Photo: ANTONY NJUGUNA / REUTERS/REUTERS
CNN is reporting that hypodermic needles and traces of narcotics were found with the bodies of two American security officers on the container ship Maersk Alabama, suggesting that the deaths resulted from drug overdoses, according to a Seychelles government official. Police said an autopsy would be carried out later this week.
Official: Traces of drugs found with dead Americans on ‘Captain Phillips’ ship
Joshua Slocum was born on February 20, 1844. After a career at sea, he rebuilt a 36′ 9″ (11.2 m) gaff rigged oyster boat, which he named Spray. Between 1895 and 1898, he sailed the Spray singlehanded around the world, the first to ever sail around the world alone. In 1900, he wrote the sailing classic, Sailing Alone Around the World, which became an international best-seller. He disappeared in November 1909 while aboard the Spray. A very well done documentary of his life :
Joshua Slocum – Sailing Alone Around the World
Some are predicting that the world will end Saturday, February 22, 2013, with Ragnarök, also known as Götterdämmerung, by the operatic among us. A reasonable response might be, “the world is ending — again?” We have lived through Y2k, the Mayan Apocalypse, the “Rapture” and a more than a few other end-of-the-world predictions. At least the Viking version sounds like it would make an exciting weekend. Here is how it is supposed to go down, according to the Daily Mail:
It is being reported that two American security guards, both former Navy SEALs, have been found dead on the Maersk Alabama while in Port Victoria, in the Seychelles. The men have been identified as Jeffrey Reynolds and Mark Kennedy, both 44, employees for the Trident Security Firm. Police said the cause of death will be determined by autopsies.
The Maersk Alabama was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009. The hijacking and subsequent rescue of the captain by Navy SEALs inspired the movie “Captain Phillips,” starring Tom Hanks. The Maersk Alabama has been attacked two other times since the hijacking, but in both cases the pirates were driven off by security guards on the ship. Thanks to Phil Leon for contributing to this post.
Ex-Navy Seals Found Dead On Maersk Alabama
The initial reports that the Svendborg Maersk lost 200-300 containers in a storm on Friday in the Bay of Biscay have turned out to be optimistic. The number is now estimated to be around 520. 85% of the boxes lost were reported to be empty. This will, no doubt, significantly reduce the potential cargo claims to Maersk, but may increase the hazard to navigation to fishing and other vessels in the area, as empty boxes may take longer to sink that full containers. Maersk said none of the boxes contained dangerous goods.
Svendborg Maersk lost 520 containers overboard
Photo:Richard Perry/New York Times
International Salt, a major salt company, has just about run out of salt to supply the State of New Jersey. The salt is used to control ice on the roads, and to run out in the middle of a very snowy winter is very, very bad. The company does have lots of salt in Maine, roughly 40,0000 tons, but apparently did not make arrangements to ship it to New Jersey in a timely manner. Was this just a logistical foul-up by the salt supplier? Not if you read the newspapers, the internet or watch television. The villain, at least according to what one hears in the press, is the Jones Act.
The Jones Act is a law which reserves the carriage of goods between US ports to US flag vessels. It is an easy scapegoat. It allows the state officials, who might not have been paying proper attention, as well as the salt provider, which is owned by a German multinational, to blame a nearly 100 year old law for their lack of planning. Simply put, everyone can say, “It’s not our fault. It is the Jones Act!”
Maersk Lines is reporting that the 7,200 TEU container ship Svendborg Maersk lost a “significant number of containers over board” on Friday while crossing the Bay of Biscay. Lloyds List is reporting that 200-300 containers were lost in heavy weather while noting that the “full tally could be higher.” The wind was reported to be blowing at 60 knots and waves were 10 meters high at the time of the loss. Maersk say that “Other containers onboard are damaged as a result of collapsed stacks.” The crew is reported to be safe and accounted for. The 1998-built ship was said to have rolled 40 degrees in the severe weather. The incident is believed to be the biggest container loss in a single incident ever suffered by Maersk Line. The Svendborg Maersk docked in port of Malaga on February 17, for container re-stowage and repairs to the ship.
Nantucket Camel Ride
In the United States, today is “Presidents’ Day,” a national holiday on the third Monday of February, falling between Lincoln’s (February 14th) and Washington’s (February 22) birthdays. Here is a repost of the tale of Lincoln’s camel that we ran back in 2010.
