America’s Cup to be Sailed in Bermuda

Unless I am mistaken, when the Oracle Team US AC 72 sailed to victory in 2013, there was only one American citizen in the crew. The members of Emirates Team New Zealand, which needed the sponsorship of Emirates Airlines to fund the costly venture, were all sailors from New Zealand, except for two Aussies, who both had family ties in New Zealand.  So, I guess it wasn’t all that much of a surprise that the next America’s Cup in 2017 will not even be sailed in America. For the first time in history, an American defender has chosen a foreign port to race in, specifically, Bermuda. So, the crew sailing the “American” boats may not be actually American and now, neither will be port where the races are held. The Oracle Team will still be funded by Larry Ellison’s greenbacks, so at least the cash behind the defense of the America’s Cup is still largely American.

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120 Year Old Schooner Ernestina to be Restored at Boothbay

Great news!  The Massachusetts of Department of Conservation and Recreation has signed a contract with Boothbay Harbor Shipyard for $6,048,025 for the restoration of the schooner Ernestina, ex-Effie M. Morrissey.   As we posted in July, private donors, Bob Hildreth and Gerry Lenfest, contributed $2.8 million, more than matching the State of Massachusetts’ $2.5 million contribution to the project.  The Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association has also raised a considerable sum toward the refurbishment of the schooner. The restoration is expected to start this winter and take around two years. The work will allow the 120-year-old schooner, a National Historic Landmark and Massachusetts’ official tall ship, to to sail for the first time since 2004.

As reported by the Bangor Daily News: Launched on Feb. 1, 1894, the vessel, originally called the Effie M. Morrissey and owned by Capt. William E. Morrissey and the John F. Wonson Co. of Gloucester, was named after Morrissey’s daughter.

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TS Royalist Decomissioned, Smooth Sailing to the New Royalist

royalistThe TS Royalist has sailed into Portsmouth for the final time. The 43 year old sail training ship owned by the UK Marine Society & Sea Cadets is being decommissioned. Since her delivery in 1971, TS Royalist has taken 30,000 cadets to sea. Hundreds of sea cadets gathered at Petrol Pier in Gosport to say farewell to the old ship.

A new training ship, a 32-metre (105ft) brig also named Royalist, is under construction at the Spanish shipyard Astilleros Gondan S.A. and is expected to be delivered in March. The new ship is reported to offer greater use of space, with better all-round sailing ability and performance. Faster and easier to handle, the new Royalist is also expected to be more economical to run. Following the example of her namesake, the new Royalist is expected to be taking cadets to sea for the next 40 years. So, farewell to the Royalist and may the new Royalist have smooth sailing for decades to come.

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The Wreck of the Antares on Australia’s Shipwreck Coast 1914

Here is a short video by Sean and James McAnulty, narrated by Rex Mathieson, telling of his family history with the wreck of the full rigged sailing ship Antares, which came ashore in 1914 on Victoria, Australia’s “Shipwreck Coast.”

The story of the Antares from sean on Vimeo.

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The Grand Banks Tsunami — 85 Years Ago Today

19291118_1929_75anncovThe word tsunami usually brings to mind seismic waves in the Pacific or the Indian Oceans. Eighty five years ago today, an major earthquake, in the Atlantic, approximately 250 km south of Newfoundland along the southern edge of the Grand Banks, caused a tsunami that slammed into the Newfoundland coast.

On November 18, 1929, at 5:02 PM local time, the Grand Banks was rocked by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake.  The earthquake triggered a large underwater landslide, which severed 12 submarine transatlantic cables.  The landslide also generated a tsunami which raced towards Newfoundland at speeds of up to 140 km/hr, before slowing to about 40 km/hr in shallower water. Three waves would crash into Newfoundland’s Burin Peninsula, flooding dozens of communities and washing entire homes out to sea. Twenty eight residents would die in tsunami’s path.

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Norovirus Outbreak on the Crown Princess

450px-Crown_PrincessA month long Pacific cruise on the Princess Cruise Line Crown Princess has been disrupted by a norovirus outbreak.  158 of 3,009 passengers were sickened by highly contagious stomach virus, while 14 of 1,160 crew members were affected.  The ship will return to the port of San Pedro Sunday. It set off from Papeete, Tahiti to Los Angeles on Oct. 18.

The outbreak on the Crown Princess pales compared to the 700 person outbreak on RCCL’s Explorer of the Seas last January in which more than 20% of the passengers were stricken.

Thanks to Irwin Bryan for passing the news along.

