In order to sail a Viking ship it is necessary to have an able crew with experience of wind and weather at sea. You must be able to handle the great square sail and find the wind. The crew of the Sea Stallion are all volunteers who applied to take part in the expedition. Many have previous experience of sailing, but further to this they have been part of the "gross" crew for three years and have sailed with the ship and become better acquainted with her.

The questions here are just examples of those you must know the answers to if you are to sail a sailing ship.

  • The ship’s sail is trimmed according to the direction of the wind. The various sail settings relative to the wind have different names. Draw a ship close-hauled, at beam reach, broad reach, and running.
  • On which of these courses does the ship sail fastest?
  • On which of these courses does the ship heel most?
  • On which tack is a ship on if it is sailing north with the wind from the east?
  • If the wind is coming from the west and the ship is sailing south and must luff, which way does it turn – to port or to starboard?
  • What role is played by starboard and port tack in conventions at sea?

The logbook

During the Sea Stallion's voyage the Skipper will keep a logbook.

The logbook is a diary in which various information about the voyage is written down. This can be information on the course, speed, weather conditions, events on board and plans for the rest of the journey.

  • Investigate the Skipper's logbook and on the basis of his notes on the voyage over a particular stretch – for example the journey from Norway to the Orkney Islands across the North Sea. How fast did the ship sail? How many days did it take to cross? How was the wind? Did the route have to be changed? How did the crew manage? Were there any problems underway?


This exercise contains problems and suggestions for written work and practical activities, in addition to the worksheet Vikings' knots, as well as a link to a 3D model of the Sea Stallion where various sail settings can be tried out.

The exercise deals with topics such as:

  • Sails on a Viking ship
  • The ship's speed and manoeuvrability
  • The ship's log
  • Sailing

The following logs, diaries and features may help in solving the exercise: 

Further to these, other diaries and stories from the ship's voyage to Dublin in 2007/2008 may provide inspiration.

On the Sea Stallion's website you also find the exercises: Dead reckoning, The square sail, Natural or intuitive navigation and The sun compass. These can be combined with this exercise in a project on the Vikings' ships and navigation. The class can also complement this with a trip on a reconstruction of a Viking ship at the Viking Ship Museum. For further information contact the Education Department at the Viking Ship Museum.

The exercise can be used for the ages 10-20 – by setting appropriate sets of questions and activities. For the ages 16-20 the exercise is most relevant in combination with some of the other suggested exercises from the website.

Subjects: Science and Technology, Maths, History, General Studies.

Suitable for age: 10-20 years.​​​​​​