Saturday, 24 November 2012

Carl Larsson's watercolor "Required reading"

Carl Larsson's watercolor "Required reading" (1898)

This beautiful watercolor by Carl Larsson was in 1902 in the possession of baron R.F. von Willebrand in Helsinki. Today the "Required reading" is one of the treasures of the Finnish National Gallery.
The boy in the picture is Larsson's own son Pontus, who both had to pose and do the summer reading ...

Friday, 23 November 2012

Gulls in search of Scandinavian maritime delicacies

This afternoon gulls were active in the air above the Sound. I watched them for a while, but did not see any of them catch anything edible. Still one hopes that the gulls had some luck in their search for maritime delicacies today.

A renaissance for Swedish iron ore exports - and ore carriers?

Sweden has for centuries been one Europe´s most important iron ore exporters. Recently, PM Fredrik Reinfeldt has indicated that , due to the historically high price level, exports of iron ore could be Sweden´s answer to Norway´s oil exports. 

There are plans to re-open the Grängesberg iron ore mine in Bergslagen in Central Sweden, where mining activity had continued since the 15th century until closure in 1990. 

A successful re-opening of mining activities will have to be accompanied by improved infrastructure for port facilities, and perhaps the development of more effective ore carriers. 

A look at what happened about a hundred years ago might be of interest: 

The first two decades of the 20th century were a very profitable time for iron ore exports from Grängesberg, when new types of specialized vessels for transportation of ore were introduced.

The Dutch owned ore cargo steamer, shown below, was built by William Doxford & Sons in Sunderland in 1903. The 6799 tonnes "Grängesberg" was a so called turret deck ship, with an unusual hull, which made it particularly suited to the carriage of ores.

The Dutch owned steamer "Grängesberg" was mainly used for transporting iron ore from Sweden to Rotterdam.
The "Blötberg" was another Dutch owned turret steam used on the Oxelösund  - Rotterdam route in the early 20th century.

In side profile, turret deck ships resembled other merchant vessels with flush decks or with small forecastles and poop decks.[6] In cross-section the differences between turret deck vessels and more conventional ships are apparent. There was no gunwale; the vertical side of a turret ship curves inward above the load line to a horizontal plane. This flat area was known as the harbour deck (Hamndäck in the picture). 
(source: wikipedia)
However, in the early 1920s the turret deck steamers had already lost their popularity in the ore shipping trade. This was probably mainly due to the capsizing of the turret steamer "Oxelösund" in 1916. Particularly, when loaded with other cargo than ore, the turret ships were considered to have stability problems. 

The "Sir Ernest Cassel" - named after the the British merchant banker and grandfather of Edwina Mountbatten, who owned Grängesberg mine at the turn of the century - was another type of ore steamer popular in the first decades of the 20th century. 

The "Sir Ernest Cassel", designed by the Swedish ship designer J. Johnson, and built by Messrs R. &  W.  Hawthorn,  Leslie & Co. in Hebburn on Tyne, was equipped with 12 electric cranes. 

The cranes were used for speedy loading of the ore. 
The loading system seen from another angle. 
However, in the early 1920's also this type of ore freighters lost their popularity. They were considered to be excellent for transporting ore, but less less so for carrying other, less heavy cargo. In 1920 the Grängesberg mining company had placed orders for 18 new ore carriers, but none of them was of the "Sir Earnest Cassel" type. 

The end of the once so proud ore carrier was sad. On April 16, 1940 the German armed merchant cruiser Thor intercepted the "Sir Earnest Cassel", which then was sunk by demolition charges. The crew was taken aboard the German ship. 

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Chimney greeting moon

The photo above I shot in Viken (northwestern Scania) this afternoon at twenty past four. (Days are short here in northern Europe this time of the year).

While the chimney greeted the moon, the sun was setting over Danish Zealand on the other side of the Sound:


I could not resist adding a few of today's other Viken pictures:

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

A portrait of a young man by Botticelli in the Royal Palace in Stockholm

This beautiful portrait of a young florentine man by Sandro Botticelli was featured in an 1902 issue of the Swedish culture magazine "Ord och Bild". It was reported to belong to His Majesty's (Oscar II) art collection in the Royal Palace in Stockholm. Could it be a self portrait? Does anybody know where it is now?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

A comeback for rotor ships?

