It is not yet known whether the Draken Harald Hårfagre is still on schedule to keep her original goal of being at Navy Pier in Chicago July 27-31, but her representatives announced on July 19 that the Viking ship will indeed sail to the southern Lake Michigan harbor.
Initially understood to be exempted from fees associated with sailing in the Great Lakes, Draken Harald Hårfagre's owners learned the ship, must in fact pay steep fees associated with the Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes 2016.
The Great Lakes can be dangerous, and hiring a pilot who knows the lakes is considered necessary for commercial vessels over 35 meters long; the Draken Harald Hårfagre measures slightly smaller than that and is a non-profit project, one with historic and educational value. The unexpected $400,000 in pilotage fees associated with sailing in the Great Lakes has severely altered the course of the expedition.
As of July 12, Draken Harald Hårfagre and her crew plan to continue sailing through its Tall Ships Celebration but only as far as the next port of Bay City, Michigan, where the ship is expected July 14-17. “There is not room in our budget to go further west into the Great Lakes, but we can not let the people in Bay City down,” said Swedish captain Björn Ahlander who expressed admiration and thanks for the outpouring of support and interest from so many in the U.S. and even across the globe.
There is still no solution to the funding needed to pursue the whole expedition in the Great Lakes, but a grassroots campaign is gaining strength in showing signs of helping.
If you wish to help, visit the Sons of Norway's fundraising efforts, which the ship's crew and owners chose on July 14 as the official initiative to try to raise enough funding to continue the expedition and visit the ports of the Great Lakes.

Follow the Draken Harald Hårfagre at