Viking longship returns to home port after epic sail


THE VIKING replica longship Sea Stallion returns to home waters in Roskilde today, after a 2,800 nautical-mile round trip between Denmark and Ireland.

The return of the ship with 60 multinational crew - under sail or rowing, depending on weather - will be greeted by countless vessels at sea, and up to 10,000 people ashore.

Young pupils from Dublin's St Patrick's Cathedral School and choir, along with members of Dublin Civil Defence were among an Irish welcoming party who flew to Denmark from Dublin yesterday.

The Sea Stallion, known in Danish as Havhingsten fra Glendalough, left Dublin port on June 29th, and navigated via the southern English coast and Holland. Project leader Preben Rather Sorensen described the initial return leg between Ireland and England as the "hardest yet", and four crew had to be transferred to the support ship, Cable One.

Mr Sorensen was on board the ship last year on its outward leg from Denmark, via the Scottish coast, when the vessel experienced several rudder breakages and heavy weather.

His colleague Soren Nielsen said that the journey from Dublin to Land's End over the Celtic Sea involved baling out heavy seas "as never before".

The ship "coped fantastically", Mr Nielsen recorded in his personal log.

It crawled "over swell after swell, the whole hull twisting and shaking with every wave it met, but continuing undaunted".

New rudder tackle fitted to the longship had also proved particularly successful.

Conditions on board for the crew of adventurers, sailors, shipbuilders, historians and archaeologists under skipper Carsten Hvid have been very basic, sleeping on an open deck with no shelter and no privacy.

The vessel finally reached Danish waters just over a week ago and navigated through the Limfjord down south to Roskilde, spending time in harbours "waiting for wind" for its one mainsail.

The return marks the culmination of the largest experimental project of its type in marine archaeology, and some 40 years' research work, according to the director of Roskilde's Viking ship museum, Tinna Damgard-Sorensen.

The Sea Stallion replica was modelled on one of five Viking ships excavated at Skuldelev in Denmark in 1962, including a vessel believed to have been built in Dublin in 1042 from oak felled in Wicklow's Glendalough.

Ms Damgard-Sorensen has paid tribute to the Irish Government and Dublin City Council for supporting the project.

Logs of the return journey are on website