The picture above, taken in Potsdam in 1925, shows the world's first rotor ship - also called Flettner ship after its inventor, German engineer Anton Flettner. (Flettner applied for a patent for his invention in 1922).

In a Flettner ship the rotorsails take advantage of the Magnus effect - a force acting on a spinning body in a moving airstream - for propulsion. 

The Buckau
(image by wikipedia)
In 1924, Flettner's rotors were used on a larger ship, the Buckau:

The vessel was a refitted schooner which carried two cylinders (or rotors) about 15 metres (50 ft) high, and 3 metres (10 ft) in diameter, driven by an electric propulsion system of 50 hp (37 kW) power. In 1926, a larger ship with three rotors, the Barbara, was built by the shipyard A.G. Weser in Bremen.
Following completion of its trials, the Buckau set out on her first voyage in February 1925, from Danzig to Scotland across the North Sea. The rotors did not give the slightest cause for concern in even the stormiest weather, and the rotor ship could tack (sail into the wind) at 20-30 degrees, while the vessel with its original sail rig could not tack closer than 45 degrees to the wind.
On 31 March 1926, the Buckau, now renamed Baden Baden after the German spa town, sailed to New York via South America, arriving in New York harbor on 9 May.
It was found at the time that the rotor system could not compete economically with the diesel engines that were also being developed for ships in this era. Flettner turned his attention to other projects and the rotors were dismantled. Baden Baden was destroyed in a Caribbean storm in 1931. Due to the rising cost of fossil fuels, as well as environmental concerns, there has been renewed interest in the concept in the later 20th century, starting with Jacques-Yves Cousteau's Alcyone in 1983.

More recently Wärtsilä, the Finnish company marine engine company, has unveiled a design for a large cruise ferry that uses LNG to power the main engines and Flettner rotors using wind for additional power. On June 6 this year, Wärtsilä's head of Concept Design, Ilkka Rytkölä, showed this picture of the design in a presentation he gave at the Centrum Balticum:

Wärtsilä's futuristic ferry design.
A couple of years ago, there was some speculation about Finnish ferry operator Viking Line using Wärtsilä's concept for their new cruise ferry. However, Viking Line seems to have opted for a more conventional solution.

The German E-ship, using rotors in the rear was  launched in 2008.
(image by wikipedia)
The University of Flensburg in Germany has developed this rotor-driven catamaran:

The University of Flensburg's Flettner catamaran.
(image by wikipedia)
 However, the world's first first rotor-driven sailing boat - with the wind powering the wing rotors - was constructed by the Finnish engineer V.S. Savonius already in the 1920s. (Flettner's rotors were driven by engines).The photo below shows Savonius on board his boat in Finland's southern archipelago in the summer of 1925. 

Finnish engineer V.S. Savonius on board his rotor-driven sailing boat. (1925)

Rotor-driven ships and boats appear to have made a come-back in the beginning of the 21st century. Only time will tell whether they will play a serious role in the future.

Added on April 3, 2017:

It seems that rotor technology indeed is making a come back: 

Finnish cleantech firm Norsepower claims its rotor sail technology will help the shipping industry become environmentally friendlier. This week the company announced that a pair of its tall, cylindrical sails will be installed for long-term trials on a Maersk Tankers vessel in 2018.

More information here.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Sunset over Zealand

Today we again had a nice sunset over Helsingør and Zealand:

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Shakespear's birthplace in the 1880s

As you can see from these pictures, not much have changed since the 1880s in Shakespear's birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon. However, the house looked perhaps to be in a slightly better shape a little more than a century ago. Hopefully the Shakespear Birthplace Trust will find the means to repair some of the water damage that is visible under the eaves ...

A photo from the 1880s.
Contemporary photo (wikipedia 2007)