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!

Testing prototypes for the world’s largest Viking ship

The Dragon Harald Fairhair project sounds wonderful – and even these little prototypes are clearly great fun.

You may have heard that square-sailed craft without deep keels don’t go well to windward and have to be rowed, but from what I can see, these little boats do remarkably well on that point of sailing, even if we can’t see enough to tell whether they match up to a modern racing yacht.

My thinking is that the Norsemen made the journey to our islands in numbers on a regular basis, and did it in such numbers that most of the villages and features in the area where I grew up were named by them. In making their journeys, they must have sailed towards the prevailing wind on most occasions.

It will therefore be very interested to hear how the new Dragon performs when she’s complete. Read all about her here and here.

My thanks to John  Lockwood for pointing this out.