Our Ships - Norseman History
The Norseman's Beginnings
After the demise of the Ravnen a group from Leif Ericson Society International felt that another ship was needed to help spread the word that "Leif Landed First". A discussion ensued within LESI and it was decided in 1990 that Leif Ericson Viking Ship, Inc. would become a parallel organization separate from LESI and they would operate any ship that would be built. LEVS was still affiliated with LESI, but distinct and separate from it for liability issues.
LEVS was chartered to over see the fundraising and construction of a new ship. A committee was formed to research what was available that might serve our purposes. The committee found that a wooden ship could be built to their specs for about $60,000, or a fiberglass boat with a wooden "skin" could be built for about the same price. As maintenance and weight were issues, along with transportability, neither of these ships really fit our ideas of what we needed. One of the members of the committee became aware of an ad from the Applecraft Ltd in the Isle of Man, U.K. who was building a 100% fiberglass boat fashioned after the Gokstad ship. We looked into both the company and their product more closely, finding it feasible and practical and relatively inexpensive, at $20,000! Funds were raised and our hull was ordered in the fall of 1991!
The hull was delivered in March of 1992 in a Maersk shipping container to the Kalmar Nyckel Shipyard in Wilmington, DE, our present home base. Marty Martinson, who oversaw the construction while on a "vacation" to Europe, also designed a way to cajole the hull from the container it was shipped in. Much work ensued to have our ship ready in time for her maiden voyage... in New York City's Opsail '92 celebration on July 4th! We were the lead boat in the "History of Sail parade"! What a weekend! The Norseman, as she had been named, looked fantastic even though she was dwarfed by the huge Tall Ships from all over the world! With her figurehead of a serpent built by Marty, her curlicue tail built by Dave Segermark (reminiscent of the Oseberg ship), rowing stations built by everyone on the crew and oars from the Ravnen, she was a sight that New Yorkers couldn't get enough of! We sold our entire stock of "Leif Landed "T" Shirts" in the three days we were in New York!
A few years later we were able to build better oars with help from the Independence Seaport Museum's "Workshop on the Water". We continually strive to keep the Norseman in good repair and in 1999 Volvo Penta donated a 19 h.p. diesel saildrive engine to replace our two-cycle outboard motor. We have been fortunate to travel with the Norseman from Maine to Texas and Ohio and to Sweden, Labrador, Newfoundland and even St. Petersburg, Russia.
The Story Continues...
The Norseman is showing some wear, but has outlasted the Ravnen by quite a few years! Our crew continuously works on keeping the ship in good condition. The tail has been replaced by a stem post, and the crew has plans to create a removable tail that can be detached during our many long-distance travels. In the near future we will be working on creating new crew boxes, as well as making some minor repairs on the ship.