SSV Oliver Hazard Perry Earns Certificate of Inspection — Summer Sails Set

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Photo: George Bekris

Congratulations to the officers, crew and the shore staff of the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry. The 200′ long tall ship recently completed the necessary drills and inspections required by the US Coast Guard in order for the ship to qualify as a Sailing School Vessel.  The three-masted, full rigged ship is Rhode Island’s official “Sailing Education Vessel” and carries 14,000 sq. ft. of sail area and seven miles of running rigging. Her tallest mast is 13 ½ stories high.

“We are very pleased with the way the crew has come together and that the Perry has made it through all the complexities of Coast Guard certification to receive her USCG Certificate of Inspection,” said Captain David Dawes, who joined the ship three months ago. “The ship is performing as expected, and we’re confident we’ll be able to give trainees an excellent experience this summer.”

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Viking Longship Draken Harald Hårfagre Sails on Confused Inland Seas

Photo: Draken Expedition/Peder Jacobsson

Photo: Draken Expedition/Peder Jacobsson

The Pepsi Tall Ships Chicago 2016 festival begins tomorrow, July 27th, and runs for five days through the 31st, at Chicago’s Navy Pier on Lake Michigan. One of the participating ships was expected to be the replica Viking longship Draken Harald Hårfagre.

Earlier this month we posted that the replica Viking longship Draken Harald Hårfagre may be forced from the Tall Ships Challenge 2016 by pilotage fees. After successfully crossing the Atlantic to participate in Tall Ships America‘s Tall Ship Challenge 2016, the cost of pilotage in the Great Lakes threatened to turn the ship back.  The Draken Expedition has believed that as a non-profit sail training ship, they would exempt from the pilotage requirments. While that may be true in Canadian waters, in the US portion of the Great Lakes, the ship is required to carry a pilot aboard. The cost of pilotage could reach as high as $400,000, a sum well beyond the means of the Draken Expedition.  So far, the Draken Expedition has raised enough money to travel to the recent tall ship’s festival in Bay City, MI and potentially to the Chicago festival. Whether the expedition will be able to continue her planned tour of the Great Lakes is uncertain.  The Sons of Norway have raised over $70,000 thus far to keep the ship sailing. Click here to donate.

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Mary Rose Open for Public Viewing After 471 Years

mary roserevealFour hundred and seventy one years after it sank in the Solent in 1545, King Henry VIII’s flag ship, Mary Rose, is now, once again, accessible to the viewing public at the Mary Rose Museum in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, in Great Britain. The ship was raised from the seabed in 1982 and had undergone 34 years of preservation and restoration. 19,000 artifacts have been recovered from the ship and wreck site so far. Mary Rose sank on July 19, 1545 during the third French war. Of the 500 men aboard, only 35 survived.

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John W. Griffith’s Headstone Unveiled in Linden Hill Cemetery

griffithdtombstoneYesterday, one hundred and thirty four year after his death, a headstone was unveiled at the grave of John Willis Griffiths, a gifted American naval architect who is often referred to as the “Father of the Clipper Ship.”  Although Griffiths was a brilliant engineer, designer, writer, editor and publisher; he died poor and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Linden Hill United Methodist Cemetery in Queens, NY.  The effort to provide a headstone for Griffith’s grave was spearheaded by Matt Carmel and Melbourne Smith with the sponsorship of the National Maritime Historical Society, assisted by Dr. Larrie D. Ferreiro and Adam Brodsky of the New York Post.  Bruce Johnson, yacht designer and Director of Business Development  for the ‎Brooklin Boat Yard, Front Street Shipyard & Rockport Marine, provided major financial support for the project.

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Octopi in the Sky — Giant Octopus and Squid Kites

Only slightly nautical but a lot of fun, nevertheless.

