OCEAN CITY — It took longer than expected for the replica Viking ship Draken Harald Harfagre to come through the Inlet and through the drawbridge to its mooring at 3rd Street on Wednesday, but the delay was worth the wait.
Around 7 p.m. on Wednesday, the Draken, a replica of a centuries-old Viking ship, appeared around the corner at the Inlet and headed slowly north toward the Route 50 drawbridge and its final mooring spot along the bulkhead between 3rd and 4th streets. The Draken appeared off the coast of Ocean City under full sail on Wednesday afternoon and slowly made its way down toward the Inlet, much to the delight of beachgoers and boaters out on the water.
The original plan was for the Draken to pass through the Inlet around 6 p.m. on Wednesday and arrive at its dockage at 3rd Street around 6:30 p.m. However, it was closer to 7 p.m. when the vessel passed through the bridge and arrived at its home for the next eight days at 3rd Street. Anticipation grew as hundreds gathered around the Inlet and at the bayside marinas and dockside bars and restaurants south of the Route 50 Bridge, while dozens more gathered on the bridge itself for a chance to view the spectacular vessel.
The sun poked through the clouds and a brief drizzle stopped just as the ship made its way through the bridge, creating the perfect sun-splashed ambience for the vessel’s arrival. Even a pair of rainbows appeared as if on cue as the ship pulled into the bulkhead at 3rd Street for the awaiting crowd.
The Draken, as it is simply called, is an exact replica of the type of ocean-going vessel the Vikings sailed across the Atlantic when they discovered the New World centuries ago. It is a replica of the same ocean-going sailing vessels the Vikings built dating back centuries during a period from around 750 A.D. to 1100 A.D. It was built to the same specifications and using the same technology as the Vikings used during the era. It features the same ornate designs as the original including the head and tail of a dragon at either end and intricate carvings and other design features throughout the vessel.
The vessel and its crew arrived on Wednesday evening to a warm reception at the municipal park at 3rd Street where it was greeted by local elected officials and other dignitaries. Throughout its eight-day visit, visitors and residents will have the opportunity to tour the Draken, meet the captain and crew and learn more about its weighty history.
The municipal park adjacent to the bulkhead has been converted to the Draken Village, a festival of sorts featuring vendors, food and beverages, interactive displays and other opportunities for residents and visitors to see the vessel up close and learn more about its history.
Starting Thursday and continuing through the Draken’s departure on August 29, visitors will be able to tour the historic vessel each day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and immerse themselves in Viking history. The festivities are not limited to just the Draken Village downtown. On Friday evening at 7 p.m. Captain Bjorn Ahlander will host a captain’s lecture at the Performing Arts Center in the Convention Center and attendees will learn first-hand how the crew’s adventurous expeditions. Tickets are $25 per person and are available at the vessel tour location or at www.drakenhh.com.
On Saturday at 7 p.m., there will be a special screening of the documentary “Expedition America- A Modern Day Viking Adventure” also at the Performing Arts Center followed by a question-and-answer session with the captain and crew.
The Draken’s visit to Ocean City is part of a larger east coast tour that began in July. Hosted in partnership with Ocean City, the Draken will offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for visitors to relive history in a way never experienced before. Draken will allow guests to not only marvel at this stunning Viking ship, but also to interact with the crew as they share their personal experiences of thrill, fear, and exhilaration while enduring the ship’s 2016 transatlantic crossing, reliving the Viking discovery of the New World more than 1,000 years ago.
Within the Draken Village, which is free and open to the public, guests can experience a photo and video exhibition illustrating Viking history, modern explorers, and the adventures of the Draken, land-side views of the ship, the Highland Park Whisky hospitality tent, local food and beverage vendors and merchandise.