The Original Ship

Terra Nova was one of the four major shipyards in Stockholm in the 18th century. It is where the original East Indiaman which came to be called Götheborg was built. She was launched in 1738. Terra Nova was situated where the road Strandvägen now runs. The area had previously been a reeded inlet that was filled in: hence the name Terra Nova, which means ‘new land’ in Latin. Some 200 people worked at the shipyard, half of whom were carpenters. In those days an East Indiaman could be built in just under 18 months.

The famous homecoming

Götheborg reached the Chinese coast in summer of 1744. It was her third voyage. After a six-month trade stop she began her voyage home, but had to wait a full five months in Java for the right winds. The long wait was a strain on the crew. After an adventurous journey home and 30 months at sea, the Swedish coast was finally within sight, and the ship’s cargo holds were cram-full with tea, silk, porcelain, tutanego (zinc), spices and much more.

On 12 September 1745, a pilot came aboard at Vinga. But this didn’t stop the ship sailing into the well-known rock Knipla Hunnebådan, around 900 metres west of Nya Älvsborgs Fästning.

The ship was stranded on the rock and began taking in water. Fortunately everyone on board was saved by the boats which came to the rescue. Immediately after the accident and over the next two years, one-third of the cargo was salvaged.

Despite the loss of the ship, the costs of salvage and of the unusually long journey, the expedition provided the stakeholders with a return of 17.2 per cent. This was due to the fact that it had been possible to salvage and sell some of the cargo, and because the insurance was paid out.

Further salvage operations were carried out during the 19th century, and in the early 20th century extensive new salvage operations were carried out by divers in heavy diving equipment. After that the wreck was left to its fate. Nobody believed there was anything else to salvage.

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