Author Archives: Rick Spilman

The Giant Shipworm Revealed — Not a Worm or an Eater of Ships, but Definitely a Giant

For years, naturalists have found the shells of giant shipworms, but have not located the giant shipworm itself. Last spring, that changed. Giant shipworms were discovered buried in the mud in a Philippine mangrove swamp.  Two important facts about the giant shipworm, whose scientific name … Continue reading

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Remembering Captain William A. Martin — Black Whaling Ship Captain From Martha’s Vineyard

As Black History Month winds to a close it seems worthwhile to recall Captain William A. Martin, the best remembered black whaling ship captain from Martha’s Vineyard. He is often referred to as the only black whaling captain from the island. … Continue reading

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Was Homo Erectus the First Sailor? Did Ancient Sailors Tell Sea Stories?

The timeline for when humans first took to the seas keeps getting moved back.  A few years ago, stone tools were found on the island of Crete which were dated to 130,000 years ago. Likewise, stone implements on the island of Flores … Continue reading

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The Old Man of the Lake — Crater Lake’s Ancient Wanderer

A 30′ long stump of what is probably a hemlock tree has been floating vertically, bobbing up and down, in Crater Lake, in south-central Oregon in the western United States, for more than 120 years. How much longer it has been floating, … Continue reading

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Ocean-Aged Rum and the Democratic Party Ticket of 1896

Yesterday, we posted about four barrels of rum from Lunenburg’s Ironworks Distillery which are being carried around the globe by the barque Picton Castle on its seventh circumnavigation.  The sea voyage is expected to nicely age the rum.  Of course, distilled spirits being … Continue reading

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‘Round the World Rum on the Picton Castle

When the barque Picton Castle embarks on its seventh circumnavigation this April, it will have a special cargo of four barrels of rum from Lunenburg’s Ironworks Distillery stored in the hold. If all goes well when the ship returns to Lunenburg in … Continue reading

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Wild Brawl on Carnival Legend Interrupts 10-Day South Pacific Cruise

Joseph Conrad once wrote about a conversation with an old sailor who had just signed off a ship. The sailor said something to the effect that “the ship was alright. The problem was the people on it.” The comment seems to … Continue reading

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Abandoned Yacht Sea Nymph Sighted by Volvo Ocean Racer

In October of last year, we posted about the rescue of two sailors and their dogs from the yacht, Sea Nymph. The two women were picked up by the dock landing ship USS Ashland roughly 900 miles southeast of Japan. … Continue reading

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Remember the Maine! 120 Years Ago Today

One hundred and twenty years ago today, on February 15, 1898, a mysterious explosion ripped through the hull of the American battleship USS Maine, at anchor in Havana harbor in Cuba. The ship sank killing 266 of the 350 men aboard. The loss … Continue reading

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Valentine Islands

For Valentine’s Day, here is a repost from a few years ago of a series of Valentine Islands, not all of which are tropical. Are they islands of love on the storm-tossed seas of life?  Sadly, they probably are not, … Continue reading

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Cruise Missiles on Icebreakers and Destroyers without Ammo

I sometimes wonder if the world is going a bit mad. Take, for example, the case of icebreakers with cruise missiles and destroyers with guns but no ammunition.  Despite the increased strategic importance of Arctic, the US has only one … Continue reading

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OE Wave Energy Buoy to be Deployed at U.S. Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site in Hawaii

In fabricating ships’ hulls and building seawalls and docks, the goal is to resist the power of the waves. Recently, however, engineers have been working on techniques to harness rather than resist the immense power of ocean waves. In the … Continue reading

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Sailing Oyster Sloop Priscilla at the Long Island Maritime Museum

Last July, we posted about Christeen, the oldest oyster sloop in the US, built in 1883, which is still sailing on Oyster Bay, NY. Oyster Bay is on the North shore of Long Island. Not far away on the South … Continue reading

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Baltimore’s Mr. Trash Wheel — Water and Solar Powered Harbor Trash Gobbler

We recently posted about various devices and schemes for cleaning plastic and other flotsam from harbors and waterways.  Roberta Weisbrod was kind enough to point out another great example of such a device — Baltimore’s Inner Harbor Water Wheel, or “Mr. … Continue reading

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The Bones of Black Sam Bellamy — Captain of the Whydah?

The Whydah Pirate Museum announced this week, that last year human bones were found near the wreck of the pirate ship Whydah  on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  The bones were located in an area close to where a pistol, which possibly belonged to … Continue reading

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Surprise Liquidation of Oyster Marine by Investors

Until a few days ago, everything seemed promising for the award-winning UK yacht builder Oyster Marine. Oyster had a record year in 2017. Their order-book stood at $70 million and they had gotten a great response to their Oyster 745 on … Continue reading

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Pride of Baltimore II Funding Shortfall May Threaten Sailing Season

In 2016, we posted about a public-private partnership between the State of Maryland and the replica Baltimore clipper, Pride of Baltimore II. It appears likely that the partnership may not be renewed, leaving a $500,000 shortfall in funding which may … Continue reading

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No East Coast Tsunami — Another False Alert

This morning around 8:32 a.m. an alert went out over an AccuWeather app to cell phones from the Gulf Coast to Maine — “Severe Weather Alert: Tsunami Warning … in Effect Until 9:48 AM ET. ”  Fortunately, no massive wave was … Continue reading

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Melbourne Smith — Mariner, Artist, & Marine Architect

The Pride of Baltimore II  Facebook page has some very bad news about Melbourne Smith. 

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Red Sails — Thames Sailing Barge Documentary

Red Sails is a documentary by Michael Maloney about the remarkable Thames sailing barges, which continued to ply their trade well into the 20th century before being replaced by diesel trucks. The documentary interviews bargemen about their lives aboard the … Continue reading

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