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The last Conversation from an Open Prison [Aug. 16th, 2006|09:10 am]
I am making this entry on our last morning in Sweden. We have had a couple of days of sightseeing. The first port of call on Monday was the Vasa Museum, which I think was far more impressive than either of us anticipated. I had first seen the Vasa (sunk on its maiden voyage in 1628) while it was still being sprayed with chemicals to preserve the wood, and it was in a temporary museum. Now it is in a vast concrete cathedral, and the ship towers over you when you enter it. There is a museum of artefacts found in the ship, and indeed the skeletons of 15 or so of the 30 estimated dead, when it sank in a slight gust of wind just off Stockholm. (There was a dramatised trial in a sort of multimedia display, which attempted to reconstruct what did actually take place; but no one was convicted. It was obvious there was a serious design flaw: but the designer was dead, and it was the King who had ordered the extra gun deck…) They have quite recently been investigating the tiny traces of the paint which had covered the whole ship, and have put painted replicas of a few of the scores of sculptures back in place.

That was followed by a quick trip around the Nordiska Museet, next door (Swedish folk art was good, but sadly the Sami/Lapp gallery was closed), and then a walk through Ostermalm, a rather upmarket nineteenth century residential and shopping area. We ended up at a bookstore, which had rather more Enlish-language books than most British bookstores, and went to a pub, which had rather more English, German etc beers and Scottish single malts than most English pubs… On the way home we passed by the royal palace, and gawped at the blue-uniformed guards.

On Tuesday the rain looked rather threatening, but we followed up our initial plan to catch a steamer out to the Archipelago: the 40000 or so islands of all shapes and sizes between Stockholm and the Baltic. We picked one of the longer cruises, that left at 11 and got back at 5.20; and having checked that the restaurant could cope with gluten-free meals, we went on board. We had a wonderful meal in the restaurant (mostly herring, as far as I was concerned), gazing out at the seascape through the lashing rain. But by the time we had made our tenth stop (or thereabouts), at various small islands (we were basically on a bus!), the sun had come out, and by the time we were expelled from the ship (for half an hour or so) at our destination island, it was beautiful weather, and we walked through a forest by the sea for a while. For all the trip back I sat by the bow, in the sun and wind, and had a glorious view of the ships and islands. (fjm sat out for much of it, but found the wind too strong in the end.) When we got home we had another wander through town, ending up at a restaruant where we had had lunch on our first or second day: another great meal (I had elk-steak—after my obligatory herring, of course). fjm had left room for dessert….

[User Picture]From: purplecthulhu
2006-08-16 11:23 am (UTC)
Was there some great engineering misthink in the 1600s that led to both the Vasa and the Mary Rose sinking? Were there others?
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[User Picture]From: fjm
2006-09-02 01:39 am (UTC)
Have just seen this.

I don't think it was an engineering mis-think per se, but about the relationship between ship builders, patrons and grunts.

When the ship-builder died he left no plans. This was still a time where craft knowledge was a formal "Mystery" passed on by word of mouth and training. So the King (who seems to have made the mistake) did so without any of the information or knowledge that might have prevented it. The only people who *could* have stopped the situation were working craftsmen without the stature to do so. One did ty after the initial stability checks--he was in charge of ballast--and he was ignored, even though he was clear that the hull was too narrow for the height of the ship.
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[User Picture]From: a_d_medievalist
2006-08-16 08:15 pm (UTC)
I think the only similarity was that both were thought to have been top-heavy. There's about 80 years between the two, and the Mary Rose sank after a re-fit -- initially, she was a successful ship. The Vasa pretty much died on her maiden voyage, I think. IIRC, there were similar problems with a Spanish Napoleonic-era warship ...
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[User Picture]From: a_d_medievalist
2006-08-16 08:42 pm (UTC)
OTOH, I just saw this at the most recent History Carnival:

It's about the Vasa and another 17th c. Swedish ship, the Crown.
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