The Sea Stallion crew consists of 90 men and women in all ages.
But only 60 - 62 of these crew members are on board when sailing. Half way into the voyage, approximately 25 crew members go home and 25 new once take their place.
A small group of crew members are on a waiting list and are ready to go on board if anaything should happen to the ones sailing.
There are 11 nationalities represented on board from USA, Ireland, England, Norway, Sweden, Germany and Canada.
The youngest crew members is 17 years old and the oldest 65. There are 25 women and all crew members comes from very different backgrounds. Some have sailed all their life, other have learned on the Sea Stallion. What brings them all together is the adventure and the facts that they have listed to help the Viking Ship Museum complete the biggest eksperiment in eksperimental archaeology ever - the trial voyage from Roskilde to Dublin and back.
Here you can read about the Sea Stallion crew. The hand, cook, Skipper, nurse and more.
Louise Kæmpe Henriksen
Not much has changed since the Viking Age with regard to the skipper's role on board. The skipper and the coxswain have – just like 1000 years ago – overall responsibility for the ship, crew, equipment, and for reaching their destination.
Fact: The words skipper and coxswain were not used in the same way as today. The skipper on board the Sea Stallion is the ship's captain or commander and the coxswain is the skipper's second in command and deputy. But in Viking times it may have been the other way round. The word styrimaðr (coxswain) – or styresmand – was used of the owner of the ship and of the person who had military command, whereas skipari(skipper) was used of the second in command or the ordinary crew members.
The skipper on board the Sea Stallion bears a great responsibility. It is the first time for a 1000 years that a Viking warship is to cross the North Sea, sailing from Denmark to Ireland. It is the skipper’s responsibility that the crossing proceeds safely, that the ship is navigated in a proper manner. Also that the men all know their duties during the voyage and that all precautionary measures are taken to prevent damage to the ship or injuries to the persons on board.
He does not, however, take decisions completely single-handedly. The skipper has two coxswains who steer the ship for him. He can consult them with regard to the voyage – about the ship’s course and its route, where it is to dock, and when it is to set sail again and proceed.
Further to this, the ship is divided up into six rooms or sections, each having two foremen. The foremen are the skipper’s right hand among the crew. They must make sure that everybody observes the duty roster, are in control of their duties, have their life jackets on and are comfortable on board the ship.
By: Louise Kæmpe Henriksen
» Read skippers logbook
» The shipmaster's law
» Duty roster
» Stories on board
The Sea Stallion of Glendalough is a replica. This means that the ship is an interpretation of how the original Skuldelev 2-ship could have looked when it was built 1000 years ago.
The building of the longship's hull was the largest task both 1000 years ago and today. The man-hours are distributed as follows:
- Master shipbuilder: 500 hours
- Stem smith: 1000 hours
- Boat builders: 10,000 hours
- Woodmen and assistants: 14,000 hours
- Workers fitting rivets: 1000 hours
In the Viking Age this work could probably be done in about seven months. Further to this came the production of tar, rope, sail, dyes etc. In comparison, it took the Viking Ship Museum's boat builders four years (2000-2004) to build the Sea Stallion. The Museum used the same number of man-hours but these were distributed among fewer men and over a longer period of time because the Sea Stallion had to be built according to the plan of the original ship, using the same types of wood, employing the same methods and using copies of the Vikings' tools.
After excavation all the various parts of the ship were surveyed. These measurements formed the basis for a cardboard replica, which was made in order to find the correct shape of the Skuldelev 2 ship. The boatbuilders also used these measurements as basis for building the Sea Stallion so that all the details were copied exactly.
The boat builders also had to find the right materials – including wood of the same size and strength as in the Viking Age. The materials were, for example, oak for the planks, willow for the treenails, pine for the mast, yard and oars, lime for the shields, pine roots for making tar and hemp for ropes.
Further to this, various tools found in Denmark and abroad were studied together with illustrations of boat builders at work, such as those seen on the Bayeux Tapestry. On the basis of these, the boat builders made replica tools for use when building the Sea Stallion.
