April 21, 2021

Centenarian Ship Weathers Every Storm



Centenarian Ship Weathers Every Storm
The stalwart Magdalene Vinnen, now Sedov, in 1933. Australian National Maritime Museum, Flickr

Wooden sailing ship Sedov turns 100 years this year, a remarkable achievement since not too many wooden ships survive in the water without rotting. The Sedov is 385 feet (117.5 meters) long and 7,320 tons.

It began its life as a German boat in 1921, in the Kiel shipyard. It was called the Magdalene Vinnen then and carried cargo in the Baltic for the German navy during World War II.

When the Allies won, the Soviets took the ship as a spoil of victory, turning it into Soviet polar explorer Georgy Yakovlevich Sedov. Though it has been a peaceful ship for decades, once a warship, always a warship. To enter foreign waters now, the Sedov has to get special permission from the local ministry of foreign affairs.

The Sedov started rotting in the 1960s, as wooden ships are wont to do, and the idea was floated to turn it into a restaurant "for foreigners." It was Soviet times, after all, and Soviets could not afford to go to restaurants. By the way, St. Petersburg has an awesome floating restaurant today, The Flying DutchmanBut The Stationery Sedov didn't take.

A Moscow film student made a documentary, Who Needs Sails? in 1966 to argue that the Age of Sail was dead and the Sedov should be scrapped.

It kept on ticking, though, and was rebuilt in 1975 at the Kronstadt Marine Plant. The post-Soviet transition was rough financially. Nevertheless, ship and crew persisted.

Sedov became a movie star in 2005, playing the Pamir in German film The Tragedy of the Pamir.

The ship just celebrated its 100th birthday in Kaliningrad, where sailor vacancies are posted for 2021 expeditions. Check out beautiful photographs of the ship here. And get your wooden ship fix at a place like Mystic Seaport Museum while you wait to travel to Russia again.

You Might Also Like

Dawn of the Russian Navy
  • October 01, 1996

Dawn of the Russian Navy

On October 20, 1696, a now legendary resolution, "Let there be sea ships," was passed by the Boyar Duma, heralding the beginning of the Russian navy. Lev Pushkaryov examines how this event came to change the Russian mentality.
All Hands on Deck
  • May 01, 1996

All Hands on Deck

Life on a Russian tall ship is explored in this article about a journey on the Ukrainian ship Tovarishch.
Making Waves
  • March 01, 2019

Making Waves

One hundred and sixty years ago, the inventor Alexander Popov was born. In 1895, he created the first radio receiver. Or did he?
An Ode to the Hovercraft
  • February 14, 2021

An Ode to the Hovercraft

Russia is a land of many mysteries. The greatest of all, of course, is this: What's the deal with Russians and their hovercraft?
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Fish: A History of One Migration

Fish: A History of One Migration

This mesmerizing novel from one of Russia’s most important modern authors traces the life journey of a selfless Russian everywoman. In the wake of the Soviet breakup, inexorable forces drag Vera across the breadth of the Russian empire. Facing a relentless onslaught of human and social trials, she swims against the current of life, countering adversity and pain with compassion and hope, in many ways personifying Mother Russia’s torment and resilience amid the Soviet disintegration.
Marooned in Moscow

Marooned in Moscow

This gripping autobiography plays out against the backdrop of Russia's bloody Civil War, and was one of the first Western eyewitness accounts of life in post-revolutionary Russia. Marooned in Moscow provides a fascinating account of one woman's entry into war-torn Russia in early 1920, first-person impressions of many in the top Soviet leadership, and accounts of the author's increasingly dangerous work as a journalist and spy, to say nothing of her work on behalf of prisoners, her two arrests, and her eventual ten-month-long imprisonment, including in the infamous Lubyanka prison. It is a veritable encyclopedia of life in Russia in the early 1920s.
Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

This astonishingly gripping autobiography by the founder of the Russian Women’s Death Battallion in World War I is an eye-opening documentary of life before, during and after the Bolshevik Revolution.
22 Russian Crosswords

22 Russian Crosswords

Test your knowledge of the Russian language, Russian history and society with these 22 challenging puzzles taken from the pages of Russian Life magazine. Most all the clues are in English, but you must fill in the answers in Russian. If you get stumped, of course all the puzzles have answers printed at the back of the book.
Jews in Service to the Tsar

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Benjamin Disraeli advised, “Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.” With Jews in Service to the Tsar, Lev Berdnikov offers us 28 biographies spanning five centuries of Russian Jewish history, and each portrait opens a new window onto the history of Eastern Europe’s Jews, illuminating dark corners and challenging widely-held conceptions about the role of Jews in Russian history.
Murder at the Dacha

Murder at the Dacha

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin has a problem. Several, actually. Not the least of them is the fact that a powerful Soviet boss has been murdered, and Matyushkin's surly commander has given him an unreasonably short time frame to close the case.
The Best of Russian Life

The Best of Russian Life

We culled through 15 years of Russian Life to select readers’ and editors’ favorite stories and biographies for inclusion in a special two-volume collection. Totalling over 1100 pages, these two volumes encompass some of the best writing we have published over the last two decades, and include the most timeless stories and biographies – those that can be read again and again.
The Little Golden Calf

The Little Golden Calf

Our edition of The Little Golden Calf, one of the greatest Russian satires ever, is the first new translation of this classic novel in nearly fifty years. It is also the first unabridged, uncensored English translation ever, and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the Russian journal 30 Dnei. Anne O. Fisher’s translation is copiously annotated, and includes an introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two co-authors.
White Magic

White Magic

The thirteen tales in this volume – all written by Russian émigrés, writers who fled their native country in the early twentieth century – contain a fair dose of magic and mysticism, of terror and the supernatural. There are Petersburg revenants, grief-stricken avengers, Lithuanian vampires, flying skeletons, murders and duels, and even a ghostly Edgar Allen Poe.
A Taste of Russia

A Taste of Russia

The definitive modern cookbook on Russian cuisine has been totally updated and redesigned in a 30th Anniversary Edition. Layering superbly researched recipes with informative essays on the dishes' rich historical and cultural context, A Taste of Russia includes over 200 recipes on everything from borshch to blini, from Salmon Coulibiac to Beef Stew with Rum, from Marinated Mushrooms to Walnut-honey Filled Pies. A Taste of Russia shows off the best that Russian cooking has to offer. Full of great quotes from Russian literature about Russian food and designed in a convenient wide format that stays open during use.
Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts


Our Contacts

Russian Life
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567

800-639-4301
802-223-4955