Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race — The Offshore Classic That You May Never Have Heard Of

VRIYRheaderWhen I hear “Volvo Round ….” I immediately fill in the blank with “the World.” (OK, technically, the race is named the Volvo Ocean Race, not the Volvo Round the Word Race.)  I had never heard of the Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race, which perhaps is not too surprising because Volvo only became a sponsor in 2015.  Nevertheless, I had also never heard of the Round Ireland Yacht Race either. The biennial race will be celebrating its 18th sailing this year when a record 60 yachts, from all over Ireland and the British Isles, cross the starting line in Wicklow Bay on Saturday, June 18, 2016. The Round Ireland Yacht Race is Ireland’s premier offshore sailing race and is held every two years by Wicklow Sailing Club in association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club. The 704 nautical mile race was first held in 1980 and still retains the original course; “leave Ireland and all its islands excluding Rockall to starboard.” After the page break, a short video preview:

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Maryland in $1.5 Million Partnership with Pride of Baltimore II

prideiiTremendous news for a great ship. On Monday, Maryland’s Governor Hogan announced a $1.5 million private-public partnership with the replica Baltimore clipper, Pride of Baltimore II.  Under a new agreement, the state will commit the funds to Pride of Baltimore Inc., the nonprofit that owns and operates the Pride, over the next three years.

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Manatees Swim Back From the Brink

manteeCRWhen I was in high school in Florida in the 70s, the question was not “will the manatees become extinct?” but “how fast?”  The manatees appeared to be doomed by a loss of habitat, pollution, slow birth rates and being run over by powerboats. By the late 1960s, only a few hundred West Indian manatees remained in Florida coastal waters. Manatees appeared sure to follow their cousin, Steller’s sea cow, which was hunted to extinction in the late 1700s. Now remarkably, almost fifty years later, manatees have come swimming slowly back from the brink.

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At 64, Rich Wilson Prepares to “Go Around Again” in the 2016-17 Vendee Globe

richwilsonIn 2009, Rich Wilson at 58 was the oldest sailor in the Vendee Globe non-stop single-handed round-the-world yacht race.  He finished ninth of the thirty boats which began the race. Wilson was the only American in the eleven finished.

The Vendee Globe is said to be the world’s toughest ocean race. Wilson suffered broken ribs, a gash in his face and compressed vertebrae as he sailed 28,790 miles in 121 days.  Now at 64, he is preparing to do it again in the eighth Vendée Globe, which starts on November 6, 2016.

Go Around Again” is a video documentary about Rich Wilson, written and directed by Rick Groleau.

Go Around Again

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Why Won’t “The Bermuda Triangle” Just Go Away?

bermudatraingleThe CBS news program “60 Minutes” recently did a report on the sinking of El Faro. Overall, they did a reasonably good job for a mainstream media report on shipping. There were a few minor glitches but overall, not a bad job. There was, however, one glaring problem. The report was titled, “Lost in the Bermuda Triangle.”  Really? The Bermuda Triangle? Why dredge up that tired old scam?  Why hasn’t the Bermuda Triangle nonsense just gone way?

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The Otherworldly Beauty of Skellig Michael

skelligmichaelA long time ago, on an island far, far away….  In the final scene of the new movie, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the young heroes finally track down Luke Skywalker, the Jedi master who has gone into hiding. They find him on the windswept peak of an island far out to sea on a distant planet. By this point in the movie, I could not have cared less whether they found the missing Skywalker, but I was captivated by the setting. I recognized the island as Skellig Michael.

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MH370 Search Locates 1800s Shipwreck

mh370shipwreckMore than 80,000 square kilometers (30,000 square miles) of the seafloor in the Indian Ocean west of Australia have been searched, looking for where Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is believed to have crashed with 239 people aboard in March 2014. So far, they have not located the missing the Boeing 777, but in December, they did find the wreckage of a ship, believed to date from the 1800s. The Australian Joint Agency Coordination Centre, the agency directing the search for the plane, sent out a second ship to take a closer look at the shipwreck using and an underwater drone. Experts at the Shipwreck Galleries of the Western Australian Museum have said the wreckage is probably a ship made of steel or iron from mid-to-late 19th century or possibly the early 20th century.

