Last week there was considerable media attention to a new “flying car” developed by a start-up called Kitty Hawk, which is funded in part by Google’s Larry Page, as well as Uber and Airbus. The only problem, at least to my eyes, was that the “car” was not a car. The demonstration was over a lake and the flying craft had pontoons instead of wheels. If it put down on dry land it would not be mobile. It did remind me of something, but what? Something noisy, probably dangerous and largely pointless. That’s it — a flying jet-ski! Whether we really need a flying car is one issue but do we really need a flying jet-ski?
Researchers have published the results of their analysis of DNA from 24 individuals who died on the ill-fated Franklin Northwest Passage Expedition. Surprisingly, four of the 24 individuals appear to be European women, based on DNA markers. Were there women in the Franklin expedition? Perhaps, but likely not.
Franklin’s expedition set off on the H.M.S. Erebus and the H.M.S. Terror in 1845 heading to Arctic Canada to look for the fabled route between the Atlantic and the Pacific. By 1846, Franklin and his 129 crew members were iced in. Though the expedition was stocked with enough food to last for several years, none of officers or crew on the expedition survived.
For affluent surfers, the ultimate escape is to take a luxury charter boat to surf perfect waves on distant islands. The Mentawai Islands of Indonesia are just such islands and the Quest 1 was just such a boat. Or it was until the night of July 21, 2015 when the Quest 1’s engine room flooded and it quickly sank while on an expedition in the Mentawai. Fortunately, the eight guests and five crew were all rescued safely. Now, however, the passengers on the doomed charter boat are suing Rip Curl, the owner of the Quest 1, claiming, among other things, that the boat’s captain and masseuse fled together on a jet ski abandoning them in the Indian Ocean.
On this day, 72 years ago, May 3, 1945, the German liner SS Cap Arcona, serving as a prison ship, was sunk by Royal Air Force fighter bombers in the Baltic Sea. Almost 5,000 prisoners from Nazi concentration camps who were being transported aboard the ship, were killed. Tragically, the attack took place as the war was ending. It was three days after Hitler’s suicide and only one day before the unconditional surrender of the German troops in northwestern Germany. Also attacked were the prison ships Thielbek and Deutschland. All the prisoners and crew were saved on the Deutschland, but an 2,000 additional prisoners died on the Thielbek.
A surfer, who had been swept out to sea while surfing off the Argyll coast of Scotland, was rescued by the Belfast Coast Guard after 32 hours at sea. Matthew Bryce, 22, was reported missing by his family when he failed to return from a surfing trip on Sunday afternoon.
As reported by the Independent: Police Scotland and the coastguard launched a large-scale search, with rescue teams from Campbeltown, Southend, Gigha, Tarbert and Port Ellen involved.
The 22-year-old was eventually found by a search and rescue helicopter at around 7.30pm on Monday, drifting 13 miles from the Argyll coast. Mr Bryce, from Glasgow, was taken to Belfast Hospital for treatment for hypothermia.
Dawn Petrie, from the Belfast coastguard operations centre, said: “He’d been in the water for some 30 hours when the helicopter was delighted to spot him. Continue reading →
Next weekend, the Viking Ship Draken Harald Hårfagre is seeking volunteers to help maintain the ship before it sets sails again this summer. Or as they put it, “Spring is here, and the Viking Ship Draken Harald Hårfagre needs some extra love before summer!” The Draken, the largest replica Viking ship ever built, spent last winter laid up at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, CT after completing an epic trans-Atlantic voyage. The Draken Harald Hårfagre is 114 feet, with a beam of 27 feet, displacing seventy tons, with a 3,200 square foot sail of pure silk. Helping to maintain the ship is a great way to get up close and personal with this treasure of living maritime history.
In the past year and a half, I have spent far more time in a boatyard in Deltaville, VA on the Rappahannock River than I would have imagined or intended. While I have not necessarily had great luck with repairs in the boatyard along the Rappahannock, I will say that I do love Rappahannock oysters.
