Black Moon on the Rise

8_moonphaseswWe have posted before about the blue moon, which is the name given to the second full moon appearing in any given month. Tonight, September 30th in the Western hemisphere, there will occur the darker version of the blue moon — a black moon. A black moon is whenever there are two new moons in a given month. This black moon will officially occur on Friday, Sept. 30, at 8:11 p.m. Eastern Time (5:11 p.m. Pacific Time).

Don’t rush outside to see it, the new moon is the moon phase where the moon is entirely in the earth’s shadow, so it is dark. There is literally nothing to see.  Black moons are moderately rare, occurring about once every 32 months.

For those in the Eastern hemisphere, the new moon will rise on October 1, making it the first new moon rather than the second. Rather than encountering a black moon in September, those in Asia, Japan, Australia or New Zealand will have a black moon on October 31, which happens to be Halloween. That should make for an even slightly spookier evening.

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Nathan Carman’s Strange & Tragic Voyage — Rescued After 8 Days at Sea

Chicken Pox

Chicken Pox

On Monday, Nathan Carmen, 22, was rescued 115 nautical miles from Martha’s Vineyard in the Atlantic Ocean by the Chinese freighter Lucky Orient. He had spent eight days in a life raft after his 32′ center cockpit aluminum boat sank suddenly while on a fishing trip. His mother, Linda Carman, 54, who was also on the boat when it sank, is presumed to have drowned.

On September 17th, Nathan and his mother set off from the Ram Point marina in Point Judith, RI on a fishing trip in a boat named Chicken Pox. He said that they were fishing for tuna roughly 100 miles offshore in the area known as Block Canyon.  He said he heard a strange noise in the engine compartment and saw water in the boat, which sank quickly. He managed to get into the life raft, whereas his mother did not. There was no distress call. When the mother and son were reported missing, the Coast Guard began a search covering some 60,000 square miles but found nothing and gave up after six days. Two days later, Nathan Carmen’s raft was spotted by the Lucky Orient.

Up to this point, the story sounds like just another needless tragedy on the water. But, it takes a strange turn. Continue reading

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Building Cieba: Sailcargo, Inc. Kickstarter Project

An interesting new project by Sailcargo Inc. to build a 150′ long wooden three-masted topsail cargo schooner in Costa Rica with a cargo deadweight of around 250 tonnes. Click here to learn more.

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Cruise Ships vs Gondolas — the Continuing Battle of Venice Lagoon

veniceprotestOver the weekend, protesters, in a flotilla of small boats, including Venetian gondolas, attempted to block the passage of cruise ships, including one owned by Thomson, through the Venice lagoon.  The battle between local residents and environmentalists and the cruise industry has been going on for years.  Critics claim that the ships are too large to call on Venice and bring pollution and increased congestion to the ancient city.  During peak season some 30,000 day-tripping cruise ship passengers disembark in Venice every day, which locals claim is ruining their city.

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Miami Marlins Pitcher Jose Fernandez Dies in Boating Accident

miamijettyboatOn Sunday morning, some time around 3AM, a 32′ powerboat slammed into the rocks at high speed at the Governor’s Cut jetty off South Beach, Miami, FL. The three men aboard, including Miami Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez, 24, were all killed. Fernandez was considered to be a rising star in Major League baseball.

What happened? The accident investigation is only beginning but several factors appear to have contributed to the tragedy. Based on photographs, the boat struck the jetty at full speed. The accident happened at night. Although the channel was well marked by lighted buoys, the rock jetty was unlit. The night was clear and the waves were not high.

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Welcome Home Wavertree !

wavertreepioneertugsmall1Yesterday the 1885 windjammer Wavertree returned home to New York’s South Street Seaport after a $13 million, sixteen month restoration in Caddell Drydock in Staten Island. She was escorted home by the 1885 schooner Pioneer, the 1893 schooner Lettie G Howard and the 1931 fireboat John J. Harvey.

