Five men sailed from the west coast of Ireland in a banana-shaped leather boat on Monday (17 May) in an attempt to re-enact St.
Five men sailed from the west coast of Ireland in a banana-shaped leather boat on Monday (17 May) in an attempt to re-enact St. Brendan's legendary crossing to American in the sixth century.
Their 36 foot (11 metre) vessel, the "Brendan", is a replica of the ancient oxhide and wood "currach", a modified version of which is still being used by western Irish inshore fishermen.
The expedition's leader, Timothy Severin, has an interest in currachs. The idea for the voyage started when he came across "Navigation", a medieval manuscript on the saint's presumed crossing of the Atlantic. It the sixth century journey did take place, then St. Brendan reached America 900 years before Christopher Columbus.
The materials used for the "Brendan" were those that would have been around 1,300 years ago. The wood had to be native oak or ash and the timbers were pegged and then tied with leather thongs. No nails or glue could be used, but copper rivets were allowed.
Some concessions have been made for the crew though. They will wear the latest in cold weather clothing and eat a high protein survival diet. The Brendan has a radio and direction-finding equipment, compass, sextant and an inflatable liferaft.
The five men had planned to set out on 16 May -- St. Brendan's day -- but bad weather delayed their departure for a day. If all goes well, their journey will take them up the west coast of Scotland to Iceland. Then across to Greenland and down the east coast of Canada, reaching Boston in the United States, they hope, in October this year. With a voyage of 4,000 miles (about 6,400 kilometres) though, their timetable is flexible.