Category Archives: History

Kick ’em Jenny – Ready to Rock Out From Underwater

Back in 2011, we posted a short quiz: Is Kick’em Jenny a Dutch rockabilly singer, a Dutch Celtic Symfo-Folk band or an active submarine volcano on the floor of the Caribbean Sea? The answer is yes to all three. I am not sure … Continue reading

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Fifty One Years Ago, Trawler Snoopy and Eight Crew Casualties of Torpedo Alley

Fifty one years ago this week, on July 23, 1964, the scallop trawler Snoopy was trawling off Currituck Sound, NC.  During World War II that stretch of the coast earned the grim nickname, Torpedo Alley, when German U-boats sank nearly 400 ships in the … Continue reading

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Annie C. Maguire and the Wreck at Portland Head Light

Was the wreck of three-masted bark, Annie C. Maguire, which very conveniently wrecked at Portland Head Light on Christmas Eve 1886, simply an insurance scam? It is said that the ship wrecked so close to the light that the lighthouse … Continue reading

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Captain John Newton & Amazing Grace — The Story Behind the Myth

A new musical is coming to Broadway this summer, which features a ship’s captain and stage sets with lots of ship’s rigging. It is based on the story of Captain John Newton and the song Amazing Grace.  The musical is described: … Continue reading

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El Galeon Andalusia — Fascinating if Occasionally Anachronistic

Today I went aboard El Galeon Andalusia, at South Street Seaport. The ship is billed as “a 170 foot, 495 ton, authentic wooden replica of a galleon that was part of Spain’s West Indies fleet.” It is a intriguing ship that has … Continue reading

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Four Hundred Years of Sailing Ships at the South Street Seaport

Last week provided a rare opportunity to glimpse over 400 years of sailing ship history in three ships, tied up almost side by side, at New York’s South Street Seaport. Berthed on the south side of Pier 15, El Galeon Andalucia is a replica of a … Continue reading

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The Ballad of Preserved Fish

Puritans were notorious for weird names.  Some first names are strangely long, such as “If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned” or “Fight-the-good-fight-of-faith”.  Some names were short but just disturbingly odd. Fly-fornication, for example.  In 1766, Preserved Fish was born in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. His first name, Preserved, … Continue reading

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Captain Hansen Gregory & the Birth of the Modern Donut

Some friends of mine think that I am crazy because I seem to find nautical connections in just about everything. (Other friends think I am crazy for other reasons.)  Take for example, the modern donut.  What about a donut could … Continue reading

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HMT Lancastria – A “Secret Sacrifice” No Longer

The tragic loss of an estimated 6,500 men, women and children on the Lancastria was covered up for more than seventy years. It was the greatest loss of life in the sinking of a single British ship, claiming more lives than … Continue reading

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The French Navy Ship Insere and the Statue of Liberty

Today’s “Google Doodle,” the changing graphic that appears at the top of the Google search page, is a whimsical memorial to the arrival of the Statue of Liberty in New York. “Google is celebrating America’s most famous gift from France … Continue reading

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l’Hermione Greeted by Fireworks at Mount Vernon

The French frigate l‘Hermione was greeted by a dramatic fireworks display on its arrival at Mount Vernon, Virginia, George Washington’s plantation home. In 1780, the original frigate L’Hermione, carried the 23 year old Gilbert du Motier, better known as the Marquis … Continue reading

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In Transatlantic Race, Can Dorade Repeat the Magic of 84 Years Ago?

Toward the end of June, the 52′ yawl Dorade will be joining 40 other yachts to race 2,800 nautical miles in the Transatlantic Race 2015, which starts in Newport, R.I., and finishes off the southwestern coast of England. This is not the … Continue reading

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l’Hermione Arrives in Yorktown

In 1780, the French frigate, l’Hermione carried the Marquis de Lafayette to America with the news of French support for the American revolution. Now a replica l’Hermione has arrived in Yorktown, VA, the first of twelve ports that the frigate will … Continue reading

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Secrets of New York: Captains, Pirates and Ghosts

“Captains, Pirates and Ghosts,” from the documentary series, Secrets of New York, hosted  by Kelly Choi.  It includes some nice shots of the South Street Seaport Museum‘s schooner Pioneer, with commentary by the museum’s Executive Director, Captain Johnathon Boulware.  Segments from the Bridge Cafe, … Continue reading

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The Strange Saga of the Mountain Submarine

In 1881, John Holland designed and had built at the Delamater Iron Company in Manhattan a working submarine. Funded by the Fenian Brotherhood and intended to sink British shipping, the submarines was in all reepcts successful, notwithstanding that it never … Continue reading

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Piracy, Packet Ships and the Erie Canal — Why New York is the Center of US Publishing

This week, Book Expo America and Book-Con, collectively among of the largest book publishing events in the world, are being held in New York City, on the Hudson River in the Javit’s Center. (My novel, The Shantyman, is one of seemingly countless books … Continue reading

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Captain Kidd’s Treasure Found in Madagascar? The Legendary Treasures of Captain Kidd

Earlier this month, salvors reported finding a 50 kg silver bar off the coast of Madagascar, which they believed to be part of Captain Kidd‘s treasure lost in the sinking of the Adventure Galley in 1698.  The salvors are confident that they will … Continue reading

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USS Recruit — The Unsinkable Warship

Perhaps no warship is unsinkable, but the several USS Recruits came close, primarily because they were based entirely on land.  In 1917, the 200′ USS Recruit, also known as the Landship Recruit, was built in Union Square, in the middle of … Continue reading

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Happy 250th Birthday HMS Victory!

In honor of the 250th anniversary of the launching of HMS Victory, here is a rolling  broadside, fired by none other than HMS Victory.  The ship is beginning a £50million restoration project in an attempt to preserve Nelson’s flagship for future generations.  For … Continue reading

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Half Moon in Perspective

Half Moon, a replica of Henry Hudson’s ship, looks very small sitting on the deck of the heavy-lift ship Traveler, which is carrying the ship to its new berth at the  Westfries Museum in Hoorn, in the Netherlands.  As heavy lift ships go, … Continue reading

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