The Wavertree, an full-rigged iron-hulled windjammer, has been a museum ship in at New York’s South Street Seaport Museum since 1969. She is one of the largest iron-hulled sailing ship afloat. Wavertree was built at Southampton, England in 1885 for R.W. Leyland & Company of Liverpool.

Here is a short video of her return to the seaport.

Welcome Home Wavertree

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St. Helena Islanders May Sue over New £285m Airport — Too Windy for Planes to Land

rmssthelena1Last June we posted about the new airport on St. Helena. The airport was meant to allow commercial airlines to land on St. Helena, bringing tourists and commerce to the beautiful but rocky and remote island in the South Atlantic. The British government spent £285m to build the airport, which was supposed to open in May of this year.  There was and is only one problem. The runway is too windy for commercial airliners to land. Specifically, there is too much wind shear on the northerly approach.

Now, the island’s residents are threatening to sue the government of Great Britain for compensation related to the so-far unusable airport. St Helena is a British Overseas Territory.

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More LCS Failures but CNO Says “Everything on Track”

ssmontgomery2Recently, the USS Montgomery, an Independence Class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), established a new record. The ship broke down, suffering two unrelated engine failures only three days after being commissioned.  The previous record had been set by the USS Milwaukee, a Freedom Class LCS, which suffered a total engine failure twenty days after commissioning. Unlike the Milwaukee, which required a tow to return to port, the Montgomery was able to limp into port under its own power.

This was the third LCS in three weeks to suffer major engine problems and the fifth within a year.  We recently posted that the three Freedom Class LCS in service, each had suffered a major breakdown in the last year, achieving an unenviable 100% failure rate. The Independence Class is not far behind. Two weeks prior to the problems on the Montgomery, the Independence Class USS Coronado broke down on its first deployment. Overall of the seven LCS in service, only two have not suffered a major failure within the last year.

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Seventeen Fathoms Deep: The Saga of the Submarine S-4 Disaster by Joseph A. Williams — a Review

seventeenfathomsOn the afternoon of December 17th, 1927, the US Navy submarine S-4 was surfacing near Provincetown, MA, when it was run down by US Coast Guard destroyer Pauling, sending the submarine to the bottom. Joseph William’s latest book, “Seventeen Fathoms Deep: The Saga of the Submarine S-4 Disaster,” is a gripping account of the US Navy divers and salvors who raced against time and the weather in a vain attempt to save at least some of the 40 men trapped inside the sunken submarine.

When word was received of the sinking, the Falcon, a minesweeper converted to a rescue and salvage ship, was dispatched from the Navy submarine base at New London, CT. Falcon was the only Navy ship equipped to support divers with the compressors, winches and a decompression chamber. Independently, the best Navy divers and salvage experts were sent to Provincetown from all over the East coast.

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Dragon in the Big City — Draken Harald Hårfagre at North Cove

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Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go aboard the 115 foot long Draken Harald Hårfagre, the largest Viking ship built in modern times, currently docked in Manhattan’s North Cove.  Here are a few photos of her arrival and at dockside.

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Underway in the Engine Room on the Liberty Ship SS John W. Brown

johnbrowndockLast Sunday, I had the opportunity to spend a little time in the engine room of the Liberty ship, SS John W. Brown. The ship, normally based in Baltimore, was visiting New York and offered a full day “Living History Cruise.”

One of the most interesting aspects of this fascinating ship is the 2,500 horsepower triple expansion reciprocating steam engine. Liberty ships were one of the first mass-produced ships. Built during World II, the goal was to build cargo ships faster than German submarines could sink them. The US built 2,710 Liberty ships in 18 shipyards around the United States, by far the largest series of ships to be built of the same design in history. Each ship was built in an average of 44 days. The problem was that steam turbine power plants, particularly the reduction gears, could not be built fast enough to keep up with Liberty ship construction. The triple expansion steam engines installed in the ships were obsolete when the Liberty ships were built, but they could be built quickly, were reliable, and relatively easy to maintain.  The engine on the John Brown is a beauty to behold, a blend of machinery and living sculpture.

