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November 13, 2009

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Did you know? About the Swedish Warship Wasa…

WasaA great Swedish king who ruled Scandinavia in the early 17th century had to have a fleet of warships to patrol the Baltic and ordered 4 new galleons. One was to be the royal mighty battle galleon called Vasa (also called Wasa), greater than any ship ever built at that time. The king himself dictated the Vasa’s measurements and no one dared argue against him. It was of the type we call skeleton-build, same build as the Sovereign of the Seas.

The Vasa sank within one nautical mile of the start of her maiden voyage in 1628 before she even left the Stockholm archipelago. Anders Franzén had already found some 17th century wooden ships, as his hobby and obsession was looking for old wrecks. He was bent on finding Vasa and did. Franzén found her in 1956. Although she is now housed on public exhibition, more than 30 years after she was initially brought up, and 95% of her is original parts, some reconstruction work remains to be done.

This ship was not excavated first and then lifted out of the water, but the reverse. She was lifted up from her claybed and moved in several steps to shallower locations until she could be excavated in “dry-dock.” This was possible only because the hull was in good condition. The Baltic Sea is brackish water. It does not have a wood destroying organism called Teredo navalis which is found in the oceans. Therefore timbers long sunken in the Baltic are well preserved.

Recovery and restoration techniques done for the Wasa were both innovative and at a scale never before attempted. At the time, it took decades of chemical treatment and slow environmental exposure to have the resultant restored ship. 90% of all materials in the entire ship and associated displays are original.

More Model Tall Ships / Traditional Sailing Ships

Did you Know? About the Bluenose II, Canada’s National Ship…

Bluenose IIBluenose II is known as Nova Scotia’s sailing ambassador. She is a replica of the famous schooner Bluenose (c. 1921-46). She is 43.5 metres long and was launched from the Lunenburg shipyard of Smith and Rhuland in July, 1963. The speed of Bluenose II need not be compared to the original schooner, as she was not built to challenge the triumphs of her namesake, but to honour them.

Like a ghost ship, in 1963 Bluenose returned. A replica schooner endorsed by Angus Walters and William Roué, Bluenose II was built in Lunenburg by Smith & Rhuland in yet another marketing venture. This time it was financed by Oland Brewery, built specifically to advertise their productswhile at the same time promoting Nova Scotia’s maritime heritage, tourist appeal and business potential. In 1971 the schooner was gifted to the Government of Nova Scotia. In the years since then its role as floating ambassador for the province has been consistent. Looking back, not much has really changed in the eighty-plus years since Bluenose was launched in 1921. Both vessels have always represented a fixed time, place and way of lifespecifically, the great Age of Sail in Nova Scotia and the traditional seafaring existence of a maritime people. Both vessels have also been marketed and promoted by corporate interests. The Halifax Herald, Oland Brewery, the Government of Nova Scotia for purposes far beyond the primary role of the first Bluenose as a gritty little salt-bank schooner.

It is the sailboat depicted on Canada’s .10 coin

More Model Yachts & Historic Sailing Ships

Did you know? About the Chris-Craft Cobra and the Legend of the All American Speedboat…

CobraThe legend of Chris-Craft began in 1884, when Christopher Columbus Smith began the Smith Boat House on the St Clair River in Algonac, Michigan, to manufacture small duck boats and power launches. Later, the company was extended to Chris Smith and Sons Boat Co. Many of his larger runabouts were used as taxis; transporting guess on the river front to resorts, or to various sightseeing attractions. In the twenty’s, mostly runabouts were produced, but with the introduction of his speed boats, Chris Smith’s fame took off.

Chris-Craft was the largest producer of mahogany boats in the country. In one year alone, one million feet of mahogany was delivered. Truck load after truck of Philippine Mahogany would arrive at the factory daily. No wood was ever wasted either. First, the lumber was air dried; then various hull parts were laid out using templates and patterns, were cut into plugs to be cemented into the counter sunk holes of the screws. All scraps were burned in the furnace for fuel.

The decade of the thirties showed a tremendous growth in the company despites the market crash of 1929. However, in 1939, Chris Smith succumbed to an illness which had begun to affect him years before. The death of Chris Smith did not deter the growth of the company. During the Forties, especially the war years of ’42 to ’45, Chris Craft produced over 12,000 LCPR (Landing Craft Personnel Raft) for the Army. 98 other pleasure craft were also produced. During this time, the “Barrel-Back” style was introduced. With its pointed bow, and curved transom, created a sleek look took the market by storm. The post-war economic boom at Chris-Craft was felt in increasing sales and the new product lines.

Even with a management change that took place in the early eighties, Chris-Craft bounced back with sleeker designs and a greater market share. Chris Smith would have been proud. And also the legend continues…

More Model Powerboats & Other Sailing Craft

Did you Know? About the Titanic, odd facts and the people who forsaw the future…

TitanicTitanic, the ship, was the largest movable objects ever built at the time, measuring in at 883 feet long (1/6 of a mile), 92 feet wide, 46,328 tons, and 104 feet high, from keel to bridge.

Many attempts have been made to find the wreck of the Titanic, yet it wasn’t until 1985, when an expedition combining teams from IFREMER and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute discovered the famous ship. The team, led by Robert Ballard and Jean-Luis Martin, took the first photographs of the Titanic in 73 years.

