One big question people have is how far south did the Vikings sail?

I can only say how far I south I went. Later groups may have gone farther south. Since I recall the actually voyage, I will give you a narrative of it.

We went South along the coast until it got as hot as Spain. We hugged the coast the entire way as we usually did. One day I was not paying that much attention to details such as the wind and the small waves that reflected off the shore so that you could sail away from land in deep ocean water and suddenly we found ourselves in deep Ocean water with strange currents and found things in the water like branches from trees that we had never seen before and then it got foggy. We could only have been about five miles from where we had last seen land off to the west and suddenly it was an entirely new world we were in.

For the first time in about 15 years I kind of got worried.

If you are sailing south along a coast and you find yourself suddenly in fog and away from land, then you turn around and go north. Then you work your way over to the west until you find land. It should be less than five miles to land and then you figure out if you want to stock up on water and sail through the deep water to the next land fall or wait until the fog lifts. It is a pretty simple technique and it was early afternoon. I could see the sun through the fog and telling where North was not a problem at all. So we turned and did what I had learned to do and we went for 120 miles without hitting land, I kid you not we completely flipped out!

We had sailed only five miles from land fall and all the land in the world suddenly disappeared. It was really bizarre with that fog and then strange birds we had never seen before flew over us and plants that were stranger than anything we had ever seen floated by us. The water began to get all muddy and the fish came up to the boat because they were curious and there was nothing familiar looking about them. There were always these land birds flying around us and yet there was no land. And then I saw a completely upside down plant floating in the water. It had one main stem but the branches were where the roots should have been and I couldn't figure out where the roots went on the plant.

It frightened me since the plant was obviously inside out. Instead of many branches and a single root it was the exact opposite of what it should be. It was perhaps from an upside down world, a world gone mad. It's still an unknown plant but may have been some kind of a small cyprus tree.

This was during a warm period when Iceland's summers were like England are today and Cyprus trees whose seeds are carried by birds must have extended their range a few hundred miles far north of their present range.

The shock of seeing those upside down plants caused the memory of them to be etched into my mind for a long time. We rowed for half the night and still we never found the shore.

That fog refused to lift and we remembered all the old Viking tales of smoke and fog breathing dragons. We Vikings had the complete spectrum of dragons. I mean we had dragons to the excess and those even included 'fart dragons' that live around sulfur hot springs. But our Dragons were extremely hard to find. One man I was told about had spent two years looking for one to kill. He never even found one. They usually lived in far away caves from what I have been told.

Suddenly I couldn't conceive of why we ever came this far south.

Not having anything to do but row I started thinking about the bears which were the most dangerous animals we had run across in this new world. They were bigger and much more dangerous than our European bears.

The bears I saw in Europe were mostly the little bears that some people got as pets and they ended up pests.

But the little bears are only about a meter long and they don't harm anyone. There were a few brown bears but they are not vicious in that they will go out of their way to attack you.

West of Iceland all the bears will eat you. First you come to the Polar Bear area and they will look at you like you are food and then smell the air to decide how good you are going to taste and that is really a strange feeling when it happens to you. Then you must get away very fast or they will eat you. They are huge too.

Then to the west of there in this new world we saw skins that the Skralings would get in trade from other Skralings. They would trade shells and soft pelts for the skins that were over five meters long and very wide. They could cover their whole living shelter with one of those skins. They were at least four times as large as any European Bear and we were warned that they were very mean. (This must have been the now extinct Plains Grizzly.)

Since they ate Buffalo as their primary food source they became so huge and powerful they could dispatch a full sized Buffalo with one swipe of their paw. Bella Twin shot and killed the last one in 1953 with a .22 cal rabbit rifle and it is still the biggest bear ever shot in the providence of Albert, Canada.

I think it was such an impressive show of marksmanship that I was going to make a stirring commemoration of the event in 3D but the special program did not arrive in time so I had to make it in 2 1/4 D instead.

I figured that the two biggest animal in Europe were our bears and our dragons. They act similar because are both pretty nice animals and wont hurt you unless you try to hurt them.

Our bears are pretty nice and our dragons are also pretty nice too. So it follows that the bears and the dragons in the west would also be similar to each other.

Since the bears in the new world are so much larger than those in the old world and so much meaner then it follows that the Dragons here are very mean and at least four times the size of European Dragons. They would probably be large enough and mean enough to attack us and swallow our entire boat in one gulp!

That fear came to all of us. Huge fighting men who weren't afraid of any mortal alive and who would fight to the death to defend their honor started breaking up. Then the 16 year old boy that came along started crying and that didn't help matters any at all. And I was starting to break down because I could not figure it out at all.

Do you know where we were? We had gotten into the middle of the channel outside of Chesapeake Bay when we felt the current driving us out to sea. (See the Map.)

Viking south

Even though we were pretty close to Virginia by that time we had no way of knowing where we were because of the fog. That was when we turned and went North by North West.

If you do like we did, you won't hit land until you get to Baltimore about 200 miles up the Chesapeake and we made it three quarters of the way there before we made landfall.

We recovered our confidence the next day when we got back to the ocean.

Now I figured that my forgetfulness at keeping track of where we were and everything else that had occurred was God's way of telling us to turn around and go back to 'Vineland'. However there were two more than half the crew that said that it was not a divine order and we should continue.

So we went right into a fog bank again and started south. We cautiously stayed far to the west and it appears too far to the west because within two days we were wedged in the Great Dismal Swamp which lies right between what is now Virginia and North Carolina.

We had been warned many times that tropical marshes meant a painful excruciating death from an enemy that you could not see. To die while fighting a dragon that was trying to eat you was one thing but to die by an invisible death was not right according to the Vikings way. (It was probably yellow fever and other mosquito borne diseases.) That was enough to discourage us completely.

We voted again and it was unanimous this time so we turned north.


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© 2005 John Pinil