Giant Octopus Kite

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Explosion, Death and Bandits on the Peruvian Amazon

Aqua

Aqua

Last October, we took a five day cruise on the Amazon from Iquitos, Peru.  It was a fascinating trip. Iquitos is 2,000 nautical miles up the Amazon and yet is a deep water port with a controlling draft of around 20 feet. With a population approaching a half million, it is also the largest city in the world which is not accessible by road or rail.  A small eco-tourist excursion cruise industry has developed in and around Iquitos.  While the cruises are wonderful, they are not wholly without risk.  The last few months have particularly difficult. Continue reading

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Reefing the Ana Cecilia

anaceciliaLast week, we posted about the upcoming scuttling of the Luck Lady, ex-Newtown Creek, later this month as an artificial reef off Pompano Beach, FL. Recently, about fifty miles to the north of Pompano, the cargo ship Ana Cecilia was sunk about 1.25 miles offshore off Rivera Beach, as the newest of 11 other vessels that that have been scuttled as artificial reefs in the immediate area.

The Ana Cecilia has a colorful past. She was the first vessel to  deliver cargo from Miami to Cuba in 50 years when she carried humanitarian aid in 2012. She was seized in September 2015 after Customs found more than 386 bricks of cocaine aboard, valued to $10 million. The ship was later donated to Palm Beach County in support of its system of more than 150 artificial reefs.

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John Willis Griffiths — Father of the Clipper Ship

In June, we posted about the upcoming unveiling of a headstone for the brilliant, but largely forgotten, American naval architect John Willis Griffiths. This Saturday, July 23rd, the National Maritime Historical Society will unveil the headstone at Griffiths’ previously unmarked grave in Queens at the Linden Hill United Methodist Cemetery at 10:30 am.  Griffiths was a pioneer in both sail and steam, a designer, a shipbuilder, a hydrodynamicist, a writer and an editor. Of all his accomplishments he is best remembered as the father of the clipper ship. Here is a short documentary honoring Griffiths, done to raise money for the new headstone, narrated by Captain Matt Carmel.

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Dead Rise Summer Ale & Olde Salt Oysters at Merroir

ale&oystersI am currently in the Northern Neck of of Virginia, where I will soon sit down with a boatyard to hear the latest estimated launch date for my Albin Nimbus 42, Arcturus.  As I left the boat with the yard last September and had discussed a May launch, which has now slipped to August, I will admit to being neither happy nor hopeful. Nevertheless, I do feel better about the world after having an ale and oysters at Merroir last night, a restaurant described as a “tasting room,” owned by the Rappahannock Oyster Company, which features oysters raised in their local oyster beds.  Merroir, by the way, is defined as “how environmental and external factors influence the flavor and taste of seafood, such as shellfish. These factors influence the flavor profile and taste as well as the size and quality of meat in the shellfish.”

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Fourni Archepelago, an Underwater Graveyard of Ships in the Aegean

Photo: Vasilis Mentogianis

Photo: Vasilis Mentogianis

An area off the Fourni archepelago, a group of 13 islands between the islands of Samos and Icaria in Greece, is known as a graveyard of ships.  In June, underwater archaeologists discovered 23 ship wrecks during a survey period of only 22 days.

The team of 25 divers identified wrecks spanning more than 2,000 years of Greek maritime history. As reported by National Geographic, “the earliest shipwreck dates to roughly 525 B.C., while the most recent is from the early 1800s. The other wrecks range across the centuries, with cargoes from the Classical period (480-323 B.C.), the Hellenistic period (323-31 B.C.), the Late Roman period (300-600 A.D.), and the Medieval period (500-1500 A.D.) Cooking pots, plates, bowls, storage jars, a palm-size lamp, and black-painted ceramic fine-ware are among the artifacts recovered from the wrecks so far.

Previously, in September of 2015, 22 ancient ship wrecks were identified off Fourni. The total of 45 wrecks now located represent 20% of all known shipwrecks in Greek waters.

