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A Day in the Life on the Draken Harald Hårfagre

Posted on July 21st, 2016
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The Draken Harald Hårfagre sailing into Alpena’s Thunder Bay River. 

Have you ever wondered what it’s like sailing across the ocean in the world’s largest Viking ship? When the Draken Harald Hårfagre moored in the Thunder Bay yesterday evening, we asked David Short, a member of the Viking Expedition America 2016 team, about this exceptional ship and what it’s like to make the transatlantic voyage.

When asked how long the journey takes on a Viking ship from Norway to the U.S., it was hard to determine since this famous ship is making many stops along the way. The Draken and crew have been sailing since they left Haugesund, Norway on April 26th. A 3-month journey so far with stops including the Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and finally hitting Canada on June 1st and the Great Lakes toward the end of June.

What is it like sailing on a Viking ship for over 3 months? David replied, “Good fun! However, there is a lack of privacy. With 22 people aboard it’s impossible to get a moment to yourself unless you go to the head!”

What kind of meals are prepared on a transatlantic Viking voyage? “Our diet is pretty good! We have a pro sea chef that works in a tiny galley which can be difficult for cooking and finding all the ingredients needed. Typically, we have porridge or muesli for breakfast, a hot lunch like soup or pasta, and meat with potatoes in the evening.”

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This modern day Viking ship was constructed by extensive research and knowledge of ancient Viking ships. Everything onboard is crafted to replicate the Viking Era.

What does the crew do for fun during the long periods at sea? “Well, during harsh weather there is nothing to do for fun since you have to be prepared for anything. But during good weather we read books and we play a Viking board game that is similar to chess. We also play instruments and make music and write our own songs. A favorite is after our Captain, Bjorn. We call it, “Bjorn in the U.S.A.” after The Boss, Bruce Springsteen!”

Speaking of harsh weather, did you encounter any particularly rough days at sea on the way? “Oh yes, we put on our life suits quite a few times. We spent a day and half in them one time. The survival suits keep you alive in the frigid water for up to 6 hours until you are rescued, we also have life rafts on the ship. The key is to “fall off” when the weather gets bad, to go with the conditions and turn the ship away from the direction of the wind. We have videos on our website of the worst weather.” (Check out their website @ drakenexpeditionamerica.com)

David continued on to tell us that their next stop is to be announced and that you can keep up with their progress and stops along the way by checking out their website. The last stop will be in Mystic, CT sometime in October, and that is where the Draken Harald Hårfagre will stay for now.

There are 12 different nationalities aboard the Viking ship with most being Swedish and Norwegian. David is from England and this is his first trip to the U.S.A.! After their final stop in Connecticut, David hopes to rent a Mustang and drive out west to California before heading back home to England. Best of luck to David and the rest of the crew of the Draken Harald Hårfagre, thank you for stopping in our beautiful Sanctuary of the Great Lakes!

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Fun Fact: How do you pronounce her name? Her name proves to be somewhat of a tongue twister for the American English dialect [Drɑːken Hɑːrald Hoːrfagrɛ] The name originates from the Norwegian word Draken, meaning Dragon, and Harald Hårfagre was the king who unified Norway. Hårfagre means “fair haired”. Listen for yourself by following the YouTube link >>HERE<<