On Sunday August 10th, 1628, the Vasa set sail on her maiden voyage. She was the gleaming new pride and joy of the Swedish Navy, and three years of construction had brought her to this point. The crowds cheered as she left her moorings below the Royal Castle in Stockholm.
But just 1400 yards later, the Vasa’s naval career was over. As the wind caught the sails of the top-heavy warship, she began to heel (lean sideways). Evermore she heeled, until water began to pour in through her open gunports. At this point, the Vasa began the next stage of her journey. To the bottom of Stockholm Harbour.
Several attempts were made to recover the ship, which now rested 100 feet below the surface of the sea, but all ended in failure. In 1664 most of the Vasa’s cannons were recovered, but the ship herself was abandoned, her exact location eventually forgotten.
Normally, the Vasa would have slowly rotted away, eaten by shipworm. But this tiny marine clam can’t survive in the Baltic, the cold waters of which contain less salt than most other seas. So it was that the Vasa’s timbers endured, to be rediscovered in 1956.
But salvaging the ship was still going to be an immensely difficult task. Finally, plans were made to hoist the Vasa from her watery grave. But would they succeed? I’m sure there were a great many nervous people looking on when, on April 24th, 1961, the Vasa re-emerged into the daylight. Yet she was so well preserved that by May 4th she was floating on her own, and able to be towed to a nearby dry dock. After a voyage that had begun 333 years earlier, the Vasa had finally made port.
For the next 27 years, the Vasa remained in her temporary lodgings, while the slow process of preserving her for the future was undertaken. Then, in December 1988, she made her final Journey, towed to her purpose-built home in the centre of Stockholm.
This post was inspired by this week’s Cee’s Which Way Challenge.
While you’re marvelling at the preservation of the Vasa, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?
And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!