Boat builders on board the Sea Stallion
Today, two boat builders will take part in the voyages made by the Sea Stallion. They are the ship's helmsmen – they take turns sitting by the rudder and steering the ship – but they are also participating in order to observe the ship.
The purpose of the voyage to Dublin is to test whether the ship has been correctly constructed, whether it is strong enough to withstand such a long voyage and whether it has the navigational qualities expected of ships in the Viking Age.
Therefore, the boat builders will keep a log. Here they will state whether the ship is sailing as expected, whether there are problems with hull, sail or ropes, whether there are things that could have been different and whether things have broken on the way.
It is easy to imagine how ships in the Viking Age could suffer serious damage, such as a broken rudder or a hole in the hull, and the same could happen to the Sea Stallion. It is therefore necessary for the boat builders to check the ship regularly in order to see if there are things needing repair.
The voyages of recent years have had the purpose of training the crew, as well as testing the ship reconstruction. During the expedition to Norway in 2006 the boat builders learnt, for example, that the ship flexes in rough weather. A few treenails started to work their way out and had to be hammered into place, and during winter the ship also had to be braced and made less flexible.
On the voyage to Dublin it was the rudder and the rudder strap that was weak and snaped. Therefore, it is necessary for the boat builders to take with then – in addition to their tools – an extra rudder, extra shroud pins (wooden locks for the rope running from the mast to the two sides of the ship) and extra treenails, as well as wood for repairs. And it is also essential to be able to mend the sail or make new rope if the rigging breaks.
Fact: The boat builder's diary will be sent back to the Viking Ship Museum and used for research purposes.
Af: Louise Kæmpe Henriksen
» Read the boat builder's diary
On board the Sea Stallion the ship's cook is called a hovmester, or steward. The ship has two cooks, and they share the many tasks between them. Prior to the Sea Stallion's first voyage to Norway in 2006 the stewards were responsible for organising the galley (kitchen) on board. They had to find out how to stow the cooking utensils and to cook on board, buy kitchen equipment and find room for provisions and water below deck.
The galley consists of two wooden boxes at the stern of the ship. One contains two gas rings, which allow the stewards – in contrast to the Viking cooks – to cook while the ship is sailing. The other box contains kitchen utensils such as pots and pans, a chopping board and knives as well as spices and oil.
Prior to the different expeditions, the stewards plan the meals afew days a head - often 10 - 12 days - and buy the necessary provisions as well as food with good keeping qualities like canned goods, pasta, rice and dried meat. Due to lack of space the stewards also have to shop en route during the voyage.
The stewards have a provision group, consisting of a man from each of the ship's rooms (sections). The group supplies ideas for the meals, helps devising a plan for stowing the galley as well as purchasing the supplies and preparing the meals.
En route, the provision group is responsible for distributing the food on board – and also for finding men to do jobs in the galley (kabystjans)and peggy (bakstørn). Kabystjans is performed before the meal and consists of helping the cooks. Bakstørn involves washing up after the meal.
The diet is nourishing just like it was in the Viking Age. The men must feel full and satisfied and be able to keep warm so that they have the necessary energy for the hard work on board. A good, healthy diet can also prevent illness among the crew.
The fare on board the Sea Stallion is somewhat different from that eaten by the Vikings a thousand years ago.
Today, the crew are given a much more varied diet with greater quantities of vegetables and fruit.
- Breakfast: Each morning the crew is served a breakfast of hot porridge and coffee or tea. It is important to have something warm to start the day on after a long and perhaps cold night of sailing. On the voyage to Dublin the crew ate almost five tons of porridge.
- Lunch: consists of ordinary sandwiches. Each section of 10-12 men shares two lunch boxes with rye bread, butter and meat/fish of good keeping quality, such as tinned tuna, tinned mackerel in tomato sauce and smoked salami.
Supper, however, varies according to the weather and the location of the ship.
