About the Blog

Hello, and welcome to the Old Salt Blog.   I am Rick Spilman, your host.   The Old Salt Blog is a virtual port of call for all those who love the sea, whether from the deck of a ship or boat or from the pages of a novel. Pull up a chair by the fire and make yourself at home.

My first novel, Hell Around the Horna nautical thriller inspired by the voyage of a British windjammer in the particularly brutal Cape Horn winter of 1905, is now available on Amazon.

I am a writer, a sailor, a naval architect, a student of maritime history, a videographer and a multimedia designer, among other things. I have served, albeit briefly, as volunteer crew on HMS ROSE and HMS BOUNTY and have sailed on modern vessels of my own and with friends on the New England coast, the west coast of Florida, the Caribbean,  the Great Lakes and the southwest cost of Ireland.  I am also an avid sea kayaker.  I am married and the father of two amazing sons.


Alaric Bond is a frequent contributor to the Old Salt blog. He is the author of The Jackass Frigate, His Majesty’s Ship,and True Colours.  His novels are set during the Revolutionary wars but differ from the normal Hornblower/Aubrey sagas in that there is no “hero who becomes an admiral”, rather characters from all divisions of the ship are featured, some to prosper, while others fail; many will continue in future books.

In his own words:

I was born in Surrey, and now live in Herstmonceux, East Sussex, in a 14th century Wealden Hall House, and am married with two sons.

My father was a well known writer; mainly of novels and biographies, although he also wrote several screenplays. He was also a regular contributor to BBC Radio drama (including Mrs Dale’s Diary!), and a founding writer for the Eagle comic.

Much of my early life was hampered by Dyslexia, although I now consider the lateral view this condition can give to be an advantage. I’ve been writing professionally for over twenty years with work covering broadcast comedy (commissioned to BBC Light Entertainment for 3 years), periodicals, children’s stories, television and the stage. I am also a regular contributor to nautical magazines and newsletters.

My interests include the British Navy 1793-1815 and the RNVR during WW2. I regularly give talks to groups and organizations and am a member of various historical societies including The Historical Maritime Society and the Society for Nautical Research. I also enjoy Jazz, swing and big band music from 1930-1950 (I’ve played trombone for over 40 years), sailing, old SAAB convertibles and badgers.

25 Responses to About the Blog

  1. Robert Low says:

    Great website, which I am hoping can help me. I am seeking, for a friend, a book lost in time (about 30 years). He thinks it was called To Catch A Queen or similar, a fictional account of Nazi attempts to locate, track and sink RMS Queen Elizabeth before and just at the star of WW2, when it was refitting as a troopship in the Clyde and preparing to sail to America.
    I am stumped so far – any ideas?

  2. David Hastie says:

    The movie was “Assault on a Queen” with Frank Sinatra. A group of thieves raise a sunken Uboat and threaten to sink the ship mid ocean as they loot it. Then the US Navy comes on the sceen.
    There was also a story by one Uboat crew that saw the Queen crossing the Atlantic in WW II, but it was moving too fast before they could get in position to fire. This is in a documentary on Uboats.

  3. Pingback: HNS Conference, 2012 | linda collison's Sea of Words

  4. Love the website, we are working with sail and sail/hybrid cargo groups around the world to build a commercial sail network. Our first Greenheart ship will be built as early as the end of this year and the information you are providing here is really a fantastic help – keep up the great work!!

  5. Bonnie Parker says:

    Great website, very informational. I just love it!

  6. Nicky says:

    Indeed, a wonderful website. Old boats provide unconditional love (both ways)! I guess there are numerous varieties of suitable boat building timber. In my part of the world (New Zealand), native kauri timber was the material of choice when it came to boat building; particularly old classic boats. Find enclosed video: http://youtu.be/HrSJkAYOHu4
    Interestingly, we shipped many tons to San Francisco to help with the re-build after the 1906 earthquake. Many of those older houses in San Fran are made of New Zealand kauri!

  7. Owen Thomas says:

    Great to see you giving my play ‘Richard Parker’ a mention. Good site.

  8. Great job ! I love your site !

  9. Ira Bickoff says:


    I am a high school science teacher and for the past year have been working on a project to engage students in nonfiction maritime literature. I use Google Earth chapter tours and activities. The site is: http://Sailthebook.net

    I thought the material might be of interest to other teachers and guests of this blog.



