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Becalmed Viking imitators moving slowly toward America

July 23, 1997

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ The adventurers trying to recreate Leif Ericsson’s voyage from Greenland to the New World worried about stormy seas when they set out _ but in their first week they’ve been plagued by the opposite problem.

Unexpectedly calm winds and a strong current have made the boat move much slower than hoped for, Marian Rivman, a spokesman for the voyage organizers, said Wednesday.

``They’re finding out that the Vikings were very patient people,″ she said by telephone from New York City.

As of Tuesday, the last time the boat’s 12-man crew reported in, it was about 80 miles southwest of Narsarsuaq, Greenland, where the voyage began on July 16.

The adventurers are headed for L’Anse aux Meadows, in the Canadian province of Newfoundland, the site of the only known Viking settlement in North America. Ericsson is believed to have made the first European contact with North America about 1,000 years ago.

With little wind to fill the boat’s 1,000-square-foot sail, the voyagers have had to rely on elbow grease _ laboring at six huge oars to push the 54-foot-long craft forward.

The crew hopes to cover the 1,900 miles to L’Anse aux Meadows by early September, when the Atlantic storm season generally begins.

Missing the deadline would mean that conditions would be tougher than they already are _ and it’s already a demanding trip. Except for occasional radio contact with trip organizers, the crew is trying to be as Viking-like as possible.

That means eating dried meat and moss brought from shore and fish caught during the journey. It also means sleeping in chilly spray on the boat’s open deck.

The voyage is the brainchild of W. Hodding Carter, a travel writer and son of the former State Department spokesman Hodding Carter. The cost of the trip, estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollars, is underwritten by the Lands End clothing company.

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