For several years now, ever since I’ve lived near English Bay, I’ve been noticing this odd sight out on the water. Once in a while, there’s this Viking ship out there. That’s right, with that characteristic striped orange sail, oars and what even what look like shields lining the gunnels. On really windy days it never appears, but periodically, when there’s a ruffle of a breeze you can see it bobbing about amongst modern yachts and freighters. The sail seems to hang limp most of the time, but the oars are busy enough.
Turns out that the ship, named the Murin, was launched over a decade ago as part of the BC Viking Ship project. Basically a group of gung-ho folks got together to create a 40 foot replica of the Norwegian Viking Ship Gokstad, which was built around 890 A.D. and unearthed in 1880 near Oslo. The “Gokstad Ship” was amazingly well preserved in an old Viking grave. It is currently on display at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo. Pretty hardcore! No maritime city is complete with a couple of full scale replicas bobbing about, I say, and this one does us proud.
But what I really like about the Murin - and I just found this out – is that it’s open to the public. With a donation, anyone is welcome to experience working a real Viking longship. Although this isn’t like doing the Gondola thing in Venice. Apparently one’s expected to show up ready to row! Organizers estimate that up to 5,000 people have the chance to try their hand at sailing the Murin every year.
According to the Viking Project website: “This 40 foot boat can accommodate 12 people and the 2 hour rides are by donation. As a passenger you will be rowing (when there isn’t wind to propel the boat) so be sure to bring gloves to protect your hands…”
Amazing. What a great way to build on our nautical community!
Details on how to embark on the Murin.
- Departure Point: Heritage Harbour dock in Vanier Park, Vancouver (map)
- Cost: By donation (please give generously)
- How to Book: Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve
Header photo courtesy of stevecadman