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Viking longship off to Liverpool to fix broken mast

The crew of the Draken Harald enjoyed bright sunshine as they tidied up the longship on Monday. Photo: Shetnews/Neil Riddell

THE WORLD’S largest replica Viking longboat is to depart Lerwick Harbour on Tuesday and travel by engine to Liverpool where its broken mast will be repaired.

The 115-foot Draken Harald and its 30-strong crew have been in Lerwick since late on Friday having had to divert to Shetland when its mast was snapped by strong northerly winds to the south east of Shetland.

Captain Björn Ahlander said they had sought to make repairs in the islands but it had not been possible to find a “that big piece of wood” here, so they will turn on the engines and set off for Liverpool, taking the Caledonian Canal across to the west coast, on Tuesday morning.

Draken Harald captain Björn Ahlander. Photo: Shetnews/Neil Riddell
“We are not repairing here because we can’t find any materials,” he said. “We go by engine to the Caledonian Canal and take the canal [to] Liverpool where we’ll rig the new mast.”

Captain Ahlander gave the crew some time off over the weekend before they set to work on untangling the ship’s rigging to ensure it can be reassembled easily. 

“It’s nice weather,” he said, “so the crew is happy, and they have a couple of hours off – tomorrow morning we should be ready to go.”

The ship set off from Haugesund in Norway on Wednesday and had been en route to Orkney. While some of the dates may have to be rescheduled, Captain Ahlander said he hoped planned visits to destinations including Dublin and the Isle of Man can still take place this summer.

Numerous boat-loving Shetlanders and tourists have been down at the Albert Wharf admiring the distinctive longship’s fine workmanship in the past couple of days.

Built between 2010 and 2012, the Draken Harald was named after the first Norwegian king, Harald Fairhair, who reigned between 872 and 930.

Its international crew contains individuals from Scandinavia, the UK, elsewhere in Europe and North America.

Once the mast has been repaired in Liverpool, it is hoped other planned stops this summer will still take place. Photo: Shetnews/Neil Riddell

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