Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Viking Ship Sets Sail With GPS, Radar and Cell Phones

ROSKILDE, Denmark -- On the skipper's command, deckhands hauled in tarred ropes to lower the flax sail.

Oars splashed into the water. The crew, grimacing with strain, pulled with steady strokes sending the sleek Viking longship gliding through the fjord.

A thousand years ago, the curved-prow warship might have spewed out hordes of bloodthirsty Norsemen ready to pillage and burn.

This time, the spoils are adventure rather than plunder.

The Sea Stallion of Glendalough is billed as the world's biggest and most ambitious Viking ship reconstruction, modeled on a warship excavated in 1962 from the Roskilde fjord after being buried in the seabed for nearly 950 years.

Now, it is preparing for a journey across the legendary Viking waters of the North Sea -- leaving Roskilde in eastern Denmark on July 1 and sailing to Dublin, which was founded by Vikings in the ninth century.

"It's like a banana boat. It moves like a snake," said crew member Preben Rather Soerensen, 42, after a recent test sail in the Roskilde fjord.

The crew will explore the challenges of spending seven weeks in an open vessel with no shelter from crashing waves, whipping wind and rain. Working in four-hour shifts, the history buffs and sailing enthusiasts will have to steer the 30-meter ship through treacherous waters with a minimum of sleep, comfort and privacy -- just like the Vikings did.

"They must have been incredibly tough to do what they did," said crew member Triona Nicholl, 24, an archaeologist from Dublin. "We all have waterproof gear. We have radios and life jackets and all the stuff. They must have been hardier people."

The Vikings turned to the stars and their Norse gods for help as they navigated across the open sea, reaching as far as Iceland and North America. Many perished in the hostile waters of the North Atlantic.

This crew is putting their faith into modern technology: a GPS satellite navigation system and radar. They wear baseball caps and windbreaker jackets rather than chain-mail shirts and helmets. Mobile phones are allowed, but not battle axes.

Nevertheless, the crew is likely to feel that they have been transported a millennium back in time when the voyage begins.