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The Brendan Voyage: A Leather Boat Tracks the Discovery of America by the Irish Sailor Saints

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  1,073 ratings  ·  109 reviews
Could an Irish monk in the sixth century really have sailed all the way across the Atlantic in a small open boat, thus beating Columbus to the New World by almost a thousand years? Relying on the medieval text of St. Brendan, award-winning adventure writer Tim Severin painstakingly researched and built a boat identical to the leather curragh that carried Brendan on his epi ...more
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published April 1st 1982 by McGraw-Hill Customer Service (first published 1978)
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Read as part of my Goodreads Ireland challenge for 2017

Been meaning to get around to reading one of Tim Severin’s voyage books after loving his Odinn’s Child Viking series & so this challenge was the perfect excuse as first up was the genre “Travel” & so as a lateral move I plumped for this as being my “travel” book” I think it jus about counts!

Having stood next to the Kon-tiki raft in Oslo Museum & seeing the size of it...... they sailed across the Pacific in THAT!! Madness!! It do
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Brendan Voyage
By Tim Severin

Across the Atlantic in a leather boat.
This true story is told in the first person by the skipper of an exceptional historical and archaeological sailing adventure.

Tim Severin was inspired by “Navigato” an ancient Latin document from the legend of Saint Brendan of the sixth century. He decided to make a copy of the ancient leather vessel and undertake the voyage to America.

He wanted to prove that it had been done in the sixth century and thereby confirm that Amer
Feb 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: outdoor
I recently finished reading Odinn's Child by the same author and wasn't overly impressed, but the fact that the book was well written and was very descriptive led me to believe that Severin's non-fiction books might just be on the mark. I read the free kindle excerpt and was happily proved right, needless to say, i subsequently downloaded the complete book. Whereas Severin's writing style tends to bog the reader down when writing historical fiction in this book it really flows creating a veritab ...more
Aug 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
One of the most fascinating books I've read in a long time. The author tells the step-by-step how he researched, and then built, a replica of the boat St Brendan used in the "Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis." His object is to prove it was possible for Brendan and his monks to have sailed to America from Ireland, and he does so by completing the voyage himself in his replicated boat.

Several things I really liked about this. First was the description of all the craftsmanship that went into the
Carol Bakker
I'm out of breath from gasping. I'm oxygen-deprived from holding my breath. My husband is battered by my insistent demands that he "listen to this!" What a thriller!

Tim Severin retraces the route St. Brendan (c. 489 A.D.) sailed in a curragh covered with forty-nine oxhides. He calls his open boat Brendan, in honor of the Irish Saint who wrote the Navigatio, and the journey he takes, The Brendan Voyage. "It dawned on me that the Brendan Voyage was going to be a detective story."

The narrative is d
Yigal Zur
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
great tale
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this. It started a little slow for me, but before I knew what hit me, I was eyeball-deep in the adventure. And what an adventure! I want to know more about what has happened to the sailors since this voyage. I loved reading about all of the meticulous care they took to make sure that the boat was as close to medieval as it could be. I was on the edge of my seat when they were navigating the ice field. If you like boats and adventures and intrepid monks, don't miss this one.
John of Canada
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everybody .
Amazing.Irish history,dangerous journey,indomitable spirit,cooperation above and beyond what is typical ...I really enjoyed the description of the materials needed to build a leather boat and the work and science involved.The journey was harrowing and reading about it was tense in the extreme.This book is a keeper.
Cindy Tomamichel
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting book in line with the ancient boat trips series of Thor Heyerdahl. This one rebuilds a leather and wood boat and sails from Ireland to the Americas.

