M/K Vally: A cutter with an eventful past

M/K Vally is a fishing boat of the cutter class and is in the ownership of Alta Museum. There are not many boats of this type left in Finnmark, which is why the M/K Vally was given the official status of being a protected vessel in the year 2000.

M/K Vally.
M/K Vally. Photo: Ragnhildur Asvaldsdottir

Built in 1917

M/K Vally was built in Hemnesberget in 1917 for the company Jens B. Digre of Storsandnes in Langfjorden in Alta municipality. It is a carvel-built cutter with a straight bow and long stern. The hull has pine planks above water and spruce below. The boat measures 42 feet in length and 13.7 feet in breadth. It has had Alta owners ever since it was built a ninety years ago. Even though such boats were previously very common in Finnmark, there are now only two left in public ownership. The other one, "Kjartan" is owned by Vadsø Museum and was built after the 2nd World War.

M/K Vally's wartime story

Until the 2nd World War, Vally was owned by the firm, Digre. In 1941 it was confiscated by the Germans and taken to Kåfjord in Alta, but the owners had deliberately "damaged" the motor so that the Germans were never able to start it. It was docked in Kåfjord, but even after a thorough overhaul the Germans were unable to make use of it. After a year in Kåfjord, it was handed back to its owners as unusable, and towed back to Storsandnes. Here it lay idle until the order to evacuate came in the autumn of 1944. The owner, Jens B. Digre went on board with his own family and several other families to be evacuated to Lødingen. Since it had "motor damage," it could not sail under its own steam but had to be towed out of Altafjord by the cutter "Duen." Once they were through Stjernesundet they fixed the motor and after some coughing and spluttering the Vally came to life again.

This exciting wartime story is written about in "Erindringer II," a book made possible by the joint support of DKS and Alta Museum, Alta Upper Secondary School and the local community in Alta. In the book, Alexander Digre Holten in discussion with his grandparents, describes how Jens B. Digre fooled the Germans. The book is on sale in the museum shop.

M/K Vally.
M/K Vally. Photo: Ragnhildur Asvaldsdottir

Fishing in the Lofoten Islands and surrounding seas with fishermen from Alta

M/K Vally was sold to the brothers Harald and Arne Johansen in 1946. The boat was in continual activity from 1946 to 1982. It was used, among other things, for the traditional fishing in the Lofoten Islands and in the Nordbank and North Cape Bank areas.   

Bought by Alta Museum

M/K Vally was bought by Alta Museum on the 3rd of December 1982. Of the sale sum of 50,000 kroner 30,000 kroner was a grant from the Norwegian Arts Council. The rest was paid by the museum.

A project for teachers and pupils at Alta Junior High School

After being maintained and looked after by Erling Andersen in Korsfjord in the outer part of Altafjord, the boat was taken into the port in Alta in May 1992 and used in project work by teachers and pupils of Alta Junior High School by agreement with Alta Arts and Culture office. The cabin was restored and the electrical installations changed. The hull was oiled and the masts cleaned and polished. The boat was in its winter dock in Korsfjord during this period.

Vally and the work of preserving it was one of the maritime projects which was featured in the 1997 TV programme "Rust, rot and love."

M/K Vally.
M/K Vally. Photo: Ragnhildur Asvaldsdottir

Agreement with Altafjord Coastal Heritage Association 1998

From 1998 to 2001 Alta Museum had an agreement with the Altafjord Coastal Heritage Association that they would be responsible for the upkeep, care, and operation of the boat.

The work was organised in a leader team of seven people.

Status of being worthy of preservation 2000

After an application from Alta Museum, in November 2000, the Central Office of Historic Monuments granted the boat the status of being a vessel worthy of preservation. A parliamentary committee for Arts and Culture visited the museum in September and were told about the plans for future work on Vally.

Restoration work at the North Norwegian Vessel Preservation Centre

On the 9th of June, 2001, the M/K Vally sailed from Alta to the North Norwegian Vessel Preservation Centre in Gratangen in Troms. There was a crew of four from the Altafjord Coastal Heritage team. The boat underwent restoration for three years until August 2004. The work has cost about 2 1/2 (two and a half) million kroner, of which 2 million was a grant from the Central Office of Historic Monuments.

M/K Vally returned to Alta on the 3rd of September 2004, and for the time being Alta Museum is responsible for the care and upkeep of the boat. The plan is to use it to disseminate knowledge of the local coast and maritime culture to school students and other interested groups. In addition, the boat will be used for sightseeing trips in the summer.