LITTLE FALLS, N.Y. — The Viking ship Draken Harald Harfagre will be visiting Little Falls as part of its 2016 expedition. The Draken, which is the largest Viking ship in the world, will offer deck tours at the Little Falls Marina from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tour tickets are $10; admission is free for children younger than 5.
The Draken, with a crew of 32 skilled sailors, left her home port in Haugesund, Norway, in May to set sail on a voyage across the North Atlantic Ocean with the mission to travel the historical route the Vikings explored 1,000 years ago, including stops in Iceland, Greenland, Canada and the United States.
According to the Draken’s website, “The aim is to explore and relive one of the most mythological sea voyages – the first transatlantic crossing, and the Viking discovery of the New World, more than 1,000 years ago. History tells us about the Viking explorer, Leif Eriksson, who discovered America over 500 years before Christopher Columbus.
The expedition is all about exploring the world, just like the Vikings did. The project will, like Leif Eriksson, create intercultural meetings and inspire people to go beyond the horizon in a modern Viking saga. Along the traditional route, the ship will pass Viking settlements and new archaeological findings.”
The Draken is not, in fact, a replica ship. Construction began in 2010 on what would be the largest Viking ship ever to be built in modern times. Their website explains that “the Vikings left almost no record of how they built their ships and how they sailed them.
There are many who have tried to recreate Viking ships, some of them are replicas of the ships which have been archaeologically found and some of them are inspired from the Norse Sagas. Draken Harald Hårfagre is built with inspiration from the Gokstad ship, the ships mentioned in the Sagas and from knowledge of traditional boatbuilding tradition.”
This unique voyage poses many challenges, including how the crew members survive for many months on the Draken. “On board the boat there is a tent that shelters 16 sailors at a time, wherein the crew sleeps in watches: 4 hours work, 4 hours rest.” The website goes on to explain that the tent is actually the only shelter for the crew beside the two heads, ship toilets, and the small nook for navigation instruments. There is no “under deck” because the Draken is so shallow there is only room for ballast and food storage beneath.
Following months of discussion between the City of Little Falls Tourism Committee and the Draken Harald Harfagre, plans were made for the Viking ship to visit the city. For more information and updates, visit http://www.drakenexpeditionamerica.com or like the “Draken Harald Harfagre” Facebook page.