The Vasa Syndrome

Header photo credit: Peter Isotalo  A 1:10 scale model of Vasa’s  elaborately decorated stern.  

On August 10, 1628, The Vasa, a brand new war ship commissioned by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, set off on its maiden voyage from Stockholm. It got about a mile  into the harbor when a mild gust of wind tipped it over and sank it, killing about 30 sailors. It wasn’t salvaged until 1961. Quite a bit of the remains of the ship and much of its fittings and cargo are on display in a very popular museum in Stockholm.

The Vasa Syndrome is a term used today to describe modern institutional or business failure due to poor communication, unrealistic  goal setting, and lack of adaptability by management. Gustavus was off fighting a war in Germany and Poland, but kept making changes to the design of the ship, insisting, for example, that there be 84 bronze cannons when the ship could only hold 36. He wanted it built quickly, with elaborate decorations and carvings that showed off his grandeur and greatness on its multiple decks, the height of  which made it unstable in the water.  It was tested for stability in the water and failed the test, but was allowed to sail anyway.  It ended in disaster.  It seems things never change.

What are your experiences with the Vasa Syndrome? Got any good stories about boats?

52 thoughts on “The Vasa Syndrome”

    1. One of the construction companies he chose to build part of the wall is from our town. It is poorly engineered and eroding, and now he is accusing the company of trying to make him look bad. A classic Vasa Syndrome example.

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Did you see this one yet? From an article in Business Insider:

      In a Sunday night tweet, President Donald Trump denied a New York Times report over the weekend that a White House official had inquired about adding a carving of another president to Mount Rushmore.
      However, Trump said it “sounds like a good idea” based “on all of the many things accomplished during” his first term. “

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I can only imagine the disaster if he tried to get his visage up there before the election. I could see the whole structure including the other four faces crumbling and crashing.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. i noticed during the 4th of july fireworks displays news blips that trump had superimposed his head onto the monument on the far right side where he envisioned it. he is a pip

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Gustavus Adolphus has always been an interesting historical figure for me. My maternal great grandmother’s family were said to be rather big shots around Bremen in the 16th and 17th centuries, and refused to switch to the Protestant religion during the 30 years war, despite the whole area turning Protestant. It had more do do with economics than religious belief, as the family increased their fortune with close ties to the archbishops of Bremen and Verden. They also sat on some traditional Saxon court that made laws for the region. It is said that the Swedes who occupied the area during the war made a point of killing as many male members of the family as they could find. The family diminished considerably after the war, and, of course, became Protestant.

    Liked by 5 people

        1. have the board vote to pay you back salary and pre pay the next 12 years of all current board members and furnish expenses covering all gop spending guidelines

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Kelly and I were talking about boats last night! Funny.
    One of my Township duties is picking up junk from the township road ditches. Twice now, I’ve had to pick up large aluminum canoes. Those ones with the flat back. (Are they called canoes?) They are heavy; took three of us to get the last one in the truck, it weighed 260 pounds and I got $13 for it at the scrapyard.

    Wayback when, I was in a play. There was a scene in a courtroom and I’m on the witness stand and my line was something about how a person had purchased a large boat, insinuating he was embezzling money. But I couldn’t remember the line. The actor playing the attorney asked me the question and I was totally blank. And I asked him if he could repeat the question. Which was a surprise to him as he blinked and stumbled over his words but he said “Uh…., of course!” and he said the question again. That still didn’t help me and he had to prompt me a little bit about what this man had purchased like perhaps a boat or something. Which jarred my memory and I practically leapt out of my chair saying “YES! A big boat!” Kelly and I were laughing about that.

    Beware actors in a group laughing at the lines they’ve missed. The stories are interminable and endless.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Rise and Build the Dream, Baboons,

    Years ago, or in Star Wars speak “long, long ago and far, far away”. (OK, a 1/2 mile away 25 years ago) we watched our 15 or 16 yo neighbor boy build his dream ice house in the driveway. The thing became more and more elaborate, with him bringing in scrap lumber and all kinds of fishing equipment. His mother was so patient, allowing him to block the driveway and displace her car. I could hardly understand it.

    Then I started to think about it. She always knew where he was and what he was up to. Brilliant!

    The day came when houses were allowed on the ice. It was moving day.

    Too heavy to move. He had to dis-assemble it during the winter when he realized what he had done. We watched this with many chuckles.

