Photo: Issac Kestenbaum
Not all sailors in the Northeast are sick of winter. For some ice boaters on the Hudson, this has been a great season and is’t over quite yet. Ice boating, or ice yachting, as some call it, is a cross between sailing, ice skating and drag racing. When the conditions are right, ice boats can achieve amazing speeds, sailing up to ten times faster than the speed of the wind. Some of the larger iceboats have topped 90 knots (170 km/h; 100 mph) and an unconfirmed speed of 130 knots (240 km/h; 150 mph) has been reported. Speeds of 30-40 knots are not considered unusual.
The sailing of ice yachts on the Hudson River dates back to 1790 and grew in popularity through the 19th century. Continue reading
Ochakov, a Russian Kara-class cruiser, was decommissioned in 2011 and had been scheduled to be scrapped. Instead, the Russian Navy scuttled the ship late Wednesday in the navigation channel in the approach to Donuzlav Lake, in Novoozerne, in the Western Crimea. The scuttled ship now blocks Ukrainian naval vessels from leaving the nearby naval base. It is not clear how many naval vessels the Ukrainians might have had in the lake and ministry spokesman Maxim Prowta declined to say.The base had previously been blockaded by the Russian guided missile cruiser Moskva. Now that the channel is blocked by the scuttled cruiser, the Moskva and other Russian vessels are reported to have left the area.
Russia Sinks Ship to Block Ukrainian Navy Ships,
Stepping away for a moment from the unfolding current events in the Ukraine and Russia, it might be worthwhile to look at the history of the region, which was shaped by the arrival of merchant adventurers rowing long ships. As with so much of European history, it began with the Vikings. The Norse Vikings, from the region that we now call Sweden, rowed their long ships deep into the rivers of Central and Eastern Europe; pushing up the Volga, the Dnieper, the Volkhov and the Neva rivers, among others. Using rivers and lakes connected to the Volga, these Vikings traded as far as Iran. On a separate route on the Dnieper River, the Vikings traveled as far as Greece.
They were called the Varangians by the Greeks and Eastern Slavs. The Finns called them the Rus‘ which meant “men who row.” In 862 the Viking chieftain Rurik captured Kiev, a Slavic village on the Dnieper and made it his capital. The kindom he established became known as the “land of the Rus’.” (Later, 19th century historians would dub the kingdom the “Kievan Rus.”) The Kievan Rus kingdom survived for close to 400 years before being wiped out by the invasion of the Mongul hordes.
Russia took its name from the Rus’ and was literally born in Kiev in the Ukraine. Now, as the Russian Army is poised on the borders of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Army is taking orders from the capitol in Kiev, both sides continue to play their roles in their long and entangled history, which began, more or less with the Vikings.
Ukrainian seamen stand guard on the navy ship Slavutich at harbor of Sevastopol on March 3, 2014.
Photo: Andrew Lubimov/AP Photo
The government of Ukrainia is claiming that the Russian Navy has issued an ultimatum demanding the surrender of two Ukrainian Navy vessels in in Sevastopol’s harbor. They claim that four Russian Navy vessels have the Ukrainian anti-submarine ship, Ternopil, and the the command ship, Slavutych, blocked in the harbor and are demanding their surrender. The Russian government has strenuously denied that any ultimatum has been made.
From the New York Times: Hollywood gave a big boost to the myth that captains could legally join couples on the open seas. In New York, Captain Arnold Wonsever, an ordained minister, is making this myth a reality.
Update: Reports of the defection of the frigate Hetman Sahaidachny are being denied by the Ukrainian military. The ship is reported to have be sighted in port in Crete still flying the Ukrainian flag.
There are reports that the Ukraine’s Navy flagship, the frigate Hetman Sahaidachny, is refusing to follow orders from Kiev and has defected to Russia. The ship is returning home after taking part in NATO operation in the Gulf of Aden and is claimed to be flying the Russian naval flag.
Ukrainian Navy flagship takes Russia’s side – report
Two Indian naval officers, Lieutenant Commander Kapish Muwal and Lieutenant Manoranjan Kumar, died in a fire on the submarine INS Sindhuratna. Seven sailors were evacuated suffering from smoke inhalation. The fire broke out around 40 nautical miles off Mumbai early Wednesday morning. The submarine was undergoing sea trials following a refit at the Mumbai dockyard from May to December last year. The fire started in the battery compartment. 94 naval personnel were aboard the submarine.
