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Rockland welcomes Viking ship

By Stephen Betts | Jul 22, 2018
Photo by: Stephen Betts The Viking ship Draken Harald Hårfagre motors into Rockland harbor Sunday evening, July 22, followed by pleasure boats and kayakers.

Rockland — The largest Viking-style ship built in modern times arrived Sunday evening, July 22, in Rockland harbor, greeted by hundreds of people lining the shore.

Draken Harald Hårfagre is a recreation of what the Vikings would call a “Great Ship,” built with archaeological knowledge of found ships, using old boatbuilding traditions and the legends of Viking ships from the Norse sagas.

The vessel motored into Rockland Harbor in a thick fog, which did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowds that filled docks, floats and Harbor Park to get a look at the maritime visitor.

The ship will be docked at the public landing through Wednesday and tours will be given from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The schedule, at the link drakenhh.com/rockland, is where tickets can be purchased  for on-board tours as well as a Monday night documentary on sailing the Draken across the Atlantic in 2016 at Rockland's Strand Theatre and a Tuesday night talk at the Apprenticeshop, also in Rockland, by Capt. Bjorn Alhander on the building and operation of the world’s largest replica Viking ship.

Dan Bookham of Allen Insurance and Financial, Rockland Mayor Valli Geiger and Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tom Peaco were the official greeters for the Alhander and his crew of 35.

"The Vikings were sailors, shipbuilders, farmers, poets and raiders. They are not here to raid us. They come in peace" Geiger said, to laughter from the crowd.

The mayor cited the courage of the original Vikings, as well as the crew of the Draken Harald Hårfagre for crossing the ocean in an open boat.

Bookham said the vessel may be able to stop in Rockland again next year. The ship will be touring the East Coast this year and will be in Portland for the upcoming weekend.

The vessel was constructed in 2010. It was named after Harald Hårfagre, the king who unified Norway into one kingdom; the great dragon ship came together in the town of Haugesund in western Norway.

The Vikings left almost no record of how they built their ships, or how they sailed them. Plank by plank, nail by nail, more than 10 000 of them, the ship was constructed by a band of experienced boat builders, historians craftsmen and artists.

The ship is 115 feet from stem to stern, 26-feet wide, 260-square-meters of silk sail and a 79-foot tall mast made from Douglas fir.

Norway’s leading experts in traditional boatbuilding and the square sail were engaged in the development and construction of the ship. The construction is an experimental archaeological research program, and the aim was to recreate a ship with the superb seaworthiness that characterized the oceangoing long ships in the Viking Age, according to the website.

Bookham and Allen Insurance and Financial were instrumental in getting the ship to make a port call in Rockland.

A crew member blows a horn on the arrival of the Viking ship in Rockland. (Photo by: Stephen Betts)
Crew members give a cheer upon arriving in Rockland. (Photo by: Stephen Betts)
The floats at the public landing are filled for the arrival of the Viking ship. (Photo by: Stephen Betts)
From left, Rockland Mayor Valli Geiger and Dan Bookham of Allen Insurance and Financial welcome Capt. Bjorn Alhander and his crew to Rockland harbor. (Photo by: Stephen Betts)
(Photo by: Stephen Betts)
(Photo by: Stephen Betts)
Maine Lobster Festival President Cynthia Powell, left, welcomes Capt. Bjorn Alhander with Maine Lobster Festival patches. (Photo by: Stephen Betts)
The Viking vessel is watched from shore and from the water as it arrived in Rockland Harbor. (Photo by: Stephen Betts)
Rockland Mayor Valli Geiger greets the captain as he gets off the ship. (Photo by: Stephen Betts)
(Photo by: Stephen Betts)
Spectators line the wharf at Rockland harbor to await a visit aboard the visiting Viking ship July 23. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
(Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
(Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
(Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
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