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Great News for Whales — Navy Sonar Rules Reined In

humpbackbreachIn 2012, we posted about how U.S Navy low frequency sonar training and testing could kill or deafen thousands of whales and dolphins.  Environmental groups, led by the Natural Resources Defense Council, filed a lawsuit in San Francisco arguing that actions violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Last Friday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the environmentalists, reversing a lower court decision upholding approval granted in 2012 for the Navy to use low-frequency sonar for training, testing and routine operations. The five-year approval covered peacetime operations in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea. The appellate panel sent the matter back to the lower court for further proceedings.

As we posted in 2012, in an Environmental Impact Statement for 2014-2018, the Navy estimated that sonar training and testing might unintentionally harm marine mammals 2.8 million times a year over five years, including deafening 15,900 whales and dolphins and killing 1,800 more over the next five years, in testing in Hawaii, off the California and Atlantic Coasts, and in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Bringing History to Life: Interpreters at Mystic Seaport

mysticsm1The first time I visited Mystic Seaport Museum was around 1974 when, as a student of naval architecture with a summer job in New York City, I took the train out to Mystic, CT. It was like no museum I had ever visited. Instead of exhibits inside of a large building I found myself in an 18th century coastal shipping village with a cooperage, a chandlery, a bank, an apothecary, a print ship, a ropewalk, and of course, the ships. The whaler, Charles W. Morgan; the full rigged ship, Joseph Conrad; the fishing schooner, L.A. Dunton and at least a half score more of various shapes and sizes were a veritable fantasy world for one as ship obsessed as I. And what all brought it to life were the interpreters who both explained and demonstrated the technology, crafts and skills of the times past. I think I must have spent an hour on my first visit talking to the cooper about making barrels and in the ropewalk learning about spinning of ship’s hawsers. Alongside the ships, the interpreters are the living heart of this remarkable museum. Here is a video about how the interpreters bring history to life at Mystic Seaport.

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Bay City Tall Ship Celebration 2016

baycitytallshipsBay City Michigan kicked off its sixth Tall Ship Celebration yesterday, featuring a diverse mix of historic ships and replicas, including the U.S. Brig Niagara; the replica galleon El Galeon Andalucia; the replica Viking longship Draken Harald Hårfagre;  the brigantines Pathfinder and Playfair; and the schooners Pride of Baltimore II, When and If, Mist of Avalon, MadelineDenis Sullivan, Appledore IV and Appledore V.  The Bay City Tall Ship Celebration is one stop on the Tall Ships America Tall Ship’s Challenge featuring port calls-in nine ports in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.

The Tall Ship Celebration also  features arts, craft beer, food and activities for children and coincides with the International Maritime Music Festival.  The Tall Ship Celebration continues through Sunday.

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North Korea’s Dangerous & Decrepit Submarine Fleet

nkmissilelaunchLast Saturday, a North Korean submarine fired a ballistic missile while submerged off the country’s eastern coast.  The missile was successfully ejected from the submarine but the missile was believed to have failed in its initial flight stage. This was the second North Korean failure to launch a missile from a submarine in the last three months. The United States and South Korea both condemned the launch.

“We strongly condemn North Korea’s missile test in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions, which explicitly prohibit North Korea’s use of ballistic missile technology,” said Gabrielle Price, spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

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Beijing’s Claims to South China Sea Rejected By Hague Tribunal

For those concerned by China’s aggressive expansion into the South China Sea, there is some very good news and some not so good news. The very good news is that an international tribunal in The Hague has overwhelmingly rejected Chinese claims to rights in the South China Sea, including the construction of artificial islands. The ruling also found that Chinese claims to sovereignty over the waters of the region had no legal basis.

The case against China had been brought by the Philippines in 2013, after China seized Scarborough Shoal. (See our previous post, Standoff in the South China Sea .) “It’s an overwhelming victory. We won on every significant point,” said the Philippines’ chief counsel in the case, Paul S. Reichler. “This is a remarkable victory for the Philippines.”

