In a heavy downpour and a brisk wind, the Norwegian tall ship Sorlandet and the Russian Mir slipped their moorings in the harbor at Gothenburg, Sweden, their destination across the North Sea, first to Greenock, Scotland, and then Liverpool and on to Portsmouth, England. At the same time, six other ships sailed a day later from the same harbor en route to Oslo, Norway; Hamburg, Germany; and then to Hull, England.

Once on the seas away from the crowds and safety of the docks, the Sea Trek 2001 participants experienced a taste of what their forebears lived through. On board the Sorlandet, the Sea Trek participants were mustered in the steady rain before Capt. Agner Dragevik to receive safety instructions and the unwelcome news that they were heading out into a gale.

Each passenger on the voyage became part of a four-hour watch and assigned different duties for the safe operation and maintenance of the voyage. Some of the Sea Trek participants climbed the rigging to help set and pull down the sails. While at first there were grumbles about watch duties, the Sea Trek participants realized that many of those duties were essential for the comfort and the safety of all.

Several of the passengers who had come on the Sorlandet leaving Esbjerg, Denmark, on Aug. 7 had already suffered severe bouts of seasickness because of the rough seas on the voyage between Esbjerg and Gothenburg. Afterwards, the 45 Sea Trek participants, drawn from the U.S., Sweden, and England, huddled downstairs in the banjer or sleeping and eating quarters where, protected from the elements, Salt Lake Institute of Religion instructor S. Michael Wilcox conducted a makeshift service singing hymns and with prayers, and speakers drawn from Sea Trek participants.

Fortunately, while the going was somewhat heavy, by mid-afternoon the skies had cleared and the sun returned. At 3 p.m. Brother Wilcox taught the assembled participants gathered on the deck, recounting experiences from his own and his wife Laura's emigrant ancestors. Most of the Sea Trek participants joined the voyage seeking to re-enact the emigration of their ancestors who crossed the seas from Europe.

Among these are Edward A. Johnson and his wife, Janice Martin Johnson, of the Hickories Ward, Meridian Idaho North Stake. Between them, husband and wife have 12 lines of direct ancestors who made the Atlantic crossing to America. One of these was Jean Daniel Malan, Sister Johnson's great-great-grandfather. He was born in Turin, Italy, in 1804. A descendant of a religious family persecuted for centuries, the Waldenses, the Malans called themselves "original Christians."

Converted by missionaries in 1851, Jean Daniel Malan is believed to be the first Latter-day Saint elder ordained in Italy. In 1855 they left Italy, traveling by coach from Piedmont, up over Mount Cenis, the Alps and into Lansburg, Savoy, putting the coach wheels on sleds pulled by sixteen mules to cope with the snow and ice. From there, they continued to Lyon, France, and then on to Paris by train. From Paris they went to Calais, across the English Channel by steamer and again by train to Liverpool. They left Liverpool on board the Juventa on April 1, 1855. Their momentous journey was far from over when they landed in America. Once more by train, they arrived in Pittsburg and then crossed the plains from Mormon Grove, Kan. The family eventually settled in Ogden, Utah, where the area Malan Height is named after them.

Edward Johnson's seven ancestral emigrant lines include his great-great-grandfather, Carl Johan Capson, one of the first converts in Sweden. Born in 1822, in Skonnabed, Malmo, Sweden, Capson was baptized in 1852. The first conference of the Church in Sweden took place June 25, 1852, in a building owned by Capson. The meeting had to take place at midnight because the Church was illegal in Sweden. At that meeting the Skane Conference of the Church was organized. Carl was called to preside over the first branch of the Church in southern Sweden, the Lund Branch was organized April 30, 1853.

In 1854, Carl Capson sailed for America from Liverpool on board the ship Kenilworth. During the voyage, in the Bay of Biscay, the ship became fast on a rock and the captain asked the crew and passengers to join in prayer. As the prayer was being offered, a great surge wave came and freed the ship. The captain reportedly said that it was the most spiritual experience of his life.

In Salt Lake, Carl Capson became the gardener for Brigham Young and later served as the bishop of the East Mill Creek Ward. Many descendants of Carl Capson live in Utah today.

"I'm amazed at their sacrifice," said Edward Johnson, "leaving behind a beautiful land, property, substantial assets, and their many friends. Their families did not want them to go. They entered a ship, suffered many trials and distressing events before they crossed the plains. They knew it would be difficult, but I think they had their eye on their posterity. I have tremendous gratitude for these ancestors, listening to the Spirit to bring the gospel down through the years and their descendants to me."