Dianne Leggatt, supported by Rob Mazza, described the history of the Swedish battleship "Vasa". A military showpiece, it nevertheless broached and sank on its maiden voyage, a scant 1300 metres from its launching point. About 20 sailors died on the ship, and many of the others were rescued by the flotilla of smaller craft celebrating the launch.
A recovery effort later in the 1600s retrieved the valuable brass cannons that sank with the Vasa, after which she sat on the bottom of Stockholm harbour for more than three centuries. The precise location of the wreck was forgotten until it was discovered in 1956.
The discovery of the ship revealed that it was in magnificent condition, preserved by dark, cold water of a chemistry that prevented the wood being consumed by parasites. While the wood survived well, all the iron that had fastened the parts of the hull was long gone through corrosion.
An ambitious recovery and restoration was begun, and indeed still continues today. While the Vasa can be seen in the Vasa Museum, its planks are gradually decaying through acidification. Eventually -- not soon -- the Vasa will lose much of its remaining innate structural integrity and efforts are proceeding to mitigate its decline.
The Incredible Story of Sweden's Vasa Warship
Joshua Hanlon explains how the pride of Sweden's 17th century fleet sank less than an hour after it set sail in this well-shot video.
Gorgeous Decay: The Second Death of the Swedish Warship Vasa
An article describing the preservation challenges facing the Vasa
Jennefer Laidley & Gene Desfor used a set of rarely seen lantern slides from the early decades of the 20th century as well as recent images to tell of the dramatic reshaping of the waterfront in Toronto. The topic was particularly interesting to the Toronto Shellbacks Club, who spend so much of their time sailing in these waters.
The presentation drew on "Shaping Toronto's Waterfront", a book edited by Desfor and Laidley, available here:
Beverley Darville, RCYC curator and archivist, gave the Shellbackss Club A Brief History of the RCYC from the beginning to the present day and its place in the sailing world. She provided many interesting stories and brought along interesting artefacts from the RCYC archives.
Much RCYC history can be found on the club's web site: https://rcyc.ca/staging-area/NEW/about/History/heritagercyc.ca/staging-area/NEW/about/History/heritage
Jodi Munden spoke to the Shellbacks about her experiences in the blind fleet racing world. She offered a view of sailing not well known to sailors in the sighted world, describing the various rankings of blind sailors, the technical considerations, and the development of blind fleet racing in Canada and abroad.
Bryan Gooderham, sailor extraordinaire, philanthropist, long-time contributor to the sport of sailing, speaks about 100 Years of Sailing on Lake Ontario with the Gooderham family.
Danielle Doggett, Managing Director of Sailcargo Inc. shared her experiences building the tall ship, Ceiba. Danielle initially trained on the tall ship St. Lawrence II, and has begun the Ceiba project as a proof of concept for environmentally conscious shipping as response to today's commercial shipping.
The Ceiba story, and Sailcargo's mission, can be seen at:
Sally & Noel Lien regaled the Shellbacks with their adventures from Glasgow, the River Shannon, and along the west coast of Scotland; Dianne Leggatt followed with tales of Edinburgh after she left them at Oban.
Ron Mazza spoke to the Shellbacks Club on the history of the 6-Metre racing sailboat in Canada, from the early boats arriving in Canada in the 1930s to the recent Worlds Championship raced in Vancouver in 2017. Woven through the narrative was the personal and family history of the Mazza family's own boat Kisita, from the time Ron's father brought it into the family, through its history of owners and restorations, to racing it in the Worlds.
Bruce Kemp spoke to the Shellbacks Club about the 1913 weather bomb, the "extra-tropical hurricane" that devastated the Great Lakes, sinking ships and killing hundreds of mariners.
Bruce related a selection of the fascinating tales of that storm, his reconstruction of events, and his interviews with those recalling the events of the time. These make a selection of the materials in his 2017 book "Weather Bomb 1913: Life and Death on the Great Lakes".
Filmmaker Peter Rowe presented one of the "Angry Planet" films he produced, on the topic of waterspouts. Filming was done in Florida, where waterspouts appear off the Florida keys.
Shellbacks also heard the account of a sailor who was actually involved in a waterspout, and lived to tell the tale. At the tables, others chatted on their own experiences with waterspout sightings.
The Shellbacks Club will make occasional posts on this blog. If you want something added in a blog post. let us know.