On the HITRA, an original 29' "Viking" longboat,
Engvig spent a total of 78 days at sea, covering 3,700 nautical miles in 4 voyages. (That's a longer distance
than across the Atlantic Ocean!)
You can learn more about Olaf Engvig's sailing experience in his book
Viking to Victorian: Exploring the Use of Iron in Ship Building.
Olaf Engvig is a maritime historian, photographer, author of numerous books, and
consultant to maritime museums in Norway, Sweden, and other countries.
He has been the editor of several magazines in Norway, and a leader and diver in marine archaeological expeditions
In addition, he was the founder and CEO of a ship wharf specializing in restoration of historic ships,
and has been instrumental in restoring many unique old vessels.
EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE
Olaf Engvig was born and raised in Rissa, Norway, where Johan Bojer
wrote his book "The Last of the Vikings" (Den Siste Viking).
Engvig learned to square sail from Jakob Kvithyll, the skipper Bojer described in his book. Faering JAKOB - only boat owned by Jakob Kvithyll - is
shown to the right, with Engvig on board.
Engvig is an international expert on the history of shipbuilding,
including the use of iron and steel in historic vessels.
In addition to his maritime interests, Olaf Engvig was also a member of the Royal Norwegian Army.
Engvig attended Ordnance Guided Missile School in Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, and was involved with NATO electronics training.
As a higher-echelon maintenance Radar Specialist for NATO, he worked on the Nike Hercules/Ajax guided missile
systems in the United States and Norway during the Cold War.
Engvig later attended the University of Oslo, where he received a graduate degree in Maritime History.
He lived in San Francisco for several years before moving to Southern California, where he now resides.
GRANTS AND AWARDS
Olaf Engvig's numerous grants and special awards include the Saint Olaf's Medal (1979) from
His Majesty King Olav V of Norway, for promoting Norway abroad with respect to the Vikings on the
British Isles. In 1993, he was awarded the Gold Medal of Merit by
His Majesty King Harald V of Norway
for restoring the historic vessel S/S HANSTEEN.
Most recently he was awarded the 2015 Outstanding Scandinavian American Award (right)
Scandinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation.
They cite his "dedication to the
restoration and preservation of historic Norwegian ships and boats and to [his] efforts to
document and disseminate Scandinavian maritime history through books and magazine articles [he has] written.
You can view Olaf Engvig's CV here.
After completing the
restoration of the VÆRDALEN in 2015,
Olaf Engvig has now finished
The Ships That Built the West: The Scandinavian Navy, WAPAMA and VÆRDALEN.
It describes Scandinavian Navy's positive impact on the Pacific Coast,
the sailing history of the WAPAMA and sad tale of her last years
and Olaf's decades-long quest to salvage and restore the historic vessel, the VÆRDALEN.
We invite you to learn more about Engvig's latest book.
It's a combination of maritime academic research mixed with personal experiences attempting to save and restore two ships.
Available in English and Norwegian, The Ships That Built the West is the winner of the 9th
Karl Kortum Maritime History Award, a program of the Friends of Pacific Maritime History.
Olaf Engvig's previous book in English is
Legends in Sail, a beautifully illustrated
book detailing the history of a number of ships whose reputations should last forever, even though many have not heard of them. These ships traveled worldwide, gaining fame in their time. More than 8 other historic ships are brought to life, including STATSRAAD ERICHSEN, CHRISTIANIA, TRANSATLANTIC, CHRISTIAN RADICH, LANCING, LINGARD, FRAM and MAUD.
Olaf Engvig's book, Viking to Victorian: Exploring the Use of Iron in Ship Building (Themo, 2006),
details the use of iron in ship building from the days of the Vikings through the 1880s,
when ship builders abandoned iron in favor of steel.
This beautiful hardcover coffee table book is filled with color pictures.
Shipping and Culture: The Norwegian Fish Club of San Francisco 1914-1996
(Fish Club, 1997) is a fascinating look at the history of Scandinavian-Americans' impact on Californian culture,
including their involvement with the great San Francisco Expositions of 1915 and 1939, the Squaw Valley Winter Olympics,
and The Norwegian Seamen's Church.
This group was also instrumental in bringing the Norwegian ship GJØA back to Norway.
This is the ship that Roald Amundsen made famous as the first to make it through the Northwest Passage.
Shipping and Culture is currently out of print.