Liberty Ship S.S. John W. Brown, Underway in the Engine Room

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Why I’m Not a Pirate — A Sailor’s Perspective

nopirateSome people choose to celebrate today as “Talk Like Pirate Day.”  They may walk around with funny hats, eye patches and/or plastic swords saying “Aargh” or “Shiver me timbers” or some other sort of nonsense. I have never quite understood the appeal of the Disney-fied glorification of 17th century murderers and rapists.

As someone who has spent most of my life involved in shipping, I am also aware that piracy is not an artifact of centuries past. Merchant seamen are still brutalized by pirates to this day. Also, the Disney pirate fetish merely spreads ignorance. Every ship with a traditional appearance is now being called a “pirate ship” by the media and many of the public. Recently,  wrote an essay in the Bangor Daily News titled, Why I’m Not a Pirate, which begins:

I may spend almost every waking moment on a boat, and much of my travel has been carried out on the backs of waves and under the influence of the wind, but I am not a pirate. I have no interest in pirates other than to avoid them, and I certainly don’t want to talk or act like one. The mythical pirates of lore, simply stated, have been glorified beyond recognition so that most of the general population now correlates any form of nautical undertaking akin to that of Jack Sparrow. Continue reading

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Mystic Seaport, Scavaging Ship’s Timbers From Hurricanes & Happenstance

mystictimberIn 2009, we posted about how thousands of trees downed by Hurricane Ike in Galveston, TX proved to be a literal and figurative windfall for Mystic Seaport in rebuilding the historic whaling ship, Charles W. Morgan.  Of the 40,000 trees killed by the storm, there were a large numbers of live oaks, a tree widely used in early American shipbuilding. Mystic was able to source 176 tons of the live oak timber.  Since then Mystic has continued to work with municipalities and private land owners to source scare shipbuilding timber downed by hurricanes and severe weather. Here is a video of Mystic’s search for timber.

The Search for Timber: Wood Sourcing at Mystic Seaport

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Draken Harald Hårfagre Arriving NYC North Cove

drakenbridgeToday, the largest Viking longship built in modern times, Draken Harald Hårfagre arrived in new York City and tied up in North Cove. In late April 2016, Draken Harald Hårfagre set out from her home port in Haugesund, Norway on an epic voyage across the Atlantic to America.

The ship will be open for deck tours at North Cove Marina at Brookfield Place between 11AM and 6PM on Sunday, September 18th through Thursday, September 22th, as well a on Saturday, September 24th and Sunday, September 25th. There will also be an exhibition about the building of the ship and the history behind the expedition in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. Tickets for the tours $10 adults (age 18 and up) and $5 children (ages 6 to 17).

Here is a video of her arrival:

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First U.S. Atlantic Ocean Marine National Monument Established

marinemonumentPresident Obama has designated 4,913 square miles of ocean, 130 miles off Cape Cod on the southern edge of George’s Bank, as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, the nation’s first marine reserve in the Atlantic Ocean.

Lee Crockett at the Pew Charitable Trusts writesThe protected area includes three canyons and four underwater mountains, where scientists have documented hundreds of species. Brilliant cold-water corals, some the size of small trees, form the foundation of deep-sea ecosystems, providing food, spawning habitat, and shelter for fish and other marine animals. The region is also home to tunas, sharks, seabirds, dolphins, and other marine mammals, such as endangered sperm whales and rare North Atlantic right whales.

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SSV Oliver Hazard Perry to Sail to Northwest Passage

Next August, the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry will sail from its homeport of Newport, RI on a five-week expedition to the Canadian Arctic, becoming the first full-rigged sailing ship to sail in the Northwest Passage in more than a century. The University of Rhode Island has received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct a research and education expedition into the Canadian Arctic’s Northwest Passage.

