Category Archives: Working boats

Viking ship sets sail to America

Viking ship sails for America via Iceland and Greenland

Reproduction Viking ship Draken Harald Hårfagre has set sail for North America via Iceland and Greenland, and we can follow its progress here and on this Facebook page.

Great good luck to them. This will be an amazing and challenging trip, of course, and the crew will experience conditions few of us could face and will be far from any sort of quick rescue.

We live in very different times and it’s striking that this voyage will in some ways be different those experienced by the Vikings, and for good safety reasons. The skipper and crew have waited for a suitable weather window – in an open boat, you would. Modern weather forecasting must be a huge blessing.

Also I gather the ship is only permitted to carry 30 crew, not the 100 it would have had in the Viking era – which means she cannot be rowed in the way the Viking forefathers did, and so is motorised.

Still, I can’t imagine there’s a red-blooded sailor alive that wouldn’t love to spend some time sailing a craft like that – particularly if (like me) they have good reason to believe the Vikings were among their ancestors…

Do you want to see the sailing? See below!

Smack racing on the Blackwater, 2010

My thanks to excellent small boat designer and sailor John Welsford for sharing this one!

For St George’s Day – a poem found hanging on the wall of the Naval and Military Club, Southend on Sea

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The Little Boats of England

The little boats of England, the little motor boats,
The little penny steamers, from Land’s End to John o’ Groats
Thre Brighton Belle, the Margate Queen, the Vigilant, the Lark,
The Saucy Jane, the Gracie Fields, even a Noah’s Ark,
Picked up their country’s message, that our backs were to the wall,
There is danger, there is danger, will you answer to the call?
Francis Drake, Collingwood and Nelson of the Nile,
Were on their quarter decks again, you should have seen them smile,
When all the little boats pulled out, from Dover to Dunkirk
To bring the British Army home, that was the job of work;
For how they performed their fearful task, the epic of those days
The history books will tell our sons, but let us sing their praise
And as they lie at anchor, from Newcastle to Poldhu,
With their battle scars upon them and with pennants red and blue
We say to them with grateful hearts, and voice that’s like to break
Lord Nelson would be proud of you; so would Sir Francis Drake.

By Ivor Back, 1940