Ship Ahoy! Modern Vikings Set Sail for US in World's Largest Longship

© Photo : Youtube/ Draken Harald Hårfagre The Dragon's Head Ceremony at Avaldsnes on April 23rd was the start of Expedition America 2016.
The Dragon's Head Ceremony at Avaldsnes on April 23rd was the start of Expedition America 2016. - Sputnik International
It has been over a thousand years since Leif Erikson pulled off his famous voyage from Europe to the great terra incognita that the Vikings dubbed Vinland, centuries before Christopher Columbus. Now a Scandinavian crew is making the same perilous voyage across the Atlantic.

The world's largest Viking ship built in modern times is now moving out on a hazardous journey across the North Atlantic. The ship Dragon Harald Fairhair, named after the king Harald Hårfagre who united Norway in the 900's, planned to sail from the Viking village of Avaldsnes in Haugesund, Norway, last Sunday, but had to wait for better weather.

"We had to lie low for a while waiting for the right moment to come between two low pressure fronts, which is exactly what the Vikings had done in their time," the ship's Swedish captain Björn Ahlander told the news agency TT as quoted by Expressen.

The ship is bound for the US via Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland, to commemorate the famous journey of Leif Eriksson and his fellow Vikings. According to Björn Ahlander, who previously worked as a rig manager in Gothenburg, the departure time itself is one of the critical points for safe passage across the North Atlantic.

"We have only a month on us, because the only time gap more or less safe from low pressure areas and strong winds is in May. Then you have a good chance to cross safely," Ahlander said.

Despite being followed by a safety boat, the crew of 33 men and women are in for a pernicious journey.

"We'll take us through the world's most dangerous waters, including the southern tip of Greenland, with plenty of ice floes and the mighty cold. We have no protection, it is an open ship. If something happened, this would be no joke," Ahlander said.

​Dragon Harald Fairhair is equipped with modern navigation instruments, but also with the historical tools such as mariner's logs as well as magnetic compasses.

"We are very conscious that everything may be switched off for good, as electronics and salt water are not world's best buddies. So we do rely on navigation methods of the Vikings, from those of the Middle Ages and 2016 alike," said Björn Ahlander.

After crossing the Atlantic, the crew plans visiting Canada's Quebec and Toronto. In the US, Dragon Harald Fairhair is set to cast anchor in the Twin Ports (Duluth and Superior), Chicago and New York.

​Dragon Harald Fairhair's hull is made of oak, measuring 35 meters (115 feet) from bow to stern. The ship has a width of 8 meters (26 feet), a mast height of 24 meters (78 feet) and a sail consisting of 260 square meters of silk.

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