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Colin Archer was a Norwegian naval architect, born in Norway in 1832. His Scottish parents moved to Norway six years before he was born, and the family settled at the beautiful Tolderodden in Larvik. As a young man, he lived some years in Australia where he built up a big farm together with his brother, James. He returned to Norway in 1861 economically independent, to start his own business as a naval architect and boat builder. Colin Archer became famous for building seaworthy vessels of all kinds. One of the most famous is the polar ship 'Fram' (1892), which brought the Norwegian explorers Nansen and later Amundsen on their voyages to the Arctic and Antarctic. He is also world famous for his designs of pilot boats and rescue cutters. When Colin Archer died on February, 3rd 1921, he was 89 years old. He had built over 200 ships, 70 yachts, 60 pilot boats, 14 rescue cutters and 72 other vessels.


Colin Archer is often associated with rescue vessels and pilot boats, but he started with building yachts. In 1867 he built his first yacht, 'Maggie', and she was in the Archer family for years. Other known pleasure yachts built by Colin Archer are "Venus" and 'Storegut', built for Wilhelm Wolf who won a lot of prizes with the yacht. 


Around the year 1870, a lot of pilot boats were lost at sea. This was the reason why Colin Archer designed a boat that should make piloting more secure. Its name was "Pilen", built in 1872. This boat was the prototype for the pilot boats in the decades to come. Later, in 1883, Archer designed and built the "Garibaldi", the first carvel built pilot boat with iron keel. Although Colin Archer spent a lot of time on building all kinds of vessels, he was never prepared to let go of his principle that the safety and solidity should be the most important matters for building a ship. Buyers could negotiate on price, but never on safety. The fact that quite a few of the boats built by Colin Archer are still sailing, shows that what he said were no hollow phrases. The remaining originals are all more than a hundred years old.


For further information, please go to​ (Norwegian) or (English).

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