My Writings. My Thoughts.

Visit to the Nationalmuseet’s Conservation Centre in Brede

// November 12th, 2014 // No Comments » // Trips

Last week our second year maritimers got the opportunity to know more about the Nationalmuseet’s conservation department with regards to wooden archaeological finds of a maritime nature. The class visited the storage facilities, discussed how finds are handled, treated and cared for, as well as learned more about Danish and European projects which aim at managing underwater sites.

A big thank you to Kristiane Strætkvern and Anne-Marie Eriksen for taking the time to show us the conservation centre and their presentations during our visit to Brede.






ÄlgöWreck Fieldschool Day 18: Done!

// August 21st, 2014 // No Comments » // 2014 Fieldschool Älgo

Almost three weeks of a marvellous Scandinavian summer are coming to an end.

The last video was recorded at the Älgö wreck site and turbo was put on the last offset drawing effort.

Back at base camp, Hellasgården, the second crew was cleaning up and enjoying some of the site facilities, such as mini-golf and canoeing.


Björn, Tasha & Liisa in a canoe – taken with a camera wrapped in plastic. Taken by: Agustin Ortiz


Agustin’s Selfie. Taken by: Agustin Ortiz


Tine & Agustin. Taken by: Rik Lettany


Agustin lifting Morrison at the Outdoor Gym. Taken by: Liisa Randmaa.

Thank you to everyone for some interesting weeks in the archipelago of Sweden’s capital!


Team ÄlgöWreck Group Photo. Taken by: Random Hellasgården guest.


Written by: Tine Verner Karlsen

ÄlgöWreck Fieldschool Day 17: All that wood

// August 20th, 2014 // No Comments » // 2014 Fieldschool Älgo

Today was the last full dive day of our field school. Therefore, we had a full schedule with many different tasks we needed to finish. A first priority was to lift some exemplary timbers in order to draw them in full detail on land. After drawing, dendro samples were taken from these timbers to gain information regarding their date and provenance. Also, recording of the bow section was started, so the site plan shows an overview of the full extent of the site. Afterwards, different divers filled in many of the gaps missing in the site plan between the stern and bow. Although not all gaps could be filled in, the recorded information gives a good impression of the wreck we are dealing with.
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Tasha and Selina recording timbers on the pier. Taken by: Rik Lettany

Other small tasks included photographing some timbers we needed for the database, documenting the mast step and measuring the angle of the keel post. In the meanwhile, at the Hellasgarden, other parts of the database received some fine-tuning. It was busy, but we can look back on a productive day where we completed a lot of our goals for this field school. Tomorrow it will be the final stretch, and a short dive is scheduled for cleaning up the site and recording some last bits and pieces. That will be the last job before Team Älgö will return back to its base Esbjerg. See you Soon!

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The bow section becomes part of the site plan. Taken by: Rik Lettany

Written by: Rik Lettany

ÄlgöWreck Fieldschool Day 16: It’s got to be perfect! ♫

// August 19th, 2014 // No Comments » // 2014 Fieldschool Älgo

After a day in Stockholm, during which we all had a tour in Vasa museum and some of us still worked with the offset drawings of the main pump house, we had yet another day at site. We had to abandon our prepared plan already early in the morning and therefore the dives were mostly planned by “playing sudoku with names” directly at the site. The main reason for the change was that we wanted 4 people to stay at the office to get an overview of what we have and what is still to be done. During the day, a digital database of all recordings (sketches, offset drawings, photos) was made, the site plan was complemented and sketches were digitized.

The day before, Thijs was singing “Perfect” by Fairground Attraction. With the song still stuck in our heads, we understood that it is impossible to follow its suggestion today. The weather gods were generous with strong winds and occasional showers, giving us very little sun. Temperature both on the surface and underwater was low, therefore the dive time was reduced to about 100 minutes. The dives were shorter and the divers tended to come up at the same time which made takeovers slow.

We also noted that:
1) When things are used for a long time, they may break at some point. Today it was THE DAY for one of our pressure gauges and for the plug of the standby comms set.
2) When people work continuously for 3 weeks, they may get very tired. Out of sleep deprivation, the site manager of the day did not do the checks correctly and therefore the stand by diver at the time was sitting with the first stage not connected to the cylinders. We must be careful at all times!

