by Edd Doerr
For 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbus's voyage to the New World, Spain built full-size replicas of the three ships and sailed them to our shores. When they put into Annapolis, Maryland, two visiting Norwegian friends and I drove over to see them. The harbor was crowded with tourists. Approaching from the car park we found also tied up at the dock a small Viking ship, not one of the ocean-going sort but one designed for sailing around the Baltic Sea.
The name of the Viking craft was spelled out on it in Old Norsk runes, which translated became Fyrdrake (Fire-Dragon), pronounced "Fear-Drahkah". The four-man crew were dressed like Vikings, complete with swords. We asked them what they did. Their joking reply, "We sail up and down the Chesapeake raping and pillaging".
The papers reported that when the three Spanish ships arrived to Annapolis and the crew disembarked they were greeted by the four Vikings, who told them "We got here first".
The crowds were so large that we were unable to board the Santa Maria, but we did get aboard one of the two smaller vessels. It was appallingly small for an ocean-going vessel and did not even have a completely covered deck. In answer to my question one of the Spanish crew members told me that the little ship had a crew of either 22 or 23.