Are you blown away by the concept that some hardy seafarers managed to cross the Atlantic from Norway to Newfoundland a millennium ago, in a vessel that didn’t even feature a covered cabin in which to sleep on a stormy night? Well, the Hudson River Maritime Museum has a big treat in store for you. The world’s largest Viking ship built in modern times, the 115-foot Draken Harald Hårfagre, puts into port in the Rondout this Friday morning, September 9, and will stick around until the morning of Thursday, September 15, when she departs for New York City.
Inspired by the ninth-century Gokstad ship-burial and the longships of Norse sagas, though not an exact replica of any particular historical vessel, the Draken was constructed in Haugesund, Norway by a traditional boatbuilding team at the behest of Norwegian entrepreneur Sigurd Aase. The project, and the current Expedition America 2016 tour, are meant to commemorate the Norse voyages to Vinland that predated Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World by about five centuries. Built primarily of oak, with a Douglas fir mast and a sail of red silk, with the traditional dragon-carved prow and stern, the ship carries a crew of 32 sailors and is rowed with 25 pairs of oars.
And yes, they did sail her across the North Atlantic – in chilly April! – to get here; previous passages on this tour have included the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes and the Erie Canal. Kingston will be the Draken’s only layover stop on the Hudson River before New York Harbor. The ship will winter over at Connecticut’s Mystic Seaport.
Deck tours of the Draken will be conducted from 12 noon to 7 p.m. on Friday, September 9, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 10 and from 2 to 6 p.m. on Monday, September 12. Admission costs $10 for adults, $5 for children aged 6 and up. At other times during its visit, it may be viewed from onshore.
For updates on the deck tour schedule and associated festivities, call the Museum at 845-338-0071 or visit www.hrmm.org or www.facebook.com/hudsonrivermaritimemuseum. For more on the Draken, visit www.drakenexpeditionamerica.com.