Vikings and U.S. Coastguard clash

Afraid I’ve not a great deal of sympathy for these people:

Draken Harald Hårfagre small

World’s Largest Viking Ship Might be Defeated by U.S. Coast Guard

The Draken Harald Hårfagre, which began sailing in 2012, is 115 feet from stem to stern, 26-feet wide, has a 2,798-square foot silk sail, and a Douglas fir mast 79-feet tall. Built with over 10,000 nails and detailed ornamentation, the Harald Hårfagre, named after the first king of Norway, travels the world reminding everyone how epic the ancient Vikings were. It was funded by Sigurd Aase, a Norwegian oil and gas tycoon.


It reached America and then did something the Coastguard were not impressed by – it started charging for admission. That’s up to them of course – as they say, they need to fund the voyage, to eat.

But there is an American rule and I personally agree with it – that any commercial vessel, as distinct from a private vessel, has a whole host of regulations attached, for safety at sea reasons. And unlike land Elfansafetee, there’s the immediate danger of death at sea.

The coastguard insist the ship has a pilot. I know of pilots well – they’re the ones who keep you off sandbars and from being swept out by 10 knot tides. However, they charge like wounded bulls:

A ship’s pilot is a nice profession, with pilots typically charging $400 per hour. It’s estimated that the Harald Hårfagre would need $400,000 to cover its entire time in the Great Lakes. “The fees are just not possible for a project like Draken Harald Hårfagre to pay,” Aase, the chariman of Crudecorp, said in a statement. Although it is currently docked in Bay City, Michigan, if nothing changes, the ship plans to turn around and head back to Norway.

That’s as maybe but this is where my sympathy dissipates. Did they not do their homework or did they – horror of horrors – feel they could just sweep in on a wave of public adulation and sympathy and waive the rules everyone else abides by?  Do you see a snowflake mind in Ms Sarah Blank, of the ship, who said:

“For us to have tickets, admissions or appearances, it’s not a commercial interest.”

Whaaaa?  Unfortunately, this smacks so much to me of the type of statement we are fighting every day now, this leftist feeling that the rules are not for them. Have a referendum? Never mind, have another one.

In America, if you charge, you’re commercial. It’s exactly the same over here. If I do that or have 12 people, I’m commercial and come under a different set of regs. The fact that I’ll meet those anyway on my whim is neither here nor there.

I’m very sorry but they really should have done their homework. The article even tells them how to do it – call it donations.  Which of course, would bring into question the Coastguard’s reasoning – are there not still safety factors?  We’re talking harbour here, not open sea.

[H/T Chuckles]

7 comments for “Vikings and U.S. Coastguard clash

  1. dearieme
    July 17, 2016 at 13:38

    “a Douglas fir mast”: cheats, cheats.

  2. james Wilson
    July 18, 2016 at 21:12

    Of course they knew. They have some other game in mind, perhaps a white knight sponsor.

    One would think, and you would know, that technology would make the role of pilots less necessary, and certainly cheaper. Change is hard or impossible when existing groups hold sway, like longshoremen on docks. Where the technology exist for self driving cars (an idea which I detest) there is not much doubt in my mind that pilots are kidding themselves at $400 an hour. A tanker or container ship will consider that a necessary irritation, but for most it is just thievery.

    • July 18, 2016 at 21:24

      Certainly thievery.

    • barnacle bill
      July 19, 2016 at 10:33

      I used to be on time charter with the ship I was Master of to a German company who insisted that the Master get a pilot exemption certificate (PEC) for all of the three UK ports we used to run to.

      For the Medway and Inverness I had no reservations and got these PECs. Straight forward ports to run in and out of. No shifting sandbanks etc …

      However, for Goole which is up the River Humber and Ouse I never did get a PEC. Luckily the time charter finished before it became an issue. It’s local knowledge that one employs a pilot for. Especially somewhere like the Humber and Ouse where things can change almost overnight. Hence above the Humber Bridge the channel is surveyed weekly.

      I can tell you James that on a thick foggy, winter’s night I was very glad to have that pilot onboard and he earned his pay!

  3. July 19, 2016 at 16:59

    I look out over the entrance to a port. The river estuary is 5 kms wide and even in poor weather one can see the shoreline easily as it is well lit by the suburbs. But that water is deceptive. It has three rivers running in it and they meander and cross, shifting sand bars all the time. Depths go from 30 mtrs up to 5 within 50 surface metres. We get huge tourist ships and tankers up the estuary. Sometimes they have to wait in line for the pilot boat to lead them through a veritable maze. I can see the point made about modern navaids, gps and charts and all, radar and a good lookout, I can even understand frequency of use as BB mentioned, but some places have an essential need for a pilot.

  4. July 19, 2016 at 18:07

    Just came back from the boat. Yes, I know the Humber and the issues heading for Goole. Needs a pilot and I had one lined up for the sail from the heads. Money well spent I thought. In the end, didn’t buy that boat, which was in Hartlepool.

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