    A couple years later a friend with a son my son’s age called to say her son was building an ice house in the driveway and “How can I stop this?” I told her this story telling her to have him move it out of the driveway, but that for months ahead she will know where he is what he is doing, which at that point in that boy’s life, was an issue. She called months later reporting the same results as our neighbors.

    I really think it is the lack of frontal lobe maturity in males. That impairs executive functioning and planning. I wonder how old Gustavus was when he launched his plan.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. welcome back wessew
    please don’t take the male bashing personal
    it’s these uppity psychologists needing to be able to put you in a box
    psychologists are all that way
    they need to find your problem to distract from their own
    do you have good stories about a psychologist?

    Liked by 5 people

    1. None that come to mind except that career interest test we got back in 10th grade indicated that I should become a psychologist. I do enjoy people and studying their reactions to things floor related. For example, someone asks, “Can I walk on that floor?”
      ” Sure. Just don’t put your full weight on it ”
      75 percent of the time the inquiring person tiptoes for a few steps until the physical impossibility of the their doing as requested strikes them. The implications of this “study” would make a good Hidden Brain Shankar Vendatam episode.

      Liked by 5 people

  5. A friend of my dad’s answered a classified ad for a duck hunting boat. It was described as brand new, “never been off the trailer.” When he saw it, he was impressed, for someone had covered a whole duck boat in fiberglass. He bought it.

    When Dad’s friend went to use it, he learned that the boat was so heavy he and a buddy couldn’t move it. Couldn’t budge it. That’s why it had “never been off the trailer.” He listed it for sale in the classifieds, selling it quickly because it had “never been off the trailer.” That’s three owners that I know of. I sometimes wonder how many guys bought that thing. It might still be out there, keeping the wheels of the economy churning.

    That boat should have been called the Vasa.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. good story steve but the way you get the boat off the trailer is to back the trailer into the water and let the boat float and simply untie it

      the queen mary would qualify as an i lift able boat too

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve been lucky enough to see the Vasa ship in person. It is magnificent although you can certainly see when you look at it why it didn’t stay afloat.

    In my years in corporate America it seems like timeline issues always drive people insane. In my company we’ve had probably five different platforms over the years that they’ve done a lot of training on and then rolled out and, of course, within a mile of the shore, they sink. I’ve always been of the opinion that the platform doesn’t matter it needs to be the mindset. IIf you’re not going to follow your timeline, it doesn’t matter what platform it’s on. This spring and summer they are rolling out yet another timeline platform that is way more complicated than anything they’ve done in the past. I’m not really sorry that I’m missing it this summer.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. No expectations yet at this point. They did tell me at the beginning of furlough that the way this would end would I would either get a call back to come off of furlough or a call to say I was terminated. So it’s just a waiting game, Although clearly the travel industry is decimated and how long it’ll take to climb back out of the pit is unknown.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. In project management, which is basically what I do, the timeline needs to be kept to by the whole team. People get on planes and travel to group programs on a set date so there’s no wiggle room for messing around. Management is always telling us that the biggest internal complaint of employees is that other members of the team don’t get things done when they’re supposed to. This affects every other member of the team a little bit like dominoes. I need to say in my own defense, that even my director has said that no one complains about me blowing a timeline.

        Liked by 4 people

  7. My boat stories come from 20 years ago when I had money and I took the family on Disney cruises
    My children ranged in age from one or two to about 16 or 17 by the time we finished it
    We went on a total of four or five cruisers took my parents along on one spend the big bucks and get the super size cabin with the patio for one but the only thing that made the trip memorable in one way or the other was the weather
    We had a trip where the weather caused the seas to be so rough that the pool on the upper deck was splashing about half its water out because of the Rolling of the seas the bathrooms on all decks at all times were full and had plastic bags sitting outside because people couldn’t wait to get inside to throw up
    The dinner was pretty funny trying to figure out how to keep the silverware on the table
    The weather was cold and rainy the wind was high and there was nowhere to hunker down and find peace

    and we paid money for this

    On other trips the water was smooth as glass the temperature was perfect the sunbathing was ideal shopping at ports was a joy and the punchline is to buy your ticket with the weather forecast in your hand as you board rather than to put an X on the calendar and hope it works out

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve never been seasick, in fact even when I stop and think about it on a ship I don’t really feel the motion. I did have a colleague once on a cruise that started in Barcelona and she was fine when we were in the Mediterranean and then the minute we crossed through the straits of Gibraltar into the Atlantic she turned green and that was pretty much the end of her fun until we hit Lisbon. I felt a little guilty that I didn’t feel anything.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve got a niece and her husband in Charleston SC that rent boats as AirbBnB’s . We stayed in a house boat a few years ago and it was pretty nice. He’s got a couple house boats and a Couple nicer “speed boat” type things. You’re not allowed to take them out, you stay docked, but it was still nice at the harbor.

