Happy 4th of July – A Toast to Madeira, the Wine of the Declaration of Independence and the Liberty Riots

A post from five years ago, which is still fitting for the day.

Happy 4th of July!  Those of us in the United States celebrate the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th 1776. Immediately after declaring independence from Great Britain, the representatives in the Continental Congress drank a toast with glasses of Madeira wine.

Why Madiera?  It was virtually the only wine available in the American colonies at the time. Wine carried by sailing ship was often spoiled in transit by the constant jostling of the ship and the wide variations of heat and cold. Wine from the island of Madeira, however, was fortified with a small amount of sugar cane brandy to help it survive the ocean voyage. Not only did the fortified wine survive the voyage but it was found that the heat and motion of the ship actually improved the quality of the wine.

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Guest Post : Falls of Clyde – 2017 Update

A guest post by Susan Yamamoto from her new and wonderful blog, Maritime Hawai‘i, on the latest developments to help save the four masted sailing ship, Falls of Clyde.   David O’Neill is leading the ‎Save The Tall Ship Falls of Clyde – International Group in its effort to bring the historic ship back to Scotland, where she was built in 1878. From Maritime Hawai‘i:

At the beginning of the month, David O’Neill met with Friends of Falls of Clyde (FFOC) president, Bruce McEwan. Mr. O’Neill tells Maritime Hawai‘i that the meeting was positive in general. Both parties recognize there is a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done in short order if they are to succeed in returning the Falls of Clyde to Scotland. Maritime Hawai‘i urges DOT Harbors to give both organizations the time they need.

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Of Stinky Sea Monsters, Alien Space Balls & Dead Whales

Every now and then, the stories of sea monsters take a physical form when a huge, decaying carcass of what appears to be a monster from the deep washes ashore. Such a creature came ashore on Seram Island in Indonesia’s Maluku province in May. Initially, the 50-foot-long body was said to be a giant squid but the appearance of bones from the decomposing and incredibly smelly corpse allowed scientists to identify the creature as a dead and rotting baleen whale. The scientists are unsure whether the whale was a blue, a Bryde’s whale or possibly a fin whale.

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The WoodenBoat Show at Mystic Seaport

A wonderful video promoting the Mystic Seaport Museum‘s Annual WoodenBoat Show, which began yesterday and runs through Sunday, July 2nd. There are more than 100 traditional and classic wooden boats of every type on display on the historic museum waterfront. The festival, which is hosted in partnership with WoodenBoat Publications, celebrates the design and craftsmanship of wooden craft.

The WoodenBoat Show at Mystic Seaport

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TV Vikings, Wrong-Side Rudders and the USS Fitzgerald Collision

Wrong-side rudder

Vikings is a History Channel series that follows the exploits of  the legendary Viking leader Ragnar Lodbrok. It is basically lots of fun, with swords and axes flying, supported by a fair share of intrigue and drama, the sort of show that will tide Game of Thrones fans over until that series finally starts again.

How historically accurate the series is open to question. The tattoos and shield maidens have some, if not a lot, of support in the sagas. And tattoos and kick-ass women are popular these days, so why not?  One detail, however, is bizarrely inaccurate. All the Viking longships in the TV series have their rudders on the port side, the wrong side. (Oddly, the Frankish ships in the series have the rudder on starboard sight, literally the right side.)

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Doug Peterson, Great Yacht Designer, Dies at 71

Doug Peterson

Doug Peterson, one of the most talented yacht designers of our time, has died at 71 of cancer. He may be best remembered for his America’s Cup designs, as one of the lead designers of the winning 1992 America3 and 1995 Team New Zealand Black Magic.  Peterson was elected into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame earlier this year. 

Beyond the America’s Cup, however, Peterson made his mark in both racing and cruising sailboat designs. In 1973, at the age of 28, his design for the One-Tonner Ganbare caught the sailing world’s attention.  He went on to design a series of custom racing boats which dominated offshore racing in the 70s. Peterson’s cruising designs, which combined seaworthiness and speed, included the Peterson 44 and Hans Christian 48 and 52. 

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Coral Reefs and the Economic Costs of Global Warming

Some complain that responding to climate change will damage the economy and cost jobs. Others counter that not responding effectively to climate change will do even greater economic damage. Recently an analysis of the social and economic value of the Australia’s Great Barrier Reef calculated the world’s largest barrier reef as being as being an asset worth AU$56 billion (US$ 43 billion.)

