The World's Largest Viking Ship Sets Sail for America

viking draken harald

Photos Credit: The Viking Longboat Draken Harald Harfagre

The world’s largest Viking ship, Draken Harald Hårfagre sails from Norway to America, beginning April 24, 2016. The vessel sets sail from its homeport of Haugesund, Norway and will cross the North Atlantic ocean, on the same route of the original Vikings a millennium before. The route moves from Norway to Iceland, to Greenland, to Canada and finally to the USA. The last stop will be in New York in mid-September.

Draken Harald
Close-up, Draken Harald Harfagre

The Draken Harald Hårfagre is the recreation of a Viking Longship, and is built with knowledge derived from three sources:  archaeological information gleaned from ancient Longships, stories of Viking Longships from old Norse sagas, and contemporary boatbuilding techniques. Combining this ancient/modern intelligence was a complex task, as the Vikings left almost no record of how they built their ships and how they sailed them. But one exceptional occurrence helped with this project: the discovery, in 1879, of an almost perfectly wrought 9th century Viking Longship, found in a burial mound on the Gokstad farm in Norway. Much of the Draken Harald Hårfagre was built from studying and replicating this original Longship, now on display at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway.

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Draken Harald On A North Sea Test Run

The Draken Harald Hårfagre is 115 feet long, 26 feet wide, with the mast reaching almost 78 feet high. The sail is 360 square yards and the ship is rowed by the sailing team, with 25 pair of oars. It is a large, long, high vessel, and is also called a Dragon (Draken) ship.

Draken Harald
The Dragon's Head Of The ancient Viking Longboat found on the Gokstad Farm.

This name is derived by having a unique head of a dragon carved for the bow of the ship. Historically, Viking Longships that were owned by kings and chieftains often had the head of a dragon on the bow that offered protection from sea monsters, bad weather and raids. The dragon head, besides having the necessary function of protection, was also a sign of wealth and strength the more decorated and spectacular the head, the more powerful the owner. Traditionally, the dragon's head was not mounted until just before the ship's departure.

Harald Fairhair statue, in Haugesund, Norway

The name of the ship Draken Harald Hårfagre, means Dragon Harald Fairhair. Harald Fairhair, was not a dragon, but rather an actual person and played a crucial part in Norwegian history. He said he would not cut his hair until he had gathered Norway into one kingdom, which he did after the battle of Hafrsfjord in 872AD. After this battle, he became the first King Of Norway.

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Sailing In A Good Wind, The Draken Harald Harfagre

On April 24th, 2016 Draken Harald Hårfagre sets sail. The first stop will be in Reykjavik, around the 1st of May. From Iceland they sail for Greenland, rounding the seas of Cape Farewell, at Greenland&rsquos southernmost tip. Then, they sail across the Davis Strait, for Newfoundland, Canada.  Draken will sail on, into the Gulf of St Lawrence to Quebec City, Canada to arrive for the weekend of June 17th. The 1st to 3rd of July, Draken will join the Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes 2016 in Toronto, Ontario and participate in the Redpath Waterfront Festival. The next port of call will be at Lake Erie July 8-10. Then, the Draken will be part of the Bay City Tall Ships Celebration in Lake Huron, July 15-17 the Tall Ships Chicago July 27-31 the Tall Ships Festival Green Bay, August 5-7, and the Tall Ships Duluth, August 18-21. From Duluth, Draken will sail back through the Great Lakes, and move toward the canals in New York.  And it is in Osewego, New York that the crew must re-arrange their four-ton mast, in order to maneuver the canal system to the Hudson River, where they will sail into New York.    

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Photo Credit: Pedar Jacobssen, Photographer

The Draken Harald Hårfagre is crewed by 35 sailors, chosen from over 4,000 applicants who wanted to cross the North Atlantic in an open ship, reliving the voyages the Vikings made around 750-1100 AD. The open ship does not provide a great deal of shelter, as the crew sleeps in a tent onboard.

The adventure starts with the Dragon's head ceremony taking place at Vikinggården Avaldsnes, on April 23rd. The Dragon's Head is uncovered, and the ancient/modern great voyage officially begins.

Susan Kime

Susan Kime's career combines publishing, journalism and editing. She was the Destination Club/Fractional Update Editor for Elite Traveler, and senior club news correspondent for The Robb Report's Vacation Homes. Her work has been published in Stratos, Luxury Living, European CEO, The London Telegraph, Caviar Affair, ARDA Developments, and Luxist/AOL. She was the Editor-in-Chief of Travel Conno...(Read More)

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