  10. Jill says:

    I love your website. I love sailing and especially traditional style. I’ve been lucky to be able to sail on both the Phoenix and Ariadne years ago. Because of that experience, I became a merchant marine and still working on the water 30+ years later. Still loving it! I just started a blog about it and hope to introduce others to the lifestyle too. Keep up the good work 😉

  11. Who did David Crosby buy the Mayan from ? Who was the orignal owner ?

  12. Joann N says:

    So glad I found this site. I live on an island, enjoy fishing, own a fishing boat, plan to learn how to sail someday, and need to see the sea, a lake or even a pond as often as possible! I am midway through the Aubrey/Maturin series and am looking forward to reading Mr Spilman and Mr Bond’s stories after I am done “”steeping”in these wonderful books.

  13. jan koch says:

    just found out about this site.
    wonderfull information eaven for us Danes

  14. Curt from Maine says:

    A wonderful site. The links are fantastic. Thank you.

  15. Michael Dun says:

    Excellent, informative site and well designed.

  16. john regan says:

    Very enjoyable site and a great service for nautical types like me.

  17. Old Aviator says:

    As a stinkpotter of some 55 years I am glad to see a blog for all of you blowboaters. Sail on!

  18. Bob Nimmo says:

    I just saw this blog for the first time tonight. Great stuff. Sailed aboard the ROSE in 91 and 92. Worked for Du Pont Dacron at the time and we made the fiber for the sails and had the sailcloth mfd for the Rose to sail in the ’92 Columbus Regatta from San Juan PR to Philadelphia. Also sailed from Jacksonville FL to Richmond VA in ’91 aboard for a “get to know the ship.

    After retirement, I spent nine years in the Caribbean aboard my SV Christina.

  19. Jack Owen says:

    Bit of a long shot but I would be most grateful for any info regarding builders/owners of small steam-launches, pleasure or trade, plying inland waters UK/US, pre-1860-62. A mug-shot in any media and manufacturer’s material would be miraculous.
    Many thanks in advance.
    Can’t reveal more at this stage, loose lips, y’know ;^}

  20. I just wanted to say this is a great site. I’m glad to see another active nautical blog out there. Mine is primarily about building ships in bottles but I love reading the stuff I find on here!

  21. Jim Bates says:

    Congrats – Great content…

  22. Ahoy all, I have just found his blog. As an old mariner, I have become quite involved in gaining recognition as veterans for some coastwise barge mariners during WW II timeframe. Research has determined there may have been as many as 30,000 barge mariners during WW II with many being women and school children who served without having credentials. We are unable to find anywhere in the maritime laws that it was required to obtain maritime credentials for those who served on unrigged and non-propelled vessels during WW II. We need help in proving there were no requirements to have credentials. We ask your help in this research also. We also have a blog at http://www.usmmv.blogspot.com that provides more info on the subjet of coastwise mariners from WW II.

  23. jack sillerud says:

    i was happy to come across this blog site. i worked for farrell shipping lines on board ship 1967/1968 i had a great time.i had oiler/fireman/watertender credentials.i boarded the african glade in san pedro cal. in 1968 we were headed for quin non vietnam when we arrived we anchored there in the deep harbor,next thing i know an exsplosive detonated hitting starboard side,thankfully we didnt sink. when we got unloaded we went to manila dry dock for repair then we were off to austrailia.i was also on the african star in 1967 , there we enjoyed the biafra civil war lagos nigeria , lot of excitement for a then young rural minnesota man, if there are any shipmates that read this lets talk.

  24. Christopher Webbe says:

    I was interested to see the exchange of correspondence on the subject of cobblestones and ballast. When I was in Buenos Aires in the early ’70s I was told that the cobblestones still to be found paving the streets of that city had been brought over from London, as ballast for the returning meat ships, coinciding as it did with London’s replacement of cobblestones with more modern paving materials. I am trying to find confirmation of this.

  25. RD Wolff says:

    Curious to find where exactly a 10-12″ brass bell with the ship’s name and build date would have been hung on a 1993 supertanker, I haven’t found one photo or anything!
    I own one from a 1993 supertanker built by Oshima in Japan.

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