ROCKLAND – Sunday evening, July 22, hundreds of people waited in a gray drizzle at the Rockland Public Landing to glimpse the carved dragon head, tail, and everything Viking-like about a 115 foot long, 26 foot wide vessel.
For weeks, anticipation has been growing among area residents wishing to see a true, historically accurate Norse Viking ship replica. And so they came, cameras at the ready, waving from the docks as the vessel neared.
Last year, Dan Bookham, of the Allen Insurance Agency, traveled to New Orleans, met with the captain, and touted Rockland’s perks. In response, Rockland Harbor became one of 14 destinations within this year’s East Coast Tour agenda.
Draken made a slow entrance through the fog, allowing spectators to see a few features at a time. Neither her appearance, nor her crew, nor the patient excitement of those on land revealed a three-hour delay. She had traveled the last ocean stretch on half power. Along the route from her last stop, Plymouth, Massachusetts, one of two inboard motors failed.
“They have the ability to row [or sail],” organizer of the Rockland stopover, Bookham said. “But it would have been very difficult for them.”
Sixty local volunteers are helping with the three-day event, July 22 to July 25, 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for deck tours of the vessel. Click here for schedule and prices.
“The Vikings were sailors, shipbuilders, farmers, poets, and raiders,” Mayor Valli Geiger told the audience while welcoming Captain Bjorn Ahlander and the crew. “They are not here to raid us. They come in peace.”
According to Geiger, the Vikings followed nine noble virtues: courage, truth, honor, fidelity, discipline, hospitality, self-reliance, diligence, and perseverance. Of the list, Geiger spoke of hospitality.
“The Vikings believed that when a stranger came to their community, they needed to be shown every hospitality, every welcome,” she said. “They needed to be fed and made safe. And so, I want, on behalf of Rockland, to welcome all of the sailors on that ship, and Captain Bjorn.”
Geiger, Bookham, and Pen Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tom Peaco then gifted Ahlander with a local wine, coffee, and edition of the Jewel regional guide.
The crew of 35 will split in half and alternate responsibilities for the three days of their stopover, according to Bookham. One half will sleep on the boat one night, and conduct tours one day. The other half will sleep on mats at South School and enjoy a day off while touring Rockland.
“One of the jobs of the City, and the public landing, is to provide public access,” City Councilor Ed Glaser said during the July 9 regular Council meeting in which councilors voted for a fee waiver. “That partly means giving people an opportunity, or a reason, to come down to the waterfront.”
The City’s fee waiver was in response to The Draken Harald Harfagre organization’s waiver of the $40,000 fee usually charged a municipality, leaving residents with only the cost of ship tours, according to Rockland City Clerk Stuart Sylvester during the Council meeting.
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