This one certainly surprised me. In our enforced isolation and idleness I am sure you have all come across some piece of information in your web browsing that surprised or amazed you. Well, here is mine…
The picture here is of the Astoria. She wouldn’t have attracted much of my attention if we crossed each other at sea, except maybe for a comment on her design, so much more stylish than modern cruise ships.
She is actually a very famous ship, although you’d likely not know it. She is currently in service (or at least was until the current troubles started) as a cruise ship, and her most recent routes were in Baja, Mexico. Yet in an earlier incarnation she played a key roll in one of the most infamous nautical events of the 20th century.
She is an older ship, originally launched in 1946. To be still sailing almost 75 years later is remarkable, but that is not what makes her special.
She was originally the pride of the Swedish America Line and was one of the great romantic Atlantic Ocean liners of the 1950’s when ocean travel still was competitive with the upstart airlines. But that is not why she is special.
She served under many names for many companies, and countries, as a liner, and then reconfigured as a cruise ship. Some of her names were: Völkerfreundschaft, Volker, Fridtjof Nansen, Italia I, Italia Prima, Valtur Prima, Caribe, Athena, and Azores. But that is not why she is noteworthy.
Here is a picture of the Astoria when she was first launched. Anybody with even a passing interest in matters nautical might be a step ahead of me now. If you look closely at her bow, you will see her original name, and the one with which she entered the history books for all the wrong reasons: The Astoria began life over 70 years ago as the Stockholm.
Here is the most famous picture of the vessel known as the Stockholm:
This photo was taken while she was limping back into New York Harbor after putting her re-enforced ice-breaking bow to unfortunate use: Accidentally ramming, and sinking, the great Italian liner Andrea Doria off Nantucket in thick fog on the night of July 25, 1956. Fifty-one lives were lost.
I was amazed to find out she was still sailing.
On the home front, we are going to be moving tomorrow! We’ll be getting out of the boatyard as soon as we complete our last preparations. We’ll be anchoring down close to the ocean overnight. It looks like we have an outstanding weather window for our passage north with a Thursday departure.
We are both very excited about first, sailing, and second getting further north where we can enjoy at least a few weeks of weather cooler than we have been suffering with here in sunny Florida! Our next landfall will be in the town of Deal, Maryland. Halfway up the Chesapeake Bay.