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Posted by Tall Ships America on August 19, 2016

Can you see George on deck?

Can you see George on deck? Hint: Find the red shirt…

By Intern George

August 1, Monday

I see red. The dried blood red meant to inspire fear at the site of Draken Harald Hårfagre and sense of aggression, anger, hostility, and danger sends a shiver up my spine. As I step onto the Viking vessel with the dragon carved into the prow, her centrally placed mast with a single square sail, and her decorative shields covering her graceful “clinker” style hull I feel empowered with strength, stealth, and vigor. I am in love.

As a boy, I have always fantasized sailing in a Viking ship. Illustrative pictures in storybooks or cartoons have always romanticized the profile this ship has, and I feel fortunate for the opportunity to sail on the Draken for Tall Ships America, most likely her last voyage in the Great Lakes. She bravely crossed the Atlantic Ocean with her expert and cheerful crew to show us one of the finest artistic and constructed tall ships in the fleet.

All hands on deck as we set sail after supper. Leaving the Windy City, we are underway by 1700 and headed for Green Bay with a couple of stops planned along the way. We will sail throughout the night with our sights set on Manitowoc. I am stationed on the 3rd starboard watch, which meant I was going to have the 8 to 12 shifts. Those hours are very enjoyable because they have a normal sleep schedule.

Oars engaged

Oars engaged


August 2, Tuesday

Before we arrived in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, Captain Björn Ahlander, let us get some exercise with the oars. Yes, crewing a ship is a very physical workout but I guess what we really needed is a Viking workout.

The hull of a Viking ship is very shallow, maybe a couple of meters. The depth of the ship meant sailing was not only to be out at sea, but in shallow areas such as lakes, rivers, and creeks. The high bottom of the ship made raids on land during wartime possible. Because of the long slender shape, the ship was fast on water and could make a quick get-away.

While you are rowing with the crew, you try to keep the blades completely buried in the water. A rhythm starts to develop, and when you’re rowing well, everyone begins feeling the rhythm and rowing harder together. I thought to myself that this style of travel on a lake, especially in a Viking ship, had probably not been done in a 1,000 years. We were all quite impressed with ourselves.

After we had stowed the oars away, (tip: the best way to get along on a ship is to keep organized) someone announced that the pool was open. All of us were covered in sweat from our synchronized exercise. There was no need to think, Is this a good idea or a bad idea? We ran to the nearest side of the ship and jumped in the water. There’s nothing as refreshing as a dip in the cool lake after a brisk workout.

Draken docked right outside Manitowoc Maritime Museum just after 1100. We all needed to unwind and we were able to explore the town and beach until 1800. After a day of relaxation and doing what we pleased, it was time to put on our party pants. On the dock, the crew musicians broke out their instruments, and we enjoyed an impromptu maritime seaside celebration together.

The Manitowoc Maritime Museum is home to the USS Cobie, a completely restored WWII submarine.   We ended our day collaped inside the sub on the bunks for some much-needed shut-eye and, too soon, we were woken up at 0700 to board the Draken. Today we will head to Sturgeon Bay and prepare for the Parade of Sail.

[We are currently catching up with the interns in Duluth. Stay tuned for another blog post from both George and Ben about their past week sailing across Lake Superior. George was on Pride of Baltimore II and Ben was on When & If]

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