Earlier people along the coast made their livelihood on a combination of farming and fishery. The increasing traffic in the North Sea and Skagerrak gradually gave new sources of income. Sailing ships from all over Northern Europe found their way to the outports.
People living here might have been the Norwegians with the strongest ties to foreign countries. Many young boys were signed on ships leaving for the far oceans. Thus the local people got cultural impulses from the outside world.
If the ships had contrary wind it was no use fighting it. They therefore sought a sheltered harbour to wait for fair wind. From the 1720s a public pilotage emerged, but also local people with a knowledge of the waters could pilot ships to the nearest harbour. This led to competition: it was important to "capture" a pilot job before anyone else took it. It became important to see far out, and the pilots sought the highest tops in the vicinity, like "Loshola" at Hobde. From here one could see masts and sails appear on the horizon. If one managed 40 – 50 pilot commissions a year, it gave a fairly good income in the 1860s. Piloting was a risky business, many drowned when the open boat was filled with water and capsized. In 1802 there were 14 pilot widows with altogether 36 children, in the outport Svinør west of Mandal.
If the pilot reached a ship in stormy weather, he often had to be hauled on board with a rope around his waist. But he was dependent on a helper who could take his boat home. It could be a boy of 10 – 12 years who tried to maneuver home through the dangerous surfs. In many cases the young boy never came home.
English translation: Kirsti Birkeland og Liv Smith