The Schooner Niska
Niska is truly an original design. She is a “Tall Ship”. An adaptation of the 1850’s Clipper Schooners of the East Coast of Canada and the United States.
She belongs to a “class” of schooner that is smaller, but faster than the larger fishing schooners of the same time period that were normally found up and down the East Coast of the Atlantic Ocean.
This is, of course why such ships were used by the “Rum Runners” during the Rum Running Era”,
(in and around “prohibition” of the early 1900’s).–They were “hard to catch”.
By designing and building the “ship” himself, Heiko knew that she would be very seaworthy and much stronger than other boats that were commercially available. He incorporated modern boat design techniques/elements to ensure her “Seaworthiness”. For example, the hull is 1 1/2 inches thick. Her hull is built from wood, cold molded, double diagonal, each piece epoxied together and then coated with 1/4 inch fibreglass inside and out. This provides a strength and durability that is simply not achievable with traditional boat construction techniques.
In addition to strength and seaworthiness, Heiko’s vision was of a design that was also beautiful with aesthetically appealing lines. Therefore, he paid meticulous attention to every detail of his sleek, elegant, handcrafted ship.
Niska features a traditional clipper bow which enables her to swim smoothly while maintaining a dry fore deck. She also features hand crafted tailboards, (hand carved by Heiko) on the bow and quarter badges at her stern. Following a well established “mariners tradition “, the ends of each of her spars have been painted red to protect the ship from “evil spirits”
When Niska was completed Heiko and Cindy sold everyhing, moved aboard and sailed this schooner throughout the Great Lakes for 10 years. She has proven to be the exceptional ship her designer envisioned her to be: She has sailed through 3 hurricanes and one downgraded hurricane in total!!
Each one full of different challenges, this “Rum Runner”, (a staysail schooner rig), always held true to the design of a “true schooner”, the rig responsible for building the entire East Coast Economy.