Ahoy! The Vikings are back in North America

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The Harald Hårfagre dragon ship. Photo: Jan Kåre Ness/NTB scanpix/TT
11:42 CEST+02:00
The world's largest Viking ship in modern times has reached Canada after a challenging journey across the Atlantic, departing Scandinavian shores in late April.

Björn Ahlander, the ship's Swedish captain, ordered the great dragon vessel – named after Harald Hårfagre, the king who unified Norway in the 10th century – to drop anchor at St Anthony in Newfoundland, Canada, on Wednesday, after more than a month at sea.

"I am proud of the men and what we have achieved en route. It has not been easy. We have encountered many problems on the trip, but the crew has remained in good spirits and has worked hard all the way," he told reporters.

Following in the historical tailwind of Leif Eriksson, the Viking thought to have discovered America centuries before Christopher Columbus, the ship left Norway's Avaldsnes on April 26th, taking a route via the Faroe Islands, Shetland Islands, Iceland and Greenland.

The journey offered stark contrasts, with the crew battling winds, ice and rain – but also calm waters, sunshine and even the wedding of two of its crew members on Greenland.

Harald Hårfagre is equipped with modern navigational tools, but also historical aids such as log lines and magnetic and solar compasses. It was accompanied by another boat during the Atlantic crossing, on standby to rescue the 33-strong crew on board if things had gone awry.

An impressive 35 metres long, eight metres wide and with a mast height of 24 metres, Harald Hårfagre is the world's biggest longship built in modern times. Sponsored by Norwegian businessman Sigurd Aase, it was completed in 2012.

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The ship is set to remain at St Anthony for a couple of days and will then sail onwards to Quebec, Toronto and several places in the United States.

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