Saturday, June 9, 2012

Viking Ships

Sleek Viking longships had a shallow draft so they could navigate rivers and sail at fast speeds. They sailed at 5 to 10 knots, but could reach speeds of 15 knots with a brisk, favorable wind. Their long and narrow construction made the ships fast and maneuverable, but they could also haul large amounts of cargo. The long ship had a tent like covered area called a tilt. The square sail was made of tightly woven wool rubbed with horse fat to make the fibers swell and hold the wind. The fat would also prevent over-wetting in a storm. If the sail became too wet and heavy it might roll over into the sea, capsizing the ship. Imagine sailing along on a fine sunny day, with their sail stinking of rancid animal fat, no wonder those Vikings were in such a bad mood.

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