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What is a Riverine Command Boat?

rcb1Yesterday, two US Navy Riverine Command Boats (RCBs) with a combined crew of ten sailors were apprehended by Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats. One or both of the RCBs had suffered a mechanical failure and had drifted into Iranian waters. The Iranians released the two boats and the sailors, nine men and one woman, today.  The incident raised one question, at least in my mind, “what is a Riverine Command Boat?”

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Atlantic Star –Newest & Largest Open-Top ConRo for ACL

atlanticstar1Atlantic Container Lines’ (ACL) Atlantic Star, the newest and world’s largest Container/Roll-on Roll-off ship, has arrived on the North American East Coast, calling at Halifax and on Saturday, in New York. Notwithstanding its name, the ships of Atlantic Container Lines have always featured room for both containers and wheeled vehicles.   Atlantic Star, the latest and greatest ConRo, is the first of five of ACL’s new G4 class ships, representing the fourth generation of this hybrid ship type. The new ships will have a container capacity of 3800 TEUs plus 28,900 square meters of ro/ro space, with a car capacity of 1307 vehicles.

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Boom ! Volvo Ocean Race — A Video for a Monday Morning

Even for the professional sailors on the Volvo Ocean Race, not everything always goes well. A video for a Monday morning.

Boom! | Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15

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Ships in Bottles — A Bit of the History and Lore

Ship in a bottle -- 1784

Ship in a bottle — 1784

A Facebook video by my friend Frank Hanavan showing him inserting a ship in a bottle (after the page break) got me thinking about, well, ships in bottles. When, where and why did sailors start putting ships in bottles? After looking into the history of ships in bottles (or SIBs, as the aficionados refer to them), I don’t claim to have all, or even most, of the answers but I have come across some interesting lore.

The first mention of objects in bottles dates back to 1719. A German artist, musician and magician, Matthias Buchinger, built models, although not necessarily, of ships inside bottles. He was also well known as an illustrator and engraver, all of which was remarkable given that he was born without arms or legs. He was also quite the lady’s man, having married four times and having at least 14 children by eight women.

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Wrecks from the Lost Whaling Fleet of 1871 Found in Alaska

whaling-fleet-003_huntington-libraryIn 1871, a fleet of 33 American whaling ships became stuck in the ice off the coast of Alaska.  Over 1,200 whalers were rescued by the seven ships which managed to avoid being trapped in the ice floes. Remarkably, all aboard the trapped ships survived the ordeal.

On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that they believe that they have located the wreckage of two of the lost whaling fleet on the bottom of the Chukchi Sea near the Inupiat village of Wainwright.

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Cousteau’s Calypso Set to Sail Again?

Big news from the Cousteau Society. They have announced: As 2016 begins, Calypso will be getting a whole new life, 20 years after its accident in Singapore! After having explored the possibility of a future for Captain Cousteau’s iconic ship in Monaco, a different solution has finally been found to save Calypso.

If the announcement turns out to be accurate, this is a major reversal of fortune. Last summer, the headline in the New York Times was “Once a Beloved French Symbol, Cousteau’s Ship Now Rusts In Oblivion.”   Our post was no more optimistic — Cousteau’s Calypso — Abandoned and Rotting.  After a court judgement over unpaid yard bills, the only likely alternative appeared to be the scrap yard for the venerable old research vessel made famous by Jacques Cousteau.

We can only wish the Cousteau Society good fortune in its efforts to return the Calypso to the sea.

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Hinckley Yachts Acquires Morris Yachts

morrisHinckley Yachts announced that it has acquired Morris Yachts. Both are high-end boat builders and the boatyards are within a quarter mile of each other in Trenton, Maine. Hinckley says it plans to continue the Morris boatbuilding and service operations under the Morris Yachts name.

Both Hinckley and Morris began as family boatbuilding operations. Hinckley was founded in 1928 by Benjamin B. Hinckley and Morris was founded by Tom Morris in 1972. In 1977, Hinckley Yachts was acquired by the private equity firm, Bain Williard Companies. Four years later is was sold again to another private equity firm Monitor Clipper Partners. In 2010, Hinckley was sold again to Scout Partners.

Tom Morris, the founder of Morris Yachts, died in 2008. His death coincided with the major recession of that year. In recent years, the firm has been struggling with slow sales and has hinted that they were interested in speaking to potential investors or partners. The acquisition by Hinckley effectively broadens Scout Partner’s portfolio of high-end yacht builders. In addition to acquiring Hinckley, Scout acquired Hunt Yachts, a builder of luxury powerboats in 2013.