    Good friend of mine has a sister in Kansas who found a boat on eBay in Wisconsin. We worked out a plan that I would meet the guy in La Crosse and take the boat to my house and then in a few weeks the guy from Kansas was traveling up here and he would pick up the boat.
    The seller had some issues and the pick up moved down the road a few dozen miles his way. I had never towed anything before and when I yanked the electrical connection to make it reached my truck, I broke a wire and the tail lights didn’t work anymore. It was dark coming home on I 90 and I had a lot of people blinking their lights at me. Yes, I know. Lucky none of them were highway patrolman.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Back when husband had his own shop in Minneapolis, a Native American man was building a cedar strip canoe in a neighboring shop. It was fun watching the work in progress, truly a piece of art, though considering the amount of time it took to build it, I can’t imagine that he came out ahead on it. Besides that, considering the amount of abuse a canoe is apt to experience, who would have the heart to put it in the water?

    Another friend built a canoe in his basement. When it was all done, it was too large to get out through the door because they couldn’t get it around a corner. Luckily, their basement window was large enough, with only a couple of inches to spare, to get it out that way.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Sounds to me like the Vasa Syndrome is just the Peter Principle taken to the next level… for the Unitiated (perhaps) younger baboons:

    I have limited experience with boats. I’ve written a blog post about our Viking River (almost) cruise. During high school I (barely) managed to get up on water skis at my best friend’s cabin on Clear Lake, IA. We’ve had kayaks for a while now, don’t use them as much since my shoulder issues…

    But a favorite memory is being in a rowboat with my dad and grandpa fishing on Storm Lake (IA) when we lived there in the 50s.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Not sure this really fits here, but it’s the first thing that fame to mind:

    As the parent of a rising senior (I know, I know…) it’s worth keeping up with the college parent social media group.

    This is the time if year when parents about to drop off their freshman have LOTS of questions that invariably show they will be sending TOO MUCH.

    It’s sort of funny, but this y are it’s also very sad, as I am afraid there is a very real chance to hey won’t be there for long (and you can always ship more later if needed).

    Californians wondering if winter coats will be needed before Thanksgiving almost made me cry today.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Something above reminded me that there used to be a canoe on loan to Birchbark Books when I worked there, which was hanging from the store’s ceiling. Here’s a photo embedded in an article, if you scroll about 1/4 down… Can’t remember whose it was.


  13. Hello Baboons! I decided to poke my head in to see how you are all doing. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts and catching up.
    I haven’t built anything – especially not a boat – and I only have one story to tell about sinking my mom’s canoe. It was approximately 40 years ago though. A friend and his buddies wanted to canoe the Cannon River from Faribault to Northfield in late March. I agreed and volunteered my mom’s aluminum canoe. There were patches of snow on the ground and the river was high and flowing fast. There were lots of trees down in the river, their root systems projecting into the channel. It was a challenge to navigate around them in the fast water. We got to a place with numerous root systems projecting from both sides. I was in the front of one canoe and the river was pushing us hard straight into the roots of a huge tree. John was doing his best to steer clear of it but he couldn’t quite manage to avoid it. The roots and my face were about to collide. One person yelled, “Push off!” Another yelled, “Grab on!” In the last instant, I grabbed a root and pushed away. The canoe rolled over and dumped us into the cold water. I’m still a good swimmer and I swam to a big logjam in the middle of the river. I helped John climb up on the logjam and watched my mom’s canoe spiraling down through the water to become wedged in the bottom of the logjam. Soaking wet at about 38 degrees, John and I stood on the logjam until Mark and Dwayne were able to paddle back to us, against the current, and help us get off the logjam and back on the bank of the river. John and I needed dry clothes so everybody took their clothes off and the two other guys shared some of their clothes with us. I wore someone’s long underwear on the long hike ahead of us. We were in the middle, near the Cannon River Wilderness Park, and had to hike to the nearest bridge, find a farmhouse and call for help. My mom’s canoe wasn’t salvaged for two months. It oxidized and turned black. Its padded shoulder things rotted off. My mom never let me use her canoe again and I have not ever tried canoeing in early spring again.


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