Author Archives: Rick Spilman

South Korean Ferry Tragedy — Close to 300 Missing as Ferry Sewol Sinks

What was intended as a four-day field trip to the Korean resort island of Jeju for high school students and their teachers ended in tragedy when the ferry sank off several miles north of Byeongpung Island, on the west coast of … Continue reading

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Blood Moon Eclipse Lights the Sky

We posted recently about a rare lunar eclipse tetrad, a sequence of four total lunar eclipses, each six months apart.  The first of these total lunar eclipses was last night around 2:30 AM EST. I confess. I didn’t stay up. Fortunately … Continue reading

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From the “Hole-in-the-Wall” to the Bridge Café — Gallus Mag to Hurricane Sandy

In March, we posted about “The Captain Rose House of 1773 & Kit Burns Rat Pit of 1870,” at 273 Water Street in Lower Manhattan. In addition to being the third oldest building in Manhattan, the building has a rich … Continue reading

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Lifejackets for Life — PFD PSA from New Zealand

Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) clearly has a sense of humor. Their new advertising campaign harkens back to the glory days of 1980s cop shows to remind us that, like bulletproof vests, lifejackets don’t save people’s lives unless they’re worn. Lifejackets … Continue reading

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Burial at Sea in a Bed-Sheet? Really?

As part of a new exhibit, Rough Medicine: Life and Death in the Age of Sail, at the South Australia Maritime Museum, sail maker Don Lucas was asked to sew a shroud for a child, actually a child-sized manikin, fortunately, to … Continue reading

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German Fisherman Finds ‘World’s Oldest Message In A Bottle’

A wonderful story. Thanks to Irwin Bryan for passing it along. German Fisherman Finds ‘World’s Oldest Message In A Bottle’

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Navy LCS Debacle Continues — Slow Motion Shipwreck

The Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) USS Freedom, the first of her namesake class and one of two different LCS designs, was recently deployed to Singapore for ten months in order to demonstrate the capabilities of the ship described by … Continue reading

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Update: Captain Error and Poor Bridge Design Caused Seastreak Wall Street Ferry Collision

On January 9, 2013, we posted about the Seastreak Wall Street catamaran ferry, which slammed into a loading barge at Pier 11 in New York City’s East River in Lower Manhattan at 12 knots, injuring 80 of the 331 passengers and crew.  The … Continue reading

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The Storm over ‘Rebel Heart’ — Blame the Parents, Envy Them? or Both?

I will admit to having distinctly mixed feelings related to the rescue of the Kaufman family on their yacht ‘Rebel Heart.‘ I am obviously pleased that Lyra received medical attention. I am saddened that the boat that was their home … Continue reading

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An American Treasure — Fireboat John J. Harvey Returns to Hudson Pier 66

Yesterday, we posted about the arrival of the World War II Destroyer Escort USS Slater at Caddell Dry Dock. The day before, the historic fireboat, John J. Harvey, left Caddell to return to her Hudson River dock after a month of … Continue reading

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Drydocking USS Slater, Last WWII Destroyer Escort Afloat

Could the arrival of the the USS Slater, the last World War II destroyer escort still afloat in the United States, be a sign of spring in New York harbor?  We can only hope, although as the sky today remains … Continue reading

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Pararescuers & USS Vandergriff Rescue Sick One Year Old on Yacht Rebel Heart

Update: As reported by CBS — The Coast Guard says the baby, along with her parents and 3-year-old sister, boarded the USS Vandegrift at 8 a.m. Sunday. The baby girl was in stable condition and was heading to San Diego … Continue reading

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Bluenose II — No Way to Restore a Schooner

The new construction/restoration of the Canadian schooner Bluenose II has not gone well.  Years behind schedule and millions over budget. Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil is calling it a “boondoggle” and is demanding an investigation into the project.  Recent lawsuits involving the … Continue reading

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Rare Total Lunar Eclipse Tetrad Beginning This Month Across US

Sailors watching the sky will see a total lunar eclipse on April 15th in the United States. This is the beginning of a rare tetrad, a sequence of four total lunar eclipses, each six months apart. While this will be … Continue reading

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Cruiser Olympia Staying in Philadelphia

After a three year bidding process to attempt to find a new home for the historic cruiser Olympia, the Independence Seaport Museum has announced that it will keep the ship after all. Four groups originally bid on taking over the ship but … Continue reading

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Aquatic April Fool’s — Gulf Coast Manaphin

Yesterday was April 1st, often known as April Fool’s Day. (Our post on a dramatic man overboard rescue was definitively not a spoof.) Yesterday “Visit St Pete-Clearwater” issued a press release about a recent sighting of the legendary “Manaphin” in … Continue reading

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Clipper Round the World Race — Dramatic Man-Overboard Rescue

Andrew Taylor, 46, from London, a crew member on Derry~Londonderry~Doire yacht, racing in the Clipper Round the World Race, went overboard in the Pacific at 23.43 UTC Sunday night in rough weather. He was sighted again at 00.55 UTC before … Continue reading

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International Court of Justice Ends Japanese Antarctic Whaling

Great news. The UN’s highest court has ruled against Japanese Antarctic whaling. The Japanese have notionally supported the commercial whaling moratorium adopted in 1982 but have exploited a loophole which allows for whaling for “scientific research.”  As we posted last June, the the … Continue reading

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Hobie Alter — Legendary Surfing and Sailing Innovator

Hobart “Hobie” Alter died of cancer in Palm Desert, California on March 29th, 2014 at the age of 80.  In 1958, he revolutionized surfboard design by developing the foam-and-fiberglass surfboard. In the 1960s, he introduced multi-hull sailing to the mass market … Continue reading

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Sponges — Mother of Us All?

All terrestrial life came from the sea, but how did life develop in the ocean? Professor Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter, who led a new study, said: “There had been enough oxygen in ocean surface waters for over 1.5 … Continue reading

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