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Hermione – Stopover in Brest

Great video of the replica frigate l’Hermione calling in Brest.

L’Hermione – Escale à Brest [Drone] from Nautimages on Vimeo.

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The Strange & Grim History of Battleship Island

battleshipislandHashima Island lies nine miles off the port of Nagasaki, Japan. Between the seawall which encircles the small island and the abandoned apartment blocks rising from it, many think that it looks like a battleship, earning the nickname, Gunkanjima, or “Battleship Island.” The tiny island was once the most densely populated spot on the globe with 5,259 residents living and working on only 16 acres. For the last 40 years, it has been abandoned and uninhabited, a ghost island, its concrete towers slowly crumbling into the sea. In July 2015, after some controversy, the island was formally approved as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Beginning in 1887, when a rich deposit of coal was discovered, the island was turned into a large coal mine. Mineshafts reached deep beneath the sea while the apartment buildings for the miners rose skyward on the island above. Mitsubishi purchased the islands and built nine-story apartment buildings, the first large concrete buildings in Japan.

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The Wreck of El Faro — NTSB Video from 60 Minutes

The news program 60 Minutes broadcast National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) footage of the wreck of El Faro last night. The TOTE Ro/Ro was lost with all 33 aboard in Hurricane Joaquin in October. The footage is striking and grim. El Faro‘s upper two decks were ripped off during the sinking and were found a half mile from the ship itself, which sank in 15,0000 feet of water. The Vessel Data Recorder has not been found. The video and photographs were taken by the US Navy’s CURV (Cable operated Unmanned Recovery Vehicle.)  The segment is generally well done, notwithstanding the unfortunate reference to the “Bermuda Triangle” and a few other questionable points. Click here or on the image below to watch the videos.

ElFaroNTSB

Lost in the Bermuda Triangle

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Is the Explosive-Laden SS Richard Montgomery a Target for Terrorists?

richardmontgomeryAnti-terror police in the UK are suddenly concerned that the SS Richard Montgomery, a Liberty ship which sank over seventy years ago loaded with high explosives in the Thames estuary, might be a potential target for terrorists.  Reportedly, the government has been on high-alert to defend the wrecked ship.

In 1944, SS Richard Montgomery ran aground and sank off the Nore sandbank, near Sheerness loaded with 1,400 tonnes of high explosives. Initial efforts to unload the ship’s dangerous cargo were partially successful but were abandoned after the ship began to break up. The remaining 1,400 tonnes of cargo was considered too dangerous to attempt to unload, so beyond periodic surveys and the placing of warning buoys and signs, little more has done in the intervening seventy-one years.

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The Return of the Schooner Amistad

Photo: Sean D. Elliot/The Day

Photo: Sean D. Elliot/The Day

The schooner Amistad, the official flagship of the State of Connecticut, has seen difficult times in recent years. Built fifteen years ago at Mystic Seaport, until recently, the ship had been in receivership since 2014, after Amistad America, the non-profit which ran the ship, defaulted on debts and failed to file tax returns. Now, with considerable assistance from the state, a new non-profit, Discovering Amistad, hopes to return the schooner to operation, following necessary repairs being completed at Mystic.

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The New Year’s Day Wave, 1995 — Remembering the “First” Rogue Wave

rogue1Happy New Year! On New Year’s Day 1995, a sea monster capable of sinking ships and sending sailors to their deaths was documented for the first time.  I am not speaking of a mythical serpent or another beasty, (which may or may not yet be discovered.)  I am referring to a rogue wave — a wave often three to four times higher than any other wave in a given sea state. Rogue waves have been reported by sailors for thousands of years. Until recently, however, they have also been dismissed by scientists and even by other sailors as wild exaggerations and mere sea stories. All this changed on New Year’s Day in 1995 when a 60′ wave hit the Draupner gas platform in the North Sea.

What was different this time was that the platform was equipped with a downwards-pointing laser sensor which accurately recorded the wave. For the first scientists had an accurate plot of the wave shape and height. It fit exactly the descriptions given by sailors of a very steep and huge, breaking wave. The recording of the wave’s shape resolved once and for all the argument over whether rogue waves were real. The wave has become known as the “Draupner Wave” or the “New Year’s Day Wave.”

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