The ocean-going landing-crafts
The Viking ships, both the Longship and the merchant ship or ‘Knórr’, could equally well handle ocean voyages across the Atlantic. Neither needed a harbour, but could land on beaches or river banks anywhere.
The Longship was the thoroughbred racing warship. It was usually about 25m/ 80ft long. Each gunwale was pierced with holes for oars, and a single mast stepped amidships carried a large, square sail. This gave the Longships speed and manoeuvrability and their shallowness of draught allowed them to penetrate rivers They needed no harbours for they were designed to be beached on any shelving sandy shore.
The Knórr (merchant ship)
The Knórr, the cargo boats, made up the bulk of Viking shipping. It was sturdy and wide and could carry men and animals as well as tonnes of supplies.
How they sailed
You not only need a good ship to be able to travel far. You also have to know how to navigate to find your way to your destination.
The Vikings set sail in the morning when the wind and tide was right. All day they sailed along the coast. At nightfall they landed at some beach, put up tents, had a cooked meal and went to sleep.
Next day they set sail when the…. and so on, until they reached their destination. This was the normal Viking sailing procedure. Some times, however, the Vikings sailed for days across open sea and some times, sailing along rivers, they had to take their ships ashore and haul them across land to pass waterfalls or take the ships from one river to another.
On board the ship each man had a ships’ chest where he had his belongings. When they had to row the ship, the chest was used to sit on while rowing.
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