- At harbour: A barbecue or dishes with fresh produce, like vegetables. Often local specialities are used.
- When sailing in calm conditions: The stewards are able to serve a hot meal; soup, stews, boiled sausages or Spagetti Bolognese – i.e. meals that are easy to cook in large portions in one or two large pots.
- In rough weather: The ship is very unstable and it is dangerous to light the gas rings and have pots filled with hot food. Dried and smoked meat and smoked sausages that can be eaten with a slice of bread is then served. Freeze-dried foods, which only require the addition of some water is also a pert of the menu. These are given to the crew if cooking is impossible.
The Night box
In addition to all this, each section has a night box containing tea, coffee, chocolate, biscuits, apples and nuts, serving as a store for the night watchmen. Night service can be hard because the men are tired. They use a lot of energy keeping warm and is in need of hot drinks and sugar to keep their energy and spirits up.
The crew on board the Sea Stallion drink water like the Vikings did on board their warships. Beer and spirits are completely prohibited for safety reasons. Water is stowed below deck in large containers; these are filled up each time the ship docks. Last year, on the trip to Norway, the water consumption on the voyage was in average 3 litres per person per day.
Fact: There is no refrigerator on board, so the food brought on the voyage has to have long keeping qualities.
By: Louise Kæmpe Henriksen
» Read the cook's diary
» Stories aboard
» The menu on board
A nurse is extremely important part of the crew on board the Sea stallion. She is not curring war wounds, but sea sickness, blisters and other diseases and injuries.
The task and responsibilities of the nurse
Prior to a voyage the nurse participates in formulating a plan for how the injured are to be treated in the event of an emergency or if the ship should sink.
Further to this the nurse and the skipper have produced bills of health to be completed by all members of the crew. These contain the names, addresses and telephone numbers of close family, information about any illnesses that a crewmember has or has had, as well as about any medication being taken. These bills help the nurse in the prevention of illness and in treating the crew during the voyage.
In case of illness, wounds or injuries during the voyage it is the nurse's task to treat and take care of the patient. The nurse has a chest with medicine and another chest with equipment for treating more serious injuries. In the latter there are dressing materials, medicine, resuscitation equipment and splints for broken legs or arms or even the neck and back.
The nurse forms part of the regular watch system, and participates in rowing and sailing the ship. In case of serious illness or an accident on board the nurse is excused from other duties in order to give first aid. Furthermore, all members of the crew have been through a first aid course and been taught cardiac massage and how to administer artificial respiration so they are able to assist. It is also possible to establish sick berths on board where the patients can rest and sleep. Doctors on land, including Radio Medical, which is a 24-hour service, can be contacted via the ship's radio.
Diseases and injuries on board
Seasickness, diarrhoea, nettle rash, concussion, hypothermia, burns, blisters and minor cuts are some of the illnesses and injuries occurring on the Sea Stallion's summer voyages. All of them occurr due to the weather conditions and are a result of the crew being modern people working under conditions to which they are unaccustomed.
- Seasickness is hard to avoid, and many were affected by nausea and tiredness. The illness generates sadness and indifference. There are even stories of sailors throwing themselves over board in order to rid themselves of the pain.
- Minor cuts and blisters, caused by the hard physical work of handling the sail, the heavy ropes and the rowing, are also a natural part of life on board.
- Heatstroke. The weather was extremely fine and sunny during the voyage to Norway in 2006, and this caused a few cases of heatstroke . The burning sun and the high temperature, combined with hard, physical activity, caused major fluid loss. Many of the crew had possibly drunk too little water and were not covered up properly.
- Nettle rash is also a result of the hard physical work, and the limited opportunities to wash and rinse away sweat led to rashes and itching.
- Hypothemia was a serious risk on the vouage to Dublin. The rain and the cold night at open sea made a lot of people really cold. When being that cold people loose the capability to move, think and talk.
