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A Vessel Fit For A Viking

A Vessel Fit For A Viking

(Hermit Island, Maine) Generations of Mainers have developed a deep respect for the sea. Understanding the ocean and the vessels that navigate it can mean the difference between life and death.

Here on Hermit Island, some of Maine's best boatbuilders are doing something none of them have ever done before: They're building a Viking ship.

Plank by plank, they are crafting a replica of the vessel Leif Eriksson sailed 1,000 years ago. Only a trip to a Danish museum could provide the skeletal plans for a ship that doesn't exist anymore. Rob Stevens is a master builder of wooden boats.

Are you trying to be true to the 1,000-year-old technology?

Mr. Rob Stevens (Master Builder): We're trying to be as true as we can be but unfortunately we have to use power tools where we need to.

Smith: The challenge: build a Viking ship, guided only by oars and wind, capable of retracing Leif Eriksson's historic voyage, the 2,000 miles he sailed from Greenland to Newfoundland in North America 500 years before Columbus. Blacksmith Jerry Galuza was skeptical when he got an order to create rivets for a Viking ship.

Mr. Jerry Galuza (Blacksmith): Well, I kind of chuckled and I didn't think there was much truth to it.

Smith: Now, Jerry is forging the rivets that will keep the ship true.

Mr. Galuza: And it's the only thing that holds the hull together. They're not using screws; they're not using bolts.

Smith: What do you think of the journey that these guys are going on?

Mr. Galuza: Yeah, I wouldn't mind going with them, actually. I think I must have a little Viking blood in me somewhere.

Smith: The expedition is the fantasy of Hodding Carter who, as a child, dreamed of being a Viking. Today he is an author, historian and reluctant adventurer.

Mr. Hodding Carter (Author): I have nightmares every single night and that's not an exaggeration.

Smith: But he is willing to overcome his fear to recapture the little-known but real discovery of America.

Mr. Carter: I love history, you know, and I love telling a story. No one for 700 years has sailed a boat like this up there without a motor.

Smith: There's no place to sleep.

Mr. Carter: Uh-uh.

Smith: There's no galley.

Mr. Carter: Right. Yeah. Those are two important things.

Smith: There's not even a head on this boat.

Mr. Carter: Right. Yeah, that'll be taken care of by leaning over the side and then they...

Smith: Carter, with a veteran captain and crew, will attempt the passage this summer. The builders say the boat will be ready and they have affectionately named it...

Mr. Stevens: We call it the Kevorkian.

Smith: You call it the Kevorkian because it could kill you?

Mr. Stevens: Yeah.

Smith: Soon, Hodding Carter will have the boat he needs to make his voyage. He'll also need kind seas and some luck. With that, history may be able to repeat itself. Harry Smith, CBS News, Hermit Island, Maine.

First aired on the CBS I>Evening News

February 07, 1997

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