Leif Ericson Viking Ship Norseman

Email: Viking@LibertyNet.Org
Vol. 4 - No. 2- Fall 1996


1996 has been a busy sailing season for the NORSEMAN, with numerous outings and appearances to help spread the word about Leif Ericson and Viking culture. The kickoff trip of the season was our appearance at the “Viking Days” festival in Georgetown, Texas on April 27-28. (See separate article, page 3.)

On the weekend of May 16-18, NORSEMAN and crew played a triple-header, with separate appearances at three locations on three successive days. Thursday the NORSEMAN traveled to Dover, Delaware for a land display, then appeared at Abington Friends School near Philadelphia on Friday for an ethnic celebration. Viking Hal Sundby gave a talk on Vikings to students at the School. Saturday, NORSEMAN sailed on the Christiana River in Wilmington.

The weekend of June 21 and 22 was only a double-header, with the NORSEMAN and crew first in Central Park, New York for the Midsummer’s festival coordinated by Sweden’s Consul General Dag Ahlander. Hard-to-impress Manhattan dwellers were attracted to the NORSEMAN in large numbers, and several Vikings were recruited to help carry and raise the maypole at the fest. That night, the NORSEMAN and crew traveled to Randolph, New Jersey for a Scandinavian festival held annually at the Morris County College Campus.

The Fourth of July weekend was topped off with an appearance by the NORSEMAN and crew in the Lighted Boat Parade at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. Skipper Marty Martinson and crew worked long hours ahead of time to decorate the ship for the parade and make ready for the festival. NORSEMAN was awarded first prize for “most original” decoration on a baseball theme with “Leif’s on first - who’s on second?”.

Reading, PA was the destination for NORSEMAN and a large crew of Vikings on July 27, as part of a “Festival of Nations” celebration in downtown Reading. A fun sail for Members is scheduled for September 14 on the Sassafras River, and Norseman will appear again at the Wilmington Riverfest on the Christiana River on September 28. The appearance on the Schuylkill on Leif Ericson Day, October 9, will mark the end of the busy summer for NORSEMAN and crew.


The annual observance and ceremony in celebration of Leif Ericson Day will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 9. The location will be at the Viking Statue at the head of Boat House Row, Kelly Drive, on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. All Scandinavian-Americans, Scandinavians and others interested in commemorating the first European discovery of America are invited to attend. Denmark is the host country for the observance this year. Invited speakers include the Danish Ambassador and Mayor Rendell. Television anchor Don Tollefson will accompany the Norseman Crew as honorary "Viking For A Day".

The Viking Ship NORSEMAN will arrive at the Viking Statue about noon, sailing down the river with a crew of costumed Vikings, and displaying the national colors of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland. With the crew of Viking sailors as honor guard, proclamations will be read from President Clinton and Mayor Rendell, and a wreath will be placed at the foot of the Statue of Viking explorer Thorfinn Karlsefni.

Join us at the celebration to honor Leif Ericson this year, wearing traditional costume or your national colors to take part in this important annual event.


Make your reservations now to attend the annual Leif Ericson Day Dinner on the evening of October 9th. The host country this year is Denmark, and the dinner is being held at the Rolling Green Country Club in Springfield. Invited guests include the Danish Ambassador, Mayor and Mrs. Rendell, and others.


For a limited time only, we are offering a discount on “Leif Landed First” T-Shirts, sweatshirts, and caps. Orders received by December 1st may take 20% off the usual prices for these items only. (Members may take 25% off.) Include usual postage, discount is on merchandise only. Take advantage of this offer at once - these items are excellent quality and make fine Birthday or Christmas gifts for your Viking friends!


Highlight of a summer visit to Sweden, NORSEMAN President Dennis Johnson and Mrs. Johnson were invited to sail with the members and crew of the full size replica Viking Ship ‘Sigrid Storråda’ in Sweden on June 10. Completed only last year, the ‘Sigrid’ is a very accurate replica of the Gokstad Ship found in Norway many years ago.

Built with combined public and privately-raised funds, the Sigrid Storråda was named after the reputedly beautiful and strong-minded mother of Olof Skötkonung, the first Christian King of Sweden, who was baptized in the year 1008. The ship is 76 feet long, 17 feet wide, weighs about 10 tons, and has 32 oars. She is built entirely of oak, except for a mast of pine. Concessions to modern needs and safety include a 200 hp Volvo Penta turbo-diesel engine, twin reversible hydraulic screws, complete radios, and a global positioning (GPS) navigation system.

The ship was built and is operated by the Viking Ship Sigrid Storråda Society, a not-for-profit organization similar to our own. A crew of carpenters and shipwrights built the Viking Ship, working for two years under a government grant to provide employment. She is based at Blomberg’s Harbor on Kenneviken Bay, Lake Vänern, not far from Lidjoping. The ship is maintained and operated through appearances, donations, by fees from charter by groups and corporations, and through merchandise sales.

On the afternoon of our arrival, my wife and I were met at the ship by Mr. Per Skårstedt, Captain, who is also a merchant ship captain for Wallenius lines, Stockholm. After a tour of the ship, our host for the day, Per Hellström took LaVonne and me on a tour of the area, including visits to the old Husaby church, burial site of Olof Skötkuning, to see some pre-Viking rock carvings, and to the top of Kinnekulla, a famous hill overlooking Lake Vänern. We stopped at his summer house to share pizza with his family, then returned to the Harbor for the evening sail.

We left the pier about 7 p.m., motoring briefly to get clear of the harbor. The sail was then raised and a light breeze carried us north and west up the lake in the long June evening. This was a sail training exercise for the crew, while the members on board (almost 25) continued a board meeting begun before departure. While sailing, we were circled by an ultralight aircraft whose pilot had flown out from Kinnekulla to look us over. Belt-mounted cellular telephones (called "Teddy-bears" in Sweden) rang regularly and each time, several passengers would reach for their hip. Vikings love new technology! Our captain, Per, even took a call from his counterpart on his ship in Baltimore!