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Here Comes Lafayette’s Hermione — Voyage 2015

hermoinebannerTwenty years ago, a small group of enthusiasts conceived a plan to build a replica of the French frigate, l’Hermione, the ship which carried the Marquis de Lafayette, to America in 1780 with the news of French support for the American revolution. The new l’Hermoine has now successfully completed two months of sea trials and in April 2015 will sail across the Atlantic and visit 12 ports on the US East Coast and Canada.

On Saturday, I was fortunate to attend a presentation by Miles Young, President of Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America (FOH-LA) and Chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather.  He described the planned voyage, as well as the education & outreach programs being developed to support the arrival of the ship. The programs are intended to highlight the too often overlooked French contribution to the American Revolution.

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Australian Rides Dead Humpback Whale

Let’s hope this sort of stupidity doesn’t become popular. Recently, 26-year old Australian, Harrison Williams, thought that it would be a good idea to jump onto the back of a dead and decomposing humpback whale, drifting in the ocean off Australia’s west coast, as tiger and great white sharks were feeding on the carcass. Reportedly Williams’ mom has opined that her son is an idiot. It is hard to disagree with mom.

Australian man rides dead whale

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Restoring the Schooner Nathaniel Bowditch

Great news about the schooner Nathaniel Bowditch. In February, we posted about the foreclosure and auction of the 82 foot long schooner. There were no bids at the auction in Camden, ME,  which ended after 27 seconds. The future of the 1922 built wooden schooner, which for years had carried passengers around Penobscott Bay as part of the Maine Windjammer Association, was very much in doubt.

In August, Noah and Jane Barnes acquired Nathaniel Bowditch in a transaction that the Penobscott Bay Pilot describes as with “an unnamed owner and for an undisclosed price.” The Barnes’s have been owners and operators of the schooner Stephen Taber out of Rockland since Noah’s parents retired in 2003.  The Barnes are currently restoring the Nathaniel Bowditch at the Lyman Morse Boatbuilders on the Thomaston waterfront and hope to have the schooner back sailing by mid-summer 2015. There is a lot of work to be done however. As described by the Penobscott Bay Pilot:

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The World’s Largest Wo-Wos — Oasis of the Seas & Ocean Shearer

wowosBack in the 70s, the advent of oceangoing ships with wheeled cargo introduced the shipping community to the Ro-Ro (roll-on/roll-off.)  Since then acronyms with an “o” sound have gained in popularity.  General cargo and container ships became Lo-Los (lift-on/lift-off). Combination bulk carriers became OBOs  (ore-bulk-oilers) or just OOs (ore/oilers) and so on.  Today we will look at the world’s largest Wo-Wos, which is to say Walk-on/ Walk-off ships, in which the paying cargo is ambulatory. The ships are the cruise ship Oasis of the Seas and the livestock carrier, Ocean Shearer.

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Horizon Line Sold — the End of an Era

Horizon_LinesYesterday, Horizon Line, a US Flag Jones Act container ship operator, announced that it was ending operations. It had sold its Alaskan service to Matson, its Hawaiian operations to Pasha Group, and would be shutting down its operations to Puerto Rico. This was not a great surprise as the company has been under financial strain for some time. Its ships average 37 years old. The firm has considerable debt, and operating revenues never quite recovered from the recession.

In a larger sense, Horizon Line’s demise marks the end of an era. Continue reading

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On Armistice Day, Remembering the German High Seas Fleet Mutiny of 1918

Soldiers' council of the Prinzregent Luitpold.

Soldiers’ council of the Prinzregent Luitpold.

In the US, today is Veteran’s Day, when we honor those who have served in the military.  It coincides with Armistice Day, the anniversary of the signing of the armistice which ended World War I, on the 11th hour of the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918, when the guns finally fell silent after four years of bloody war. Today is a good time to recall the mutiny of the German High Seas Fleet, which played a significant role in finally ending the war.  The mutinies at Wilhelmshaven on October 29th and at Kiel on November 3, triggered the German revolution and swept aside the monarchy within a few days. The naval mutinies led directly to the end of the German Empire and to the establishment of the Weimar Republic.

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MV Liemba — the World’s Oldest Passenger/Cargo Steamer at 100

liembaRecently, the BBC published an article titled WW1: The indestructible warship.  The article refers to the Graf Goetzen. Calling her the “indestructible warship” seems to be a bit of an exaggeration. As warships go, she was not very impressive and given that she was scuttled without engaging in significant combat in 1916, she was not quite “indestructible”.  Exaggeration aside, she is a fascinating ship with a wonderful history. At over 100 years old, she is believed to be the oldest passenger ferry in service.

The 234′ long passenger steamer Graf Goetzen was built in 1913 in Germany, then taken apart, packed in 5,000 crates and shipped to Africa, where the crates traveled by rail and then were carried on the backs of porters to the shores of Lake Tanganyika, where the ship was reassembled.  Now named MV Liemba, the passenger ferry continues to operate along the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, providing an economic lifeline to scores of villages along the shores of the longest lake in the world.

