Greetings once again from sunny, chilly Stockholm.
Today’s big event was a trip to the Vasa Museum, identified as an attraction by Bex and highly recommended also by my friend John Heer. The Vasa Museum contains what is undoubtedly the largest 17th century warship still in existence. This thing is preserved beautifully, containing approximately 98% of her original materials.
How could a giant warship from 1628 be so utterly preserved almost 400 years later? The answer is, she sank, and sank fast, into the brackish, muddy waters of Stockholm harbor. There, covered in mud, she sat for well over 300 years, mostly forgotten, until she was re-discovered in the 1950’s, and raised in the 1960’s. Optimal environmental conditions preserved this ship underwater for three centuries. She now sits in a museum built just for her, available for view. And she’s a beauty.
Interestingly, this impressive ship sailed only once. She was improperly designed, and while quite impressive to the eye, was overly narrow and top heavy. She sailed about 1400 meters before listing heavily to one side, taking water in through her lower cannon ports (she had two gun decks), and sinking quickly. That’s right folks, after thousands of person hours of construction over a two year period, she didn’t even make it 2 kilometers, and then sunk like a very beautiful and expensive stone into the harbor. 30 of her crew perished with her, and there was no way in 1628 to recover a ship of this enormous size. Her masts were cut off (three of them were still sticking out of the water), her cannons were recovered by divers in the 1670’s, and over time her specific whereabouts were forgotten.
Recovery began after she was rediscovered in the late 1950’s, and continued into the 1960’s. Astonishingly 15 of the 30 missing crew were also recovered from the wreck site, including one chap who was preserved so well that his brain was still in his skull.
Once recovered, the ship was painstakingly restored. The stern of the Vasa is encrusted with hundreds of beautiful, carved wooden sculptures, and these had over time fallen away due to the rusting of the iron nails that had been used to fasten them on.
Restoration thus required that all of the recovered pieces of the ship be nailed and otherwise fastened back together, and that all of the wooden bits, preserved in water for centuries, must be treated so as not to decompose immediately once exposed to air.
Additionally, all of the rigging and the sails were restored. This warship uses in excess of 4 kilometers of rigging, over 1200 square meters of sail, and the oak from approximately 1000 trees. I learned a lot about this ship today, and if you want to know more, check it out online at http://www.vasamuseet.se/en/The-Ship/. I don’t think there is anywhere else on earth where you can see a ship of this size and age in this type of condition.
Afterward, we took a lovely walk through the park adjacent to the museum. This was a nice walk, and of interest for two reasons.
2) We met and chatted briefly with a guy who looked and sounded like a Swedish Andy Warhol. He needed to borrow our phone, as he had locked himself out of his home on millionaire island. Or at least that was his cover story; maybe Andy Warhol lives, and this conversation was part of a performance art piece.
By the way, happy Cinco de Mayo to you guys! We celebrated by having taco night here at Casa de Team Awesome: Stockholm. This meal also included some Czechoslovakian beer; Dos Equis is too hard to find here.
p.s. All Vasa facts are guaranteed to be accurate, or your money back.
p.p.s. We sure do miss Lincoln and Penny.