Diarrhoea occurred during the voyage to Norway, but worse cases were avoided due to strict hygiene rules concerning cooking, serving of food and visits to the toilet. Surgical spirit and disinfectant cloths constituted part of the cleaning regime for the galley and the ship's two toilets, which were to be wiped over after each visit. Further to this, there were rules concerning thorough washing of hands prior to cooking and after all visits to the toilet – also in the event of urinating over the ship's side. Furthermore, several crewmembers had taken along wet wipes for daily washing of their face, hands etc. When the crewmembers went bathing, many took their clothes with them and washed them at the same time.
Fact: During every long expedition the nurse will keep diaries and write down which illnesses, injuries and minor cuts affect the crew and how these are treated, as well as experience with the sanitary conditions. This information is to be used in connection with future voyages and to learn more of life on board a Viking ship.
Whether the Vikings suffered from the same illnesses 1000 years ago is almost impossible to discover. Life and, especially, conditions on board ship, then and now, are so different that it is difficult to tell. Presumably wounds and injuries from battles were treated on board the warships, and blisters and seasickness were just a natural part of the voyage. Minor wounds and injuries were, however, much more serious in the Viking Age. There are archaeological finds of instruments for the cleaning and healing of wounds showing that the Vikings knew of the danger of infections. However, it is probable that infections in minor wounds would, throughout history, have led to blood poisoning, amputation and, in the worst cases, deaths. Today, infections are treated with antibiotics.
By: Louise Kæmpe Henriksen
The Sea Stallion has a modern public relations officer on board. Like in the Vikign Age his job is to tell exciting stories. But where the Viking Scald was always telling stories about kings or chieftains, the public relations officer is telling stories about the ship and its crew.
The public relations officer's most important task is to tell the press about theSea Stallion. He has, therefore, made contact with journalists, reporters and photographers in Denmark and abroad, especially in Scotland, Ireland and England.
When he writes an article about the ship or the crew for the Sea Stallion's website it is read by maybe only 100 people, but as soon as a newspaper or a television station carry the story, thousands, tens of thousands – yes, perhaps even millions sometimes – of people get the opportunity to hear about the Sea Stallion.
During the voyage he writes short stories about adventures on board – stories about the progress of the voyage, how the weather influences navigation and the atmosphere on board, what the crew are experiencing and how the ship is received in the harbours where it docks. The stories are sent home and placed on this website so that everybody – the public, the press as well as family and friends, can follow the voyage and see what happens from day to day.
The content of the stories
Fact: The public relations officer also has tasks unrelated to story telling. In case of an emergency on board the ship the public relations officer must give advice to both the skipper and crew about relations with the press. It is important that the press receives fast and correct information, but it is even more important to inform any family members affected.
In the Viking Age is was impotant for at king to have a scald. The scald made sure that the kings life story; his dangerous crusades and heroic battles was known in the aftermath. Today the role of the public relations officer on board is just as important. Not only do the Viking Ship Museum want to communicate the story about the project to as many people as possible, but the stories from the Sea Stallion can also help creating interest for our Scandinavian past and shown that our culture is exciting and drammatic.
By: Louise Kæmpe Henriksen
» Read the diary of the Scald
The crew on board the Sea Stallion of Glendalough are referred to as gaster, and they have all volunteered for the project. Nobody has – as in Viking times – been forced to make the voyage, but everybody has been assessed and selected by the ship's skipper and a core group comprising the leaders of the rooms (sections) and the coxswains.
The ship is organised into six rooms, each delimited by the thwarts (benches) on which the oarsmen sit. Each section has a leader, who makes sure the crew carry out their tasks, observe their watches and report to the skipper. The crew have fixed positions in the room so that everybody knows where to stow their gear and which tasks they must perform.
Just like the Vikings, the crew now form watches. These are referred to as port and starboard watch, respectively, according to the two sides of the ship. Half of the ship's crew are on watch at one time, while the other half can rest and sleep. A watch lasts four hours and must be manned day and night. However, the watch around suppertime lasts only two hours so that everybody has the chance to eat a hot meal.
