Viking ship

Draken Harald Harfagre part 2

Draken Harald Harfagre

I've had the great pleasure of seeing this Viking Ship Reproduction as it was making it's way down the Welland Canal between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

For the first part of this page is Here (I've had to split the page, Mr. Google doesn't like to have so many photos on one page. File size is too large.)

For more information on this ship there is a website, facebook page and lots of videos on Youtube.

Oars and Rowing

The Draken Harald Harfagre carries 25 pairs of oars. Each oar accommodates 2 rowers. I heard one of the crew say they had reached a speed of 3 knots while rowing. Not bad 35 meters long and 8 meter wide ship carrying 21 tons of stone ballast. (115 x 26 feet)

oar Opening in side of boat for oar floorboards

When the ship is to be rowed, the oar openings in the deck are pivoted open and the floorboards are removed to allow the rowers to sit on the side beams.

The oars have a tapered end to fit the hands of the inside rower and holes to give the outside rower a good hand hold.

One of the oars is being carried in the above photo and the handle holes are clearly visible.


Although the rigging of this Viking Ship looks complex it is relatively simple. The ship carries a crew of fewer than 35 (numbers have varied) and usually only a fraction are on duty at one time.

The standing rigging, 2 fore stays, 1 back stay and 6 shrouds on each side, keep the mast up and transfers the stresses from the sail to the ship. The large number of shrouds allow for reduced stress on any one point. The rig can be adjusted by tightening or losening lines between the large woden dead-eyes.

lots of rigging sail and halyard

The silk sail, on its heavy yard is hoisted by a large halyard located in the center of the yard. There are various lines which control the yard and prevent it from see-sawing. The halyard goes down to a windlass attached to the deck just in front of the galley tent. This windlass is powered by crew who insert large stakes in the opening to push and pull the central log and rotate it. Ropes are attached to the end of the stakes to allow more crew in to pull on the stakes.

Another set of lines control the angle of the sail to the ship. This ship can sail close hauled and can reach an angle of 60 degrees to the wind in favourable conditions.

forestay windlass

In order to keep the sail at a good angle, 2 spars are deployed and lashed to the side of the ship thus extending the spot where the weather side of the sail can be stretched out. There are 2 of these spars, one for each side. One end of the spar gets lashed inside the ship and the spar gets lashed to one of the 3 solid bollards located on each side at the bow of the ship. These are also used for mooring the ship.

You can see a short piece of one of the spars behind the dead eye on the photo below. These get stowed when the boat is not sailing.

A capstan is mounted in the bow area of the ship and is used to pull on lines to adjust sail angle, haul up the anchor and move the ship when mooring. Stakes are inserted in the holes and crew push the capstan around.

side spar windlass

Some of the lines that control the angle of the sail are also used to wrangle the yard around the shrouds when the ship tacks. In that case the yard needs to be partly lowered, the sail furled halfway by pulling on another set of lines, and the yard moved so that it fits behind the opposide side shrouds. The yard can then be hoisted again and the sail released and made fast.

There are a few blocks to help with the adjustment lines but since there are not a lot of adjustments and only one sail there is not a lot of hardware involved.

This is not a trivial operation in a brisk wind and extra hands are often called on deck to assist in the manoevre.

The semi permanent tent houses the bunks and the galley. One of the trunks is labelled FIKA which is a Sweedish word for Coffee Break.

navigation console galley

A not so historically accurate addition to the ship is the navigation console. It houses the modern navigation instruments such as radio, radar, gps/chartplotter, location beacons, man overboard equipment, light controls and various other safety gear required to operate in most countries and expected by all insurance companies.

This ship is also required to have an engine and can generate electricity and pump out the bilges.

storage chest

Although the ship is a large one, it is shallow draft and there is very little storage on board once you take away the space used up by the 21 tons of stone ballast. Here is a video of the stones being taken out of the ship, from their facebook page.

There is some storage under the floorboards and in several wooden chests. Keeping things dry is a challenge.

The head also lives under the floorboards.

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