Saturday, 23 November 2013

The brand new bulk carrier Sainty Vanguard in the Sound this afternoon

The Hong Kong registered bulk carrier Sainty Vanguard this afternoon entered Øresund from the north. The brand new (2013) 229 m x 32 m ship, specializing in agricultural commodities transports, is on its way from Dunkerque to Ust-Luga.

The Sainty Vanguard approaching Helsingborg/Helsingør this afternoon. If you
look closely, you can see a mirage effect, particularly at the bow.

The Sainty Vanguard and sea birds, mostly cormorants at the Hittarp reef.

The Sainty Vanguard, with the Danish Zealand coast in the background.

A profile image of the Sainty Vanguard.

The Royal Danish Navy's patrol vessel Rota on duty in Øresund

The Royal Danish Navy's Diana class patrol vessel Rota (P525) was this afternoon going northwards in the Sound. Rota, commissioned in 2009, is the newest of six patrol vessels in its class.

The 43 m x 8.2 m ship was built by Faaborg Værft A/S, in cooperation with Swedish Kockums.

Patrol vessel Rota in Øresund this afternoon.

Clouds over Øresund

This afternoon some rather distinctive clouds dominated the sky above Øresund, Helsingborg and Kronborg castle:


Øresund morning pictures

A nice morning today in the Øresund region:

The view from my balcony at about 7.30 a.m.

Twenty minutes later. You can see the Oslo - Copenhagen cruise ferry in
the background.

At about 8.30 a.m. the Norwegian yacht Springflo (15 m x 6 m) was sailing
northwards. Here speed was close to 10 kn - not bad, considering that there was almost no wind.

The Danish trawler Ruth (68.8 m x 13.8 m) was also going northwards in the Sound.

Ruth and the small cargo ship Jomi (88 m x 13 m) met close to Hittarp. Jomi is on
its way to Gdansk.

Odessa - an "Italian" port city

The port of Odessa. (Photo published in the Swedish magazine Allers Familj Journal in 1905)

The Black Sea port city of Odessa - now the third largest city in Ukraine - has a fascinating history, much of which has for various reasons remained unknown for decades. The city, founded by a decree of Empress Catherine the Great in 1794, was a major international free port (1819 - 1858) and the fourth largest city in Imperial Russia in the 19th century. In the 20th century it was the most important port of trade in the Soviet Union and a Soviet naval base.

"Odessa" ,anonymous engraver,published by James S. Virtue about 1842.

What is not widely known, is the major role Italians played in the economic and cultural development of Odessa.

In his book Odessa: Genius and Death in a City of Dreams, professor Charles King (Georgetown University) describes the Italian influence in Odessa in the early 19th century:

As the owners of the major trading houses and with strong family and business connections with the Mediterranean, Italians dominated city life, a recapitulation of their role when Genoese and Venetian trading centers ringed the Black Sea. Italian became the city's lingua franca, lilting through the commercial exchange and wafting up from the docklands. Street signs—another innovation of Richelieu's tenure—were written in both Italian and Russian, a practice that lasted well beyond his days in office. An eight-hundred-seat opera house, established by Richelieu only three years before the plague and designed by Jean-François Thomas de Thomon, one of the great shapers of St. Petersburg, featured a visiting Italian company performing a standard repertoire of classics. The company offered an early-nineteenth-century version of surtitles: a Russian actor would helpfully summarize the libretto for any audience members who happened not to speak Italian. Even the city's ubiquitous carters and petty traders, or chumaks, were known to break into choruses of "La donna è mobile"—that is, unless they were singing their own ditties about the glories of the city at the end of the drover trails...

For those who would like to explore even in more detail the role played by the Italians in Odessa,
Dr. Anna Makolkin's book A History of Odessa, the Last Italian Black Sea Colony, should be great reading.

Here is some information from the publisher:

Italians were not just another wave of Odessa immigrants, not just another part of her multicultural mosaic, they were her founders and colonizers of the region.

