Hawaiian Voyaging Canoe and Viking Longship Meet for First Time

Amazingly, 1,000 years ago the ancestors of the Hokulea crew were navigating the Pacific at the same time the ancestors of the Draken crew were plying the waters of the North Atlantic. (Photo by Peder Jacobsson)
Amazingly, 1,000 years ago the ancestors of the Hokulea crew were navigating the Pacific at the same time the ancestors of the Draken crew were plying the waters of the North Atlantic. (Photo by Peder Jacobsson)
(SYLVAN BEACH, NY) – During Hokulea’s historic sail on the Erie Canal last week, the canoe crossed paths with the Draken Harald Harfagre, a modern day Viking ship from Norway on a similar mission of connecting the ancient ways of sailing with modern-day exploration. One from Hawaii and the other from Norway, both sailing vessels are connecting their crews with their past by tracing the ocean routes and voyaging traditions of their ancestors.
Upon arrival at New York’s Sylvan Beach, located on the east shore of Oneida Lake adjacent to the Erie Canal, on Wednesday,Hokulea tied up bow-to-bow with Draken Harald Harfagre. Hokulea crew members welcomed the Draken crew on board the traditional Polynesian canoe. They also received the opportunity to board the 114 feet long, 80-ton ship with a 3,200 square foot sail from Norway crafted from oak. The two crews exchanged gifts as a gesture of respect and friendship. Kalepa Baybayan, captain of Hokulea’s leg 23 of the Worldwide Voyage, presented Draken Captain Bjorn Ahlander with a traditional Hawaiian feather standard or kahili, and the Hokulea crew members received a book from the Draken Harald Harfagre crew that contained photos of the majestic vessel sailing alongside icebergs and through snow storms. 
“The mission was to prove that it is possible to sail the ocean with a Viking ship. We knew that before, because we got findings from [Viking explorer] Leif Eriksson around year 1000 in North America, many years before Christopher Columbus found ‘India’,” said Ahlander of the Draken Harald Harfagre as he described the start of his crew’s journey. “The mission was to prove that it was possible to go the historic voyage from Norway to Iceland, Iceland to Greenland, Greenland to Newfoundland, and we did it,” Ahlander stated.

“A lot of people do not move far from where they come from, and I think that’s a pity because people all over the world are different, we can learn so much from each other,” said Erik Rolfmoller, deckhand for the Draken Harald Harfagre. “The exploration and the development you go through personally when you go exploring is very important,” Rolfmoller added.



Named after Harald Harfagre, the king who unified Norway into one kingdom, the dragon ship was constructed in the town of Haugesund in Western Norway in March of 2010. In 2012, Draken Harald Harfagre launched for the first time on trial sails in the waters along the Norwegian coastline. Draken Harald Harfagre made her first lengthy roundtrip ocean voyage from Haugesund, Norway, to Liverpool, England in the summer of 2014. In late April of this year, the world’s largest viking ship built in modern times left Norway to sail off for a challenging voyage across the North Atlantic Ocean.


Both crews from the Viking ship and Polynesian canoe connected on their shared purpose of making the ancient ways of sailing still highly relevant in today’s modern world, by retracing and honoring the sea routes of their ancestors and perpetuating the spirit of exploration. Additionally, Hokulea crew shared with the Draken crew the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage’s mission of caring for Island Earth, and finding stories of hope from the places and people they encounter along their journey.
More About Vikings in North America


  1. Teanna Byerts
    United States
    October 7, 8:08 pm

    I’ve played around with a local Viking Longship group ( in Oakley MD) since the early 80s. We’ve sailed several different longships from 32 feet to 40 in length (with the only backup engine being us with 14 foot oars)… so I appreciate this meeting of ancient voyagers! Actually sailing, er, rowing a 1000 year old ship type teaches you a lot that would never come out of books. Carry on, Hokulea and Really Big Longship!