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Expedition to China 2005-2007

Sunday 2 October was a lovely warm day, ideal for a historic departure. At 13:47 the ship that couldn’t be built began her long voyage that couldn’t be completed. More than 33,000 nautical miles lay ahead. Construction hardships and tremendous obstacles lay astern.

The Swedish Ship Götheborg majestically headed along the river, escorted by a crowd of accompanying boats and watched by tens of thousands of people along the shores and quaysides. The big adventure could begin.

This is a brief summary of the Swedish Ship Götheborg’s voyage to China in 2005-2007. The ship followed the same route the East Indiamen took during the glory days of the 18th century. The same winds blew then as now. If you would like further details, please contact emanuel.persson@soic.se

We’re sailing to China…

After 48 days at sea the Swedish Ship Götheborg arrived at her first stopover, the historic port of Cadiz. The programme included being the starting ship for the Volvo Ocean Race, as well as many official receptions and sponsor events – something that happened at all the stopovers. In Cadiz, as everywhere else, the ship attracted great interest and extensive media attention, just as planned.

After nine days the Swedish Ship Götheborg weighed anchor and took a south-west course to Recife in Brazil, a journey that took 32 days. After a week of official commitments and stocking up with provisions, the ship set sail for Cape Town. With the help of the west winds the voyage took 41 days across the Atlantic. On 19 February Götheborg arrived in one of the world’s most beautiful harbours for ship maintenance, sponsor activities and official commitments. There was also a change of crew here.

Between 9 and 25 March the Swedish Ship Götheborg made a very high-profile stopover in Port Elizabeth and then set sail for Fremantle. This was the longest leg of the expedition which, with the help of strong west winds, took 49 days. After Fremantle the voyage continued northward towards the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra. After passing both the equator and Christmas Island, the ship moored at Jakarta on 18 June. Ten days later she sailed the South China Sea towards Guangzhou (Canton). In mid-July the ship finally reached the mouth of the Pearl River, the Tiger’s Mouth.

After folding the masts for power cables and bridges, the ship reached its historic destination of Canton with great pomp and ceremony. The dream had come true, a complete success. The subsequent reception ceremonies on 21 July – attended by senior Chinese dignitaries, the King and Queen of Sweden, main sponsors and partners – were grandiose to say the least.

After a few weeks of official receptions, press viewings, exhibitions and sponsor activities, the Swedish Ship Götheborg continued northward through the Formosa Strait to Shanghai. The long, adventurous home voyage to Gothenburg began on 28 October 2006. 

…and home again

Before the voyage home, maintenance was carried out on the ship at a shipyard outside Shanghai. On 28 October she was ready and set sail. One month later she reached Hong Kong for a high-profile two-week stopover. On 30 December she reached Singapore, one of the world’s largest ports. After two weeks, a crew change and New Year’s celebrations it was time to continue the voyage home, which was now taking a slightly different route to the original. On 31 January 2007, the Swedish Ship Götheborg reached Chennai and the largest trade event Sweden had ever held in India. 300 top Indian politicians along with crowds of people showed an interest in the ship and the little country in Scandinavia. 25,000 delighted Indian people were lucky enough to get a closer look at the ship on board.

On 10 February Captain Gunnar Silfverberg Utgaard had his crew set sail for the adventurous journey across the Indian Ocean, to the lowest profile stopover of the expedition in the desert town of Djibouti. Time to stock up on provisions and change crew. The departure was logged for 17 March. The voyage went through the Red Sea and in convoy through the Suez Canal. The ship arrived in Alexandria on the morning of Saturday 31 March for a visit on behalf of Region Västra Götaland. Three days later the Swedish Ship Götheborg set sail for Europe and Nice on the French Riviera. The ship arrived in Nice on 17 April for an eight-day stopover before heading for the tenth and penultimate stop, London.

The Swedish Ship Götheborg reached the British capital on 2 June. After two intensive weeks of official visits, sponsor activities, exhibitions and viewings, the course was finally set for the North Sea and the home port of Gothenburg.

The final leg took 7 days and on Saturday 9 June the now world-famous vessel was sighted off Vinga. It had been over 250 years since an East Indiaman had saluted her homecoming. Needless to say the reception by the city and the people of Gothenburg was worthy of a global star.

After 615 days at sea, 14 towns on 5 continents and 300,000 visitors aboard, the mission was complete – not least taking into account the ambassadorial role the project fulfilled for Swedish culture and trade, as well as the opportunities and doors opened for sponsors and partners. The ship that could not be built, let alone sailed, was back with her star status.

Stopovers 2005-2007

  • Cadiz 19-28 November 2005
  • Recife 30 December 2005 – 10 January 2006
  • Cape Town 19-28 February 2006
  • Port Elizabeth 9-25 March 2006
  • Fremantle 13-25 May 2006
  • Jakarta 8-28 June 2006
  • Guangzhou (Canton) 18 July – 19 August 2006
  • Shanghai 29 August – 28 October 2006
  • Hong Kong 29 November – 12 December 2006
  • Singapore 30 December 2006 – 14 January 2007
  • Chennai 31 January – 10 February 2007
  • Djibouti 14-17 March 2007
  • Alexandria 1-3 April 2007
  • Nice 17-24 April 2007
  • London 19 May – 2 June 2007
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