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Viking Voyage 1000

Viking Voyage 1000 - The Voyage of The Snorri

August 15, 1997

A couple of Sundays back Terry and I were watching "CBS Sunday Morning" with Charles Osgood. One of the stories they profiled caught our attention and we'd like to share it with you since we really found it fascinating.

Let your mind wander a bit now. Close your eyes and imagine what it would be like to take an 1500 mile sailing journey on a ship powered only by sails. Now imagine that it is around the year 997 AD. Consider the hardships that the crew faced being constantly exposed to the elements and not knowing whether they were landing in a friendly country or a hostile one when they docked to replenish their supplies. Just such a journey is now taking place and we can follow along thanks to the Internet.


On July 16, 1997, twelve men set out in an authentic replica of a Viking ship called a knarr. They are attempting to recreate Leif Ericsson's 1500 mile journey from Greenland to Newfoundland. The journey which is expected to last from July to September will try to stay as historically accurate as possible. Leif's journey was a remarkable feat even for today since he only had the basic medieval navigational tools: the sun and the stars. If the current expedition reaches L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, the site of the only confirmed Viking settlement in North America, their ship will be the first authentic Viking ship to have completed the trip in 600 years.

The SnorriThe ship has been christened "Snorri" after the name the Vikings gave the first child born in the New World. It is equipped with only a square canvas and oars. The crew will face the same hazards that Leif and his crew faced during the original journey, near-freezing water temperatures, potentially hostile wildlife and possibly a hurricane or two. In case of an emergency, the modern day knarr is equipped with a life raft and modern navigational instruments. Since they are trying to replicate the Viking experience completely, these modern day tools will only be used if the crew becomes endangered.

W. Hodding CarterW. Hodding Carter, the leader of "Viking Voyage 1000", has always been fascinated with Vikings and Viking lore. Carter was inspired by a fifth grade text, The Vikings, written by Elizabeth Janeway. The book portrayed an account of Leif Ericsson's adventures. He explains, "It's important to me to demystify such historic milestones and show people the underbelly of adventuring, what it really took for the Vikings to get to North America - the misery and the setbacks and the hardships and the real joy of small accomplishments, like navigating a difficult harbor in fog or finally getting a knot tied correctly - that a series of small events can tie together to make something big happen."

Carter created the "New Vinland Foundation," a nonprofit agency devoted to educating individuals about Viking lore and achievements in North America, Greenland and Iceland. Leif Ericsson's settlement was named Vinland because of all of the wild grapes that grew so abundantly. Even 300 years after Leif's voyage, the Vikings would return to the Vinland to harvest timber. A permanent settlement was never established because of the ongoing battles with native Americans. The "New Vinland Foundation" sole sponsor is "Lands' End". The catalog company got their start selling sailing gear. Carter is not only chronicling the trip on the Net but also in nine issues of the "Lands' End" catalog beginning with the June 1997 issue.

The Knarr

Robert StevensThe ship, or knarr, was constructed by master boat builder Robert Stevens. The Snorri is an open-deck boat 54 feet long, 16 feet wide and 6 feet deep. It is constructed of oak, pine, tamarack and locust woods, and iron rivets. As we previously mentioned, the knarr is equipped with only a square canvas sail and will be propelled by wind or oars. Since the Snorri is an open-deck ship there is nothing to protect the crew from the inclement weather. With water temperatures around 40°F and air temperatures hovering around 50°F, this will be a chilly journey for the 12 brave crew members. Meals on the Snorri will include high-energy foods such as: dried fruits, meats, and grains as well as fresh fish when the crew is lucky enough to catch something. They will also be trying out some authentic Viking cuisine, lichen and moss, that they will gather on beaches during their journey. If they are invited to the mainland by native Greenlanders, they will eat what they are having much like the Vikings did before them.

Terry and I could go on and on about this fantastic retracing of Leif Ericsson's historic journey but we think you would enjoy looking at the web site yourself. At the site you can read the crew's journals, send email, track their progress and even send in questions about the trip. Visit this really neat site at:


We hope you enjoy the site as much as Terry and I have. Go back often to chart the Snorri's progress.

Time to chuckle a bit. Click on the "Right" arrow below for another dose of net humor.

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created by Chuck and Terry Mencke

Last Modified: October 22, 2000

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