From the URI websiteTwo groups, each consisting of 18 students—six high school students, nine undergraduate students and three graduate students—will sail for 17-day legs of the expedition. The students will receive science instruction as the ship is underway, gain navigation and sailing skills and work alongside ocean scientists as they conduct Arctic research. The 18 undergraduate students will be from the Minority Serving Institutions. There will be a nationwide application process for high school and graduate students. Continue reading

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Cabrillo’s San Salvador & the Pacific Heritage Tour 2016

Photo: San Diego Maritime Museum

Photo: San Diego Maritime Museum

On September 28, 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed into what is now called San Diego Bay on his flagship, San Salvador.  San Salvador was the first recorded European vessel to sail along California, and survey its coastline. Now, 472 years later, the replica San Salvador, built by the San Diego Maritime Museum, has set sail on the Pacific Heritage Tour 2016.

San Salvador will sail today into Channel Islands Harbor at Oxnard, CA and will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, September 15, through Sunday, September 18.  The ship will be calling on Monterrey on September 23 to the 25th and Morro Bay from September 30 to October 9th. The museum is also offering adventure sailing on the replica galleon. Click here to learn more.

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HMS Terror from Franklin’s Doomed Expedition Found

HMS Terror trapped in the ice

HMS Terror trapped in the ice

In an interesting historical coincidence, just days after the luxury cruise ship, Crystal Serenity, completed a passage through the Canadian Arctic’s Northwest Passage,  HMS Terror has been found.  HMS Terror is the second of two ships from Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition to traverse the Northwest Passage. The ship sank after being abandoned in the Arctic ice 168 years ago. The wreck of HMS Terror was found on September 3, appropriately enough, in Terror Bay, which is located on the southwest shore of King William Island, in Nunavut. The wreck lies lies 60 miles (96km) south of where experts have long believed the ship was crushed by ice.

The discovery was tied to to local knowledge. The Week reports: An Inuk crewman on the team’s research ship, Sammy Kogvik, 49, was talking with the Arctic Research Foundation’s operations director, Adrian Schimnowski, when he recalled a hunting trip in Terror Bay, where he posed for a picture with a large piece of wood sticking out of the sea ice, which resembled a mast. When Kogvik got home and discovered his camera gone, he decided not to speak of the experience, believing the missing camera was an omen of the bad spirits that wander the island. But by following Kogvik’s tip, the researchers focused on the north end of Victoria Strait, eventually making their fateful discovery.

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Hidden Harbor Tour, Brooklyn Waterfront –Past & Present

brooklynwaterfronthhtourIf you are around New York harbor this Thursday, September 15th, the Working Harbor Committee is hosting their latest Hidden Harbor Tour : Brooklyn Waterfront –Past & Present. Captain Margaret Flannagan will be the guest speaker in a 2-hour, fully narrated boat tour of 8 miles of Brooklyn’s waterfront industry, past and present, from Newtown Creek to Sunset Park. This portion of the Brooklyn shore facing New York harbor’s Upper Bay was once filled with manufacturing, shipping, and commerce. Though apartment towers and landscaped parks now capture attention, Brooklyn still retains active trade and maritime business. Boarding begins at 5:30PM from Pier 11 Wall Street in Manhattan located on South St. between Wall St. & Gouveneur Lane. Snack bar on board. Tickets: $30; $25 seniors. Click here for tickets. For group sale rates, email workingharbor@aol.com

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Vikings in the Big City — Draken Harald Hårfagre in New York City Sept. 17-26

_pja8879_greenland-sailing_1220_900Draken Harald Hårfagre, the largest Viking longship built in modern times, will be visiting New York harbor from September 17 — 28.  On September 17th, the Viking longship will sail past the Statue of Liberty around 11AM and arrive at North Cove Marina in Lower Manhattan at 11.30 AM where it will be welcomed with speeches, interviews and Nordic entertainment.

The ship will be open for deck tours at North Cove Marina at Brookfield Place between 11AM and 6PM on Sunday, September 18th through Thursday, September 22th, as well a on Saturday, September 24th and Sunday, September 25th. There will also be an exhibition about the building of the ship and the history behind the expedition in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. Tickets for the tours $10 adults (age 18 and up) and $5 children (ages 6 to 17).

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