Saturday, October 6, 2018

Still Life with Robin: The Vikings Have Landed!

 Draken Harald Hårfagre
by Peggy Robin

Yesterday, October 5, the Viking ship Draken Harald Hårfagre sailed up the Potomac and docked at the Transit Pier at the DC Wharf. It’s here for ten days, the sixteenth stop of its 2018 seventeen-city tour of the east coast of the US. It originally came from Haugesund, Norway and made a month-long crossing of the North Atlantic in 2016, including stopovers in the Shetland Islands of Scotland, the Faroes, and ports in Iceland, and Greenland before arriving in Newfoundland. See for the route– and be sure to scroll down and play the video of the ship sailing through a storm in the Labrador Sea. You’ll feel seasick just watching.

The Draken is the largest replica of a Viking ship ever built –and at the welcome ceremony yesterday, when a crew member was called upon to answer the question, “What was it like?” she answered with just three words, “Cold and wet.” The ship has an exposed deck – and no below-decks protected space, which was the exactly the case on the shipwrecks and unearthed burial ships that served as prototypes for the Draken’s design. Like those ships of old, it has oar-holes and rowing oars, but very much unlike them, it also has a motor, which was used to maneuver it into the  tight space of the Transit Pier at the Wharf upon arrival. And it’s also outfitted with modern navigation equipment and safety gear – because there’s only so much authenticity you can have without subjecting your crew to the high risk of death that went along with being a true Viking at sea. More about what’s old and what’s new on the ship at 

If conditions are good, the sail should be raised for its departure from the Wharf on Monday, October 15. 

Better than scrolling through webpages and watching videos is to see it in person. The schedule is here: - and you can buy tickets at the Wharf or get them in advance here: 

If you go, you just might want to greet Captain Björn Ahlanders and crew with a few words in Old Norse, which you can learn in just a few seconds if you go to: 

And if you are young and adventurous and don’t mind the idea of being cold and wet for months on end – join the crew! You can apply here: 

Happ! Or Gipta! (I googled “good luck” in Old Norse and came up with two different possibilities.)

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays. 

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