The world’s largest replica Viking ship, the Draken Harald Hårfagre, has docked in Qaqortoq, Greenland, on its way to the US as part of its “Expedition America 2016” expedition.
The Draken Harald Hårfagre landed yesterday at the southwest tip of Greenland—the same spot from where Leif Eriksson sailed in the year 1000 AD to the Americas.
The boat, built in 2012, is a replica of a mythical Viking longship referred to in the Norse Sagas as the Great Ship.
At an impressive 115 feet long, 26 feet wide, and with a mast height of nearly 79 feet, the Draken Harald Hårfagre is the world’s biggest longship built in modern times.
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Sponsored by Norwegian businessman Sigurd Aase, it undertook its first journey to England in 2014.
Since then, a volunteer crew has been training to undertake the trans-Atlantic voyage, which is also a first in modern times. The intention is to reach the Tall Ships Festival in Chicago, scheduled for July 27–31 at Navy Pier.
Named after Harald Hårfagre, the king who unified Norway in the tenth century, the ship left Norway’s Haugesund on April 23, and made its first stop in Lerwick, Shetland Islands, on April 27.
There, the crew adjusted the boat’s rigging before setting off on April 30 toward Tórshavn, on the Faroe Islands, landing there on May 2nd.
On May 6, the Draken Harald Hårfagre reached Reykjavík after three days’ open sailing at sea.
The Viking ship is accompanied by another boat, on standby to rescue the 33-strong crew on board if something should go wrong during the voyage.
“We’re going across the world’s most dangerous waters, including around the southern tip of Greenland, with a lot of ice and cold. We have no protection; it’s an open ship. If something happens, it’s extremely serious,” Swedish captain Björn Ahlander told the media.
Harald Hårfagre is equipped with modern navigational tools, but also historical aids such as log lines and magnetic and solar compasses.
“We are very conscious of the fact that everything can be knocked out, electronics and salt water are not the best of friends. So we’ve now got navigational methods borrowed from the Vikings, from the eighteenth century, and from 2016,” said Ahlander.