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Viking longship to continue voyage; Crew to use engine to power boat to Liverpool.

Byline: ROB PATTINSON ECHO Reporter rpattinson83

THE world's largest reconstructed Viking longship will continue on its maiden overseas voyage to Merseyside today - with plans to repair its broken mast once it arrives. The 115ft-long Draken Harald Harfagre's visit was plunged into doubt after it was hit by a big wave in high winds three days after setting sail from Norway, causing its mast to break and go overboard. None of the international crew of volunteers - including Ged Gedge, from Wirral - were injured and the vessel was diverted to Lerwick Harbour in the Shetland Islands while the situation was assessed.

There had been fears she may have to head back to Norway for repairs, but the ship's captain Bjorn Ahlander has decided to continue the voyage to Merseyside using the on-board engine installed in case of emergencies. WIRRAL Viking expert professor Steve Harding, who originally set up the deal whilst DNA testing in Norway helped by the ship's owner, Norwe gian businessman Sigurd Aase, said: "This is wonderful news after we were almost at the point of despair, and is credit to Skipper Bjorn and his crew. "It won't be quite as dignified an arrival as originally planned - coming in on its back-up motors - but it is tre mendous that it is going to be in Wallasey Docks where it is going to be repaired.

"Wirral and Liverpool - like Norway - have a great tradition of boat-building and repair so it is appropriate we will be helping with all the TLC necessary to get it seaworthy again. The public will have to be patient with us as the origi nal planned programme of visits will now have to be put on ice as the ship is repaired but it should create a great deal of interest - and let's not forget the Vikings on Merseyside will have had to have done similar sort of repairs to their vessels a millennium ago - so all very exciting!"

The Draken Lerwick left yesterday morning and using the motors will voyage south past Orkney and down the east coast of Scotland, then cross through the Caledonian Canal to the west coast. They will then motor on to the Isle of Man and Merseyside, trying to keep to the original schedule. The longship had been set to arrive after a three-week passage under sail on July 18 - before departing on August 3. Arrival times will now be evaluated once the ship has made its way through the Caledonian Canal.


The crew of the || longship work on the vessel in Lerwick Harbour in the Shetland Islands DRAKEN HARALD HARFAGRE TEAM
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 9, 2014
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