HISTORICAL INTEREST

Thesens of Knysna advertisement

Thesen boatbuilders used yellowwood to construct the clinker fishing boats that used to work off our beaches, notably Plettenberg Bay. As for European oak, it too would be better for boat-building than South African grown.  Ours never get enough "sleep" during winter which, leads to a shorter lifespan.

I spent two years living on Beacon Isle between the ages of 13 and 15, my dad was the manager of the old Beacon Isle Hotel (1955/56) and my days (when not at school) were spent fishing.  The men in this photograph were as tough as nails. They would put to sea at first light and return in the early afternoon. 10hp Johnson outboard motors only arrived in about 1957.

Whaler wooden boat Knysna

Their catches were pretty good and kob sold at six-pence a pound, fresh off the boats.  Today one pays R200 plus for a kilogram of kob at Robberg Fisheries. (Contributed by Dave Reynell)

The design of the boat above looks similar to the ‘whalers’ Thesen’s built, almost 20 years earlier, during the war. Here is a phoptograph, compliments of the Millwood House Museum, showing ‘whalers’ made for the British Navy during WW2, of clinker construction, being transported from the Thesen Boat factory to the Knysna Station to be ‘shipped’ out.

Old wooden boats Knysna

Yellowwood was used for this rowboat, sporting the Thesen Company builders badge, that was bought at auction recently in Riversdale, and returned to her hometown. Solid ‘knees’of this beautiful wood appear at the top of the stem and as well as transom supports.

Note: the stern brass ring attachment must have been moved when the transom was cut down to accommodate an outboard, judging from the way the whaler is being carried off Plett beach above.

Wooden rowboat
Hull of wooden rowboat Knysna

The ‘Norwegian Pram’ was built at the first Thesen boat factory at Bracken Hill, in the early days, known here as the Veldtskoen. The boat factory probably moved to Thesen Island when the sawmill relocated in the 1920s.

( contributions by Philip Caveney )

Old wooden rowboat Knysna
Old wooden rowboat Knysna

Thesen Company Boat Catalogue ( thanks to the Millwood House Museum )

Thesen catalogue Knysna
Thesen catalogue Knysna
Thesen catalogue Knysna
Thesen catalogue Knysna
Thesen catalogue Knysna
Thesen catalogue Knysna
Thesen catalogue Knysna