My Writings. My Thoughts.
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.
Thank you to everyone for some interesting weeks in the archipelago of Sweden’s capital!
Written by: Tine Verner Karlsen
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.
Written by: Liisa Randmaa
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
And as you can see, the site plan is really coming along!
Written by: Tasha Andersen
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.
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.
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
It was a quiet day on site with only 4 divers available. Work continued on the offset drawing and sketching the timbers with all divers having long dives, and all but 1 having two dives. We had just shy of 700 mins of dive time, which was a good result for a relaxed day on site. There was a lot of thesis discussion, good natured debates, and story time with Dana as he regaled us with the story of Ankor Wat’s lost wall paintings from the latest edition of antiquity.
We made good progress on the plan and the sketches, while others continued working at the Vasa museum with Fred Hocker. But of course, with the end in sight, we are beginning to feel to pressure. More drawing and sketching will continue in the following days.
We kept on drawing and sketching today. What was really exciting was the fact that Christian was able to locate the keel of our ship. After Tasha transcribed all drawings from today and included them in the “bigger picture,” it seems to assume the shape more and more.
Meanwhile during tendering, Selina and Tasha discovered Rik as a knot tying prodigy and we all had a try with different knots.
Another very positive thing today: Thijs finally fixed his car so that we can have a safe trip back to Esbjerg next Friday!
Written by: Heike Muller
Yet an other day of drawing and sketching. Since half of the team is visiting Birka today, the remaining half had a nice relaxed day on our new location to dive from. This week we can dive from a large jetty owned by some local people which has plenty of room for all our dive gear and the boat. It is also closer to the wreck site, so tending will be easier as well. Some dives are now untethered to get things started earlier in the mornings, and to give people more freedom in and around the wreck to shoot videos, draw and swim around. In the evening the Japanese delegation which had visited our site the day before came to have dinner with us. They also gave a nice presentation on the Takashima Underwater Site, which gave us some insight to the maritime archaeology in Japan.
Written by: Morrison van den Linden
The off-site team members had an eventful visit Sweden’s first town of the Viking Age. The day began with a short walking tour led by Sjohistoriska curator and maritime archaeologist Jim Hansson; he showed us remnants of the past captured in the landscape such as the old fortress walls, King’s Entrance, grave mounds, ship stone graves, inland piers, and some stone jetties which continue to be used today by local farmers.
Soon after, we were shown some finds from their underwater sit which they are presently excavating. There was an impressive collection of worked wood, unshaped amber, an assumed torch (wood, textile and tar), a whet stone, and other finds. Sjohistoriska has carried out several excavations of the cultural layers in Birka’s shallow shores over the last few years, bringing up impressive artefacts with every dive. In just 20 minutes, while we spoke with one of their divers near the diving platform, we witnessed a single diver return to surface 3 times with new artefacts!
After a long wander through the burial grounds, we visited the museum of Birka which impressed us as much as the finds. The way finds are displayed for the public is particularly and commendably archaeology-based. For example, some wooden toggles lay in a clear water-filled tank and guests may shine flashlights through the glass, perhaps encouraged to feel the way a diver might. Another section presented different cultural layers in a stratigraphic display, with reference to corresponding finds in small cases. On one wall hangs a map of the island’s geophysical data, depicting the mass of grave mounds and settlement features. Furthermore, there is a lovely balance of displays; indoor and outdoor, interactive and passive, entertaining and educational.
The Sjohistoriska excavation team are open to and encourage both questions and visitor participation. For more information, see their website: http://www.sjohistoriska.se/en/Cultural-heritage/Marine-archaeology/Visit-Us/Visit-us-at-Birka/
Written by: Tasha Andersen