Here is a fascinating video showing the construction of a traditional cruiser built by a master boat builder and his crew. Chummy Rich is a fifth generation boat builder from Bernard, Maine. Like his forebears going back to the 1800’s, he is a master of the craft of building wooden boats. In this thirty minute film, Chummy, with his one of a kind Downeast narrative, takes us from lofting to launching as he and his crew from Bass Harbor Boat build the 28 foot wooden cabin cruiser Andromeda. The film was written by Gunner Hansen, with the music scored by Bob Bowman. Narration by Joe Marshall. It was filmed, produced and edited by Dobbs Productions with support from the Tremont Historical Society.
The most common response to the Hyper-Sub is that it looks like something from a James Bond movie. The decidedly strange hybrid craft is a high-speed long-range speedboat which can also turn into a submarine. The craft has a capacity for only five people but boasts speeds of 40 knots and has a range on the surface of 500 miles. Submerged, it can dive to 250 feet. Reportedly, the US Marines are very interested in the Hyper-Sub. No doubt, it would also make a fun toy for a mogul who dreams of pretending to be James Bond.
In early April, the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper reported that the heavy-lift ship Combi Dock 1 will carry windjammer Peking home to Germany to restored in its original home-port of Hamburg for restoration. Last Friday, Will Van Dorp posted photos on his Tugster blog of the arrival of Combi Dock 1 in New York harbor. The Peking‘s departure may be imminently on the horizon.
Peking was built in 1911 at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg for the German ship owner, F. Laeisz, one of the famous Flying P Liners, which were among the last of the great sailing ships to round Cape Horn carrying cargo. The windjammer was a museum ship at New York’s South Street Seaport fro over 40 years and left the Seaport last September. In the mean time she has been in Caddell Dry Dock in Staten Island being made ready for the voyage to Hamburg. The German government is reported to have set aside 26 million Euros for the transportation and restoration of the historic ship.
Hundreds of icebergs have drifted into major shipping lanes off Newfoundland, forcing ships to go far out of their way to steer clear of the massive ice mountains.
“It’s the only place in the world where icebergs intersect in a major shipping lane like that,” Gabrielle McGrath, commander of the United States Coast Guard International Ice Patrol, told the Star.com from her office in New London, Conn. “The ships are having to go out of their way to get around that iceberg limit … so it’s taking them a lot longer to get across the Atlantic.”
The mission of the sail is to carry a “cargo of concern” felt by New Yorkers and Americans alike for clean water and science-based federal water policy. The Clearwater will be joined by representatives of various environmental groups and state, county and local officials as they carry their message to the nation’s capital.
The non-profit organization which built the Clearwater was founded by activist and folks singer Pete Seeger and his wife Toshi Seeger. The Seegers and the Clearwater organization played a pivotal role in the passage of the Clean Water Act of 1972. The Clean Water Act (CWA) is still the primary federal law in the United States governing water pollution.
New York can be a tough town. Despite rough and tumble struggles over real estate, the vagaries of city politics, economic downturns, and not the least, being struck head-on my a monster hurricane which sent a 10′ storm surge through its buildings, the South Street Seaport Museum has not only survived, but is thriving. They have recently completed an incredible restoration of the 1885 windjammer Wavertree,the largest iron sailing vessel afloat, and are rebuilding their shore-side exhibits. And this Saturday, April 29th, the South Street Seaport is celebrating the beginning of its second 50 years with a community celebration from 11am to 5pm.
Happy birthday to Mystic Seaport‘s schooner Brilliant! On April 23, 1932, the 61′ schooner was launched from the yard of Henry B. Nevins at City Island, New York. Now 85 years later, she is still sailing and still a beauty.
She was built for Walter Barnum, who raced her extensively. In World War II, she served as an anti-submarine picket boat. She was donated to the Mystic Seaport Museum, in 1953, where she has served as an offshore classroom for the the museum’s education programs.
Sailing aboard Brilliant, people of all ages have the opportunity to learn about sailing on one of the finest wooden schooners ever built. Since she was donated to the museum, Brilliant has sailed the equivalent of five times around the earth, with more than 9,000 students setting her sails and steering her course. WoodenBoat Magazine described Brilliant as one of the 100 most beautiful classic boats in existence and as “one of the best maintained and sailed classic yachts in the country — if not the world.”
