Olaf Engvig, author, maritime historian, lecturer, coastal skipper, ship restorer and preserver.   The Ships That Built the West: The Scandinavian Navy, WAPAMA and VAERDALEN The Ships That Built the West: The Scandinavian Navy, WAPAMA and VÆRDALEN

Olaf Engvig has published English and Norwegian editions of his new hardcover book: The Ships That Built the West: The Scandinavian Navy, WAPAMA and VÆRDALEN. Read stories of the "Scandinavian Navy" and its impact on the U.S. Pacific coast, and two very different tales of two historic ships. Learn more!

Olaf Engvig's home page. Olaf Engvig's expertise. Olaf Engvig's publications. Olaf Engvig - Small Boats. Olaf Engvig - Ships. Olaf Engvig - Morris Minor. Olaf Engvig - Nike. Olaf Engvig - Author's Notes. Contact Olaf Engvig.


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's Expertise.
Engvig on Faering JAKOB - only boat owned by Jakob Kvithyll, or Last of the Vikings. 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 and excavations. 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.

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.
Map of Engvig's 4 voyages on Viking Ships, using Viking navigation.
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 T. Engvig's Outstanding Scandinavian American award, given in 2015.
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) by the 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.

BOOKS The Ships that Built the West: The Scandinavian Navy, WAPAMA and VAERDALEN
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 maritime book - Legends in Sail. 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.
Viking to Victorian: Exploring the use of Iron in Ship Building.

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: Norwegian Fish Club of San Francisco. 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.

Olaf T. Engvig     150 Chickasaw Street     Ventura, CA 93001
Phone: 818.266.5170     olafengvig@earthlink.net

New Hardcover Maritime History Book by Olaf Engvig
The Ships that Built the West: The Scandinavian Navy, WAPAMA and VÆRDALEN

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