Man Launches Ice Cream Stick Viking Ship

By TOBY STERLING, Associated Press Writer
Tue Aug 16, 6:16 PM ET

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - A former Hollywood stunt man now living in the Netherlands launched his greatest project to date Tuesday: a 45-foot replica Viking ship made of millions of wooden ice cream sticks and more than a ton of glue.

Rob McDonald named the ship the "Mjollnir" after the hammer of the mythic Norse god of thunder, Thor. After the 13 ton boat was lifted into the water by crane, "Captain Rob," as he is known, stood calmly on the stern as a team of volunteers rowed the apparently sturdy vessel around the IJ River behind the city's central station.

"I have a dream to show children they can do anything," McDonald said before the launch. "If they can dream it, they can do it."

He said he was confident the ship would float, but organizers had prepared an alternate press statement just in case something went wrong. The biggest fear was that the ship's keel might be too light and it would capsize. But the launch went smoothly, and McDonald plans to apply for a mention in the Guinness Book of Records.

McDonald set the previous record in 2003 with a smaller version of a Viking ship built from 370,000 wooden ice cream sticks, which has been approved by the Guinness Book of World Records.

McDonald, an American who lives with his Dutch wife and their son in the city of Emmeloord, had help from a host of advisers, sponsors and neighborhood children.

He estimated that in all, he used up to 2.2 tons of glue and 15 million birch wood ice cream sticks donated by an ice cream manufacturer and found by neighborhood children.

"I'm proud," said 8-year-old Kim Jaasma, one of the volunteers on hand for the launch. "I hope it works."

She said she didn't think McDonald was crazy at all.

"He's funny sometimes. He's very nice," she said.

McDonald and his son Rob Jr., 11, fixed a final ceremonial "15 millionth" ice cream stick, made of gold, shortly before the launch.

Rob Jr., sporting a Viking helmet and a wooden sword, appeared ready to go on a voyage of looting and pillaging.

The inside of the boat was reinforced with fiberglass and it can be propelled by its modern mast and sail, or oars, or a backup motor.

Afterward, the boat was moved back onto dry land and will be on display at Sail 2005, a major show for antique ships that begins in Amsterdam on Wednesday.


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