If you are near New York harbor tomorrow and have the chance, head on over to the The Noble Maritime Collection at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center between 2 PM and 5 PM tomorrow, April 22, for a free concert celebrating the release of a new CD, “Songs of the Snug Harbor Sailors,” featuring Liverpool’s own Hughie Jones, with Bob Wright, Bob Conroy, Frank Woerner, Frank Hendricks, Houseboat Jimmie Visone, Chrissie Jones, and Jan Christensen. Copies of the CD, and others, will be available for sale. Unfortunately, I will be away, but it should be a great concert with wonderful performers. Don’t miss it if you have the chance.
Tropical Storm Arlene has formed in the mid-Atlantic between Bermuda and the Azores, becoming only the second named tropical storm in history to form in the month of April. The only previous tropical to form so early was Anna in 2003. Arlene’s maximum sustained winds were near 45 mph, with higher gusts, the National Hurricane Center said. It was located about 815 miles west of the Azores. The system poses no threat to land and is forecast to dissipate later today. Hurricane season officially starts on June 1.
What does the early tropical storm activity mean for the hurricane season? Continue reading →
If you are in Manhattan next Monday night, April 24, feel free to stop by the meeting of the New York Ship Lore and Model Club. Stephen Hopkins and I will be giving a joint presentation on three remarkable ships. I will discuss two amazing yet radically different ships which set off on their maiden voyages in 1845 — the extreme clipper Rainbow and the luxury steamer SS Great Britain. Following my comments, Stephen Hopkins, author of “Red Jacket — the Life and Times of a Maine Clipper Ship,” will speak about his new book and answer questions about the ship that was one of the largest and finest of all clippers.
The Monday meeting is at 7:30PM at 79 Walker Street, 5th floor. Admission is free.
I guess if you are going to be stupid, it is also good to be lucky. A few days ago, two kayakers, a man and a woman, paddled out several miles into the Pacific ocean off Goleta, CA, 15 miles west of Santa Barbara. They ended up in the water after their kayak swamped and capsized. Neither was wearing a personal flotation devices (PFD), which are called life-savers for a reason. Fortunately for the hapless paddlers, they were spotted by Stardust, a charter sports-fishing boat. Unlike the kayakers, the crew on Stardust knew what they were doing and rescued the kayakers from the water.
In a phone interview with a local TV station, Jason Diamond, one of the owners of the Stardust, credited his crew, Larry Spurlock, Christian Geisler as well as Cory Scott and Lewis Turner, for making the heroic ocean rescue roughly three miles out from Devereaux and Isla Vista — not far from Platform Holly. “They were out there,” Diamond said, referring to the kayakers. “No lifejackets.”
“We do these drills all the time,” Diamond said. “That was just a good textbook save. Those guys did a great job.”
The Clipper Round the World Race is a race around the world held every two years sailed with a professional captain and paying amateur crews. In nine races starting in 1996, the contests were sailed without loss of life. That tragically changed in the 2015-2016 race, when two sailors, Andrew Ashman, 49, and Sarah Young, 40, both died in separate incidents on the same boat, IchorCoal. Last week, the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Board (MAIB) released their report on the two deaths. The report recommended that a second professional seafarer be aboard the boats during the race, that man-overboard drills be increased and that the use and strength of certain high strength lines aboard the boats should be re-evaluated.
Charles Darwin once wrote, “If it was not for sea-sickness, the whole world would be sailors.” Some of us are more susceptible to mal de mer than others. Apparently, Darwin was very prone to sea sickness. From my own experience, I am fairly lucky, falling somewhere about the middle of the misery spectrum — neither quite immune nor wholly incapacitated by sea sickness. In a few weeks, I will be setting off an a five day delivery trip on my new/old boat with a new crew, so I will be sure that we have all the standard anti-sea-sickness “remedies” — a stock of saltine crackers, apples, ginger-ale and, if need be, Bonine. Often the best defense against motion sickness is just keeping an eye on the horizon. I wonder, however, if I am being too old-school in my approach. Perhaps, we should consider anti-sea sickness googles and glasses.
Anti-sea sickness googles and glasses have been around for almost a decade, yet they haven’t seemed to have caught on. Part of the issue may be expense. The other consideration is that the most effective googles simply look funny.