Quite enjoyable, with some interesting descriptions of the places, wildlife and characters they meet. The building of the boat and sourcing material, and comparing it to ancient techniques is a highlight. Re experiencing the adventures of Saint Brendan, and finding out the ancient stories are most likely real places and events was also
Oct 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
An exciting myth brought to real life. Tim Severin and his crew prove what scholars debated for years. The manuscripts of the Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis were more than just a story. The Navigatio was really (when stripped of all the fantasy) a log of the Irish monks travels to North America. They could have sailed to North America in in their skin boats hundreds of years before anyone else. I thought it was really interesting how the some of the modern equipment they brought along proved ...more
Peter Adrian
Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I had heard of the legend of St. Brendan the Navigator for years, and finally found this book in my local public library- while looking for something else altogether. What an adventure! Told with patience, humility, and humor, Tim Severin chronicles the evolution of the voyage from a dinner-table conversation to its ultimate, successful conclusion. Imagine Thor Heyerdahl in the frozen North Atlantic and you'll have the general idea. Fans of maritime history, adventure travel, and all things Irel ...more
Marcus Johnson
Sep 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adventure
This book had me totally absorbed, even though in no way would I have liked to have been part of this adventure (I cherish my comforts). I liked the early part the best, as the author was trying to re-create his boat as authentically as possible.
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love a good adventure story. I love amazing nuggets from history. I love learning about far away places. Wrap them all up and you have the Brenden Voyage, a fascinating read for the brain, the imagination and the senses.
Jan 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Just pure awesome. For fans of practical archealogy.
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Same style as Kon Tiki.
Oct 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have been reading a number of books to help with my own fictional one, trying to build a picture of life long ago. This book discussed and described an epic real voyage - from the west coast of Ireland, where the ship, a curragh, was built - to the East coast of Newfoundland. It also goes into the building process and details of the research carried out into the possibilities of using a leather-covered wooden double frame for the ship, and building it entirely using conventional materials and ...more
Good fun tale. I found the writing style irritating. Chapter One is a nail-biting sailing venture imperiling crew, with no preparation for what they're doing or why. The interesting research is relegated to an appendix; I thought it would have been better integrated into the narrative.
Mary Ellyn Cain
Aug 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I bought 12 copies of this book so that I could give one copy to each of my siblings and their children.
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent story filled with details and adventure. For a non-fiction book it read like an adventure thriller.
Kathrin Passig
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wenn ich irgendwann mal eine kurze Liste "Bücher über Extremunternehmungen, bei denen die Leute gute Laune haben" anlege, muss dieses Buch draufstehen.
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A modern day Richard Halliburton. Real-life adventure and proof of the possibility of Irish monks reaching North America far before the Norsemen.
Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meh. Rounded up to three stars. Although the story was interesting, the book suffers from what appears to be redundancy: sailing, storms, trouble, get help, more sailing, more storms, more trouble, get help, and so on.

The author does a good job of proving that the Brendan voyage indeed could’ve taken place. And no doubt, the original crew likely suffered similar hardships and received help from indigenous peoples along the way. But I found the telling of the tale a bit slow at times and struggle
Susan Fehr
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the first (I think) of Tim Severins boat adventures, and by far the best. It is fresh, invigorating and mildly terrifying. The people taking part are definately all levels of crazy, but clever, practical, admirable crazy. And I am amazed that they even tried. Best of all, it shows how our ancestors werent just simples living in caves, they had technology just as good as ours, were just as well (if not better) adapted and accustomed to living in their environment and knew more than Bear G ...more
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
A most fascinating read packed with history, the present; sailing a leather boat just like in medieval days from Ireland to North America. The patience in traversing all over Ireland, England, Germany to make this craft down to the wire from Severin's research is more than commendable. Adventure is defined in this work, one outstanding feat by Tim Severin and his 4 man crew. Incredible story that puts the reader right on the high seas with ice floes, whales, many species of birds, giant sheep, a ...more
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rc2017
Oh my god this book is good. I know almost nothing about boats so some of the language about the ship itself was a little lost on me and I had to look up some things about sails however this was an engaging memoir about one hell of a voyage in a boat made from leather sailing in sub Arctic waters. What incredible creatures humans are. Just read it because I am at a loss for words about how amazing this journey was.
Rick Jones
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyable voyage of discovery and adventure. I probably had heard of the leather Brendan before, and certainly had heard of Tim Severin, but didn't remember the particulars. I found this telling of the recreation and voyage of a leather boat from Ireland to Newfoundland pretty captivating, and would recommend it!
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was a real life story about how Tim Severin traveled the same way as St Brendan the Navigator once did. He wanted to see whether or not Brendan could have discovered America in the 500 AD period. he used a leather boat just like Brendan did. If you're interesting in real life travel books, you would probably find this interesting.
Alice Chau-Ginguene
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing story!
The story at times get a technical and a bit difficult to follow for someone who doesn't know much about sailing, but it's amazing journey nonetheless.
Surprise this story wasn't more well known!
Michael Brown
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Following Kon Tiki another good tale of daring and study of possible true events long considered either myths or allegory.
I wish I could give this book more stars.
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Tim Severin is a British explorer, historian and writer. Severin is noted for his work in retracing the legendary journeys of historical figures. Severin was awarded both the Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society and the Livingstone Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. He received the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award for his 1982 book The Sindbad Voyage.

He was born Timothy Severin
“running parallel to the medieval” 1 likes
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