The study performed by Deloitte Access Economics, commissioned by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, concluded that the “reef was too big to fail” supporting 64,000 jobs and contributing AU$29 billion in tourist revenue while also having an  “indirect or non-use” value – people that have not yet visited the reef but know it exists – estimated at AU$24 billion.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth Sets Sail for Sea Trials

The Royal Navy “supercarrier” HMS Queen Elizabeth is setting off for sea trials. Begun eight years ago and built at a cost of £3.6 billion, the carrier is the largest war ship ever constructed by Great Britain. After six weeks of sea trials, the ship will sail to her home port of Plymouth. The carrier’s first planes are expected to arrive next year. The HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to be operational in 2020. A second ship of the class, HMS Prince of Wales, is currently under construction.

Largest ever Navy ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, sets sail

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Emirates Team New Zealand Wins the America’s Cup, 7-1!

Emirates Team New Zealand has won the America’s Cup, defeating Oracle Team USA 7-1!  

In the races in 2013, Team New Zealand was within one race of winning the cup, only to have Oracle stage a dramatic comeback and win the competition 9-8.  In this year’s 35th running of the races, however, Team New Zealand wholly dominated the competition giving up only one race to the defender Oracle.  

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USS Fitzgerald Ignored Warnings Says Container Ship Captain

The captain of ACX Crystal has said that the USS Fitzgerald “suddenly” steamed on to a course to cross the path of the container ship and then failed to respond to warning signals or take evasive action to avoid the collision, which killed seven of the Fitzgerald‘s crew. The container ship steered hard to starboard to avoid the warship, but hit the Fitzgerald 10 minutes later at 1:30 a.m., according to a copy of Captain Ronald Advincula’s report to Japanese ship owner Dainichi Investment Corporation that was seen by Reuters

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Remembering Jacques Cousteau

Jacques Cousteau; the co-developer of the Aqua-Lung, as well as an explorer, author, conservationist, and filmmaker; died twenty years ago today. He opened the eye of millions both to the wonders of the world beneath the sea but also the environmental damage being wreaked upon the oceans.  

I remember how, as a teenager, his book, The Silent World: A Story of Undersea Discovery and Adventure , fired my imagination. While my friends were inspired by the space program I became fascinated with the world beneath the ocean.  The documentary version of the book, Silent World, would earn Cousteau both the Palme d’or at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award. Cousteau would win his second Oscar for his 1964 documentary, World Without Sun.

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Ben Finney and Hōkūleʻa’ — the End of a Voyage

Less than a month before the voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa‘ completed its epic journey around the globe, Ben Finney completed his own last voyage. Ben Rudolph Finney died at the age of 83. A University of Hawaii Professor Emeritus in Anthropology, he was the first president and the last surviving founder of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. Finney’s research and vision helped to make the voyage of the Hōkūleʻa’ possible and to forever put to rest the claim that that Polynesians had drifted to Hawaii by chance.

In 1973, Finney and waterman Tommy Holmes and artist Herb Kane founded the Polynesian Voyaging Society and set out to build to build Hōkūleʻa, a traditional sailing canoe. In 1976, they would demonstrate that ancient Hawaiians could transit the Pacific, including sailing to windward, by successfully sailing on a voyage of more than 2,000 miles from Hawaii to Tahiti using traditional navigation techniques.  Finney was one of the crew on that first epic voyage.

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Battleship Texas, Barely Hanging on — Closes, Reopens, & Hunkers Down for Tropical Storm Cindy

We have been following the continued slow disintegration of the historically rich, but budget poor, Battleship Texas for several years now. The over 100 year old battleship is the oldest remaining dreadnought battleship and only one of six surviving ships to have served in both World War I and World War II.  She is also continually on the verge of sinking at her berth in the Buffalo Bayou in Harris County, Texas.  

Recently, the Houston Chronicle reported, Battleship Texas closed until further notice, crews working to repair leaks. A week later,  the headline was more cheerful — Battleship Texas Leaks Fixed, Retired Ship Reopens Saturday.  Now, the media is reporting that the grand old ship is hunkering down for Tropical Storm Cindy, which is heading her way.

