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Dave Stephens

Viking Ship and Funeral: Something Intensely Personal

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All:

 

It's been about two years since the death of my father. He died unexpectedly and suddenly. Him and I were working on our jointly owned boat in Cordova, Ak and he got a stomach ache. A few days later he was diagnosed with stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. Ten days later he died. 

 

We had a few days to say goodbye. The very last beer I shared with my Dad was sitting on the flying bridge of his Boat in what was going to be his retirement home in Florida. I asked him what he wanted done at his funeral. In my Dad's characteristic humor he said he wanted me to build a Viking ship and put him on it, pushing it out to sea.  i laughed and said that I'd probably go to jail for that. 

 

Then we hatched this plan. 

 

My family are commercial fishermen from Cordova, Alaska. We lived on the water. My dad always hoped he was of Viking descent. He was intensely disappointed to find out we were not when DNA tests became available. 

 

I wanted to share these pics and the video with you guys (my brothers in craftsmanship), but it was too close to the event. It was too personal. Enough time has passed, and I think it's okay to show you what we did.

 

I say "we," because this build was like a long goodbye to my Dad. He was the woodworker. I was the metal guy. I had never built anything more complex than a small cabin out of wood. I had a lot of long conversations with him during this build. Most of them were in the form of: "I know, Dad! But we don't have time to redo that bit. Your funeral is in like seven days!"


My buddy Shane Harvey designed this scale model of a Viking Longship from blueprints obtained from the Copenhagen museum in Denmark in CAD and then cut the keel and ribs on his CNC plywood cutter. He also did the dragon head and the small shields with my Dad's initials (RS) on them. 

 

The cutting of the cedar planks (each one cut on a table saw by me), the glue up, etc. took almost 20 days of intense work. I totally underestimated the amount of time it would take. All the lessons I had to learn as I went . . .

 

Just in time I had it stained, varnished, and loaded onto my truck for the ferry ride to Cordova. We loaded the boat up with things my Dad loved. Including the very first sword I ever made when I was 12 with his help (ground from a long file), his favorite hat, a jar of peanut butter (his favorite food), and a gin and tonic in a viking horn (not traditional, but it was his drink).

 

And then we set it on fire. 

 

It burned until it swamped, and then we sunk it in a bay that he loved. 

 

Anyway, hope you like the build. It's not a blade, but I know you guys well enough to know you'll be okay with this off topic post.

 

Cheers,

 

Dave

 

PS: Drone footage by Shane Harvey.

 

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Wow Dave, That brought a tear to my eye. You have done your father proud. Not only is it the most wonderful sentiment and executed in a way that shows the respect you have for your dad but also the wonderful work put in the making of that ship and the attention to detail. I lost my father when I was 3 and my mother around the same time as your dad so this really touched me. Best thread. Much respect,

Rob

Edited by Rob Toneguzzo

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I am at a loss for words at the beauty of this memorial. Seems that he was a wonderful father who raised his son to have unquestionable respect. I hope to be able to raise mine to be as respectful as you.

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You honored him in an excellent way, Dave. A viking way, and a way that I'm sure he would have loved. 

 

Very touching video, sir. I dont imagine it's easy to share this kind of thing, but thank you for doing so. 

 

 

 

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Thank you for sharing this Dave.  I know it must be difficult.  Such an amazing tribute to your father.  I only hope that I can even come close to honoring my father in such a way when that time comes.

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Wow! A wonderful tribute to your Dad Dave. I'm sure your Dad was looking down with a large smile on his face.

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Well, I don't mind sharing I've got tears in my eyes.  What a beautiful send-off for a father and friend.  Beautiful tribute.  I'm honored you'd feel like sharing that with us here on the forum.  I bet "Pop" was proud of that.   WOW!

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A moment shared among us assures his memory grows bigger- Bravo for the strength to share- and I am honored you chose us to share it with. Be safe and as always- at peace. 

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Your father is proud of his son for honoring him this way! So am I Dave, so am I! 

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That's so amazing and touching Dave! What a fine tribute...

 

Jim

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Darn it Dave, you made the world a bit blurry over here. Wow.  Took me all day to work up the nerve to watch the video, but it was worth it.  He'd be proud for sure.

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I shed a few tears myself. Bravo on you Dave and thanks for the honor of being in the circle of folks you would share that with.

 

Though they are gone from our immediate life, every time we tell a story about them they continue to touch someone’s life. So tell his story often, and with as much detail as you can muster. He will continue to live through you.

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An honor to a Father that words can not give....................-_-

Edited by Clifford Brewer

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Very nicely done. We all should be so fortunate as to have relationships of such value, in both directions!

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Damn Dave, you've got me tearing up too.  Very powerful tribute.

 

I lost my dad a few years ago, and I have often thought about how much he would enjoy some of the projects I have taken on since.  In a small way I understand some of the emotion you felt in doing this.

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I lack the words....  My condolences for your loss but also tremendous respect for your dedication to fulfill your fathers wishes.  

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Wow that is a very touching and heart felt thing you have done 

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Fantastic tale and tribute.  Well done.  Sorry for your loss, I just had exactly the same thing happen with my father.  At 90 years old and decent health, into the hospital for stomach distress, stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis, gone in under 2 weeks.  That was on Halloween.  My father wasn't into the viking thing, but in his youth was an avid free flight model airplane competitor.  Maybe I'll build one with an extra large tank and release it to fly away over the ocean.

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I hate Pancreatic Cancer.  Lost my late wife to it in 2001.  We didn't bother with "traditional" medicine, so she actually lived a year and 11 months after diagnosis........but the last 6 months were danged rough.  I have deep empathy for any relative or caregiver who has dealt with this awful disease.  I will say this, medical research has seen some great strides in finding cures............or at least lengthening the time with a good "quality of life".  Back when my wife was diagnosed, we asked the Doctor what we should do first. (thinking in terms of treatments) His answer was to go see our attorney and get things in order because Judy only had about 10 days to 2 weeks to live.  That's a mighty heavy answer to absorb.  While she definitely proved him wrong, I still lost the love of my life.  So to Dave...............and all the others of you who have dealt with this illness, my heart goes out to you.

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Not been online for a while and only just saw this. Lost my father in my twenties. I can’t add any words but just a touch in spirit. Well done Dave.

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