Viking ship resumes voyage to Chicago
The crew of the replica Viking ship Draken Harald Hårfagre from Norway -- temporarily stuck in Bay City, Michigan by its need for a U.S.-required navigational pilot -- will set sail for Chicago's Tall Ships exhibition at Navy Pier after all.
Local organizers of a reception for the ship's crew confirmed Tuesday that the scheduled stop at Navy Pier from July 27 to 31 is back on.
"She is coming!" said Mette Bowen, a Norwegian native now living in Lake Forest. "There will be a great fanfare!"
The ship's arrival in Chicago had been in jeopardy since last week, when crew members learned they would not be allowed to sail any further in U.S. waters without a pilot, as required under federal law. The cost of a pilot to take the ship from Bay City to its final destination of Duluth, Minnesota, was estimated at more than $400,000.
As of Tuesday afternoon, an online fundraiser set up by the Minneapolis-based Sons of Norway foundation had received pledges of $54,851. The donation site is at sonsofnorway.com/draken.
Bowen and others had been preparing a formal reception for the ship during the evening of July 27, but those plans were put on hold while the Draken's ability to sail in the U.S. was in question. Bowen said the reception is still likely to happen, but she wants to take some time before confirming the details.
The Draken sailed across the Atlantic from Norway to Canada for its intended summertime tour of North America. But as soon as it entered U.S. waters last week it was discovered that there was a difference in regulations between the two countries.
The main difference was the need for a pilot. While the ship already has a captain, the typical fee for a pilot is about $400 per hour -- an amount not in the Draken's travel budget.
As of Tuesday, no other of the Draken's scheduled stops in the Great Lakes had been reconfirmed.
The Draken's visit to Chicago is also hoped to raise awareness and money for the restoration and permanent display of a Viking ship replica now stored in West suburban Geneva. That ship sailed to Chicago from Norway for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893.
The master builder of the Draken, Gunnar Eldjarn, has visited the earlier ship -- called The Viking -- at Good Templar Park in Geneva to consult on its restoration.
Under the original plan, Eldjarn was scheduled to be in Chicago for the arrival of the Draken next week, Bowen said. The new details of the reception will be announced as soon as they're confirmed.