Ever wanted to sail your very own Viking ship? A family in Norway’s historic whaling port of Sandefjord is offering one for sale, an exact replica of the famous Oseberg ship excavated in 1904 and on display at the Viking Ships Museum in Oslo.
The newer vessel was built from 2007 to 2009 at a shipyard in Latvia by Norwegian maritime enthusiast Per Bjørkum, who wanted to prove that the Oseberg ship was seaworthy. The original is believed to have been built around 820AD and was unearthed from a Viking grave near Tønsberg, not far from Sandefjord.
The Oseberg’s funeral connections have prompted some speculation over the years that it was built for ceremonial purposes and not for sailing. Jason Eckhoff, Bjørkum’s son-in-law, told Aftenposten.no on Wednesday that Bjørkum wanted to prove them wrong.
“He has managed to do that,” said Eckhoff, who’s helping his father-in-law sell the vessel. “He sailed the ship from the bay at Riga to Sandefjord.”
The vessel has also been sailing on the Oslo Fjord this summer, and spent several days berthed near the Maritime Museum in Oslo before heading back south to Sandefjord. Called Åsa, the wooden vessel features oak carvings like those on the Oseberg and has few if any modern enhancements.
The Åsa has no motor, for example, and is propelled either by a 90-square-meter sail or 11 pairs of oars. Eckhoff conceded that the vessel often has been towed by a small wooden rowboat mounted with a motor, “but there hasn’t been much use for it,” claiming that the vessel has achieved speeds of 12 knots.
A “for sale” ad for the Åsa (external link, in Norwegian) boasts that it presents “a unique chance to take part in the history of the Vikings,” and that it can be viewed at the harbour in Sandefjord. Serious prospective buyers may be invited on “a fantastic sailing experience.” Fifteen pairs of oars are included in the deal.
The price tag? NOK 3.5 million (nearly USD 600,000 at current exchange rates). The seller claims another replica now being built in Norway has a budget of NOK 10 million.
Eckhoff, known for founding the online travel agency Restplass.no in Norway, cautioned that “this isn’t a boat for just anyone.” An impulsive afternoon sail may be a tricky undertaking, not least since the vessel “requires a certain amount of rigging.” Bjørkum’s summer cruise up to Oslo involved a crew of 17.