Viking expedition: Norway to America

Draken off the Norwegian coast Photo: Peder Jacobsson

The ‘Draken Harald Hårfagre’ sets sail in April 2016 on passage from Norway to America, crossing the North Atlantic as the Vikings did a thousand years ago.

The Vikings were accomplished navigators, artisans, traders and storytellers, but their greatest triumph was the ship they built.

On 24 April 2016 the world’s largest Viking ship, ‘Draken Harald Hårfagre’, sails from her home port of Haugesund, Norway to take on the challenge of crossing the North Atlantic Ocean, exploring the world as the Vikings did a thousand years ago. The route takes her from Norway to Iceland, Greenland, Canada and finally USA. Even though she is a great sailing ship, no one can predict the weather conditions along the way and the crew will stand trial for a real challenge according to Björn Ahlander, captain of ‘Draken Harald Hårfagre’:

It´s hard to say which stretch will be the toughest before we’ve set sail, but the area that should be respected more than anywhere else, is the waters of Cape Farewell by the coast of Greenland – among the most dangerous waters of the world. It´s extremely windswept and there will probably be a lot of ice.

‘Draken Harald Hårfagre’ is a recreation of what the Vikings would call a ”Great Ship”, built with archaeological knowledge from findings, using old boatbuilding traditions and the legends of Viking ships from the Norse sagas. She is the largest Viking ship sailing in modern times, an open clinker-built Viking vessel. Her hull is oak, 115′ (35m) from stem to stern and 26′ (8m) beam with 78′ (24m) Douglas fir mast, hemp rig and 260 square metres of silk sail area.

The 32 bold men and women in the crew of ‘Draken Harald Hårfagre’, originate from Norway, Sweden, USA, Canada, Estonia, Russia, Spain, France and the UK. They are all under the command of Captain Björn Ahlander.

Dragon’s head ceremony

The Expedition America started in Haugesund, Norway with a Dragon’s head Ceremony at Vikinggården Avaldsnes, on 23 April. The dragon’s head is traditionally not mounted until departure for longer journeys and its purpose is to protect the ship and the crew from sea monsters, bad weather, evil creatures and unforeseen raids. The ships mythological head is uncovered in the ceremony, and the great adventure of sailing the historical route from Norway to Iceland, Greenland, Canada and the USA will be wished fair winds and following seas.

Draken Harald Hårfagre