Sister's Journal

Date: 23.May.1999
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Position: 59 degrees 20 minutes North, 18 degrees 04 minutes East
Beautiful Stockholm
Wow! We are glad to be here and especially glad to not be going anywhere for a few days. The skipper pushed the crew up the Swedish east coast until he sensed a mildly mutinous spirit developing and backed off a bit. Together, Captain and crew decided to slow down a bit and not worry so much about the schedule.
We came up the southeast coast of Sweden on the "inside" between the long narrow island of Orland and mainland Sweden. It is a fairly unspectacular trip until you get to the "blue coast" where you enter one of the many Swedish archipelagos. The east coast archipelagos are forested and somewhat less rocky than those on the north west coast. To some degree they resemble the San Juan islands but there are thousands of them. The Stockholm archipelago alone includes some 24000 islands. Understand that this includes some pretty small islands but none of them is so small that Sister could move it.
From the south there are two main approaches to Stockholm. The outside passage approaches from the southeast right through the southern part of the Stockholm archipelago. The inside passage approaches from the southwest through a small canal, into Lake Malaren and into Stockholm from the West.  Malaren is one of several huge lakes in Sweden. It was a major trading route and, to a large extent Stockholm was located where it is in order to protect the seaward entrance to the lake.
Some 2 million Swedes, about 25% of the country's population, live in and around Stockholm. The city is a museum rich environment. Among the many museums is the Wasa museet. In one sense it is a tribute to a major screwup. In the early 1600s the king of Sweden commissioned a warship to be built in Stockholm. She was to be named "Wasa" which was the king's family name. As the story goes she was designed to carry some 40 cannon. During construction the king decided that she needed to carry more guns. There was no room on the gun deck so the king insisted that they add another gun deck. Another gun deck was added above the original one. Construction was well under way so there were no changes made to the hull to accommodate the weight of the additional guns. You're getting the picture. Wasa was launched in the spring of 1628. She caught a breeze. She turned over and sank ... she never got out of Stockholm harbor ... it's not clear that she even got all of her sails set.
Wasa sat on the bottom of Stockholm harbor for over 300 years. Nobody remembered where she was. In the 1950s an enterprising, and persistent individual searched for her by rowing around the harbor taking core samples off the bottom until he brought up a sample of the black oak from which Wasa was built. He convinced "officials" that he had indeed found Wasa and a major, I mean major, project was launched to refloat, restore and preserve her. She was refloated in 1961 and they've been restoring her ever since. She moved into her current beautiful facility in 1991 and the research, restoration and preservation work continues.
Believe me this is one impressive ship. I don't have her statistics recorded but statistics are not the story. The story, aside from the fact that she didn't sail very well, is in the carvings, hundreds of them, that decorate the hull. Three woodcarving masters were imported to do and/or oversee the carving and there is hardly a spot on the hull, particularly near the bow and stern, that isn't adorned by an amazing carving. The work is incredibly well preserved and the ship is the perfect platform to display the carvings. In the end it is not the size, or arms carrying capacity or anything other than the wonderful artwork that makes Wasa unique. It was Andy's favorite museum of all that she's visited.
Having sung her praises I now have to tell you that the very first impression I got upon entering the museum and looking up at this amazing ship is "That sucker is top heavy". A simple, non-analytical evaluation but one borne out by history.
Beautiful Stockholm is, after all, a big city. It is crowded, noisy and we felt somewhat tense there. So, after only three days, we took Sister around the saltwater harbors for one last look and motored east then south to negotiate the south part of the Stockholm archipelago.

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