How could a ship the size of Vasa sink so easily? It was after all built by the most experienced shipbuilders according to dimensions that the king himself had approved. The ship was to be used in war and was expected to withstand both enemy cannon and foul weather.

It was a Sunday afternoon on the 10th of August when Vasa set off from the palace quay. Four sails were set and the gunports on both gundecks had been opened in order to fire a salute and to show off the mighty ship’s armament.
The majority of Stockholm’s 10,000 citizens lined the shore to see the magnificent ship on its way.
The wind had previously been still with only a light breeze taking the ship out of the harbor. Then, suddenly, a gust of wind caused Vasa to heel over. The ship managed to right itself, but yet another gust sent it over again, this time so much that water poured in through the open gunports. The ship was overwhelmed by the weight of the water and sank.

It is believed that approximately 150 people were onboard the vessel at the time of the sinking. Out of this number, approximately 30 of them died.
There were several reasons that the majority of those onboard survived the catastrophe. Most were on the upper decks and in the rigging when the ship left port and thus avoided following the ship to the bottom. Another factor was that the sinking occurred so close to shore that there were many people who could help those in distress.

But the question remains: How could Vasa sink so easily and so quickly?
Today, it is believed that the ship was both incorrectly built and sailed. The ship was unstable owing to the center of gravity being too high. However, had the gunports been closed, the ship may have righted itself and continued on its way.