Author Archives: Rick Spilman

USS Houston Wreck, Popular Dive Site for Years, Finally Confirmed by US Navy

This week, US Navy divers confirmed the location of the wreck of the USS Houston in Banten Bay off the Java Sea.   The heavy cruiser was nicknamed the “The Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast,” and sank along with the Australian light … Continue reading

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Russian Barque Kruzenshtern Withdraws from Race After Sinking Tug

The Russian four-masted barque Kruzenshtern has been forced to withdraw from the Falmouth Tall Ships Regatta, after it was involved in the sinking of a tug in the Danish port of Esbjerg last week. The Kruzenshtern, ex-Padua, was built in 1926 and is … Continue reading

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Australian Salt Water Crocodile Kills Fisherman

A 57 year old fisherman, wading in the Adelaide River, south of Darwin, was attacked and killed by a 15 foot long (4.5 metre) crocodile.  The fisherman was attempting to unsnag his line when attacked.  As reported by the BBC:  The … Continue reading

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From Lakes Freighters to Lake Houses — Benson Ford & John W. Boardman

Great Lakes freighters are known for their longevity. Compared to their salt water sisters, lakes boats, as they are called, rust slowly and tend to be around for a long time. Here are two lakes freighters, Benson Ford and John W. … Continue reading

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Slow Life — Time Lapse Sponge and Coral

A wonderful suitable video for a summer Sunday. From the video description – “Slow” marine animals show their secret life under high magnification. Corals and sponges are very mobile creatures, but their motion is only detectable at different time scales compared to … Continue reading

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Fukushima Fear Mongering & the Damage it Does

In March of 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was hit by a tsunami triggered by the magnitude 9.0 Tōhoku earthquake.  Three operating nuclear reactors suffered partial meltdowns and a fourth reactor which was not in service suffered hydrogen explosions which … Continue reading

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The Cooperage at Mystic Seaport: A Woodworking Craft

Just about 40 years ago, while a student studying naval architecture, I had a summer job working for a major oil company in New York City. One weekend, two friends and I took a train out to visit Mystic Seaport. … Continue reading

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Italy Bans Largest Cruise Ships from Venice

We posted in June 2012 about protests over the docking of large cruise ships in Venice, Italy.  The arrival of the MSC Davina at 139,400 GT, almost 1,100 feet long, about 125 feet wide and carries up to 5,329 passengers and crew, … Continue reading

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The Last of the Caballito de Totora, the Little Reed Horses of Peru

For the last thirty five hundred years, Peruvian fisherman have paddled boats called caballito de totora, the little reed horses, out through the surf to cast their nets offshore.  At the end of the day, they ride the waves back to shore … Continue reading

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Concordia Yawls — An Appreciation

The recent sinking of the Concordia yawl, Winnie of Bourne, brought to mind just how remarkable this class of boats indeed is.  Winnie of Bourne was raised from the bottom near the entrance of Nantucket harbor just two days after she sank, … Continue reading

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The Super Moon on the Schooner Pioneer in a Frenetic New York Harbor

Last night, my wife and I took to a two hour sail on the schooner Pioneer to watch the “super moon” rise over New York harbor.   The “super moon,” is in scientific terms referred to as a “perigee moon,” a … Continue reading

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Winnie of Bourne, Concordia Yawl, Raised After Sinking Off Nantucket

On Friday morning, near the entrance to Nantucket harbor at around 10:30 AM, someone made a very bad mistake.  The 40′ Concordia yawl, Winnie of Bourne, and the 46′ Swan, Dragon, collided, sending the Concordia yawl to the bottom. The four … Continue reading

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The Sardine Run — Gannetts, Sharks, Dolphins & Divers

A remarkable video of gannetts, sharks, dolphins & divers diving on the sardine run on the Agulhas Bank off South Africa. Shark Explorers – Sardine Run 2013 From Scuba Diver Life — Gearing Up For South Africa’s Sardine Run Exactly … Continue reading

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Hawaii’s Twin Hurricane Near Miss, King “TUTT” & El Niño

Hawaii survived a near miss with two hurricanes. On Friday, Hurricane Iselle, downgraded to a tropical storm, hit the Big Island of Hawaii.  Hurricane Julio is expected to pass roughly 200 miles to the north of the islands on Sunday … Continue reading

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Twenty Eight Feet: Life on a Little Wooden Boat

A very well-made short documentary by Keven A. Fraser about David Welsford’s life on an Herreshoff 28, Lizzy Belle. Twenty Eight Feet: life on a little wooden boat from kevinAfraser on Vimeo.

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Bjoern Kils & New York Media Boat to the Rescue, Again

On Tuesday, the New York Media Boat‘s 2pm Adventure Sightseeing Tour was interrupted just off South Street Seaport, when the boat captain, Bjoern Kils, spotted three people in the water near Pier 15.  They immediatey went to help.  Bjoern describes what happened next in … Continue reading

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Capt. Schettino Lectures on Emergency Procedures? Really?

Captain Francesco Schettino recently gave a two-hour lecture on emergency procedures to criminal science masters candidates at Rome’s Sapienza University. Yes, this is the same Capt. Schettino who ripped open the side of the cruise ship Costa Concordia on a reef, then … Continue reading

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Two Ships from the River Clyde — Glennlee & Falls of Clyde

In the press, they have been described as “sister ships” which is not literally true. Falls of Clyde, an iron-hulled four masted ship built in 1878 in Port Glasgow, is older and larger than Glennlee, a three masted steel-hulled barque, also built in … Continue reading

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Coal Mine Canaries, Lake Erie Algae and Washington Oysters — Will We Ignore the Warnings?

Last Saturday, I was helping my son move to a new job in Wisconsin. We spent the night in a motel just outside Toledo and woke to find that we couldn’t take showers, brush our teeth or have a cup of … Continue reading

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Draken Harald Hårfagre, a Broken Mast and Why They Didn’t Row to Port

In early July, the 114-foot long  Draken Harald Hårfagre, the largest Viking replica ever built, was sailing across the North Sea,  from Haugesund in Norway.  Three days out, in high seas, the ship’s mast failed and went over the side.  No one … Continue reading

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