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Viking ship reaches Oswego after tumultuous journey

When the Draken Harald Hårfagre long-ship floated into Oswego's harbor Sunday morning, 48 hours late, H. Lee White Maritime Museum director Mercedes Niess said she was relieved.

"Honestly, when they finally came around the lighthouse here I started to tear up," Niess said. "We’re just so glad because we were on pins and needles of whether today would happen."

The Draken's trip from Norway has been more like an odyssey. The crew has encountered multiple hurdles like when its mast broke in the North Sea. It also got stalled in American waters waiting for an available U.S. pilot to guide them as required by federal law. 

"This was unexpected for us," said Draken naval architect Karolina Malmek. Malmek said the Draken crew were also surprised by the cost. The price for a pilot for their journey from Canada down to Chicago and back through the Great Lakes to New York City ran in the six-figure range. The Draken was able to cover those fees through an online crowdfunding effort. Malmek said the support they received from Americans was inspiring.

"I’m so surprised that when we come here and people actually know about this and they followed our story and it’s so rewarding," Malmek said.

The delayed visit to Oswego did not depress the enthusiasm for their arrival. Hundreds braved the sweltering heat Sunday, waiting in a long lines to tour the boat and buy souvenirs. The visitors hailed from all over the northeast. Many like Emily Bergamo have Nordic ancestry.

"For me it was like touching a piece of my heritage and a connection to my father," Bergamo said.

The Draken plans to head to New York City next via the Erie Canal.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.