This is the second deadly accident on one of the Indian Navy’s Soviet Kilo Class submarines within the last few months. In August , the INS Sindhurakshak caught fire, exploded and sank while at Mumbai’s naval dockyard. The submarine has yet to be fulled salvaged but eighteen sailors are believed to have died.
Mirabella V at Rineia, Cyclades in 2008
I recently read of the successful sea-trial of the remodeled super-yacht M5, (ex Mirabella V.) They were testing what is described as the “new carbon rig.” The new rig includes 34 new carbon fibre stays and titanium fittings with built-in dynamic fiber optics, which decreases the weight of the rig by 18 tonnes. The M5 is the largest single-masted yacht with a sail area of 3,380 m² / 36,490 sq ft. To put that in perspective, that is more sail area than the clipper ship Cutty Sark which had a sail area of around 32,000 sq ft spread over three masts. The M5‘s single mast soars to 292 feet above the waterline.
I am not sure why I find this to be so amusing. Here is a fish controlling a small robotic car by swimming around in a small tank. Thanks to Alaric Bond for passing along the story. As described by the designers at Studio diip:
By using a camera and computer vision software it is possible to make a fish control a robot car over land. By swimming towards an interesting object, the fish can explore the world beyond the limits of his tank.
Fish on Wheels
Last July, I was pleased, and more than a bit surprised, to see a play in New York City about a shipyard. It was Off-Broadway and only a two man play, but nevertheless, it was about a shipyard. The play, The Boat Factory, which I described in my review as “a complicated love story” was about two men’s relationship with the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. Now, wonder of wonders, there is a Broadway musical featuring the rock star, Sting, no less, with a similar theme — a tribute to the shipyard, Swan Hunter, and the way of life that grew around it on Tyneside.
The musical is “The Last Ship” with music and lyrics by the 16-time Grammy Award-winning singer Sting; a book by the Tony Award-winning author, John Logan, and the Pulitzer Prize winning, Brian Yorkey, choreography by Olivier Award winner Steven Hoggett; and directed by the two time two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello. The musical is expected to open in the Fall of 2014 at the at the Neil Simon Theatre, in New York City. from The Last Ship website:
THE LAST SHIP is set in the English seafaring town of Wallsend, a close-knit community where life has always revolved around the local shipyard and the hardworking men construct magnificent vessels with tremendous pride. But Gideon Fletcher dreams of a different future. He sets out to travel the world, leaving his life and his love behind. When Gideon returns home 14 years later, he finds the shipyard’s future in grave danger and his childhood sweetheart engaged to someone else. As the men of Wallsend take their future into their own hands and build a towering representation of the shared dream that defines their existence, Gideon realizes that he left behind more than he could have ever imagined.
THE LAST SHIP is a portrait of a community so bound together by passion, faith and tradition, they’ll stop at nothing to preserve the only life they’ve ever known.
Russell and Graham Henry, two brothers from British Columbia, hauled their kayaks ashore in Juno Beach, Florida over the weekend. They had set out from the mouth of the Amazon river in Belém Brazil on July 30, 2013. In their 207 day expedition, they paddled 6,500 km and visited 23 different countries and territories. Their website describes the brothers: “Growing up in Victoria BC, Russell (21) and Graham (22) have been partners in crime since their earliest days of exploration.”
Adventure for ‘the hell of it’: B.C. brothers make 7,000 km Atlantic voyage for fun, not fundraising
Sometimes, Monday morning can feel like a train-wreck, or perhaps a boat-wreck. Here in the Extreme Sailing Series 2014 – Singapore, the Aberdeed boat ends up literally on top of the Groupma boat. Perhaps “prepare to repel boarders!” should be a new command at the turning mark.
Extreme Sailing Series 2014 – Singapore – Day 3 – Aberdeen Groupama Crash
Last Wednesday, we posted about Svendborg Maersk, which last an estimated 520 containers in a storm in the Bay of Biscay. What happened to all the containers that fell overboard? One of them, loaded with a million cigarettes, may have just washed up on the beach in the Devon, England.
