Here you can read the latest diaries on the Sea Stallion's voyage to Roskilde.

All logbooks and diaries

A longship crew

Photo: Werner Karrasch
Photo: Werner Karrasch
Published 15th Jul 2008

How well the ship sails is not the only question; we are also interested in how the crew handles the Sea Stallion when we are sailing, rowing, lowering the mast, etc.

To be able to handle the ship, everyone has to know what he or she has to do when the skipper or mates give orders. So we need to be organised in such a way that the ship can be sailed with simple orders: go about, veer, unship the oars, row, lower the mast, etc.

The various sections have different tasks on board and they must be able to do different things.

In the Foreship there are 20 men and women. Their tasks are:

    * Handling the anchor tackle or mooring ropes on land
    * Manning the look-out
    * Handling the bowline, fore braces, tack ropes and tack pole
    * Reefing the leading edge of the sail
    * Ensuring that the tackle is rigged for lowering the mast
    * Mounting the close-hauling shroud while tacking
    * Rowing

In the Midship there are 16 men and women. Their tasks are:

    * Handling the priors, clue lines and gordings
    * Reefing the middle and trailing edge of the sail
    * Passing on orders
    * Tightening the shrouds
    * Baling out the ship, manning 6 pumps
    * Rowing

In the Aftership there are 16 men and women. Their tasks are:

    * Handling sheets and braces
    * Setting the downhaul of the parrel
    * Manning 2 pumps
    * Raising the sail
    * Rowing

In the raised Aft Deck there are 8 men and women. Their tasks are:

    * Managing the sailing
    * Navigating the ship
    * Steering the Sea Stallion
    * Communicating with the authorities
    * Contact with the support vessel, Cable One
    * Organising and preparing food (two men in the galley)
    * Rowing during longer rowing stints

How large was the crew on the original ship?
The original ship had 30 thwarts for rowers, so if the ship was built for transporting troops it had 60 men on board, two for every thwart. And the boat also presumably had rigging and a sail of a size that could be handled by 60 men, even in bad weather. Under long stints, when the wind was a moderate breeze and the ship’s attitude to the wind was more or less constant, not many people were needed to handle the Sea Stallion – about 10. But this does not mean that we can sail the ship with a crew of 10. For if the wind increases, the sail needs reefing and it needs doing quickly. And that requires another 10 people. If the wind drops, we have to man about 30 oars. If the rowing is for a longer period, then we need to be able to replace those 30 people. And on the voyage, there is always a need for fresh people for the various jobs.

Moreover, all 60 crew have the important and completely indispensable function of being “living ballast” – they have to be a counterweight to the sail, sit on the weather side of the ship and “hang out”, so that the Sea Stallion does not turn over when the wind rises.

Altogether then, two teams of 30 men and women are needed to sail the ship, a total of 60 crew. We split the crew into two watches, with each watch sailing for four hours and resting for four hours.

Created by Søren Nielsen