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Hokulea, First Voyaging Canoe in 600 Years, Completes Three Year Circumnavigation

Hokulea, the first voyaging canoe in 600 years, sailed back to Hawaii last week, completing an epic three year 40,000 mile circumnavigation. Hokulea and her crew were greeted by fellow voyaging canoes, hundreds of other water craft and an estimated 25,000 well wishers.

Tens of thousands gather at Magic Island to welcome Hokulea hom

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Sailing-Time Warp in Bermuda — AC50 Foiling Cats and J Boats

While the big show at the America’s Cup races in Bermuda are the AC50s, the high-tech foiling catamarans literally flying across the courses, one might be excused for a sense of falling into a time warp, as just off the island, a fleet of J boats, grand racing yachts from another era, compete against each other, as if from another time.

After a lively competition, in a replay of the 2013 America’s Cup, the AC50 foiling cat, Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ), was chosen again as the challenger to Oracle Team USA. And also like 2013, ETNZ has started off beating the defender in the first four races. It remains to be seen if Oracle can make a dramatic comeback, as they did in 2013 to retain the Cup. Racing between Oracle and  ETNZ begins again this weekend.

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The USS Fitzgerald Is At Fault. This Is Why — Commentary by gCaptain’s John Konrad

gCaptain’s Captain John Konrad has a excellent post today that describes in detail why he believes that the destroyerUSS Fitzgerald was at fault in its recent collision with the container ship ACX Crystal.  He suggests a simple rule for avoiding collisions with Navy warships is missing: “If it’s grey stay away.”

Konrad details the likely communications failures on the Fitzgerald, which are endemic on most Navy ships. He also describes the difference in training and focus of the merchant versus the naval captain, as well as the resources available to and responsibilities of each. And, no, he does not argue that the USS Fitzgerald was solely at fault. As he points out, “Under COLREGS, whenever two ships touch each other, both ships are to blame.”

Rather than quote specific passages of the post, go to gCaptain to read it in full. It is worth reading.

The USS Fitzgerald Is At Fault. This Is Why  

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Conspiracy Theories Spring Up Around the USS Fitzgerald — ACX Crystal Collision

Graphic: NYTimes

The one thing we can say for certain is that we do not have all the facts surrounding the collision between the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald  and the Philippine container ship ACX Crystal . The collision nearly sank the destroyer, killed seven sailors and injured three more, including the ship’s captain.  Of course, facts, whether we have them or we don’t, do nothing to inhibit the conspiracy theorists. Conspiracy theories are already developing about the recent collision.

The “American Thinker” blog expresses their concerns in almost apocalyptic terms:

The USS Fitzgerald, an anti-ballistic missile destroyer that was part of the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group, will no longer be ready to defend the carrier and other ships from missile attacks launched from North Korea, should push come to shove in the current confrontation with the rogue regime on the threshold of the capability to attack New York, Los Angeles, and our power grid with nuclear missiles.  This is an incident that could affect the outcome of a nuclear confrontation of historic moment.

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Destroyer USS Fitzgerald Nearly Sank Following Collision — Seven Sailors Died Below Deck

We now know that the USS Fitzgerald came perilously close to sinking  following its collision with the Philippine-flagged container ship ACX Crystal, early Saturday morning off the Japaneses coast near Tokyo.  
“Heroic efforts prevented the flooding from catastrophically spreading, which could have caused the ship to founder or sink,” said Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of the Navy’s Seventh Fleet. “It could have been much worse.”   The seven sailors initially reported missing have since been found in their berths where they died in the flooding which followed the collision. 

The Japanese Coast Guard is now reporting that the collision took place around 1:30AM rather than an hour later, a s previously reported. Apparently, the collision was reported for close to an hour. The authorities are investigating the cause for the delay in the reporting. Based on the revised time of the collision, the container ship ACX Crystal  appears to have been maintaining a constant course and speed prior to the collision.  Previously, it was reported that the container ship dramatically changed course prior to the collision. It now appears that the course changes took place after the impact.  

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The Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2017

Despite the rain the mermaids and denizens of the sea still came out to play at the 35th Annual Coney Island Mermaid Day Parade. Photos by LCHphoto.com For more images, some NSFW, check out Gothamist.

Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2017

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Sail Boston 2017 — Parade of Sail

Delayed for an hour by fog, the Parade of Sail at Sail Boston 2017 was still breathtaking even if the weather did not cooperate.  The Sail Boston 2017 festival continues through Thursday, June 22. Click here for a list of events and activities.

Sights and sounds of Sail Boston 2017

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