The world's largest modern Viking ship and her international crew of thirty-five arrived at the District Wharf today as part of her North American tour. She will be in DC through 15 October with daily ship tours, a nearby Draken Village and cultural events hosted by the Royal Norwegian Embassy. I missed the port call of the Hōkūleʻa last year. I have no intention of missing the Draken Harald Hårfagre. Wooden Boat magazine had a pretty good write up a while back. I was in awe of the craftsmanship in her construction. I can hardly wait to rub my hands over her timbers and see the iron riveting up close. I want to talk to the crew about how she handles under sail. How close can she sail to the wind without much of a keel? I've been studying the construction and sailing mechanics of South Pacific shunting proas lately. There's a surprisingly large group of proa enthusiasts in Poland and Germany. Maybe I can strike up a discussion on this subject with one of the international crew members. This should be a fun visit to DC next week. Here's a description of the ship from the website.
With great interest for sailing, boatbuilding and vikings the project to build and sail the greatest viking ship of modern times started. The curator of the project, Sigurd Aase, wanted this extraordinary ship to follow in the wake of one of the most challenging viking explorations – the Viking discovery of the New World. In March of 2010, construction began on what would be the largest Viking ship ever built in modern times. Named after Harald Hårfagre, the king who unified Norway into one kingdom, the great dragon ship came together in the town of Haugesund in Western Norway.
The Vikings left almost no record of how they built their ships, or how they sailed them. Draken Harald Hårfagre is a recreation of what the Vikings would call a “Great Ship”, built with archaeological knowledge of found ships, using old boatbuilding traditions and the legends of Viking ships from the Norse sagas.
Plank by plank, nail by nail, more than 10 000 of them, the ship was constructed by a band of experienced boat builders, historians, craftsmen and artists. 115 feet from stem to stern, 26 feet wide, 260 square meters of silk sail and a 79 feet tall mast made from Douglas fir. She is a seaworthy ship, able to sail the Oceans of the World. At a hundred and fourteen feet of crafted oak, twenty-seven feet on the beam, displacing eighty tons, and with a thirty-two hundred square foot sail, this magnificent ship is indeed worthy of a king.
Norway’s leading experts in traditional boat building and the square sail were engaged in the development and construction of the ship. The construction is an experimental archaeological research program, and the aim was to recreate a ship with the superb seaworthiness that characterized the ocean going long ships in the Viking Age.