Under brown sails

For many centuries, wooden sailboats called zeesenboote have been used for fishing in the waters surrounding the Fischland peninsula. The Stralsund Chronicle from the year 1449 already mentions zeesenboote. Fishing with zeesenboote continued until the 1980s, when bottom trawling under sail was discontinued. Once a year, the traditional technique of bottom trawling under sail with a zeesenboot is demonstrated in Althagen.

Zeesboote have ideal sailing characteristics for coastal waters, in particular for tacking between two currents. These same characteristics make zeesenboote predestined for recreational sailing. Although the Baltic Sea has a long tradition of regattas, zeesenboote did not begin to compete as recreational craft until the 1960s. The annual Wustrow Zeesboot Regatta takes place on the first weekend in July.

Brown sails are perhaps the most striking feature of zeesenboote. Traditionally, the cotton sails were impregnated with red earth pigment, wood tar, cod liver oil and a lye made with oak bark and beef tallow to protect the fabric from the elements and extend longevity.

The shell of a zeesenboot is traditionally either clinker-built or carvel-built, using either oak or larch. The hull is flat-bottomed so that it is possible to bottom trawl under sail. Early in development, a lateral retractable keel was used. Centreboards were adopted as soon as this technique was introduced to Germany. Generally, the draught of a zeesenboot is less than 1 metre, hull length varies between 7 and 12 metres and sail area ranges from 49 to 120 square metres.

The use of sloop and ketch rigging for zeesenboote has stayed the same for centuries. The main mast is fitted with shrouds and stays, and the mizzen mast can be free-standing. Common headsails are foresail and jib. The jib boom serves as a mount for the forward drift boom and can be extended. By hauling close the sheets on the windward side and retracting centreboard, the zeesenboot can drift at a right angle to the wind and tow the fishing net along the sea floor on the windward side.

From May to October, visitors can set sail on the zeesenboote Butt and Bill daily at 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm and 5 pm. Special charter excursions are available by arrangement.


Information and reservations: Jochen Eymael Tel. +49 (0) 171 6367479.

This site uses cookies.

To make this website run properly and to improve your experience, we use cookies. For more detailed information, please check our Cookie Policy.

  • Necessary cookies enable core functionality. The website cannot function properly without these cookies, and can only be disabled by changing your browser preferences.