The study reconstructs the Italian protohistory of Odessa, founded in 1794 by the immigrants from Genoa and Naples, Venice and Palermo. For the first time and upon the lengthy and elaborate archival research in Italy and Ukraine, the Odessa of Alexander Pushkin and Anna Akhmatova, battleship Potemkin and Eisenstein, Babel and Kandinsky enters European historiography as a world of the dynasties of De Ribas and Frapoliies, Rossies and Bubbas, Bernadazzies and Riznich, Molinaries, Iorini et al.. Having revised the narratives of the tzarist, Soviet, pre- perestroika and post- Communist past, the monograph not only reclaims the first Italian settlers, but examines the process of forging Europeanness, a cultural identity, beyond the traditional East and West, nation and people. European culture has been notably influenced by Italian civilization, and Odessa is one of the important manifestations of this phenomenon

Here is what University of Toronto professor (emeritus) Michael Ukas says about Makolkin's book:

“Dr. Anna Makolkin’s monograph is a carefully researched and accurate account of the foundation of the port city of Odessa(1794), and tells of the part, played by the Italian immigrants in this historical event which lead to the successful exploration of the Black Sea frontier - Novorossiia/New Russia. The materials about this obscure migration have been scattered in archives of Italy and Ukraine, and most 19th and 20th century historians, intimidated by radical nationalism, politics and geopolitics of Europe, and post-colonial trends did not have sufficient courage to address the topic. Italians were not just another wave of Odessa immigrants, not just another part of her multicultural mosaic, they were her founders and colonizers of the region. None of the so far available historiographical materials have ever suggested this, and it is the main accomplishment of Dr. Anna Makolkin and her timely, elaborate, well-researched and erudite monograph.--

Historians of music and theater will be interested in Odessa’s Italian operatic tradition, the legacy of Rossini and Cimarosa, performances of Tati and Brambilla, Fabbri and Guerini, Salvini and Duse, Ristori and Di Grasso and the lasting impact of Italian music on the cultural ethos of Odessa. The Italianness has forever shaped the Odesseans, imparting the aesthetic sensibility, the elegance, taste in music, attitude to life, their wit and specific speech.”

Friday, 22 November 2013

Polish tug Kronos towing a barge in Øresund

It appears that somebody in the Netherlands has bought a barge in Poland, or possibly in Russia. At least the Polish tugboat Kronos (28.6 m x 8.4 m) is on its way to Dordrecht, towing this barge, having visited the ports of St. Petersburg and Swinoujscie earlier this month.

Tugboat Kronos towing a barge in the Sound.

Kronos entered service already in 1966.

The Musikantenstadl - A wonderful German language popular folk music television program

The Viennese born singer and entertainer has since 2006 hosted the Musikantenstadl.

When it comes to music, I'm pretty much a "omnivore", although I nowadays mainly listen to classical music and opera. One of may favourite televised music entertainment programs outside of the classical genre is the German language popular folk music show Musikantenstadl, broadcast live on three European TV channels, ORF1, Das Erste (ARD) and SRF1.

The Musikantenstadl owes much of its popularity to its presenter, the Viennese-born
singer/entertainer Andy Borg, who has hosted the show since 2006. Borg's good natured down-to-earth style clearly makes both live and television audiences feel at home.

The latest Musikantenstadl, broadcast live from the St. Jakobshalle in Basel on November 16, was a joy to watch. Among the many talented popular musicians and other guests, my own favourites were the three young Swiss sisters Geschwister Weber and the precision drum corps Top Secret Secret Drum Corps from Basel.

Geschwister Weber from the Swiss canton Basel-Landschaft.
Sandra Weber

The Top Secret Drum Corps from Basel - one of the best precision drum corps
in the world.

Carlo Brunner (on the left) and his Superländlerkapelle were one of the bands
appearing at the Musikantenstadl in Basel.

The lively audience enjoying the evening in Basel.

The ski lodge set with tables on the floor.

 Presenter Andy Borg

Thursday, 21 November 2013

No bananas today on reefer Frio Forwin

It is always nice to see a reefer in the Sound. The 134 m x 18 m Frio Forwin, which flies the Cyprus flag, was this morning returning from St. Petersburg, where it must have unloaded its load of bananas and other fruits.  
Reefer Frio Forwin in Øresund this morning.
No bananas today on Frio Forwin.
The sight of the reefer made me think of this familiar melody from my early youth years ...

