Meet the Crew: Annemette

 “Sailing is like an orchestra, with the skipper as the conductor, we must pay attention to each other”

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Annemette learning the ropes, holding the Brace whilst sailing past the famous 17km long bridge known as The Great Belt Bridge or ‘Storebæltsbroen’ that connects the Danish islands of  Zealand and Funen

Annemette Brix lives in Værløse, a suburb outside Copenhagen located on the edge of Farum Lake, where she works as a kindergarten teacher. Last summer she joined the Sea Stallion crew for two training sails before embarking for the first week of our summer voyage. She was positioned in the Agterskib, or Aftership (the rear of the boat).

Pronounced “Anna Meta”, this lady’s smile and infectious laughter has lifted me and I’m sure a lot of other crew members through many a tired moment. Last summer’s cruise around her native Denmark was Annemette’s first experience on board a Viking longship and she threw herself head first into all the tasks. Proving that size really doesn’t matter and that the most important trait you can bring to The Sea Stallion is a willingness to listen and learn. And EVERYONE has an opinion on what is the best way to do this and that; from setting up the toilet to attaching the sail to the yard, to which knot to use etc. So to a novice sailor, all of it can be slightly overwhelming. However, Annemette took it all in her stride, relishing every moment of her maiden voyage on board.

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Rowing can be quite a workout both physically and mentally, the most effective way of gaining speed is by rowing in tackt, i.e. at the same rythm. Which requires complete silence and a lot of focus.

Did you have any expectations before the summer cruise? I didn’t really know what to expect. But it totally blew my mind, so much so that I was on a high for a month afterwards.

As a new crew member, how did you get on with the rest of the crew? In such a short time I found I really bonded with my fellow crew members. There was so much laughter, they really are a great band of people. I found it really easy to connect with people, it wasn’t like at parties when you sit around making small talk. We just delved straight into things, the tasks bond people and it’s nice to feel useful to others.

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The famous blue, yellow and red colours that adorn the Sea Stallion were inspired by contemporary depictions of Viking Ships from the Bayeux Tapestries

You had no previous sailing experience, so what were the main challenges you encountered? Firstly, learning the maritime language. Even though there are certain advantages to being small in such cramped conditions, I did sometimes wish I was physically stronger. I sailed for only a week, however I still found it both mentally and physically exhausting. Partly because I had not yet learned the importance of resting whenever possible; something interesting was happening all the time and I didn’t want to miss out. There seemed to be so many to new things to take in, which was quite overwhelming.

You sailed to many different locations, were there any that stood out from the rest and why? Skuldelev harbour was emotional, it was the first place we stayed in and the location where the original ship, Skuldelev II, that the Sea Stallion was inspired by had been discovered. It was like bringing the boat home. The harbour was really small and shallow, but still the ship fit perfectly. That was an emotional day and I was experiencing things in a whole new way which left me with a very strong experience. When we finally reached the open sea in Kattegat and the ship reached its full potential, that was great fun. I also really enjoyed sailing along the coats of Zealand and seeing the land where I’ve lived all my life from a whole new perspective.

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The first evening of the summer voyage at Skuldelev Harbour

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Skuldelev Harbour

Will you sail again this year? Definitely yes, and hopefully for longer! Looking back I realised that I was completely present for the entire week, that made the experience highly therapeutic.

Have you always been interested in history? Yes, I’ve always been a history nerd. I’ve always  loved historic novels set in the past. When I was young I wanted to be an archaeologist. I think my dream job would be to work in Lejre as an interpretor, bringing the place to life.

So, has last year’s voyage given you any fresh insight into the Vikings? As regards sailing, I realised that they would have needed a steady crew to sail. The boats were probably sailed by very close knit communities, by men and women that had grown up together with very strong bonds. I think communictation would have been very important. Sailing is like an orchestra, with the skipper as the conductor, we must pay attention to each other.

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Annemette, 4th from right with the Agterskib crew

If you think you have what it takes to sail the high seas on a reconstructed Viking longship, the dates have now been finalised for the Sea Stallion’s summer voyage, leaving Roskilde on the 14th July and returning on the 5th August 2017.

For more information please contact: havhingsten@live.dk

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