Montgomery County

Viking-inspired ship makes a stop on the Erie Canal

The Draken Harald Hårfagre, a Viking-inspired ship that started its journey in Norway, made a stop a
The Norwegian Draken Harold Harfagre works its way through Lock 12 in Tribes Hill on Monday  September 5, 2016. The Viking longship combines ocean-crossing sailing capabilities with a warship's use of oars.
The Norwegian Draken Harold Harfagre works its way through Lock 12 in Tribes Hill on Monday September 5, 2016. The Viking longship combines ocean-crossing sailing capabilities with a warship's use of oars.

Three generations of Diane Compani’s family shared an experience Monday that none had experienced previously,

Compani, along with her daughter Katie Ramirez and grandson 2-year-old Alex Ramirez, all got to see a large Viking-inspired ship — at Lock 12 of the Erie Canal at Tribes Hill.

“It’s just super-impressive,” Compani said as the ship remained docked during a brief stop on its long voyage that originated in Norway and included the Mohawk River. “Just to think that this is all man-made, so unique, the craftsmanship. I’m my age and I haven’t ever seen anything like it before.”

The ship is the Draken Harald Hårfagre and it has been on a voyage since April. It began in southwest Norway, sailed across the Atlantic to Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland in Canada, then continued on into the Great Lakes.

It made it as far as Green Bay and Chicago and is now making its way back to the Atlantic, expecting to stay the winter in Connecticut.

Those behind the project, backed by a history-minded Norwegian entrepreneur, wanted to recreate or reexperience the voyage Viking Leif Erikson made a thousand years ago.

Along the way, the more than 30 sailors have been meeting locals, showing off the ship and telling their story.

On Monday afternoon, ship engineer Kristian Velle recalled they’ve seen “a bit of everything” on their long voyage.

“This is so nice, so beautiful,” Velle said of the trip down the canal. “The scenery is so beautiful.”

Velle and others from the ship also met with members of the small crowd that formed on shore.

“It’s just overwhelming,” Velle, of Norway, said of the response Monday and along their voyage.

The ship stayed Monday night at Amsterdam and is expected to travel down the Mohawk River locally today, en route to Waterford. The public can board and tour Friday, Saturday and Monday in Kingston at the Hudson Maritime Museum.

Those looking to see it travel through the region today can find its location at

The ship itself, constructed in Norway beginning in 2010, is the result of Norwegian boat-building techniques, archaeological material, Viking literature, contemporary sources and other records.

The ship is a hybrid of three ships in particular, taking the best of the three, expedition leader Luke Snyder said.

Ornate and symbolically designed, builders used modern tools and traditional methods with hand carvings, Snyder said.

Compani, of Hagaman, heard about the ship’s voyage and brought out her daughter and grandchildren.

“I saw it coming out of the lock and I figured this little guy would appreciate seeing the difference in the boats,” Compani said of young Alex.

Her youngest grandchild, 8-month-old Gabe, slept through much of the visit. But 2-year-old Alex, when asked if he found the ship cool, couldn’t find the right words.

“He wants to go on it,” his mother Katie Ramirez, of Tribes Hill, explained.

Katherine Hladik and her husband of 52 years, Karl, traveled from Johnstown to see it on their anniversary.

They first heard about it in Little Falls, but missed it there, so they went out to find it Monday.

“It’s fascinating,” Hladik said. “This is the only time in my life that I wished I had a cell phone.”

Hladik then imagined the voyage. “I wouldn’t want to be on a boat like that,” she said.

The ship is normally powered by its sails. For the canal, though, they had to remove the mast to get under the bridges; the boat was being propelled by motors. They expect to restore the mast once it reaches the Hudson River.

Valle looked forward to the Hudson.

“Hopefully we can have some wind so we can sail after that,” Valle said.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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