Welcome to a new feature we’ll be sharing with you regularly, Crew Spotlight. Short sea stories, with recorded audio or video whenever possible. We sat down with crew member Jonas Adenmark, a Swedish sailor who sailed across the Atlantic on viking ship Draken Harald Hårfagre in 2016. This year, he spent 6 glorious months sailing the Pacific as part of the Hawaiian Chieftain crew. He traveled from Oakland, California to the Puget Sound in Washington, and even ended up with an HC tattoo.

Click the audio clips to hear Jonas in his own words, or to hear additional parts of his story.

Draken Harald Hårfagre – the largest viking ship built in modern times- is about the same length as Lady Washington.

Q: What led you to join the Hawaiian Chieftain’s crew?

My shipmate on Draken was telling me a lot about [GHHS vessels] because these were his first real square riggers… he’d sailed before [but] after [sailing here] he has been on a lot of different boats. Kinda got hooked. The key thing [my old shipmates] stressed, which was a key factor for me, was the battle sails. One fact, just because they’re freaking cool, but when you have good winds, you do so many maneuvers, which is really rare… Other vessels don’t do that. That intensifies the learning period because you drill in that sense.


Q: What has been your favorite day of sailing so far?

In the San Francisco Bay we had one of the best days of sailing. Really high wind, doing a battle sail. I was on the headsail team. We were out for 3 hours and I think I had 3 times where I could look up and see Lady but otherwise I was line handling the whole time. But those 3 times I did look up, I would see Lady coming in for a broadside, whitecaps everywhere, and sea spray flying. It looked really cool. It was just one of those ‘Heck Yeah’ moments that are why you sail.


Q: How do you like the new climbing harnesses donated by the GHHS community?

Awesome. The new harnesses are freaking amazing. You don’t even feel like you’re wearing them. You can wear them the entire day and it’s just comfortable.

Q: Can we use this photo of you on Draken?

Ha! So the situation with that photo is that on the sail on Draken we have a bonnet, that’s what I’m dragging in that photo and it’s MASSIVE. I’m dragging it through the entire boat and it’s heavy, really really heavy. We store it all bundled up under the deck planks on the bow. I was dragging it by the corner, and I didn’t hear everyone shouting at me. Peter, the photographer, was crawling on his back in front of me taking photos. And when I finally reach the end, I hear them shouting at me because it’s the wrong way. I was so excited about dragging it up I just grabbed the wrong end and started running.

Jonas and longtime Grays Harbor Sailor Shane joking around on the foredeck.

Q: What’s your next adventure?

Right now I really have this tall ship wind in me. Until that dies out and I do something else, I’m going to boat jump. I’d like to get into hauling cargo [by sail].
Q: You’ve been aboard since April. What do you think about your time on HC so far? 

It’s been really cool. It’s been up and down, a lot of struggle in the beginning with the engine problems [HC was docked with a mechanical issue in May that took 12 days to resolve, read more about the need for Project Overhaul]. I’ve had some amazing times here. I’ve had a really amazing opportunity to learn. I really have had to step up and intensify my learning curve here, which has been really great. I’ve had the opportunity and the space to do so. And I’ve really gotten support all the way through doing that, that has been the best thing. I’ve learned a ton here.

Q: When people ask you, what will you say about Hawaiian Chieftain?

That they definitely should get here. Help make her the best ship in the world. It’s a really good experience, good people, and that it has a very promising future right now. I mean, I have her tattooed here [shows wrist].