It was an epic journey that was to end with the world's largest Viking ship making a tour of the Great Lakes. Now the ship might have to make a U-turn. The Draken Harald Harfagre—which made stops in the Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland while repeating explorer Leif Eriksson's 1,000-year-old crossing of the Atlantic from Norway—was set to appear at ports across the Great Lakes beginning Thursday. But upon entering the St. Lawrence Seaway, the crew was informed it would need a $400-per-hour pilot for a total fee of at least $400,000, which it can't afford, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The crew says it believed the ship would be exempt from such a fee—it was given free passage through Canada—but the US Coast Guard requires ships carry a pilot in international waters.
As the Draken is set to visit Chicago, Green Bay (Wis.), New York City, and ports in Ohio and Connecticut, "the fees are just not possible," the owner of the nonprofit project says. "The people in the harbors around the lakes are expecting us," the ship captain adds, per MLive. "It is a pity if we cannot pursue this expedition." The Draken—with an oak hull and 3,200-square-foot sail—will visit Bay City, Mich., this week, then await a possible return to Norway, per a release. A rep for a tall-ships festival in Duluth, Minn., where the ship was to appear in August, tells the Duluth News Tribune that it's a "devastating" development. But "there are heroic efforts to save the day, and I believe the Draken will be here in Duluth," he adds. A petition calling for the fees to be waived has reached 8,000 signatures. (This discovery could change everything we know about Vikings.)