It's an intimidating sight: a 115-foot wooden Viking ship with more than 30 people on board, all chanting in Old Norse and rhythmically beating the ship's oak planks. That's how the Draken Harald Hårfagre Viking ship arrived in New York earlier this week -- and it was easy to see how such an entrance would strike fear into any nation that might be facing a Viking invasion.
But the Draken's mission is far from conquest. Owner Sigurd Aase wants to raise awareness of the Vikings' historical journeys across the Atlantic to North America, long before any other Europeans arrived. And he wants to spark young people's interest in adventure.
Draken's "Expedition North America" started in Norway on April 26, with stops in Iceland and Greenland before entering the St. Lawrence River to get to Quebec City and Montreal. The ship then spent the latter half of the summer sailing around four of the Great Lakes with stops in major lake cities like Chicago, Green Bay, and Duluth.
She was built in Haugesund in Norway, and is the largest Viking ship in modern times. She's not a replica, but was designed using data from archaeological finds and Old Norse literature. Her 80-foot mast is the trunk of a Douglas Fir.
The 260-square-meter red sail, which is made of silk, gets her cruising at 14 knots, and the bow's dragon-head is thought to protect against sea monsters.
After a brief stay at Liberty Landing Marina in New Jersey, the Draken made her way to North Cove Marina in lower Manhattan, where she'll be open for tours at $10 per person.
Unlike a thousand years ago, the Vikings received a warm welcome, and their ruler was pleased: Aase sported a big smile along with his Nordic King robe.
The Draken will sail on to Mystic, Connecticut, where she'll be laid up for the winter and overhauled for future projects.