Legend has it the first time Vikings came to North America they were driven away by irate natives, called skrælings by the Norse. Now more than 1,000 years later it’s the U.S. Coast Guard who are handling the job, wielding regulations rather than weapons. This time the Viking raiders, who’ve come from Norway on the 115-foot longship Draken Harald Hårfagre, got as far as the Great Lakes (see image up top, which depicts them cruising past Detroit) before they were stopped in their tracks by bureaucrats demanding they pay up to $400-an-hour in pilot fees.
The non-profit organization that owns Draken Harald did make inquiries prior to launching their great raid and were told by Canadian authorities that their pilot fees for the lakes would be waived. But the Americans evidently were not consulted, and the Coast Guard claims the U.S. fees, payable by all non-recreational foreign vessels navigating the lakes, cannot be waived without passing an act of Congress. Which, as we all know, is a virtual impossibility.
Draken Harald’s decidedly un-warrior-like skipper, Björn Ahlander, explains his awful predicament in this video here:
As it strands now Draken Harald kept its commitment to appear at a festival in Bay City, Michigan, this past weekend, but now the ship must retreat from the lakes and abandon the rest of its summer schedule, which includes raids on Chicago, Green Bay, and Duluth. It’s only hope of continuing its depravations in the continent’s heartland is a fundraising campaign mounted by the Sons of Norway, a sleeper cell of Norse sympathizers who’ve been operating in Minneapolis for years.
If you’re anxious to get pillaged by the Vikings yourself, they are still expected to raid New York City in September and Mystic Seaport in October, as the draconian pilot regulations of the lakes do not apply on the seaboard.
Draken Harald arrived in North America on June 1, when its crew landed at L’Anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland.
Check this viddy here to see what their voyage over Greenland was like:
UPDATE (July 20): THE RAID IS ON!
At least as far as Chicago anyway. Rumor has it the Sons of Norway have raised enough scratch for Draken Harald to continue on to Chicago with a pilot aboard, per the demands of the Ruthless Bureaucrats.
Draken Harald is scheduled to appear in the Windy City on July 27. One of her purposes there is to raise awareness of another Viking ship in need of help, a longship that sailed from Norway to Chicago to attend an exposition in 1893 and has been stranded in storage ever since.
Here’s yet another viddy of Draken Harald departing Bay City early early this a.m. bound for Chicago:
If you want her to keep going after Chicago just keep clicking on the donation button.
it would seem so easy for the pilot association to waive the fees. THE US government doesn’t collect the fees, the pilot association does. While the requirement for pilots arose based on very good reasons, the application of the requirement to vessels in no need of pilots appears solely to be for the benefit of the pilots association. Sigh
Draken staff thought Canadian reciprocity exempted them from U.S. pilotage fees. UFF DA! Official fundraising sight for pilotage fees: