The hardest voyage – rowing and sailing a Viking ship from Wicklow to Portsmouth

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Viking Ship Sea Stallion sailing from Wicklow to Portsmouth

Viking Ship Sea Stallion sailing from Wicklow to Portsmouth

Viking Ship Sea Stallion sailing from Wicklow to Portsmouth

The Sea Stallion making it’s way from Wicklow to Portsmouth. Photos from
the press section of the Sea Stallion website. As usual, click on the images
for larger photos

The Viking Ship Sea Stallion is an extraordinary project to sail and row a reproduction Viking ship in the wake of the the originals – and it’s proving to be very hard work for the crew. The project issued this press release a few days ago:

‘It has been the hardest voyage yet,’ says project leader Preben Rather Sørensen over the ship’s VHF Tuesday morning.

The Viking ship Sea Stallion left Wicklow in Ireland at 12 noon on Sunday, and is now, Tuesday morning, running before the wind up the English Channel along England’s south coast with 56 tired crew members, who will soon have been sailing non-stop for 48 hours.

The crew went to the farthest limits of body and spirit in a dramatic night. When they go ashore this evening in southern England, they will have sailed the Sea Stallion further than ever before. This morning they have already sailed 220 nautical miles. Last year the ship sailed from Roskilde to Norway in 36 hours – 240 nautical miles in all. That record will be broken today.

The ship’s voyage from Ireland was extremely demanding. Lands End met the ship with threats in pitch darkness around midnight. There were three-metre-high waves from the Atlantic and the westerly reached gale force at times. We took three reefs in the sail.

We had to transfer a total of four members of the crew to the support vessel, Cable One – the last one at a quarter to five this morning. All four had been seasick so long that skipper Carsten Hvid feared for their health. They have all recovered now and in a short time will be sailed back to the Sea Stallion again. Cable One is equipped with several RIBs. These are big rubber dinghies with powerful outboard motors, and they cope well with even three-metre-high waves.

‘The Sea Stallion has coped with the enormous pressure just fantastically. It has never been pushed any where near so long and so hard. We have had no problems with the ship at all,’ says Preben Rather Sørensen.

‘But we have certainly had to bale out a lot of water, for in the hard weather we took innumerable tons of water in. It says a lot about the nature of the voyage and the ship’s quality as reconstruction that, despite half of the crew being constantly seasick, we have been able to handle the ship and manoeuvre quite safely, reefing in and out and trimming the sail without any great difficulty – despite the enormous forces with which the hard westerly wind has hit the hull and the rigging.’

By: Lars Normann

The Sea Stallion from Glendalough is a reconstruction of the Skuldelev-2 wreck excavated from the bottom of Roskilde Fjord in 1962. Scientific research has shown that she was built by Vikings in Dublin in 1042. For more information:

A barge with a Viking-style square sail

The Humber keel Comrade is a rare surviving example of a type of craft evolved to work the difficult Humber Estuary, and its tributaries and canals. She was built in 1923, at Warren’s shipyard at New Holland, and was originally named Wanda. At 61ft 6in in length and 15ft 6in in beam, she had a hold capable of carrying over a hundred tons in cargo.

The Humber is very much part of Viking invader territory, and I do wonder how much this unusual square sail may owe to those invaders of more than a thousand years ago.

For more on Comrade and her sister ship Humber sloop Amy Howson,  see


A new lease of life for an old steam tug

ST Kerne was originally built in 1913 and named Viking but even before she was launched, she was sold to the Admiralty and re-named the Terrier and went to work in Chatham and on the Medway.

She then went in 1948 to J P Knight who operated her on the Medway for another year under her new Gaelic name Kerne before being sold on again to a firm in Liverpool where she worked as a lighterage tug until her retirement in 1971.

During 1970 and 1971 a group of steam enthusiasts bought Kerne before she went for scrap and restored her. She is now an extremely rare example of the once common estuarial-dock tug and a living reminder of early 20th century naval architecture.

For more on ST Kerne: