Draken Harald Hårfagre, or Dragon Harald Fairhair in Norwegian, is the largest viking ship built in modern times. Draken Harald Hårfagre is named after Harald the Fairhair who ruled in Norway from c. 872 to 930.
According to Wikipedia:
“The Dragon Harald Fairhair brings the seafaring qualities of a warship from the old Norse sagas to life. It is a ship that combines ocean-crossing sailing capabilities with a warship’s use of oars.
Building began in March 2010. Construction was funded by Sigurd Aase, described as a “Norwegian oil and gas tycoon.”
The longship is a ’25-sesse’ (25 pairs of oars) – in other words, it is equipped with 50 oars. Each oar is powered by two men. Under sail it requires a crew of 30 people.
The Dragon Harald Fairhair is 35 metres (115 ft) long with a beam of approximately 8 metres (26 ft) and a displacement of about 95 metric tons. The longship is constructed in oak and carries 260 square metres (2,800 sq ft) of sail.
The launching of the longship took place in the summer 2012. Because no one today has real experience handling a Viking ship of this size, the initial period was be one of exploring how to sail and row the ship, and for experimentation with the rigging along the coast of Norway.
In summer 2014, skippered by Swedish captain Björn Ahlander, the longship made its first real expedition, a 3-week passage under sail from Norway to Merseyside. There it was hosted by the Liverpool Victoria Rowing Club. It also visited various other locations around the coast of the British Isles including the Isle of Man, Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.
The ship left its home port of Haugesund, Norway on the 26th of April, 2016, bound for Newfoundland, the aim being to explore and retrace the first transatlantic crossing and the Viking discovery of the New World. The route included stops at the Shetland and Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland, before landfall on Newfoundland was finally achieved on the 1st of June that year.”
I was able to see Draken Harald Hårfagre when it came to New York City. As you can tell from previous blog posts of mine (1, 2) that I’ve spent a decent amount of time (for an American not even of Scandinavian decent) around viking ships over the last year. So this got me quite excited to see a viking ship in NYC as I missed the Íslendingur when it came back in 2000.
I was allowed to walk on the deck as it sat in port on the water. I chatted with a couple of the crew members and found out about the journey across the ocean and how it was a difficult, yet rewarding experience. I was jealous of their adventures, but I know I am not the type that would be able to do that kind of journey, but I admire them greatly for their sense of adventure, strength, and will power.
The ship is currently in Mystic, CT (as of October 2016) for the winter (no deck tours available). They may sail down to South America and over to Japan in 2017. Keep an eye on the web for more info of Draken Harald Hårfagre next adventure!