Could an Irish monk in the sixth century have sailed across the Atlantic, thus beating Columbus to the New World by almost a thousand years? Relying on the medieval text of Saint Brendan, Severin painstakingly researches and builds a boat identical to the small leather curragh that carried Brendan on his epic voyage. He finds a centuries-old tannery, where he buys the ox hides; he locates skilled saddle makers (the only people who know how to stitch the inch-think hides together); he seeks out one of the last pieces of Irish-grown timber strong enough to make the mainmast. But his courage and resourcefulness are truly tested on the open seas, including one heart-pounding episode when he repairs a dangerous tear in the leather hull by hanging over the side--his head frequently submerged by the freezing waves--to restitch the leather with an awl and thread. This perfect blend of high adventure and historical relevance for a fantastic read.