Sun, sea and cigs! Police warn off ‘treasure hunters’ after container filled with a MILLION cigarettes washes up on Devon beach
How many containers are washed over the side from container ship each year? No one really knows. Continue reading
The story of the “ghost ship” Mary Celeste is one of the great mysteries of the sea. The merchant brigantine was found 400 miles east of the Azores on December 5, 1872, unmanned and apparently abandoned in fair weather. What happened to the Captain, his family, and the crew has remained a puzzle. The mystery has been the subject of a range of wild theories and speculation, ranging from mutiny to pirates to sea monsters to killer waterspouts in countless articles and books. Now, with the discovery of a previously overlooked transcript of the Mary Celeste‘s log, the answer to the mystery may come down to an inaccurate chronometer and a faulty pump. Here is a fascinating documentary directed and produced by Anne MacGregor and funded in part by National Geographic, The True Story of the ‘Mary Celeste.’ See also Abandoned Ship: The Mary Celeste.
The True Story of the Mary Celeste
Click on the image. The video will open in a new window.
Archimedes Burning Mirrors Generating Electricity
During the Siege of Syracuse, 214–212 BC, Archimedes was said to have used “burning mirrors” to set fire to a Roman fleet attacking the city. The mirrors focused the rays of the sun and generated enough heat to set ships on fire. Long dismissed as folk-lore, researchers have been able to recreate the “burning mirrors” and have indeed set replica ships ablaze. (See our recent post, Archimedes “Burning Mirrors” and London’s “Walkie Scorchie.”) Now, in the Mojave desert at the Ivanpah Solar Thermal Power Facility, a modern day version of Archimedes “burning mirrors,” is being used to generate electricity in the world’s largest solar thermal power system.
The Navy plans to deploy its first laser weapons on the USS Ponce, one of its oldest ships. The laser weapons designed to be capable of disabling small enemy vessels and shooting down surveillance drones will be installed on the 43 year old Ponce, an Austin-class amphibious transport dock.
The lasers are extremely inexpensive to operate, if not necessarily to build. Lasers do have shortcomings, however, being less effective in rain, fog or dusty conditions. The Navy is also testing a high energy rail gun ashore. The problem with the rail gun is that it requires so much electricity so that the only ship with sufficient generating capacity is the new destroyer, the USS Zumwalt, under construction at Bath Iron Works in Maine.
US Navy ready to deploy laser system this summer; rail guns aren’t far behind
The USS Ponce has had an active and varied career. As we posted in July of 2012 she has been converted to an Afloat Forward Staging Base. Thanks to Irwin Bryan fro contributing to this post.
Photo: ANTONY NJUGUNA / REUTERS/REUTERS
CNN is reporting that hypodermic needles and traces of narcotics were found with the bodies of two American security officers on the container ship Maersk Alabama, suggesting that the deaths resulted from drug overdoses, according to a Seychelles government official. Police said an autopsy would be carried out later this week.
Official: Traces of drugs found with dead Americans on ‘Captain Phillips’ ship
Joshua Slocum was born on February 20, 1844. After a career at sea, he rebuilt a 36′ 9″ (11.2 m) gaff rigged oyster boat, which he named Spray. Between 1895 and 1898, he sailed the Spray singlehanded around the world, the first to ever sail around the world alone. In 1900, he wrote the sailing classic, Sailing Alone Around the World, which became an international best-seller. He disappeared in November 1909 while aboard the Spray. A very well done documentary of his life :
Joshua Slocum – Sailing Alone Around the World
Some are predicting that the world will end Saturday, February 22, 2013, with Ragnarök, also known as Götterdämmerung, by the operatic among us. A reasonable response might be, “the world is ending — again?” We have lived through Y2k, the Mayan Apocalypse, the “Rapture” and a more than a few other end-of-the-world predictions. At least the Viking version sounds like it would make an exciting weekend. Here is how it is supposed to go down, according to the Daily Mail:
It is being reported that two American security guards, both former Navy SEALs, have been found dead on the Maersk Alabama while in Port Victoria, in the Seychelles. The men have been identified as Jeffrey Reynolds and Mark Kennedy, both 44, employees for the Trident Security Firm. Police said the cause of death will be determined by autopsies.
The Maersk Alabama was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009. The hijacking and subsequent rescue of the captain by Navy SEALs inspired the movie “Captain Phillips,” starring Tom Hanks. The Maersk Alabama has been attacked two other times since the hijacking, but in both cases the pirates were driven off by security guards on the ship. Thanks to Phil Leon for contributing to this post.
Ex-Navy Seals Found Dead On Maersk Alabama