Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Sailing a Long(ish)boat - July 2018

One of the original Roskilde Ships in the Ship Museum

Ever since reading Magnus Magnusson's 'The Vikings' in the early 1980s I had wanted to visit the Viking Ship Museum at Roskilde (at the head of Roskilde Fjord) in Denmark.  The museum holds the permanent exhibition of five original Viking ships excavated in the Fjord in 1962.  They had been deliberately sunk as Block Ships some 900 years earlier at the end of their working lives.  Their excavation has allowed the authentic reconstruction of the vessels to take place and a number of discoveries have resulted from this experimental archeology (e.g. we know that the life of one of these vessels was around 35 years as the iron nails rotted and damaged the surrounding wood beyond repair in that time).  I achieved this ambition in September 2017 but missedout on the chance to sail one of the vessels that day as I had not booked in advance (sailings can be booked on the museum website between May and September).

Roskilde Cathedral - A Unesco World Heritage Site

In July 2018 I returned with Marie and Matthew, this time with tickets for an 1 1/2 trip in the fjord.  There are several replicas used to provide trips but I was lucky enough to sail in one of the newest vessels and the one that 9 months earlier I had viewed under construction (the master boat builder at Roskilde is Faroese and builds using traditional skills).  When one sails thes ships it is easy to realise why the vikings were so successful.  The ship has an incredibly shallow draught - we sailed  in less than 18" of water without so much as scraping the bottom - and without the use of anything other than a light breeze were able to maneuver with ease using the sail alone having used oars only to leave the harbour.

The ship we sailed - under construction Sept 2017

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