The Draken continues its voyage onto Chicago

Funds raised by the Foundation of Sons of Norway have helped the Viking ship to continue to the next destination along the Tall Ships route

Photo courtesy of Expedition America 2016 Draken Harald Hårfagre sailing on Lake Huron.

Photo courtesy of Expedition America 2016
Draken Harald Hårfagre sailing on Lake Huron.

Molly Jones
The Norwegian American

The largest Viking ship in modern times, Draken Harald Hårfagre, reached Canada on June 1, just over a month after leaving its home port of Haugesund, Norway, and a thousand years after the Vikings sailed the same journey. Once arriving at North America, the Draken planned to sail the five Great Lakes throughout the summer as part of the Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes 2016.

The expedition was originally told they would not be subject to any pilotage requirements when they were first invited to join the Tall Ships Challenge. But when the Draken entered the St. Lawrence Seaway, they were informed that they must have a pilot on board throughout the Great Lakes at the cost of $400 an hour—the rate of pilotage for a commercial freight ship. To continue the journey they have planned at this rate would cost over $400,000.

“The fees are not within reason for a non-profit sail training vessel; it blocks the opportunity for any foreign tall ship to enter the Great Lakes and visit the ports. We are a non-profit project with the intention to spread knowledge about the Vikings’ seafaring and to inspire people to pursue dreams and look beyond the horizon, as modern Vikings,” says Sigurd Aase, owner and curator of the project.

In partnership with the Draken Expedition, the Sons of Norway Foundation has set up an official fundraising site to help the ship pay for the pilotage fees and continue sailing the Great Lakes. Even if the fundraiser does not meet its goal of $430,000, the money raised will be given to the Draken to cover the pilotage fees for as much of the journey as possible. As of Thursday, July 21, the Sons of Norway has raised almost $60,000.

Due to the money raised, the ship was able to leave Bay City, Mich., on Wednesday, July 20, and is heading for Chicago to the Pepsi Tall Ships Chicago 2016. In order to pay the fewest pilot hours, they are sailing as fast as possible to Chicago.

“We are so grateful for all the people engaging in our efforts to continue our expedition in the Great Lakes; it is because of your generous donations we are able to continue! The funds raised through Sons of Norway have been crucial in the decision to keep on sailing to Chicago. The struggle is not yet over; we still need to find a way to go further than Chicago; we still need your help,” writes the Draken Expedition.

“With your continued support and donations we know that reaching Green Bay and Duluth is now a possibility. We are working very hard with all possible solutions to find sponsorships and reduce the amount of funds we need to raise,” the expedition added.

With the money raised, the Draken hopes to reach at least a couple more ports along the Tall Ships route, where thousands of visitors have been long anticipating its arrival.

To learn more about the Draken Expedition, visit You can donate to the Sons of Norway fundraiser at

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.