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Panoramic and Audio Tour of USS Pampanito

subpano1Thanks to Richard Pekelney for passing along the link to a wonderful panoramic and audio tour of the USS Pampanito, a World War II Balao class Fleet submarine museum and memorial that is open for visitors daily at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.  By clicking and dragging your mouse across the images you can wander from the main deck to the forward and after torpedo rooms and everywhere in between. The 360 degree panoramic photos are extremely well done. There is text explaining what you are seeing as well as an mp3 audio tour that you can click.


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Ship’s Bell from Franklin’s HMS Erebus Recovered

WEB-shipsbell06nw2In September, the wreck of one of the two ships in Franklin’s lost  expedition of 1845 was located near the the Victoria Strait in Canada. As both ships in the expedition were similar sized bomb vessels, modified for exploration, it was initially unclear whether the wreck was from the HMS Terror or HMS Erebus. By early October, the wreckage had been confirmed to be from the HMS Erebus.  Now divers have located the ship’s bell.  As reported by CNBC:

The bell is intact and generally in very good condition. Two embossed markings – introduced when the bronze bell was first cast – are evident on the artifact: a Royal Navy “broad arrow” indicating property of the British Government, as well as the date “1845.”

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Supermaxi Comanche on Sea Trials

I have mixed feeling about modern supermaxi monohulls. They are complicated, expensive sailing wedges — pointy in the bow and broad and flat on the stern.  But they are really fast, and watching Jim Clark‘s new 100′ carbon fiber speed-demon Comanche is impressive. Built by Hodgdon of Boothbay, Maine and skippered by Ken Reid, the supermaxi recently completed sea trials off Newport Rhode Island, where she reportedly reached speeds of 30 knots.  She is now on her way to Charlestown, SC where she will be loaded on a ship to be carried to Sydney, Australia to compete in the 70th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in December.

Comanche Sails!! FAST!! from Onne van der Wal on Vimeo.

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Lake Champlain Echolocation — Champ or a Beluga Whale?

In Lake Champlain this summer, on July 31, near Scotch Bonnet, cryptozoology enthusiasts Katy Elizabeth and Dennis Hall recorded underwater audio which sounds remarkably like echolocation of a marine mammal. They say that it sounds like a beluga whale. Beluga whales have been known to swim into brackish waters, but the 125 mile long Lake Champlain is fresh water and it is unlikely that a beluga whale could either get into the lake or survive in its waters. Lake Champlain is said to be the home of the lake creature which has been nicknamed “Champ.” There have been many reports of sightings of “Champ” since 1609. Native American tribe legends also tell of a large creature that lives in the lake.

Champ Echolocation Lake Champlain 2014

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Dramatic Route du Rhum Start — Dismastings, Collisions, & Lightning Strikes

Loick Peyron sailing  Banque Populaire VII

Loick Peyron sailing Banque Populaire VII

An estimated quarter of a million people lined the docks and the shore at St. Malo in Brittany to watch the start of the Route du Rhum Race, the 4,500 mile trans-Atlantic singlehanded race to Guadeloupe, which is sailed every four years. This time, the race got off to a rough start, in winds averaging 20-25 knots, and gusts of 35 knots, which resulted in dismastings and the loss of keels or rudders on four boats.  Boats also withdrew after collisions with a dive boat, an unlit buoy and a ship. Pierre Antione of the Multi50 Olmix was airlifted off his boat after the mast was struck by lightning.  In the first three days of the race, 17 of the 91 racers were forced to withdraw due to a variety of disasters and mishaps.  Fortunately there have been no reported serious injuries among the singlehanders.

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Kalmar Nyckel — Round Tops, Sprit Topmast & Radar

Click for a larger image

Click for a larger image

I am fond of one photo I took of the Kalmar Nyckel  at the Sultana Downrigging Weekend in Charlestown, MD last weekend.  It shows two sailors, who appear to be starting to downrig the sprit topsail yard. They are standing on the distinctive round sprit mast top. Behind them, the round foremast top is also visible. The round top disappeared by the early 18th century, replaced by rectangular fighting tops.

The Kalmar Nyckel is a replica of a Dutch built pinnance which carried Swedish settlers to North America in 1638 to establish the colony of New Sweden, in what are now the states of Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

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25 Mind Blowing Facts About The Shipping Industry

Many of these “mind blowing facts” don’t seem that surprising, but they do get the bottom line right — “For an industry that basically runs the world economy most people know very little about the enormous complex that touches almost every single thing you use.”

25 Mind Blowing Facts About The Shipping Industry

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