Expedition America 2016
- A challenging voyage across the North Atlantic Ocean
In late April 2016 Draken Harald Hårfagre, the worlds largest viking ship built in modern times, left her home port in Haugesund, Norway and sailed off for a challenging voyage across the North Atlantic Ocean.
The aim was 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 a thousand years ago. History tells us about the Viking explorer, Leif Eriksson, who discovered America over 500 years before Christopher Columbus. The expedition was 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.
Reaching the American continent, Expedition America 2016 sailed on to visit ports in Canada and USA.
After years of hard work, sea trials in the norwegian fjords, and a small setback, Draken and her crew sailed a successful open sea voyage trial in 2014. Draken was finally ready for an epic expedition. This expedition would test the nerves and abilities of the ship and crew.
On April 24th 2016, Draken Harald Hårfagre set sail across the icy north, beginning Expedition America 2016. The first stop was in Reykjavik on the 9st of May, and celebrated the arrival to the Viking island of Iceland in proper fashion. From Iceland we sailed for Greenland, rounding the treacherously windy and confused seas of cape Farewell and Greenland’s southernmost tip. We needed to dodge the sheet ice to seek refuge in the port of Qaqortoq in Greenland’s south western fjords. From Qaqortoq we sailed across the Davis Strait, a thousand miles north of where Titanic met her fate, maneuvering past icebergs for Newfoundland, Canada. Our first stop in Vinland was St. Anthony harbor and the known viking settlement of L’anse aux Meadows tentatively the 1st of June.
Draken sailed on, as we suppose the vikings sailed, into the Gulf of St Lawrence to Quebec City, Canada to arrive for the weekend of June 17th. The 1st to 3rd of July, Draken joined the Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes 2016 in Toronto, Ontario and participated in the Redpath Waterfront Festival. The race began and the next port of call was Fairport Harbor, Ohio in Lake Eire July 8-10. Off to Bay City Tall Ships Celebration in Lake Huron, July 15-17. In the end of July, Draken sailed into Lake Michigan, and landed Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois to join the Tall Ships Chicago July 27-31. From Chicago we sailed up Lake Michigan and land Green Bay, Wisconsin and the Tall Ships Festival Green Bay August 5-7. Duluth, Wisconsin in the far reaches of Lake Superior, and the Tall Ships Duluth August 18-21, was the last port on our Tall Ships Challenge route in the Great lakes before we sailed on. From Duluth, Draken sailed all the way back through the lakes, and headed off for the NY Canals. We downriged our four ton mast in Oswego in order to maneuver the canal system to the Hudson River.
Many long days and sleepless nights have gone into the building of Draken Harald Hårfagre, restructuring and strengthening her hull for smoother flexibility, and planning this voyage; all no small feat.