Category Archives: History

The Wanderer — the Slave Ship Flying a Yacht Club Burgee

The schooner yacht Wanderer was built in 1857 for Colonel John D. Johnson, a New Orleans sugar baron. At just over 100 feet long, she was luxurious, sleek and extremely fast, reportedly capable of sailing at 20 knots.  The Wanderer is … Continue reading

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The Two SS Athenia, Torpedoed by U-Boats

Seventy five years ago this month, the Donaldson Line passenger liner SS Athenia became the first British ship to be sunk by a German U-boat in World War II.  The 13,465 gross ton liner sailed from Glasgow bound Montreal.  On September 3, 1939, only … Continue reading

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Historic Steamer SS Columbia Coming to New York!

The passenger steamer SS Columbia is heading toward New York!  The goal is to restore the historic steamer, built in 1902, and to put her in service on the  Hudson River.  SS Columbia is the oldest surviving passenger steamship in … Continue reading

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On “Talk Like a Pirate Day,” Why Romanticize Thieves and Murderers?

On this the official “Talk Like A Pirate Day,” all I can say is, “No, thank you. I would rather not.”  The problem is that there are still real pirates plying their trade around the globe, abusing and and too often … Continue reading

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Tommy Thompson, SS Central America & the Plague of Gold

Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. recently wrapped up recovery efforts on the wreck of the SS Central America for the year. In last five months, they have recovered more than 15,500 gold and silver coins, 45 gold bars and hundreds of nuggets, … Continue reading

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Frigate Hermione is Under Sail!

After close to two decades of construction, the frigate Hermione  is finally under sail. In 1997, a group of historical and tall ship enthusiasts formed the Association Hermione-La Fayette and set about building a replica of the French frigate, Hermione, which carried Gilbert … Continue reading

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Battle of Trindade — Battle of the Doppelgänger Passenger Liners

On September 14th, 1914, one hundred years ago today, off the Brazilian island of Trindale, one of the stranger naval battles of World War I was fought between two converted passenger liners, one of which was disguised to look like … Continue reading

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The Battle Of Fort McHenry & the Star Spangled Banner

At around 6AM, 200 years ago today, the British Royal Navy began a fearsome bombardment of Fort McHenry at the mouth of Baltimore harbor. The British had attempted to take Baltimore by both land and sea. The British army attack … Continue reading

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Bicentenial of the Battle of Plattsburgh — the False Nile & Defeat of the Royal Navy

We may always associate September 11th with the tragic attacks of 2001. September 11th of 1814, however, 200 years ago today, saw a significant naval victory by the young American Navy at the Battle of Plattsburgh that may have changed … Continue reading

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A Super-Hero Suit to Dive on Antikythera Shipwreck

An international team of archaeologists and divers wearing an Exosuit will be diving on the Antikythera shipwreck this month. The suit is described as a part robot and part submarine, and evocative of the suit from the “Iron Man” movies and their … Continue reading

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Ship From Franklin Expedition & Possibly the Battle of Baltimore Found

The wreckage of one of two missing ships from Franklin’s lost expedition of 1845 is believed to have been found. It is not known yet if the wreck is of HMS Terror or HMS Erebus. The Franklin expedition was an attempt … Continue reading

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Mystery Munitions Recovered from Lake George

A team of US Navy divers recovered five crates of live munitions from the bottom of Lake George, NY, in about 60′ of water. The munitions were found by recreational divers over the Labor Day weekend. The Navy divers are reported … Continue reading

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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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