The sun finally began to approach the horizon about 10:00 p.m., the sail was struck, and in the interest of time the Sigrid motored back to the Harbor. We exchanged souvenirs (Per Hellström now wears a "Leif Landed First" T-shirt and Per Skårstedt has a Norseman cap) and agreed to stay in touch. Their crew would like to sail the Sigrid to North America, possibly for the Leif Ericson millennium celebration. Stay tuned!


- Roberts, Morgan J., NORSE GODS AND HEROES, myths of the World Series by the Friedman Group, 1995.

This attractive, 112-page hardbound book examines in great detail the myths of the Norsemen. In the introduction, the author explains how the attitudes toward the Norse Gods are reflected in the lifestyle of the pre-Christian Vikings:

"The Norse Gods were a race of half-giant deities who were not immortal. These deities understood that a time would come when they would meet their own deaths. The mortal nature of these gods reflected the fatalistic mindset in the northern races... The most that a Norseman could aspire to was to die fighting against the world’s evils, be those evils in the form of a rival clan, inclement weather, or a pack of wolves."

The remaining fourteen chapters detail the beginning of the Norse universe, the major characters and events in that universe and the end of the existing universe and creation of the new. We receive insights into Odin, the king of Aesir; Fridda, the queen; Thor, the God of Thunder; Loki, the God of Lies, Chaos and Trickery; Tyr, the God of War; Frey, the God of Sunshine and the Elves; Freya, the Goddess of Love, and numerous others. The book is wonderfully illustrated with photographs of Viking artifacts and sites and attractive color and pen and ink drawings of the Norse gods.

For anyone interested in this subject fundamental to understanding the Viking mindset, this book is an outstanding acquisition. We have a limited number of these for sale for $12 each. (see order form, page 4)

Several other new books of interest have crossed the Editors Desk recently. DRAGONS ET DRAKKARS, published by the Museum of Normandy, Caen, France in conjunction with their exhibition on Vikings, Summer 1996. The book is written in French, but contains numerous examples of 18th to 20th Century portrayals of the Vikings in art, decor, and illustrations. Our ship NORSEMAN in color is used as the frontispiece page to the second chapter, on page 15.

Also, HORRIBLE HISTORIES by Terry Deary, Scholastic Publications, Ltd, London, 1994, is a book for children which humorously describes Viking life, culture and beliefs, at least from the English point of view. Engagingly droll but superficial, with many cartoon-like humorous illustrations.


You can visit a re-created Viking Village, and sail a simulated sea voyage if you visit Norway. “Vikinglandet” is an interactive museum and theme park near Tusenfryd, about 30 minutes from the center of Oslo. Open May through mid-September. Contact Norwegian Tourist Board, 212-949-2333, New York.

Trondheim, Norway will celebrate its 1000-year anniversary in 1997. Sagas relate that Leif Ericson visited Trondheim in about the year 1000 to receive the blessing of King Olav in bringing Christianity to Greenland. The Leif Ericson Lodge of the Sons of Norway in Seattle is leading a fund drive to replicate Seattle’s 1962 Leif Ericson statue and donate the replica to the city of Trondheim, for installation in the harbor of that city.

When asked who THOR was, on elderly Norwegian-American said, “ithn’t he the Thcandinavian god of acheth and painth?”

Congratulations go to Gimli, Manitoba on the celebration of the 120th Anniversary of their founding in 1876. Gimli, about 60 miles north of Winnipeg on Lake Manitoba, was settled by 285 Icelanders who had been displaced from their homes in Iceland by volcanic eruptions. Gimli is today the center of the largest Icelandic settlement outside of Iceland, and is noted for a 16-foot tall Viking Statue on the lakefront. (Erected in 1967, the statue has a horned helmet.)


Scandinavians attending the Viking Fest in Georgetown Texas, gave a gracious welcome to NORSEMAN and crew on April 27 and 28th. Georgetown, about 20 miles north of Austin, is the home of Southwestern University and is one of a number of Texas towns settled by Scandinavians in the 19th century. This was the first year of what will be an annual event, held on the San Gabriel River in San Gabriel Park in Georgetown. Over ten thousand visitors attended the festival held to commemorate the 150th anniversary if Scandinavian migration to Texas and the U.S.

This was by far the furthest-traveled expedition for NORSEMAN and crew. Our generous hosts helped with expenses and provided us with host homes in Georgetown, where we were treated most graciously. Skipper Dave Segermark, accompanied by stalwart crewman Gil Jacobsen, drove the van and ship to Austin and back, a three-day trip each way. Vikings Harold Graden, Eric Hinrichsen, Dennis Johnson and LaVonne Johnson traveled by air and the crew met in Georgetown on Friday evening before the festival.

NORSEMAN was successfully launched into the San Gabriel River Friday evening, and prepared for display. Visitors all day Saturday and Sunday kept the crew occupied, talking about the ship, Leif Ericson, and various topics. Our shirts and merchandise were very popular, being new to most of the Texans present, and our visitors were most enthusiastic about our being there. Our Vikings had a few moments to walk the Festival grounds, savor Scandinavian foods, and visit many vendors and displays.

A highlight of our stay was a visit by some twenty members of a San-Antonio-based chapter of the “Society for Creative Anachronisms” - all in medieval Viking dress. The group climbed aboard the NORSEMAN and sang one of their Viking songs, to the delight of all the visitors present. A great time was had by all, and the return trip to home port was long but uneventful. Many thanks to our wonderful Scandinavian hosts in Texas, who made us feel so welcome.


April 1996 Newsletter