Nathaniel Bowditch Photo: Alex Plummer USHarbors.com
Sadly, just before Christmas, the schooner Nathaniel Bowditch, owned by Owen and Cathie Dorr, was seized at its Rockland Harbor berth in Lermond Cove by U.S. Marshals and towed to Camden Harbor, Maine. The Nathaniel Bowditch is one of the fleet of schooners offering “windjammer cruises” in coastal Maine. The Penobscott Bay Pilot reports that, according to court documents, the owners defaulted on a $375,000 mortgage on the vessel.
The Nathaniel Bowditch is a 1922 built, 82′ LOA schooner, certified to carry 30 passengers. A recent survey valued the schooner at $700,000. When the schooner went to auction last Friday, the minimum required opening bid was $250,000. Nevertheless, there were no bids and the auction ended after 27 seconds. Lacking bidders, the schooner remains with the mortgage holder.
The Great Lakes between the United States and Canada were formed by the passage of ice at end of the last glacial period around 10,000 years ago. They are now being covered by near record ice once again (although, not not by glaciers.) Ice now covers more than 88% of the Great Lakes approaching the 90.7% of 1994 and the 94.7% record set in 1979.
The Great Lakes form the world’s largest group of fresh water lakes and contain 21% of the world’s surface fresh water. The area covered with ice is now approaching the total land area of Great Britain.
One interesting aspect to the ice coverage on the Great Lakes is how widely variable it has been from year to year. In 2012 the maximum ice coverage was only around 12%, rising only to 38% last year. The ice coverage over the last 40 years have been roughly 51%.
A unusually large wave killed an 85 year old man and injured a woman in her 70s on the cruise ship MS Marco Polo in the English Channel, as it headed for its home port of Tilbury, in Essex. Both were airlifted from the ship but the man died later. The Marco Polo was returning from a 42 day voyage when it was struck by the massive wave. The ship sailed from Tilbury on January 5 and is carrying 735, mainly British, passengers and 349 crew.
Wave kills Marco Polo cruise ship passenger in Channel
The latest storm, in a winter of severe storms, struck the UK on Valentine’s Day. CNN reports that nearly 6,000 homes have been inundated along the Thames Valley and elsewhere following England’s wettest January in 2½ centuries. Continue reading
Faked Nessie Photo from 1934
Recently, the press has been abuzz with the lack of sightings of Loch Ness monster. There have been no sightings of the famous beastie in the last 18 months. The Daily Mail asks “Is Nessie DEAD?” The BBC notes: No Loch Ness Monster sightings for first time since 1925. Given the explosion of digital photography, it seems unlikely that if the monster was splashing about that someone would not have captured at least a cell phone photo. There is a cash prizes for the best sighting photo given by Nessie enthusiasts yearly, yet only three photographs were submitted of recently reported sightings. These turned out to be, respectively — a wave, a duck, and a photograph from Lake Champlain, Vermont. This is the longest period without sighting since the modern Loch Ness monster craze began in 1933.
The crew of the HMS Daring spelled out a message on the the flight deck to their loved ones at home. The Type 45 destroyer is on her way home to Portsmouth, Hampshire, after having spent nine months on deployment.
Naval crew’s Valentine’s message
In the almost 6,000 miles of streets, roads and highways in the five boroughs of New York City, only about 15 miles are still paved with cobblestones. As noted by the New York Times: Starting in the 17th century, cobblestones (cobbling refers to the shaping of the stones) began to replace the city’s oyster shell and dirt streets. Round stones were used until the introduction of flat oblong granite, known as Belgian block, which was brought in as ship ballast. … In the mid-to-late 19th century, cobblestones began to be phased out as a primary material, in favor of less expensive concrete.
One major concrete highway along the Manhattan side of the East River, the FDR Drive, has a foundation built, in part, of ballast bricks of a much newer vintage. Continue reading
Prof. Albert Einstein on board of his sailing boat which he was given by friends. (photograph: A.Harms)
The first word that comes to mind when thinking of Albert Einstein is probably not “sailor.” Nevertheless, Einstein enjoyed sailing and appears to have done at least some of his most important work while on sailing vacations. A friend described sailing as, “his favorite of all pastimes.” Remarkably, Einstein is said to never have learned how to swim.
It is unclear when Einstein started sailing. In 1929, a group of admirers, including the American banker Henry Goldman, had a sailboat built for him as a present for his 50th birthday. It seems an unlikely gift unless Einstein was already a sailor, or at least had a strong interest in sailing. The boat was named Tümmler (German for Porpoise) and was a centerboarder with a fractional Bermuda rig, about 23′ long with a beam of 7.7′ and a sail area of roughly 215 square feet. The boat had a 5hp engine, a galley stove, a head and berths for two.
