"Rylen" part of Kerteminde's maritime cultural heritage
The museum harbor is located at Dossering on the south side of Kerteminde Harbour. Here in the immediate vicinity of the fish restaurant "Rudolf Mathis" is "FOK" - the Association of Converted Cutters, and here you can usually find a number of representatives of Kerteminde's maritime cultural heritage. The foremost representative is "Rylen", which in itself is a piece of sailing cultural history. In its more than 100-year lifespan, the ship stores elements of the most important aspects of Kerteminde's history – first as a belt boat, then as an expedition ship and now as a museum ship.
Belt boat Rylen
"Rylen" is rarely recorded in Kerteminde's history. Partly with its origins as a belt boat, the most typical vessel from the fishing town of Kerteminde. Partly as a base for a unique artistic project involving the city's best-known artist, Johannes Larsen.
"Rylen" was built in 1896 and from the beginning was part of the fleet of belt boats which, thanks to the herring fishery in the Great Belt, formed the backbone of the city's economic life. A single boat could catch up to DKK 6,000 in a few months. Quite a lot of money by the standards of the time. The belt boats were slender, clinker-built vessels that were available in both pointed and transom-holed versions. The boat type was known as a fast-sailing and extremely seaworthy vessel. Most often the crew consisted of three men: a captain together with an adult fisherman and a boy.
There is not much information about the boat's first year. Like most other tracked boats, it probably had an engine installed in the period 1905-15. At the end of the First World War, the boat was called "Fremad", was about 6 gross tons with a 4 hp engine and owned by H. Christiansen from the small fishing village of Bregnør in Odense Fjord.
The expedition ship Rylen
In 1920, Achton Friis (ethnographer and draftsman) bought the 30-foot belt boat for DKK 4,000. He was to use the boat for exploring the Danish islands. He got the idea for the trip from Jeppe Aakjær, when Achton Friis broached the idea of making a travelogue from Greenland to him. However, Jeppe Aakjær saw no reason to travel so far away: "Just think that Denmark has no less than 527 islands! What do we know about these? - Stay at home and write us a book about them!".
Since Achton Frii's own work was mainly to consist of collecting literary material, he had to have a painter with him on the expedition. "My companion had to be the one with the best qualities to carry out his duties. I therefore turned to the painter Johannes Larsen who, to my delight, immediately agreed to be with me."
Via Larsen's contacts in Kerteminde, they found "Fremad", which had to go through a major rebuild at Kerteminde Shipyard. Among other things. the hold had to be changed to one more cabin in addition to the small hatch with two narrow berths that already existed in the belt boat. Probably the bird painter had a hand in the game when the newly restored boat was named "Rylen".
In addition to the two artists, there were two other crew members. One was Johannes Larsen's son Puf, who served as engineman and cook, the other was the 87-year-old Kerteminde skipper Christian Andersen, Johannes Larsen's old friend and hunting companion, called "Old Sat'me".
The Danish Islands
Despite careful planning, it became necessary to revise the original plans. The expedition to the 132 islands came to extend over 4 years instead of 3, and the book work had to be expanded from the planned 7-800 pages to approx. 1,200.
A total of 5 trips were made in the period 1921 to 1924. The publication of "De Danskes Øer" in the years 1926 to 1928 was such a great success that Achton Friis continued the collaboration, which later resulted in the publication of "De Jyders Land", 1932 -1933 and "Denmark's Great Islands", 1936-1937. Together, the works that go by the name "De Danskes Land" form a unique description of Denmark.
After the voyages in the 1920s, the boat was sold, but more than 50 years later, Johannes Larsen's grandson, Jeppe Larsen, found the boat in a small port in South Funen. It was then bought and restored by the Johannes Larsen Museum.
The museum ship and its contemporary voyages
Today, "Rylen" is maintained by a small, voluntary boat association. During the summer periods, there are not many demurrage days in Kerteminde. On the other hand, "Rylen" is seen as a diligent and characteristic guest around the Danish waters. The local artist, Jens Bohr, sails as skipper every year on a summer cruise with a number of different artists - painters and graphic artists, who in their own way continue Johannes Larsen's tradition of depicting the Danish islands and coasts.