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meaner than vikings

In her quest to sail across the ocean and conquer new hearts, it seems the world’s biggest replica Viking long ship has found an enemy she can’t do anything about; the US Coast Guard’s red tape.  Mike McPhate has the story from the New York Times; we begin with an excerpt:

When a Viking ship, meticulously recreated in Norway, crossed the Atlantic last month, the feat captivated history buffs in the United States. They could hardly wait to get a look at the vessel, which was scheduled to visit a series of ship festivals along the Great Lakes this summer.

But as the ship, called the Draken Harald Harfagre, glided into American waters this month, it collided with an unexpected foe: modern-day safety regulations.

After making stops at Canadian ports, the Draken’s crew was told by Coast Guard officials last week that if it wanted to sail through the Great Lakes, it had to hire a certified pilot, paid at an hourly rate that would amount to about $400,000 by the trip’s end. If unable to pay, the vessel would be forced to turn back.

“The crew has been devastated,” Woody Wiest, a watch leader on the Draken, said at the time. Many of the team are volunteers, he added. “They changed their lives to be on the ship.”

The standoff set off a frantic campaign by supporters. A petition calling for the Coast Guard to rescind the requirement drew more than 10,000 signatures, festival organizers vowed to find money to help and online fund-raisers pleaded for donations from the public.

By Wednesday, the Draken crew said enough money had been raised to sail as far as Chicago, the ship’s third American destination on the Great Lakes. But stops scheduled for August in Green Bay, Wisc., and Duluth, Minn., remained in doubt.

“The struggle is not yet over,” a statement from the ship said.