A Benician-owned vessel set sail Monday on the first leg of a trip that will lead to an expedition tracking the journey of the Vikings.
Expedition leader Ingemar Olsson, a 70-year-old Martinez man, said he thought of the idea for the "In the Tracks of the Vikings" Expedition, which will take the 44-foot ketch all the way to Norway from Newfoundland, Canada.
"This is not normal," Olsson said. "It takes an idiot like me to do something like this."
However, Olsson and the other five crew members for the first leg of the trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, are far from amateurs. Aboard the vessel Fool's Castle there was nearly 200 years of combined sailing experience.
Fool's Castle owner Scott Bonomi and his girlfriend Réne Canham, both of Benicia, were approached by Olsson about the Nordic expedition and welcomed the idea with open arms.
"I've always wanted to do that trip," Canham said. "I like sailing and traveling. With cruising, you get to take your house with you (while traveling)."
Her longest sailing trip was a 15-day journey.
She and Bonomi will be staying on board throughout the expedition, which is expected to end in September 2014, while the rest of the crew will be joining them at different times.
The Viking expedition, planned to begin in July, will start from L'Anse Aux Meadows, a settlement in Newfoundland of Viking Leif Eriksson, Olsson said.
The vessel then will continue to Greenland, to the location of Eriksson's farm, then to Iceland, and finally will end in Bergen, Norway, where the Vikings set sail to discover the new world, Olsson said.
"I kind of feel like I'm an Arctic sailor," said Olsson, who was born in Sweden. "That's our heritage. We are Vikings."
Before that journey begins, however, the crew will be sailing to Cabo San Lucas, joining more than 160 other boats in a cruise rally event Baja Ha-Ha XX, organized by a sailing magazine Latitude 38. From Oct. 27 to Nov. 9, the vessels will cruise from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas.
On board for this leg and joining Olsson, Bonomi and Canham, are Charles Kite, of Vallejo, Harry Joel Curtis-Brown, of Martinez, and Michelle Futerman, of Altadena.
The vessel then will leave for Guatemala via the Panama Canal and will leave for Miami in April and make its way up to Newfoundland.
Canham will be maintaining a blog to record the Fool's Castle journey at www.dumpyoldbroad.blogspot.com.