Sometime around the 60 CE, a Greek merchant, whose name is lost to history, wrote a guide, The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. Periplus is the Latinization of the Greek word περίπλους (periplous, contracted from periploos), literally “a sailing-around.” While Erythraean literally means “red,” the guide includes what we now call the Red Sea, as well as the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf and the Bay of Bengal. The Periplus was organized into 66 short chapters, each usually only a paragraph in length, and served as both a Coast Pilot and merchant’s guide to trading in the ports along the coast. Trade in the region was expanding dramatically as roughly 100 years before the Romans had annexed Egypt and now had access to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.
Beyond written records, such as Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, there have been few artifacts of this trade. Soon archaeologists will start to excavate a shipwreck off the Sri Lankan fishing village of Godavaya. The shipwreck is believed to date from roughly the same period as the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. The wreck, the oldest located so far in the Indian Ocean, is in 110′ feet of water and is described as “a concreted mound of corroded metal bars and a scattering of other ancient cargo, including glass ingots and pottery, that have tumbled around on the seafloor for hundreds of years amid strong currents and perhaps even the occasional tsunami.” Thanks to Alaric Bond for contributing to this post.
Indian Ocean’s Oldest Shipwreck Set for Excavation
The NTSB Report conclusion came as no real surprise. Captain Robin Walbridge; who was lost along with a crew member, Claudene Christian, in the sinking of the replica of the HMS Bounty; should never have taken the ship to sea with the well forecast approach of Hurricane Sandy. That is the bottom line.
Depending on your particular perspective, the focus could be placed on the relatively inexperienced crew, the material used in caulking while in the shipyard, the discovered rot in the hull, or the mal-functioning bilge system and lack of functioning back-up pumps. None of this would necessarily have mattered if the captain had sought to take the ship to a harbor of refuge, rather than attempting, and coming very close to succeeding, to sail around the hurricane.
The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the sinking was “was the captain’s reckless decision to sail the vessel into the well-forecasted path of Hurricane Sandy, which subjected the aging vessel and the inexperienced crew to conditions from which the vessel could not recover. Contributing to the sinking was the lack of effective safety oversight by the vessel organization.”
National Transportation Safety Board – Marine Accident Brief : Sinking of Tall Ship Bounty
Colour shading shows observed temperature trends (°C per decade) during 1992–2011 at the sea surface
Joseph Conrad, who claimed not to be a sentimentalist when came to the life at sea, waxed poetic when writing of the trade winds: In the middle belt of the earth the Trade Winds reign supreme, undisputed, like monarchs of long -settled kingdoms…, whose traditional power, checking all undue ambitions, is not so much an exercise of personal might as the working of long-established institutions. … The regions ruled by the northeast and southeast Trade Winds are serene…. Those citizens of the ocean feel sheltered under the aegis of an uncontested law, of an undisputed dynasty. There, indeed, if anywhere on earth, the weather may be trusted. (Mirror of the Sea)
A recent study suggests that the power of the “monarchs of the Trade Winds“, as Conrad refers to them, may be even more powerful and less serene than we thought. After seeing dramatic increases in global temperatures in the last decade, the rate of temperature increase has flattened out in the last decade. Until recently, no one was able to explain the slow down in warming. Researchers writing in the journal Nature Climate Change think that they have the answer. Continue reading
In World War II, the British government set up the Special Operations Executive (SOE) to to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe. An unusual group, they were also known as “the Baker Street Irregulars,” (because their headquarters was on Baker Street in London.) They also earned the nickname “Churchill’s Secret Army” and the “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.” The SEO operated Station IX, a secret factory for designing commando equipment in a mansion called ‘The Frythe‘ north of London near the town of Welwyn.
One particularly unusual weapon developed at Station IX, was the Motorized Submersible Canoe (MSC). Continue reading
José Salvador Alvarenga, the fisherman who apparently drifted for 13 months at sea in open boat, has been released from the hospital in the Marshall Islands. How is it possible that he could have survived for over a year, while drifting more than 6,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean? Why didn’t he die of scurvy, like so many sailors on long voyages under much better conditions? Scurvy can be a very serious illness if one is without Vitamin C for more than a few months. During the 18th century, for example, scurvy killed more British sailors than enemy action.
The Associated Press spoke with Claude Piantadosi, a professor of medicine at Duke University and author of the book The Biology of Human Survival, and asked just these questions.
Q: Without fruit and vegetables, wouldn’t he have developed scurvy?
A: Actually, unlike humans, birds and turtles make their own vitamin C, so fresh meat from those creatures, especially the livers, would provide sufficient vitamin C to prevent scurvy. British sailors used to get scurvy because they ate preserved meat which had oxidized and lost its vitamin C.