” he said.

“Once the wood arrived in Gdansk, it was cut in saw mills and then exported throughout the world,” he added.

“It is even said that the whole city of Amsterdam was constructed with Polish wood, all of those beautiful houses, entire neighbourhoods of the port made with pine that grew in Poland. These pines were exported to make masts for sailboats in England and Norway.”

The raftsmen sleep in traditional thatched tents and cook meals on an ever-burning fire.

“Two weeks into the descent, almost all our supplies are gone,” says Zygmunt Osip, as he added cabbage to a big cooking pot.

He did last year’s descent and joined the crew again this year.

“I did everything to get time off work and for my wife to let me leave and I succeeded, I’m here,” he said.

“For me this trip is as beautiful as first love.”

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

CAPTCHA

Be the first to comment.

 

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
French tourists arrested for hookah party in Kamala

Ok Peace, let's not be racist, but we must admit that it is always the same people who are wreak...(Read More)


Immigration issues automatic visa extensions for all visa types

Well now I'm glad I went to immigration and did my 90 day report on April 1st, now that it turns...(Read More)


Chinese tourists questioned for illegal spearfishing in protected area

And now full force of the law on them! Double for the thai guide! Set a impressive example of '...(Read More)


Immigration issues automatic visa extensions for all visa types

How many hundreds needlessly exposed? Should have been done 2 weeks ago. ...(Read More)


Phuket Governor order warns of B20k fine for not wearing mask in public

@goldwing... these are emergency decrees by order of the government in order to prevent the widespre...(Read More)


Mains water supply outage in Rawai and Karon

r...how do arrive at your conclusion that the work is not urgent? As Pascale rightly points out, &qu...(Read More)


Phuket Songkran allowed, but stay in your subdistrict, says Governor

Bloomberg reporting Phuket infection rate at 36 per 100, 000 while Bangkok is at 21. This easing of...(Read More)


Phuket Songkran allowed, but stay in your subdistrict, says Governor

the shut down both the island and kathu is nt true. Please do what you annouced. My girl's relat...(Read More)


TAT issues full summary of COVID-19 restrictions in Phuket

my GF's grandma is still feel free to travel to Hatyai 2 days ago. And come to Wichit from Kathu...(Read More)


French tourists arrested for hookah party in Kamala

They are only French on their ID cards and whenever they want help from our government. They're...(Read More)