Ola H. Nerhus, (1840-1931) was one of Norway's most famous builders of small trading boats, called jachts. He designed and built "Hardanger jacht’s " a name synonymous with immensely strong, swift sailing, small trading boats. The best of these boats were built at the Nerhuson shipyard in Ølve, Hardanger, Norway. In 1898 several of his designs, including Vega’s, won an award for excellence at the great exhibition in Oslo.
During his lifetime Ola Nerhus built over 100 such boats. Several of which still survive today. Considering these boats traded in some of the world’s roughest seas for over 100 years this is a true testimonial to his skills and experience.
Ola H. Nerhus built ships from 1863 to 1905 when his son Jens continued the tradition by building another 76 vessels on the same location in Ølve. Ola H. Nerhus also built the historical vessel "MATHILDE", restored by Hardanger Fartøyvernsenter in Norheimsund in 1984-89
According to Lars Nerhus a maritime historian and great, great, grandson of Ola Nerhus, who still has Vega's original half model and body plan, ""VEGA" was well known as a great ship. She was a (true) Hardanger yacht, (Originally) rigged up with one mast and with that typical hull-form and heart shaped stern". "I was always told that "Vega" was the best and strongest yacht he (Ola Nerhus) ever built"!
Ola apprenticed in the small shipyards of Ølve, famous for there shipbuilding from before 1600. In 1863, then 23 years old, he founded his own shipyard on Nerhus farm in Ølve. During his life Nerhus built over 100 boats. Several of which having carried cargos for over 100 years still survive, living testimonials to his skills and experience.
“He soon built an unrivaled reputation for strong well formed ships and high quality workmanship becoming a demanded shipbuilder, responsible designer, and surveyor for the most prominent "yards" in this region of Norway”.
Historical documents state: " Most of the Hardanger yachts sailed by the men of Tysnes were designed and built by Ola H. Nerhus". (Tysnes had a large fleet at that time).
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Ola and Jens Nerhus
Air virew of Nerhuson shipyard
Vega's original half model
Painting by Jens Nerhus done in 1898
Built at Olve, Norway in 1893-94, for over 100 years VEGA carried cargos of bricks, building stone, pig iron, and cement through some of the world’s roughest seas. Built for the North Sea and certified for Arctic trade, VEGA was famous for her strength and ability to carry loads other boats her size could not. Baltic traders like VEGA made some very impressive voyages including immigrants to North America and cargos to the Mediterranean, Africa and the Caribbean, some rounding Cape Horn to trade with Chile.