Cormac Kantargis spent a year and a half fixing up an old sailboat, intending to sail up the Atlantic coast to Canada.
“Engine kind of pooped out in Portland, Maine.”
That’s when he saw the Draken Harald Harfagre pull into port.
“You know, as soon as we saw it pull in, we’re like oh can we just like stop everything we’re doing and join them? Like that seems so much more fun.”
So Kantargis and his friends became volunteer deckhands on the 35 meter (115 foot) Draken—a wooden behemoth with one sail, 25 sets of oars, and a menacing dragon’s head on the prow. The Draken, the largest recreation of a Viking warship in the world, is currently docked at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. It was built in Norway in 2010 and sailed across the Atlantic in 2016 in about five weeks.
“You can see the Draken like a giant canoe,” said deckhand Dominique Paquette. “So you’re going to be wet, you’re going to be cold, you’re going to be in really tough condition to sailing the boat.”
The Vikings sailed ships like the Draken around the world between about 850 and 1050 AD but left no written records, so it took intense research to recreate it. Paquette says sailing on the Draken makes her appreciate the toughness of the men who once piloted these vessels.
“I don’t know if I can say that but they are badass,” she said. “I mean because you know you don’t have a space to sleep or they row a lot because when the wind is not with you you row.”
The Draken will be docked at Penn’s Landing through September 6 before moving on to Baltimore and is open for tours.