Project Description

The fishing boat that conquered the ocean

The fishing boat that conquered the ocean

In 1904, eight years before the demise of the Titanic, Ole Brude, a young, scrawny looking sailor whose father abandoned him as a child, designed and built a revolutionary new lifeboat, still the standard used today, and set out on one of the craziest sailing journeys ever attempted.

His safe arrival in America after 5 months at sea becomes a world sensation, but a chance reunion with his father, led to Ole losing the patent and his name being erased from history.

On the 6th of January 1905 a strange egg shaped 18 foot craft washed ashore on Pavillion Beach, Gloucester USA. To the amazement of the locals, 4 Uniform clad Norwegians emerged unharmed from the strange vessel having survived a heroic five month journey across the North Atlantic. Their aim; to prove the lifesaving capabilities of such a craft.

This is a tale of epic proportions about the birth of an idea which 70 years after its conception is saving lives all over the globe as well as being at the core of a multi-billion pound business. Yet its inventor died in penniless obscurity in Seattle in 1949. Today, egg shaped life boats are a legal requirement on all passenger ships over a certain size and yet nobody on board these ships have any idea that their safety at sea is all down to the ingenuity of a young Norwegian sailor, Ole Brude.

After surviving a shipwreck on his first ever voyage at sea in 1898 at the age of 16, Ole Brude came up with an idea which he thought would save countless of lives – his idea was an egg. Ole’s revolutionary design was an enclosed, steel hulled lifeboat with a keel and a small sail, capable of keeping its crew safe from the elements while waiting to get rescued. An unsinkable, self-righting vessel which could withstand weather and high seas while protecting its crew, unlike the open lifeboats which were currently in use and which proved fatal to many of the Titanic’s passengers 14 years later.

In order to prove the ingenuity of his invention, Ole came up with an audacious plan; to sail his ‘egg’ across the Atlantic and arrive at the World Exposition in St Louis in time to claim the prize for the best new lifeboat design. Despite being publically ridiculed and struggling to get the funds together, Ole Brude persevered. With the help of his mum, who financed the whole thing, he finally set sail in his brand new egg shaped vessel from his hometown of Aalesund in August 1904, accompanied by two men and a Captain named Thoresen.

The four men chose the most dangerous route across the Atlantic, surviving huge seas and hurricane force winds during their five months at sea. They fall seriously ill, they fall over board, they run aground, start hallucinating and at one point Brude goes completely crazy and starts threatening the rest of his crew with a gun. Eventually they are deemed lost at sea and a reward of $1000 is put up by a millionaire for anyone who can confirm their whereabouts. When the egg is finally washed ashore on Pavilion Beach, their epic journey becomes a world sensation and Ole Brude gets a hero’s welcome.

Yet only 23 of these original vessels where ever made, and we even have a letter from White Star Line, owners of the Titanic, politely declined Brude’s offer of purchasing these lifesaving crafts for all their liners. Eventually, after a chance reunion with his father later in life, Brude gives up on his Patent and gives up the rights to his life’s work. However, in 1944 the US navy start producing egg shaped life boats in order to rescue their crews on arctic convoys during the final phase of WWII and although Ole Brude dies five years later, penniless without ever seeing his vision of an overbuild egg shaped life craft becoming the norm, the ingenuity of his design slowly takes on a life of its own. By 1977 the egg shaped overbuilt lifeboat is standard equipment on all major passenger vessels by law, and 70 years after its conception Ole Brude’s dream finally becomes reality.

We want to make an epic documentary about this forgotten hero, showing how his tenacity saw him realise his ideas and bring his vision to life. An inspirational film about how everything is possible with enough dedication and bravery and about his egg which is still saving lives today.

The narrative arc in this film is centred on Ole Brude’s life, and we see two distinct parallel journeys; the epic daring tale of a seemingly unstoppable man who did everything in his power to complete his vision juxtaposed with the inner emotional journey of a man who was desperate for love and appreciation and who, despite being let down by his own father time after time, never stopped looking for his affection and approval.

What drove Ole to develop from a shy timid teenager into a visionary who wold stop at nothing in order to achieve his goal? At one point in his life, seemingly lost in his new-found celebrity status, he lost sight of his vision and resorted to lies and tricks in order to hold on to a party life-style which he couldn’t afford. Yet, at the end of his life, when all seemed lost, his dying wish was only for his vision of safety at sea to become reality. Ole Brude did no longer care whether his name was attached to the idea or not, saving lives was all that mattered.

As film-makers we are interested in Ole Brude’s inner struggle. Was it his father’s abandonment and his own lack of physical attributes which initially lit his fire and led him to tirelessly fight for his vision to become reality, only to end his life in poverty? In the end all we humans really long for is to be loved.


Project info

Production companies:

Tindefilm as/Screentales Ltd


60 min


Gry Molvær Hivju


Tor Sivertstøl


Hilde Nerland


Kristofer Hivju


Sandsynligvis as


Sylvia Strand and Jonathan Gregory