Author Archives: Rick Spilman

Seven Still Sailing in Vendee Globe

One month ago, French sailor, Armel Le Cléac’h, 39, crossed the finish line at Les Sables d’Olonne, France to win the 8th Vendée Globe. Since then another 10 boats have followed Le Cléac’h across the line. It is a testimony to … Continue reading

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King Harald “Blåtand” Gormsson, Bluetooth & the Jelling Stone Ship

Remember King Harald “Blåtand” Gormsson? No? The king of Denmark and later Norway in the late 10th century. The name still doesn’t ring a bell?  His rune mark is embedded in your phone and possibly your earbuds and speakers. His … Continue reading

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US & Soviet Nuclear Submarine Collision Kept Hidden Over 40 Years

A Russian spy ship lingering off the US coast has been in the news recently. Within the last day or so, the spy ship Viktor Leonov was hanging out off the US Navy submarine base at New London. (The ship … Continue reading

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Black History Month — William Tillman and the Privateer Jefferson Davis

A post in honor of Black History Month. On Throwback Thursday, a slightly revised post from July, 2011.  William Tillman was the first black hero of the American Civil War. He was not a soldier but rather a 27-year-old  cook-steward … Continue reading

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Cancer-Causing Chemicals Found in Deepest Ocean Trenches

There appears to be no limit to the man-made pollution of the oceans. Toxic chemicals have now been found in the deepest portions of the ocean, at the bottom of the Marianas and Kermadec trenches. Each trench is over 10 kilometers deep … Continue reading

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Frederick Douglass — “I Will Take to the Water”

Frederick Douglass never knew his birthday but he chose to celebrate it every year on February 14th. So happy Frederick Douglass’ birthday and a most joyous Valentine’s Day.  Frederick Douglass was born a slave around 1818. He taught himself to read … Continue reading

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Pods Strike Again — Norwegian Star Breaks Down in Tasman Sea

Azipods strike again. The Norwegian Star, operated by Norwegian Cruise Lines, was towed into Melbourne, Australia over the weekend after losing propulsion when the ship’s azipods failed, leaving the ship adrift last Friday. In the latest round of failures, the … Continue reading

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Yale & Naval Academy Honor Admiral “Amazing Grace” Hopper

Yale University has announced that it is renaming Calhoun College the Grace Hopper College in honor of Grace Murray Hopper. The University decided to change the name of the residential college which had been named after John C. Calhoun, who attended Yale in 1804 … Continue reading

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All Royal Navy Attack Submarines Down for Repairs, or Maybe Not

On Friday, the British tabloid The Sun reported that the Royal Navy’s entire fleet of seven attack submarines was out of service. They wrote: “Repairs and maintenance to all seven have left none to defend our waters — or monitor … Continue reading

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Over 400 Pilot Whales Beached in New Zealand — Rescue Efforts Ongoing

Over 400 pilot whales became stranded after they swam into the shallow waters of Golden Bay, near Farewell Spit, at the northernmost tip of the South Island of New Zealand.  An estimated 300 of the whales have died, as a small … Continue reading

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More Illegal Wreck Salvaging — Japanese WWII Shipwrecks off Borneo

Last November, we posted about the wrecks of three Dutch World War IIship wrecks in the Java Sea that have apparently vanished.   The three ships; the HNLMS De Ruyter, HNLMS Java and HNLMS Kortenaer;  had been in waters 70 meters … Continue reading

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Schooner Jobs — A.J. Meerwald & Lois McClure

Two fine schooners are looking for crew. The A.J. Meerwald is looking for various crew and staff positions.  A.J. Meerwald was built in 1928 as a Delaware Bay oyster schooner and is New Jersey’s official Tall Ship. A.J. Meerwald is operated by the … Continue reading

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Riverboat Delta Queen & SS Badger — How Much Leeway Should Historic Ships be Given?

Is the classic 1927-built stern-wheel steamboat Delta Queen a national treasure or a not safe enough to operate?  The ship does not meet current safety standards as established by the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations.  A series of rolling two … Continue reading

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The Fatal Shore, the Loss of the Herzogin Cecilie

Given that so much of what is happening in the world today seems like a shipwreck, it seems appropriate to post a very well done short documentary of the wreck of the great four-masted steel barque the Herzogin Cecilie, which … Continue reading

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Newly Discovered Deep Water Coral Reef off Amazon River Threatened by Drilling

A 3,600 sq mile (9,300 sq km) coral reef has been discovered off the mouth of the Amazon River. Stretching for over 600 miles, from French Guiana to Brazil’s Maranhão state, the reef is in water from 160 to over 320 … Continue reading

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“The Twentieth Century”: The Sailing Oystermen

At one time, 2,000 skipjacks dredged for oysters under sail. Now they number fewer than 40 and less than half are actively fishing. Walter Cronkite hosts this documentary that examines a disappearing way of life for Chesapeake Bay skipjack sailors, … Continue reading

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Death on the Great Barrier Reef — Laws of Chance or Deadly Jellyfish?

Recently, a 63 year old British tourist died suddenly while snorkelling on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.  He is the fifth tourist to die in the last three months. In November, a 60-year-old British man and two French tourists, aged 74 and … Continue reading

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“Black Jacks” at Noble Maritime in Snug Harbor This Saturday

I read Dr. Jeffrey Bolster‘s book, Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail, not long after it came out a few years ago. It is a fascinating study of the largely untold story of African-American sailors in … Continue reading

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Free Online Course — Shipwrecks and Submerged Worlds: Maritime Archaeology

For anyone with an interest in shipwrecks, here is a very interesting free online course that marine archaeologist John Broadwater pointed out on Facebook.  It has just started but there is still time to sign up.  ABOUT THE COURSE People have … Continue reading

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Blue 52 — Which May or May Not Be the Loneliest Whale

Somewhere in the vast North Pacific Ocean, there is a singular whale singing a unique song, which was first recorded in 1989. For close to thirty years, researchers monitoring anti-submarine hydrophone arrays have heard a whale call which is much higher than the calls … Continue reading

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