Nevertheless, we had enough time to crack jokes and Christian was entertaining the surface crew with underwater whistling. After filling the cylinders, we came back for “breakfast for dinner” and a somewhat longer debriefing in order to use our remaining 2 days more effectively.

(The Song)

Written by: Liisa Randmaa

ÄlgöWreck Fieldschool Day 15: Open the Gates and free the Birds

// August 18th, 2014 // No Comments » // 2014 Fieldschool Älgo, Uncategorized

Today we had the enormous honor of seeing the inside of the Vasa, an honor normally only high officials or people with a very good scientific reason are presented with. The students of the Maritime Archaeology Programme of the AlgoWreck Fieldschool 2014 are very grateful for this extraordinary opportunity.

After putting on blue plastic booties to protect the wood, we were taken into the majestic ship. It was a great feeling to walk the same deck planks as sailors may have 386 years ago. Eight of us even laid down in the space between gun ports for a demonstration;  Fred Hocker, the Vasa Museum’s director of research, showed us the cramped conditions in which the soldiers would have slept on the gun deck. He also explained that there are two rules for ship ladders: Ladies with skirts go down first, come up last, and there’s only ever one person on the ladder at a time. We descended through both gun decks and the very low orlop deck down to the hold where the provisions were stored and the galley lay. Here we could also see the location of the pump chest we are recording.

Later, Fred showed us the magazine, where all the “small” finds (small enough to fit on a Euro pallet) were stored; this room is located right below the keel of the ship, cut out of the concrete of the old pontoon which has been supporting it since 1961.

Around noon Morrison, Liisa, Tine and Selina continued their recording duties.

Our Birds in the Cage: Liisa, Tine, Selina and Morrison at work in Vasa Museum. Taken by Björn Gornik.

Meanwhile, the others had a short lunch and had the time to see the whole of the amazing museum, and had a tiny bit of fun there as well :D

Agustin in the replica of the dive bell from the first salvage operations in the 1660’s. Taken by Björn Gornik

Dana is adored by the Lady of Stockholm (Vasa Museum exhibition), 1628. Taken by Björn Gornik.

Out of the Museum we walked around the city, in separate groups, some walked to the AF Chapman, a ship from the late 19. cent. that is now used as a hostel, and got a nice tour from the barmen. Others got lost and came back tired but happy with new shoes.


Morrison, Augustin, Björn, Rik, Selina, Tasha and Liisa hungrily in search for a nice restaurant. Taken by Dániel  Dalicsek.


After the cage was opened we all meet up again and eat pizza in a nice Italian restaurant.

The most of us went afterwards home but Augustin, Dana and me visited Evelin, a Fulbright Scholar at Vasa, at her awesome home, a torpedo boat in the harbor at the harbor right on the other side of the Vasa museum.

Written By: Björn Gornik

ÄlgöWreck Fieldschool Day 13: Lazy Sunday

// August 17th, 2014 // No Comments » // 2014 Fieldschool Älgo

Today was another slow start up day due to another late day yesterday.  The team today was split so I had seven divers to work with and eight tanks of air. Four group members got the day off to explore Stockholm. As we have seen in past days the smaller number of divers make the planning a bit easier, but today will be one of the last days when there will be a big group on site working.

It was a bit difficult to set the plan for day. Before the morning briefing the plan had already changed, but the benefit was that I would now have three divers in the water rather than two. This means we will get all the divers in the water and not have to stay too late on site.The only issue was being able to keep the divers separate enough so that their lines do not get tangled or get in each other’s way underwater.

Although starting a bit late and the gate to the usual harbor was closed we deployed plan B  of getting to site. Once we were on site the team managed to get everything set up and the first set of divers were in the water before 10 a.m. One of the main goals was to get more of the students doing the offset drawing in order to fill in the gaps of the master site plan.  Heike, Dana, Morrison, and Tine worked on the offset while Bjorn and Rik sketched timbers. Christian had the task of setting up the site for the cross-section drawing.


Lazy Sunday, but still functioning. Taken by: Agustin Ortiz

Two divers were un-tethered and one tethered with active communication. Special care was taken by people on the shore to watch the un-tethered divers bubbles and movement, which would indicate their condition underwater. A few lines were tangled, but nothing the divers were not able to handle.

Around noon one of the residents came over to show us some of the artifacts from the wreck which were acquired years back by a family member. When Heike came up from her dive she was in charge of documenting them with her camera. The objects included a timber and a wooden anchor. After documenting we thanked the resident and gave them back to him.

