I've been a sucker for these stories of people re-building sailing and exploring craft based on 1,000-year old plans ever since my parents gave me Kon-Tiki to read as an impressionable youth. Maybe it is why I love such riduculous Hollywood tripe like the 13th Warrior.
Now comes this news item: A replica 16th Century junk has sunk off Taiwan, one day short of completing an epic voyage to the US and back (see article). One day short of finishing! And you know why? They were, in BBC lingo, "rammed in two" by a freighter (there is a photograph). The 54ft-long (16.5m) Princess Taiping, powered only by cotton sails on three masts, was designed according to ancient specifications. Like the original Kon-Tiki, the raft used by Norwegian explorer and writer Thor Heyerdahl in his 1947 expedition across the Pacific Ocean from South America to the Polynesian islands. (Amazingly, there is a you tube video). Both expeditions set out to prove that folks other than the usual suspects could have made it here and back earlier than we thought.
There was another, similar, high-profile event with the building and sailing of the "Sea Stallion" Viking ship, which made the journey from Denmark to Ireland in 2007, fully blogged. The entries started with hopeful titles like "Building a Viking warship" and "the ship is launched", and quickly turned shorter and grimmer, with "a rough first night" and "hypothermia strikes" and "hampered by the weather" and "false hope"... suggesting 1) that Vikings were, perhaps not surprisingly, very hardy, and 2) reasons why they didn't have time to leave detailed on-voyage journals.
Still, I guess this stuff appeals to the same part of me that loves old maps, and that is the purported link to the blog.