The St. Brendan legend.
St Brendan and the whale from a 15th century manuscript
St. Brendan was an Irish monk, surnamed The Traveller, who allegedly sailed (as the first European, some 500 years before the Vikings and 900 years before Columbus) across the North Atlantic to what we now know as North America.
This has been recorded in early medieval Latin, Spanish and German manuscripts. To test the probability of this feat, Timothy Severin researched possible types of boats, and came up with the Irish currach; a framework of laths, covered nowadays, (for they're still built and used) with tarred canvas, but in Brendan's time with greased leather. To give you an impression of it's shape: a floating black banana.
Tim Severin first built his own (small) currach with the help of the, then aged, last builder of these boats, and then built a 33 feet long version to do his test with.
In 1976 he, with four other brave and able men, set off for the journey which took two summer seasons to complete; in june 1977 they reached their goal, Newfoundland.
Since, new carrachs and younger builders are to be found in Ireland as well as in America; you only have to google on currach and you'll find lots of sites.
For more information and pictures, I gladly refer to:
See you next time, a bit later in history,