Detailed estimate of time to construct and outfit a Viking longship – 2 of 5

Group of vikings are floating on the sea on Drakkar with mountains on the background. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Previous post accumulated many detail data points of what time would be involved in constructing a medium-size Viking longship.

This post continues the discussion and accumulates the time estimates.

Wild guesses to fill in the blanks

The Price text does not make any guesses on the time to cook the tar to seal the ship, the tar or animal oil needed to protect the sails so they can catch the wind, weave the rope and sundry cordage needed, manufacture the sea-chests, weave the rugs taken along or weave and weather-proof a tent to cover the center area of the ship, or manufacture 32 oars plus several spare.

Off the top of my head I don’t recall having seen any estimates for those elsewhere.

So, to get some sort of a workable estimate to put one medium-sized longship to sea, I will pull some estimates out of thin air. These are also called WAGs, or, um, wildly aimed guesses.

I will guess it took between .3 to .5 years to make the tar to waterproof the ship. Another .2 years to .5 years for coating the sail so the wind doesn’t just go through the wool.

My wild guess for the 2 kilometers of rope is between half and one year.

I’ll guess another half year for the tent covering and any rugs taken along and another half year for making extra changes of clothes for the 32 man crew.

Finally, I’ll guess 12 months of work to craft the 32 sea-chests, one for each crewman.

My calculations are shown in detail so you can revise them in any way you wish to do so.

Recap of time estimates

The estimates mentioned in the text along with my wild guesses are:


people-years people-years person-days person-hours source
lo range hi range
Ship construction        2,650  reconstruction
cut, gather wood    ???
rivets and other metal       13,500  reconstruction
mainsail              2            3  Price
spare sail              2            3  Price
tar for ship           0.3         0.5  Ulvog
tar or other protection for sails           0.2         0.5  Ulvog
rope           0.5         1.0  Ulvog
32 sets of sea-clothes            24          24  Price
rugs, tent            0.5          0.5  Ulvog
extra clothes            0.5          0.5  Ulvog
32 sea chests               1            1  Ulvog
food for few weeks        ??       ??
    —-     —-     —-     —-
subtotal            31          34       2,650       13,500
     years      years      days      hours


This means it would take someone in the range of 13,500 people hours plus 2,650 people days plus somewhere between 31 and 34 people-years.

Next post combines the separate amounts of hours, days, and years into single point estimates.

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