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The Shitik at Lena river
A Shitik on the Lena River in the 1890s
Class overview
Name: Shitik Russian: Шитик
Builders: Biryulka
General characteristics
Class & type: Riverboat
Notes: a river flat-bottomed sail and rowing vessel
Shitik in Russian North
Shitik in Russian north. Engraving

Shitik (Russian: Шитик) is a small broad-bottomed vessel in which parts of the hull have been sewed with belts or juniper and fir-tree rods (named vinya Russian: Виня). There are two basic explanations for the origins of the name of these boats:

  • The first is associated with the name with the verb "to sew" Russian: Сшивать and explains some design features of the boat.
  • The second variant associates it with the shape of the boat being similar to larva Trichoptera which also is called Russian: Шитик.


The term Shitik refers to two different vessel types:

Sea Cargo Ship

The Shitik was a keeled vessel, powered by sail and oars. It was used as a sea trade and transport ship. The ship has a rounded off bottom and therefore a considerable expansion of the hull and disorder of boards.[clarification needed] This improved the ship's performance.[1]

Some characteristics
Length 12 metres (39 ft) – 15 metres (49 ft)[2]
Width 3 metres (9.8 ft) – 4 metres (13 ft)[2]
Draft 0.18 metres (0.59 ft)[3]
Hull height at midships 0.8 metres (2.6 ft)[3]
load-carrying capacity 15 – 24 tons[2]

Shitik had a single mast with a direct[clarification needed] sail, oars and a hinged[clarification needed] wheel. The vessel had a canopy to protect cargo from the rain; below deck there was a bunkhouse.[2]

The underwater contours of the vessel allowed it to navigate in ice: when compressed it was squeezed out onto the surface. When docking the ship and hauling the anchor, there was an assisting vessel, which helped the crew with these tasks, an osinovka boat.[2]

It is considered that in the 13th century the Shitik was the most widespread coastal transport vessel.[2] Shitiks were mainly built between the 11th–17th centuries.[1] Initially Shitiks were built on the coast of the White sea, and the Northern Dvina, Sukhona, Vychegda, Vetluga, and Tikhvinka rivers.[3] Later the building of such courts[clarification needed] preceded development in Siberia and the Far East, when Shitiks plied the Pacific Ocean.[1]

River boat

Shitiks were an important innovation on the Siberian rivers. Many shallows and reefs made a keel useless, and a shortage of nails made it necessary to improve techniques of sewing the planks. It was successfully operated throughout the 18th–20th centuries, being gradually replaced with new types of ship.

When artisan ship builders had the opportunity to use aluminium, the boat found a new niche. It is basically used by hunters and fishermen to reach inaccessible places in the taiga. Making Shitiks is popular on the Lena River in Siberia, Russia.[4]

The design of the boat has been retained, but they are now made of aluminium sheet. Shitiks now have pointed bows instead of sawn off ends. Sails are no longer used; they are powered by outboard motors.[4]

Shitiks are useful in overcoming shoals; they have speed and adequate capacity. The absence of a keel is a problem, as is poor stability. Such a boat does not transfer[clarification needed] a wave, and every movement of a passenger risks capsizing the vessel. But this combination of features suits hunters and fishermen, who can use it to traverse rivers of 30 centimetres (0.98 ft) – 40 centimetres (1.3 ft) depth.[4]

Well known Shitiks: on the First Kamchatka expedition under the command of Vitus Bering, an auxiliary vessel "Fоrtuna" boat-shitik was used[1] (in other sources it was a two-masted Galiot[5])

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "# 31. "Fоrtuna" boat-shitik". Первая Камчатская экспедиция (in Russian). Russia: V. I. Zorin. Retrieved 2009-11-14.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "Суда Севера России". Russia: Россия Корабельная. Retrieved 2009-11-14. External link in |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "# 59 Shitik 1 type". Открытие, освоение (in Russian). Russia: V. I. Zorin. Retrieved 2009-11-14.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Ivanova, Maria (2007). Река Лена: От истока до устья. Якутск вечерний (in Russian). Retrieved 2009-11-04.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Ostrovsky, Boris (1937). Великая северная экспедиция (in Russian). Первая камчатская экспедиция Беринга (2nd ed.). Arkhangelsk, Soviet Union: Севоблгиз. p. 61. Retrieved 2009-11-14.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>