Resident Artifacts. Taken by: Agustin Ortiz

The last set of dives consisted of a group of three again so by the end of the day we completed eight dives and had close to 1000 minutes of dive time despite starting a bit late! I might have tired out  the group… oops. Good thing we have a cool tour of the Vasa and the rest of the day off to explore the city the next day and those of us working there will have a light day as well.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention that the lego diver also did his first tour of the wreck with Dana. Little diver was super excited to finally get to work on drawing as well.

Little diver's first tour. Taken by: Daniel Dalicsek

Little diver’s first tour. Taken by: Daniel Dalicsek

To be honest, I came up with the plan  of the day on the spot while on the site, since I knew for sure my plan from last night was not going to work. Luckily The plan worked out  great and progress was made. It was not such a lazy Sunday as I thought it would be… well at least not for the diving team. The group that had the day off  spent it exploring the city of Stockholm. We shall see how the last days develop so stay tuned.

Written by: Agustin Ortiz

ÄlgöWreck Fieldschool Day 14: Our Site Plan is looking Wreck-tangular

// August 16th, 2014 // No Comments » // 2014 Fieldschool Älgo

While half the team went to Birka, the other half started in Fisksatra to fill cylinders. We arrived on site a little later than expected, around 8:45am, and as its owners were still on holiday, we assembled onto the larger choice of piers for a day of offset drawing.

With six dives in total, the day finished full circle with Selina as the first diver in and last diver out. On both dives she cleaned and drew timbers to the offset plan, though spent most time on the former since parts of the wreck are still fairly covered from view.

In the middle of the day our professor Thijs, who was diving un-tethered, gave the tenders on the pier a bit of a shock when his buoy disappeared and popped up a few meters elsewhere. Apparently he was making one of his infamous u-turns, but underwater!

Around this time, Agustin was making sketches to scale, and reported to surface:

Agustin – “Agustin to surface.”
Tasha – “Yes, Agustin, this is surface”
Agustin – ” Something big… and red… just messed up my visibility.”

Something big and red... Taken by: Agustin Ortiz

Something big and red… Taken by: Agustin Ortiz

Rik gave tags to timbers missing numbers and removed tags from those with multiple numbers. He also untangled the orientation line we established in the first week and beat his own bottom time record.

Ultimate multi-tasking; supervising, tending, and resting

Ultimate multi-tasking; supervising, tending, and resting. Taken by Liisa Randmaa

Above water, Liisa and Tasha went through pulling their rain jackets on and off, trying to escape the erratic pattern of sunshine and rain showers.

Our Site Plan so far

Our Site Plan so far. Taken by Liisa Randmaa

And as you can see, the site plan is really coming along!


Written by: Tasha Andersen

ÄlgöWreck Fieldschool Day 12: Mingling work and sleep

// August 16th, 2014 // No Comments » // 2014 Fieldschool Älgo

While a group of four was again working at Vasa, others had a productive day on site with 8 dives. Most of these were spent on drawing offset for the site plan and sketching timbers, but the last was used to lay a parallel baseline 2m north of the existing baseline. As it appears, the wreck extends far beyond our expectations, therefore the reference system should be updated accordingly.


The maritime archaeologists’ working area at Vasa Museum. Photo by: Heike Müller

Today’s divers were independent, 100% reliable and I can only be thankful that they shared their knowledge with their non-diver site manager. Same applies to the surface crew, whose members were efficient while getting divers ready to dive and patient while passing time with holding the rope. In fact, people have become very good at finding different solutions for taking a comfortable nap in any weather. The fact that we have time to fall asleep on site only shows that we are quite effective working as a group by now. We have also discovered, that working with 6-7 people on site is far more practical than with 12, therefore I believe, that some changes for the next week (some free days!?) will be made.


Sleeping – in stand by mode. Photo by: Liisa Randmaa


Sleeping – rainy freetime mode. Photo by: Liisa Randmaa

The day ended in a bit of a surprising way, as we somehow managed to cancel all dinner plans (including shopping for 2 days) and two of us had to make a half an hour drive back to Stockholm. Nevertheless, a late but delicious meal was prepared by Heike and Rik, which we all enjoyed before drifting to bed.

Written by: Liisa Randmaa