Some interesting Titanic facts:

  • Titanic carried 900 tons of baggage and freight
  • Used 14,000 gallons of drinking water every 24 hours
  • 825 tons of Coal consumed per day
  • Two dogs were among the Titanic survivors!
  • Lillian Gertrud Asplund, the last American survivor of the Titanic tragedy, died in Massachusetts on May 6, 2006, at age 99.

In 1898 (14 years prior to the Titanic tragedy), Morgan Robertson wrote a novel called Futility. This fictitious novel was about the largest ship ever built hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic ocean on a cold April night. The fictional ship (named Titan) and the real ship Titanic were similar in design and their circumstances were remarkably alike. Both ships were labeled “unsinkable”.

British spiritualist, William T. Stead, wrote a tale similar to Futility. “How the Mail Steamer went down in the Mid Atlantic, by a survivor” appeared in the March, 1886 issue of Pall Mall Gazette. In this story, Stead tells of a large steamship that sinks after colliding with another ship. Many lives are lost due to lack of lifeboats. Stead wrote that, “This is exactly what might take place and what will take place, if the liners are sent to sea short of boats”. Stead was travelling to the United States at the request of President Taft to address a peace conference at Carnegie Hall on April 20, 1912. Stead sat calmly in the library reading a book as the North Atlantic sea water came rushing in as the ship he was traveling on sank. That ship was the Titanic. Stead did not survive.

William T. Stead also authored the novel From the Old World to the New. In this book, he describes the sinking of a ship in the North Atlantic after striking an iceberg. To add to the irony, the captain of the ship which picked up the survivors, was Edward J. Smith — the eventual captain of Titanic. Titanic, the ship, was the largest movable objects ever built at the time, measuring in at 883 feet long (1/6 of a mile), 92 feet wide, 46,328 tons, and 104 feet high, from keel to bridge.

More Model Ship – Cruise Liners / Ocean Liners

Go2marine is proud to carry Modern Old-World Handicrafted wooden model boats. Handicrafted models start with detailed line drawings, then scaled down for hand assembly of quality materials. These models are completely constructed, although they may require some some simple, easy assembly due to shipping with mast (or other features) folded down. From fine sailing tall ships to ocean liners to runabouts, racing yachts and canoes; there is a model to appeal to any marine affectionado.

Drakkar Viking Ship at Go2marine

Drakkar Viking Ship at Go2marine

One of the most popular model at Go2marine is the Drakkar Viking Ship. The Drake or Dragon Boat (Drakkar) is the name of the Scandinavian longboats (the dragon head, usually the ornament of the bow), sailing between 800 AD – 1050 AD. Made of oak boards laid up in clinker design.

Nothing is as symbolic of the Vikings as the longship or drakkar. Also called a dragon ship by its enemies, the drakkar was really a warship designed to carry fearless Viking warriors on their raids across Europe.

Today we have a quite clear impression of what a viking ship really is. But the vikings themselves never used the term “viking ship” about their ships. “Viking ship” is a modern term used about a whole group of different ship classes which were used in Scandinavia in the viking age (800 AD – 1050 AD) and in the next couple of centuries. We often associate the term with elegant longships with dragonheads and upright sterns and stems, and a rig with a broad square sail. Actually only a few ships were equipped with dragonheads, as they should mark the status and rank of the viking kings. The majority of the ships were more modestly decorated, optimized for sailing abilities, strength, speed and cargo capacity needed for the purpose.

Discovery of the New World

The first Europeans – the Norse, were the first foreigners to set foot in Newfoundland. Beginning in the eighth century, they burst out of their cultural homeland in Scandinavia (particularly Norway). Yet the Norse who came to Newfoundland and Labrador (in present day Canada) were not fierce raiders in search of pillage and plunder. The Norse appearance here was the final step in a relatively peaceful expansion of livestock farmers across the North Atlantic, taking in parts of the British Isles, Iceland (860 AD), Greenland (982 AD), and finally Vinland (986 AD). There is proof of a Norse habitation at L’Anse aux Meadows, in Newfoundland.

The average length of a longship was 80 feet. The largest ever excavated was over 220 feet long. Its sixty oarsmen could swiftly deliver as many as four hundred warriors to a battlefield along the coast or well inland via a river. Like most large drakkars, They were owned by a powerful king. In the last days of the Viking Age, three hundred of these longships were in the Viking fleet.

Vikings ships were rarely at the mercy of their enemies. The ships were more maneuverable, better equipped and superiorly built. They could navigate in water less than a three feet deep. In shallow water, the warriors would move to one side of the ship to tilt it so it would pass over rocks and shoals. The longships’ tapered bows and sterns enabled the Vikings to row the ships forwards and backwards without first having to turn the ships around.

The deck of a longship was completely planked over. There were no sleeping quarters below deck. Crewmen and warriors stored their personal belongings in chests on the deck. The oarsmen sat on these chests when rowing.

For more on the history of the Viking Drakkars, their explorations and lifestyle, search the internet.

Sod building replicas at L'Anse aux Meadows

Sod building replicas at L'Anse aux Meadows

Sod building replicas at L’Anse aux Meadows.

Full-scale replicas of three buildings called A, B, and C. The replicas were built a short distance away from the actual ruins in order to protect the original remains.