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Update: Draken Harald Hårfagre Sails on to Tall Ships Celebration Bay City

dhhlongboatDespite being burdened with unmanageable pilotage fees, the Norwegian Viking longboat, Draken Harald Hårfagre, and her crew have decided to sail on to the Tall Ships Celebration in Bay City, MI, on July 14 -17th. From their press release:

There is not room in our budget to go further west into the Great Lakes, but we can not let the people in Bay City down. The Tall Ships Celebration in Bay City is just days away and the planning is in it’s final stages, it would be great disappointment for us and more importantly to the people we already committed to, says captain Björn Ahlander.

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Draken Harald Hårfagre May Be Forced From Tall Ships Challenge by Fees

drakensailThe Norwegian Viking ship Draken Harald Hårfagre has successfully weathered the seas of the Atlantic Ocean only to be turned back by exorbitant pilotage fees in the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence Seaway. Unless changes are made, pilotage fees could potentially exceed $400,000. The sail training vessel may be forced to leave the Great Lakes and to withdraw from the Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes 2016. From their press release:

The Norwegian Viking Ship, Draken Harald Hårfagre, is most probably forced to leave the Great Lakes and the Tall Ships Challenge 2016 due to the cost for pilotage.

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Update: Lady Luck, ex-Newtown Creek, to be Scuttled off Pompano Beach

ladyluck1In April we posted, Farewell to Newtown Creek, New York’s Lovely “Honey Tanker”.  It was a fond farewell to a lovely coastal “honey tanker” that carried sewage sludge around New York harbor for decades.  When she was sold we did not know what was to become of her. We wrote: “The two rumored bidders were a scrap dealer from Maryland and a town in Florida with plans to sink the ship offshore as an artificial reef.” It turns out that, like so many other aging New Yorkers, the tanker is going to retire in Florida, in this case as a reef off Pompano Beach.

The ship was purchased at auction from the City of New York by Shipwreck Park, Inc., a not-for-profit organization initially funded by the City of Pompano Beach and the Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park in a public-private endeavor. Shipwreck park has renamed the Newtown Creek, the Lady Luck. After being stripped and cleaned of all pollutants, the 324′ tanker will be scuttled roughly a mile offshore in an area with 16 other existing wrecks.  She will be sunk on July 23rd in around 120′ of water with the top of her stack about 50 feet under the surface.

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Newfoundland’s Dildo Island, Captain Cook, and “The Twins”

captaindildoThe New York Times recently featured an article, “Proud to Live in a Town Called Dildo” about a Newfoundland fishing village with an odd name. The name was first applied to nearby Dildo Island and apparently dates to at least 1711, when it was spelled “Dildoe.”  No one knows the origin of the name, but odds are that the island was not named after a sex toy. One common theory is that “dildoe” was a variation on somewhat phallic shaped “thole-pin” or “dole-pin,” single or double pegs in the gunnel of a dinghy or skiff, used as oarlocks when rowing. In addition to the town and the island, there is also the Dildo Arm of Trinity Bay and a point named Dildo Head.

The town locals, called Dildoians, have an annual waterfront festival, Dildo Days. This year it will be on July 27-31. According to the reporting in the NY Times, “a flotilla of boats circles the bay, led by a wooden statue of a certain Capt. Dildo in a rain slicker painted bright yellow. Souvenir-hunting visitors can purchase commemorative apparel, but be forewarned: The “I Survived Dildo Days” T-shirts sell out fast.”  Fortunately, the wooden carving of Captain Dildo is of a fisherman with a white beard, smoking a pipe, bears no resemblance to a sex toy.

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Sailing Windjammer Angelique

A beautiful video of sailing aboard the Windjammer Angelique.  The 95′ ketch-rigged Angelique was built specifically for the windjamming trade in 1980 and sails from Camden, Maine.

Sailing Windjammer Angelique

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