Author Archives: Rick Spilman

Onrust Returns to the Connecticut River

In 1614, the Onrust, captained by Dutch merchant explorer Adriaen Block, was the first European vessel to explore the Connecticut River. This summer, a replica of Block’s ship is returning to the river in a collaboration between the Connecticut River Museum in Essex, … Continue reading

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World Oceans Day on the Lilac — Answering the Ocean’s Call: Stewardship of Our Ocean, Our Future

If you are around New York harbor on Thursday, June 8th, from 6 — 7:45 PM, stop by the historic USCG Cutter Lilac at Pier 25 on the Hudson River to celebrate World Oceans Day. The Lilac Preservation Project is hosting … Continue reading

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The Log of the Record Run — Frederick William Wallace’s Ballad of the Effie M. Morrissey (Mary L. McKay)

One last post (at least for the immediate future) on the historic schooner Ernestina-Morrissey, which is now being restored in Boothbay, Maine.  Launched in February, 1894, she had a very successful almost thirty year fishing career, before becoming an Arctic exploration ship and then … Continue reading

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Bob Bartlett and His “Little Morrisey” — Voyage to Greenland

Yesterday, we posted about the restoration of the historic schooner Ernestina, ex-Effie M. Morrissey.  Here is a documentary, narrated by the polar explorer, Captain Bob Bartlett, describing a voyage to Greenland in the schooner he refers to as his “Little Morrisey.” … Continue reading

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Restoration of the Ernestina-Morrissey Continues

The restoration of the historic schooner Ernestina-Morrissey is a quiet success story. The schooner, launched in 1894, is being rebuilt in the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard. Arriving at the yard in April 2014, she is expected to be redelivered in 2019. The schooner, the official … Continue reading

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Henderson Island — Pristine, Most Polluted, or Both?

Henderson Island is an uninhabited island in the south Pacific Ocean, the largest of the four islands of the Pitcairn Island group and a part of the South Pacific British Overseas Territory.  It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  UNESCO describes … Continue reading

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Windjammer Peking Bound for Hamburg in Late June on Combi Dock III

A recent post on the Combi Lift company blog says that the windjammer Peking, long a resident of New York’s South Street Seaport, will travel back to its original homeport of Hamburg Germany carried by the heavy lift ship Combi Dock … Continue reading

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Alexander Hamilton’s Lighthouse

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse marking the shoals which have become known as the “graveyard of ships,” is often referred to as Hamilton’s lighthouse. (The current lighthouse is the second built at the site.) The story goes that when the teen-aged Alexander … Continue reading

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Navy SEAL “Leap Frogs” and the Disturbing Number of Parachuting Deaths

They usually make it look so easy. The United States Navy Parachute Team “Leap Frogs,” a highly trained group of SEAL parachutists, regularly perform at airshows, sporting events and other celebrations. Last Sunday, during Fleet Week in New York, something went tragically … Continue reading

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Last Mission of the USS Olympia — Carrying the Unknown Soldier Home

On Memorial Day, an updated repost from six years ago about the last mission of the USS Olympia in 1921, when she carried an American unknown soldier killed during World War I  from a cemetery in France back to the Washington to be in … Continue reading

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Mayflower II at Mystic Seaport — the Restoration Continues

Here is a fascinating new video from Mystic Seaport Museum describing the restoration of Mayflower II  at the seaport’s Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard.  Mayflower II is a  reproduction of the original Mayflower  built from 1955-1957.   Restoration Continues: Mayflower II … Continue reading

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The 35th America’s Cup Begins — Is it Still Relevant?

After being postponed for two days by high winds, the 35th America’s Cup is scheduled to start this morning. Many consider the races to be the greatest show on the water — a thrilling, high-stakes extravaganza featuring cutting-edge technology and … Continue reading

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How Dead is the Great Barrier Reef?

An interesting video by Vox on coral reefs and the serious threats to the Great Barrier Reef and other reefs around the world. The outlook doesn’t look good but not all is lost. Definitely worth watching.  How dead is the … Continue reading

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New York Fleet Week 2017

It is Fleet Week in New York City. For a list of the ships participating and where they can be visited, click here. For a schedule of Fleet Week events and activities, click here. Fleet Week Kicks Off

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On the Historic USCGC Lilac — Great Shipwrecks of New York’s ‘Great’ Lakes and The Hidden Hulks of New York Harbor

For those near New York harbor, there is a very interesting exhibit opening on the historic USCGC Lilac at Pier 25 in the Hudson River.  The exhibit “Great Shipwrecks of New York’s ‘Great’ Lakes  and The Hidden Hulks of New … Continue reading

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Shark Oil Barometers

One of the earliest and best ways of predicting the weather was the barometer.  The first to measure changes in atmospheric pressure was developed by Evangelista Torricelli in 1643. By 1668 Robert Hooke recognized that a barometer could foretell storms at sea. … Continue reading

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Repairing Sextants in the Age of GPS

I first arrived in New York harbor forty years ago, as a freshly minted naval architect working for Moore McCormack. In those days, the Brooklyn docks were crowded with US flag shipping companies, many with their headquarters or sales offices in … Continue reading

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Listening to the Eerie Songs of Icebergs & Glaciers

In the summer of 1997, researchers at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) detected a mysterious ultra-low frequency underwater sound over an acoustic hydrophone array in the Pacific ocean.  They had no idea what it was. was it some form of … Continue reading

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A Hornpipe for a Saturday — Come Ashore, Jolly Tar, With Your Trousers On

Here is a fine hornpipe for a Saturday. It is the tune from “Come Ashore, Jolly Tar, With Your Trousers On” played by Gavin Atkin. For the lyrics go to In the Boat Shed. Jacky Tar

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Not Just the Rum that Kills You — Lead Poisoning in Sailors and Soldiers in the 18th Century West Indies

For Royal Navy sailors and British soldiers in the West Indies during the 18th century, rum was a refuge for the discomforts of the duties of the day. The rum also may have been killing them. It wasn’t the alcohol, but … Continue reading

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