Posted by: Kirsten | Sunday, 28 October 2007

Vasa Matter? This Ship Isn’t for Sail…

Vasa at the Museum in StockholmWhat do you get when you cross 40 acres of northern hardwood with an overzealous Swedish king?  A humungous sailing ship that’s too top-heavy to sail, that’s what!

The story of the ill-fated voyage of the Vasa is chronicled in the Vasamuseet (Vasa Museum) in Stockholm, Sweden. While it’s not designated as a National Park, per se, if something equivalent to it was on display in the United States, you can be darned sure it’d qualify as a National Historic Site or National Monument.

In 1628, the Vasa became a charter member of the Titanic/Edmund Fitzgerald Club after sailing less than a mile on its maiden voyage and locating the bottom of the channel on its way out to sea. The ship had just completed a volley of cannon fire as part of its send-off, when a sudden gust of wind caused it to lean toward the port and take on water through the open cannon ports.  To make matters worse, the tons of rock ballast in the bottom of the ship were round in shape rather than blocks, and the ballast also rolled left, preventing the ship from righting itself.

King Gustavus II Adolphus had played a big role in the design of the Vasa, which was not only a fearsome looking fighting ship but a work of art as well.  Too bad that extra row of cannons was part of his plan, because no one involved with the ship’s design was brave enough to tell the king how unwise that might be. Raised in the early 1960s, it’s the only surviving sailing ship in the world from the 17th century. 

If your family is interested in learning more about the Vasa, the Vasamuseet’s website (and many others) are available to “show you the ropes.”  If you find yourself in Stockholm either on business or on vacation, it’s a highly recommended must-see, even if you only have a few hours to spare for sightseeing.

— Jon

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Responses

  1. http://dummidumbwit.wordpress.com/2009/02/23/8327/
    Wasa


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