Category Archives: History

The Whaleship Charles W. Morgan Returns to Mystic — and the Voyage Continues

The Charles W. Morgan has returned to the Mystic Seaport Museum from her 38th voyage.  Her previous voyages, between 1841 and 1921, took her around the globe hunting whales, whereas the 38th voyage took the wooden whaling ship to ports in New England, … Continue reading

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John Broadwater’s USS Monitor – A Historic Ship Completes Its Final Voyage, a Review

On December 31, 1862 while under tow in a gale off Cape Hatteras, USS Monitor sank. The Monitor had been in service for only ten months and yet in that brief time had revolutionized naval warfare. The wreck of the … Continue reading

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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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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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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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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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Update: The 18th Century World Trade Center Ship May Have Been Built Near Philadelhia

Four years ago, workers excavating at the new World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan uncovered the remains of an 18th century wooden merchant ship. The ship was found 20 feet below street level,  is roughly 30 feet in length and was probably buried intentionally as land … Continue reading

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HMS London Shipwreck — Glimpsing a 300 Year Old Disaster

In 1665, HMS London, a 64-gun second-rate ship of the line of the English Royal Navy, exploded in the Thames Estuary off Southend.  Recent dives on the wreck have recovered a wide range of artifacts and remains.  As reported by the … Continue reading

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LaSalle’s Freeze-Dried Shipwreck La Belle on the Move

Two years ago we posted about how a team of scientists at the Texas A&M University Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation were using freeze-drying to preserve large sections of French explorer’s Robert LaSalle’s flagship, La Belle, which sank in Matagorda Bay in … Continue reading

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Crow’s Nests : Part 2 — Floki, Ravens and Fighting Tops

The crows nest, as a shelter for the lookout on whaling ships sailing the icy waters of the Arctic, was by all indications, invented by Captain William Scoresby around 1807.  (See yesterday’s post:  Crow’s Nests : Part 1 — Melville & … Continue reading

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Crow’s Nests : Part 1 — Melville & Captain Scoresby

The first of a two-part post on crows nests. Who would have thought that a crow’s nest deserves such attention? A reader commented on the lack of a crow’s nest in the video of the Charles W. Morgan under sail … Continue reading

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Update: Yang­­-suis & Archimedes Burning Mirrors

One of the great stories from ancient history is of Archimedes Burning Mirrors.  Legend has it that Archimedes designed a series of curved mirrors to reflect and focus the rays of the sun and that these mirrors were used to set a … Continue reading

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Swedish Warship Mars, Sunk in 1564, Preserved in the Baltic

National Geographic has published breathtaking photographs and video of the Swedish warship Mars, which exploded and sank in the first battle of Öland in 1564.  Because the ship sank in the dark, cold waters of the Baltic Sea, where the … Continue reading

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South Australia Eviro Boss Says Historic Clipper, City of Adelaide, “The Last Thing We Need…”

The composite clipper, City of Adelaide, built in 1864, is the world’s oldest surviving clipper ship. Between 1864 and 1887 the ship made 23 voyages from London and Plymouth to Adelaide, South Australia. Approximately a quarter of a million Australians … Continue reading

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The Dazzle Ships, Then and Now

We posted earlier today about the USS Slater’s dazzle camouflage paint.  Dazzle, sometimes referred to as razzle dazzle, is a very different approach to camouflage.  Where most camouflage attempts to hide an object or person, dazzle camouflage on ships uses … Continue reading

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Update: A Shipwrecked Beer Reborn — Åland Brewery Recreates 170-year-old beer

In 2010, we posted about a shipwreck in the Baltic, off the Åland Islands of Sweden, in which 30 bottles of champagne and 5 bottles of beer were found intact in the wreckage.  In 2011, two bottles of the champagne were … Continue reading

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World War I in Photos: The War at Sea

The Atlantic Monthly has a wonderful feature this month — World War I in Photos: The War at Sea by Alan Taylor. Moving troops and supplies by sea was vital to all armies involved in the war. The battle for … Continue reading

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Will the Real Gallus Mag, or Meg, Stand Up? No Biting, Please

In New York City, there is a story told about Gallus Mag, the bouncer at the ‘Hole in the Wall‘, a bar and brothel on Water Street on the East River waterfront in the mid-1800s. Standing well over 6′ tall, she … Continue reading

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Gods Mortals and Protectors — Figureheads at Mystic Seaport

There is a magic to ship’s figureheads.  In Conrad’s Mirror of the Sea who wrote about the ships and figureheads that he saw on London’s docks:   It was a noble gathering of the fairest and the swiftest, each bearing … Continue reading

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