The crew on board the Sea Stallion do not have to look out for enemy ships – apart from that the ship is organised as in the Viking Age. There are also watches by the sail, the rudder and on lookout. When the ship is in port and the crew goes ashore the Sea Stallion also has an anchor watch keeping an eye on the moorings and the ship. On board the Sea Stallion the position of helmsman, the person responsible for steering the ship, is divided between a small number of people with navigation skills from the lofting - the section of the ship with the skipper and coxswains. The helmsman also changes every four hours.
As the Sea Stallion is 30 m long, a mellemråber (a middleman) is placed by the mast at the centre of the ship so that skipper and coxswains can contact with bow sections of the ship. The middleman’s tasks involve relaying commands and messages on towards the bow of the vessel as well as shouting the look-out’s messages back to the lofting.
In addition to their ordinary watches, the men must also serve kabystjans and bakstørn. When serving kabystjans the watch helps with cooking and when serving bakstørn he washes up after the meal.
Even though women were rarely found on board warships in the Viking Age, there are 18 female gaster on the Sea Stallion, and they have no special privileges. Like the men they form part of the watches, and they are also expected to be able to sail the ship, bail out water, row and manage strenuous, physical tasks as well as the rough weather conditions at sea. On the summer expedition to Norway in 2006 it was, however, the female crew members who were the most badly affected by seasickness..!
The crew's personal gear will not be stored in ship’s chests but will be stowed in waterproof sacks holding equipment such as modern waterproof clothes, woollen underwear, warm sweaters, a headlamp, a knife, items for personal hygiene, a sleeping bag and underlay etc.
Conditions for sleeping on board are similar to those in the Viking Age. The crew sleep between the thwarts on the deck or on the oars, which are stowed when not in use. The sleeping bag and mat are only used when going ashore. When the ship is underway, the men sleep wrapped in woollen blankets for safety reasons. In the case of an emergency it can be too dangerous for the men to be inside sleeping bags, which they are not able to get out of quickly. They also have to be able to go on watch quickly without having to clear up a lot of equipment.
Life on board
The watch system on board the Sea Stallion means that the crew is off duty every four hours. Many use their free time for sleep in order to be fit for the night watches. With a crew of 62 it can be difficult to find rest and privacy and many choose to sit down with a book or some music in their ears to feel alone for a while. Some write a diary and take notes.
Games are also played on the Sea Stallion. Many have brought cards and magnetic chess games. The ship also has a songbook with sea shanties and a guitar for festive occasions.
The crew is made up from ten different nationalities and the crew does not meet all that often. Hence the free time is also used to socialise and chat. The crew get to know each other better and pay visits to the other rooms of the ship.
Often, however, it is not possible to have the entire shift off. There are always things that need doing on board, and many crew members use their time off to mend the sail and cordage.
By: Louise Kæmpe Henriksen
» The shipmaster's law
» Duty roster
There are no weapons on board the Sea Stallion. However, the law today requires safety and navigational equipment to be carried on board all ships.
This is why all the men wear life jackets and the Sea Stallion is equipped with life rafts, distress flares and lights (green and red n the top of the mast.) Flashlights are also an important part of the equipment on board, used when going in and out of harbour at night and when the Sea Stallion gets to close to land when sailing, exspecially reefs and rocks.
The ship has:
- a GPS satellite navigator that can give its position and speed
- an AIS radar that shows other ships near by and relays the Sea Stallion's position to other ships.
- a weather station on board for measuring wind speed, air pressure and an air and water temperatures
- a radio for contacting nearby ships or land.
Further to this the Sea Stallion will also carry a great deal of communications equipment on its expeditions. There will, for example, be a computer to send reports back to the Viking Ship Museum so that it is possible to follow the voyage on the website and read the crew's logs and diaries.
Sveral crew members have been equipted with digital cameras and video cameras to documnet every routine and work function on board. This will give the Viking Ship Museum a greater insight into how the ship is sailed. Is there a different in how the sheets are handled when tacking in calm wind and hard wind?
» Dead recokning