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Royal Danish Navy's pollution control vessel Gunnar Thorson in Øresund

In Denmark the Ministry of Defense, and under it the Admiral Danish Fleet (Royal Danish Navy), is the contingency organization for combating pollution of the sea caused by oil and other harmful substances. Gunnar Thorson - here seen going northwards in Øresund this afternoon - is one of the Danish Navy's two Gunnar Thorson class pollution control  vessels. The 56 m x 12.3 m ship, which entered service in 1981, is based in Frederikshavn.

The Royal Danish Navy's pollution control vessel Gunnar Thorson passing Hittarp
in the Sound this afternoon.

The ship, built by Ørskov Christensen Stålskibsværft A/S in 1981, has
a complement of 16.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Life along the canal - A collection of late 19th century photographs of the Göta canal and the Dalsland canal

Balthazar von Platen founded the Motala Verkstad company in 1822 in order to manufacture the large quantity of iron parts, tools, locks, and bridges that were needed during the construction of Göta Canal. The company, which still exists, was conveniently located by the canal.

The idea to build a canal connecting Sweden's Baltic coast with the big lakes and the west coast had been discussed already in the 16 century. One important reason for wanting to build a canal through Sweden was the wish to avoid the rather expensive Danish Sound toll that every ship sailing through the Øresund strait was required to pay.

However, it was not before the early 19th century that the plans to build a canal were realized. The man who finally was able to get official support for the Göta canal project was Balthazar von Platen, who had visited and was inspired by the canals that had been constructed in England and France.

Von Platen invited the British engineer Thomas Telford (the constructor of the Caledonian canal in Scotland) to plan the new canal, the building of which began in 1810. The 190 km long canal, of which 54 miles (87 km) were dug or blasted, was inaugurated in 1832. Together with the previously built Trollhätte canal it formed the backbone of a 614 km long waterway linking Göteborg on the west coast with Söderköping on the east coast.

(image wiki)

During the early phase of industrialisation the Göta canal played an important role in fulfilling the transportation needs of Swedish industries. However, it did not take long before the fast developing railway network took over more and more of the transports.

The fact that the canal (7 - 14 m wide, with a max. depth of 3 m) could only accommodate ships with a maximum length of 32 m and a cargo capacity of max. 200 DWT was a major drawback. And the Danish Sound toll - the original reason for building the canal - was abolished in 1857.

As late as in the early 1920s there were plans to expand the Göta canal and other Swedish canals. However, not much happened, and the canals - particularly the Göta canal - are nowadays major tourist attractions, mainly used by recreational and tourist boats.

The Dalsland canal, inaugurated in 1868, is another well-known Swedish canal, which enables ships to sail between Lake Vänern and central parts of the Dalsland and southwestern Värmland lake districts. Only 12 km out of the 250 km stretch of the canal system had to be dug, as the builders could make good use of the numerous lakes which span this area.

Below is a small collection of photographs from the late 1890s, showing sceneries and marine traffic along the Göta canal, the Trollhätte canal (which is considered to be part of the Göta canal) and the Dalsland canal.

A canal scenery in Motala.

The canal view at the Motala Verkstad company was rather idyllic still in the 1890s.

The passenger steamer Pallas, here shown at the Motala lock, was built by Motala Verkstad
in 1885,mainly in order to transport Finns emigrating to the US to Gothenburg, where they boarded ocean liners taking them to America.

The S/s Pallas, photographed in front of Vadstena castle.

A lock at Söderköping at the eastern end of the canal.

A man operating the lock in Mariehof.

The bridge at Venneberga.
The Göta Canal Steamship Company steamer Wadstena. (Photo probably from the end of the 1910s.)

The S/s Wilhelm Tham, built in 1912 by Motala Verkstad, is still in use on the
Stockholm - Gothenburg route.

The Göta Canal Steamship Company cargo ship S/s Tyra.

The locks at Mem, in the eastern end of the canal.

A steamer approaching the lock at Norsholm.
The port of Vänersborg.

The port of Hjo.
The port and railways station at Töreboda.

Locks at Trollhättan.

The Trollhättan rapids. 

The locks at Håverud (Dalsland canal).

The Håverud aqueduct is still today a major tourist attraction.

The lock at Långed (Dalsland canal).

A view of the Bengtsfors lock at the Dalsland canal.

A ship entering the Lennartsfors lock of the Dalsland canal.
In case you are interested in a trip on the canal, the Göta Canal Steamship Company is a good place to start.