This past weekend I learnt the Vikings were coming. So after burying all of my valuables and hiding the women-folk, I went down to the dock to watch the Draken Harald Harfagre come in.
At 115 feet long, it’s the largest recreated Viking ship in the world, crafted by original methods based on archeology and surviving records. Ok, so it’s not entirely authentic. I was pretty disappointed to see it come crawling into harbor, not by sail or, even better, by oar, but by engine power. Oh, well. It had to make some concessions to modern standards of safety, as well. Bunch of bureaucratic nannies getting in the way of a good pillaging.
With a crew of around 30ish, rowing isn’t really an option. When they have done it, it takes 100 people on the 50 oars, and they don’t go very fast. Two knots. Hold onto your horned helmets. Ok, Vikings never wore horned helmets.
I was super excited to get down and nerdy with some history! I went three times, the day it came in, the next day for a tour, and a third day to hear the captain lecture over beers. Because the ships and techniques of the 8th Century Norse were not so different from those of their Germanic cousins of the 5th Century, I hoped I could pick up some new information relevant to my writing.
Unfortunately, none of the crew, nor the captain, could speak to much regarding Viking history, or much about the construction or sailing techniques and capabilities of more typical, smaller Norse ships. They were really just experts in their particular ship. I ended up captivating a couple of them with my descriptions, gleaned from reading long, exciting texts. Ok, they couldn’t leave their posts, so maybe captive is a better term.
So after throwing them lots of money to see the ship and hear their stories – not to stop them from burning down Portland – I came away with some nice pictures and a good close-up look at the steering oar. Here are some of the pictures. I hope you enjoy.