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Author Tim Severin introduces the story of St. Brendan the Navigator. Severin will undertake the same Atlantic voyage in the same type of boat Brendan would have used.
On a small leather boat, five men risk cold, discomfort, and their lives to pursue the legend of St. Brendan, a monk who set sail from Ireland and landed in Newfoundland. Oak and grease prepare the leather; wood and mast are of Irish oak and ash.
Explorer Tim Severin studies Irish navigation to learn how to make a leather boat. He and his crew build a boat and use the same technology just like St. Brendan would have used 1400 years ago.
The replica of a medieval boat sets sail from the same Irish port as St. Brendan did in the 6th century. Seven days out, the small boat meets gale force winds. One man is injured and the water stores are ruined by seawater.
On board the small boat, a replica of a medieval one, the men face the challenges of small ,cramped spaces, lack of dry clothing and sleeping bags, and lack of physical exercise. The crew visits Iona off the coast of Scotland.
From Iona, the leather boat, a replica of St. Brendan's boat, heads north to the Faroes, famous for its seabirds and sheep. The modern day crew learns to kill seabirds for food.
Explorer Severin and his crew of four leave the Faroes and set sail for Iceland. It took St. Brendan 9 days to make the journey. Severin and his boat are welcomed and the boat given a complete inspection.
Four men leave Iceland on "Brendan," a replica of a medieval boat. They head for Greenland on the most treacherous leg of their journey. This would test the ability of the men and the boat to survive. Whales accompany them along the way.
Out of the protective sphere of Iceland's Coast Guard, the small boat, a replica of a medieval boat, meets gale force winds. Two rogue waves threaten to sink the small boat.
The storm pushes "Brendan," a small boat with 4 men aboard out of radio communication range. Whales continue to accompany the crew. They near Greenland and encounter food, winds, and high seas.
The crew of the "Brendan" nears Labrador pack ice, what they had hoped to steer clear of. The boat must navigate among large and small ice floes. The hull sustains a hole from a submerged iceberg.
Leaving the ice floes behind, explorer Severin and his crew and small boat make contact with Newfoundland. They rendezvous with a Coast Guard ship.
A small boat, a replica of a medieval boat sailed by an Irish monk, takes two Coast Guard officers on board for a small celebration. The little boat is in sight of her goal in North America. The "Brendan" is nearing the end of her 4000-mile journey.
In 1977, the leather boat "Brendan" reaches the New World just as the Irish monk St. Brendan had 1400 years before. Perhaps the legend of St. Brendan is no legend at all, but the truth about the first explorers to reach North America.
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