Category Archives: History

Keep Off the Ice & Remembering Robert Fulton, Who Died 200 Years Ago Today

The Working Harbor Committee blog posted today, Keep Off the Ice! The post begins begins: The Hudson PD issued a warning for people to stay off the frozen river in Hudson, N.Y. after security cameras at the Hudson Boat Launch … Continue reading

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Hoard of Gold Coins Discovered in Caesarea Harbor

Six sport divers from a local club were scuba diving in the ancient Roman harbor of Caesarea in Israel, when one of them spotted a small tiny coin, which the diver thought looked like a toy coin from a game of some sort. On … Continue reading

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Blackbeard’s Medicine Chest & the Media

Sometimes the way the media reports a story about nautical history can be almost as interesting as the story itself. Near the end of last month, archaeologists examining artifacts discovered on the wreck of the pirate Blackbeard’s flag ship, the … Continue reading

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Apple, Microsoft and the Dutch East India Company

A recent article in Atlantic Monthly pointed out that Apple, the technology company, not the fruit, is now, in economic terms, the size of a small country. The world’s largest company with a market capitalization of $700 billion, it is … Continue reading

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Happy Valentine’s Day — A Great Day for Jarvis & Nelson, A Bad Day for Cook

Happy Valentine’s Day! The day is named for one of several martyrs named Valentine.  Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni both have feast days on February 14th. The day is also associated with an old Roman fertility festival Lupercalia.  February … Continue reading

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Eleanor’s Odyssey by Joan Druett — a Review

In 1799, Eleanor Reid was only 21 and newly married to Captain Hugh Reid, commander of the Honorable East India Company extra ship Friendship. It was her husband’s first command and he was under orders to carry a cargo of Irish convicts, the … Continue reading

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J-Boat Endeavour, an Amazing Survivor of Another Age

I recently saw an ad titled, “Endeavour Yacht for Sale,” from a high-end yacht broker. It caught my attention because I owned, sailed and lived aboard an Endeavour 32 sloop, a few decades ago. It seemed unlikely, however, that the … Continue reading

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Remembering the Forgotten MV Wilhelm Gustloff

Seventy years ago today, on January 30, 1945, the German passenger liner MV Wilhelm Gustloff sank in the Baltic after being struck by three torpedoes from a Soviet submarine. An estimated 9,400 died in the sinking, making it the largest loss of … Continue reading

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Peggy of Castletown, UK’s Oldest Yacht, to be Restored

Peggy, the oldest yacht in the UK and the oldest schooner in the world, is being restored. Sometime between 1786 and 1791, George Quayle of Castletown, on the Isle of Man, had a shallop built, which he named Peggy. A shallop is a … Continue reading

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Farewell to the Ferry Kalakala, Art Deco Icon Heads to the Scrap Yard

The ferry MV Kalaka is making its last voyage today, a short trip to the scrap yard. The 276′ ferry carried millions of cars in the Puget Sound between Seattle and Bremerton between 1935 and 1967 and was notable for her streamlined … Continue reading

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Salvatore Polisi 1935 – 2015

New York harbor has lost part of its living history with the passing of Sal Polisi, longtime volunteer and master carver at the South Street Seaport Museum. For three decades, Polisi carved everything from figureheads to wooden signs, using the time honored methods of … Continue reading

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Wind Power in New York Harbor — 1815 and Today

Recently, the NY Times and others have been reporting on the installation of the first commercial wind turbine in New York City. The Sims Municipal Recycling facility in Sunset Park on the Brooklyn waterfront has installed a 100 KW 160′ … Continue reading

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Harwich Mayflower Making Progress

As we posted in December, the Mayflower II, a replica of the ship which brought the Pilgrims across the Atlantic in 1620, is now undergoing a multi-year restoration in the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. … Continue reading

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Watching the Ball Drop — the Nautical Origins of a New Year’s Tradition

Last night in New York City, up to one million people watched a jeweled ball drop in Time Square at exactly midnight to mark the arrival of the New Year. Over a billion people are believed to have watched the festivities … Continue reading

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Alan Villiers, Mayflower II, Joseph Conrad and Mystic Seaport

While not a particular believer in ghosts, if the ghost of Alan Villiers is about, I suspect that he must smiling.  The arrival of the Mayflower II at Mystic Seaport Museum is the reunion, of sorts, of two ships long … Continue reading

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SS City of Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco’s Deadliest Shipwreck Found Again

Recently, History.com featured an article titled “Found: San Francisco’s Deadliest Shipwreck.” They reported that the wreck of the 345-foot Pacific Mail Line passenger steamer SS City of Rio de Janeiro had been found by NOAA researchers using high-definition sonar in 287 feet … Continue reading

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72 Years Later, Captain Claudius Credited with Sinking U-Boat

On July 30, 1942, Herbert Claudius in command of the patrol boat PC 566 was escorting passenger ship passenger ship Robert E. Lee in the Gulf of Mexico, southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. The German U-boat U-166 … Continue reading

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The Original Pearl Harbor Attack Emergency Radio Broadcast from Washington DC

In honor of the 73th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Originally posted December 7, 2010. The Original Pearl Harbor Attack Radio Emergency Broadcast from Washington DC Thanks to Dave Shirlaw on the  Marine History list for pointing out the … Continue reading

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Liberty Ship SS John W. Brown Steaming Home to Baltimore

After spending a month on dock at Colonna’s Shipyard in Norfolk, VA, the Liberty ship SS John W. Brown  is now steaming up the Elizabeth River on its way back home to Baltimore.  During World War II, eighteen American shipyards built … Continue reading

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The Tjipetir Mystery — Gutta Percha Blocks & the Miyazaki Maru

For the last several years, and perhaps much longer, blocks of a rubber-like substance have been washing ashore on the beaches of Great Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The blocks are rectangular with rounded corners and … Continue reading

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