Viking ship

Draken Harald Harfagre

During 2016 the Viking War Ship Reproduction Draken Harald Harfagre crossed the North Atlantic from Norway to Newfoundland Canada and into the Great Lakes and down to New York. One of their goals was to participate in the Tall Ship Festivals. Unfortunately the plan was disrupted when they were classified as a "Commercial Vessel" by the Americans and were therefore under obligation to have a (very expensive) pilot on board when in American waters. Popular Mechanics article on this. Fund raising efforts were incapable of raising the 400,000 or so required in the short time, and fewer ports were visited.

I was fortunate to see them as they were going through the Welland Canal between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario both at Port Colborne and later at Port Weller, on their way to Oswego NY.

They carry a GPS that updates their position every half hour so you can track their travel. Draken's position is the white dot. Click on it to get co-ordinates and speed

There are several videos on Youtube and on Facebook if you are looking for more information.

Making the Draken Harald Harfagre

Video Youtube URL:
. The Draken Harald Harfagre was contructed using a combination of known traditional Viking boatbuilding methods and when these were not known, traditional scandinavian boatbuilding techniques.

This video documents the first part of the build where the keel is laid and the strakes are attached.

After launching the boat and learning to sail her it was found that many adjustments had to be made including replacing some of the iron fasteners with larger nails made from softer low carbon iron. The harder one had sheared! The original mast also had to be replaced by a larger and stronger one after the first one broke.

Since there were not a lot of experienced Viking Warriors capable of training a crew, the details of sailing the Draken Harald were learned on the job. Some experience had been gained by making smaller prototypes and testing them.

Her Captain, Björn Ahlander, talks about handling the boat in this Youtube video. URL if link does not work,

There are also a few shots of the large silk sail.

Captain Björn Ahlander was already well know when he helped design and build an East India Mann 'Götheborg'. This square rigged vessel went on to sail to China. Lots of photos of ship and information. Some more technical details on the East India Mann Gotheborg.

Draken Harald Harfagre Proves Herself a Seaworthy Vessel

In April 2016 she crossed the North Atlantic and proved that she was a capable seaworthy craft.

The route followed known Viking routes hopping from island to island so that there were not long sea voyages but rather a series of shorter trips. They went from Scandinavia to the Shetlands, the Faroe islands, Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland. I don't think anyone who sailed for a week in gale conditions surrounded by icebergs, would consider them either easy or short though.

URL for Youtube Video if the link is not working
During her crossing she faced several storms. These were difficult on the crew of such an exposed vessel. There are no protected cabins except the galley / bunk house tent on deck. Crew spent many days in their survival suits wet and cold getting a real taste of what crewing an open Viking Ship means.

There are 2 bunk beds which can accommodate about 15 closely packed sailors. Room enough for only half of the crew but because of the watches, the crew is never all sleeping at the same time. During the storms they did not dare use their sleeping bags for fear of getting trapped if the ship got swamped.

When water comes over the side it must escape quickly because any extra weight above the waterline endangers the balance of the ship. The water can flow through the loose floorboards to the bilge where it is pumped out.

The video is of a storm in the Labrador Sea.

at the dock

Draken Harald docked just below Lock 1 of the Welland Canal at Port Weller on Lake Ontario. They spent the night going through the locks and are waiting for a pilot.

To add extra protection when not sailing, a large tent can be put up over the yard. This provides shade and rain protection.

I had gone the night before to see them as they waited to start through the Welland Canal at Port Colborne Ontario, on lake Erie. Their next official stop was to be Oswego NY.

One of the first things that I noticed about this ship is how nicely finished she is and how lovely the sculptures and detailing are. As you get closer you can smell the oil and tar used to preserve the wood and lines.

rear view of draken-harald back sculpture

The stern of the ship with its lovely dragon tail and a clear view of the strakes. She is clinker built with iron nails, cut and hammered till they formed a rivet, holding the boards together.

front view of draken-harald bow sculpture dragon head sculpture

Details of the bow with the Dragon Head and fine carvings.

Draken Harald Steering Oar Details

The ship is steered by a large oar attached to the Starboard side of the ship. It too has its decorations.

The forces on the oar are enormous and the fittings reflect this. It is attached top and bottom which help support it and limits it's range of movement. There is a line preventing the oar from going under the ship should a fitting fail.

Steering oar steering oar deck connector
steering oar detail, oarlock draken harald steering oar handle detail

I try to be accurate and check my information, but mistakes happen, especially to me.

email me if you find mistakes, I'll fix them and we'll all benefit: Christine