Schooner A.J. Meerwald Crew Rescues Jet Skier in Delaware River

AJ-Meerwald-Lavin-HR-SSThe crew aboard the schooner A.J. Meerwald had just finished a Saturday evening sail on the Delaware River near Trenton, NJ when they heard screams at around 7PM. They immediately launched a boat and headed in the direction of the screams toward a man in the river clinging to the bottom of an overturned personal watercraft, commonly known as a jet ski. The two Meerwald crew in the boat, Tom Nichols and Hudson Smith, hauled the man, who was not wearing a life jacket, aboard their boat from the cold river water.

The man was able to tell them that his friend, 26-year-old Jesus Diaz Melendez of Trenton, was missing after their jet ski ran ashore. The Meerwald’s crew contacted the US Coast Guard who dispatched a 29-foot response boat crew as well as a helicopter crew. The Meerwald‘s boat also continued searching for Menedez for the next hour, to no avail.  The Coast Guard called off the search that evening at around 11PM. Reports are that Menendez was also not wearing a life jacket when he went into the river.

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HMS Illustrious, UK’s Only Working Aircraft Carrier, Bound for Scrapyard

hmsillustriousHMS Illustrious, the UK’s only working aircraft carrier and the last surviving ship from the Falklands War is to be scrapped.  The 689 ft-long 22,000-tonne Invincible-class aircraft carrier traveled close to one million sea miles in her 32-year career with the Royal Navy, serving in conflicts from the Falklands to Bosnia and Iraq. She was decommissioned in 2014. Proposals to turn the ship into a floating museum or attraction space all fell through.  Bids are reportedly being solicited to scrap the ship.

Great Britain has two new aircraft carriers under construction. The first, HMS Queen Elizabeth,  is due to be commissioned in 2017 with initial operations in 2020.  Thanks to Alaric Bond for contributing to this post.

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America’s Cup NYC — Technology, the Wind, and the River

lvac1Sailing is all about technology and has been ever since the first sailor spread a stretched an animal skin as a sail. The America’s Cup, however, is far more technological than most sailing by a large measure. This thought occurred to me as I was sitting at a restaurant table with fourteen relatives and relations celebrating Mother’s Day, while also watching the second day of the New York Louis Vitton America’s Cup World Series, being sailed on lower Hudson River, on an app on my phone.

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The Nautical Bulwer-Lytton Winners

blsailorhatI am a huge fan of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. The contest is a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. If you are not acquainted with Edward Bulwer-Lytton, he was the English novelist who in 1830 penned the classic first phrase to the first sentence of the novel Paul Clifford which begins: “It was a dark and stormy night …”  In all fairness, Bulwer-Lytton gets a bad rap. He also coined other memorable phrases including  “the great unwashed“, “pursuit of the almighty dollar“, and “the pen is mightier than the sword.”  All the same, the contest is great fun.

Every year contestants attempt to pen opening sentences that are so bad that they are good, or if not good, at least amusing. Here are the winners with a nautical focus from this year’s contest.

Winner, Adventure:

After weeks at sea, Captain Fetherstonhaugh and his hardy crew had at last crossed the halfway point, and he mused that the closest dry land now lay in the Americas, assuming of course that it was not raining there. David Laatsch, Baton Rouge, LA

Runner-Up, Adventure:

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Scheduling & Sailing the America’s Cup on an Uncooperative River

oraclemanhattanThis afternoon, the Americas’ Cup will return to New York.  Well, not the cup itself, and the races aren’t for the cup either. They are qualifying races for the big races next year. But they will be raced on super-fast AC45 foiling catamarans, that is if the wind on the Hudson River cooperates.  So far, the weather folks are predicting winds of 2-4 knots at race time. The announced rules say that the race will not start in less than five knots of wind. There will be considerable pressure to start the race on time as it scheduled to be broadcast live at 2PM, by NBC in the US and by various other broadcasters around the world.

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Polar Ship “Boaty McBoatface” to be named RRS Sir David Attenborough

It is official. The polar research ship formerly known as Boaty McBoatface will be named RRS Sir David Attenborough.  Despite an overwhelming number of suggestions that the UK’s new polar research ship be named Boaty McBoatface, the ship will be named after the world-renowned naturalist and broadcaster, who will soon be turning 90. Sir David said he was “truly honoured” by the decision.  One of the new research vessel’s remotely operated vehicles (ROV) will however, be named “Boaty.”

As we posted last March, the British Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) asked the public for suggestions for a name for the new polar research ship. James Hand, a former BBC presenter turned press officer, suggested Boaty McBoatface. Through the wonder of the internet, the suggestion caught on and overwhelmingly became the most popular suggestion, receiving over 120,000 suggestions.  Shortly after Mr. Hand’s suggestion took off, the NERC website crashed from the volume of suggestions. Mr. Hand has since disavowed his suggestion.

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HMS Caroline, Last Jutland Survivor, Restored in Time for Centenial

hmscaroline1HMS Caroline, a decommissioned Royal Navy C-class light cruiser, is the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland, and one of only three surviving Royal Navy warships of the First World War. Now in Belfast, she has undergone a many million pound renovation and restoration to reflect her condition in 1916, when she served with the Grand Fleet in the Battle of Jutland, May 31 – June 1, 1916. Appropriately, she will be opening to the public as a museum ship and interpretive center on June 1st.

The renovation has included the installation of replica six-inch guns and torpedoes

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Ship Traffic as Seen From Space

Here is an animation of global ship traffic as seen from space. Mesmerizing and beautiful.

Global ship traffic seen from space – FleetMon Satellite AIS and FleetMon Explorer

Two thoughts immediately come to mind. Continue reading

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Media Announces Discovery of Cook’s HMS Endeavour — Again

endeavour1The news has been full of announcements about the discovery of Captain Cook’s HMS Endeavour by the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP) near the harbor at Newport, Rhode, Island. Much of the reporting has been somewhat confused. The Daily Mail, for example, provides a map which shows the location of the  wreck as being in deep water in Rhode Island Sound generally between the Elizabeth Islands and Block Island, which doesn’t make any particular sense as the wreck is described as inside or near Newport harbor.

This seems oddly familiar. Haven’t we heard all this before? Continue reading

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Carnival’s Fathom Adonia Docks in Havanna, Cuba

adoniaAfter more than a half-century, American cruise passengers have returned to Cuba. Carnival Corporation’s MV Adonia docked in Havanna, Cuba today carrying hundreds of Americans including a few dozen Cuban-born Americans returning to the island for the first time in decades. The arrival of the Cuban-born passengers had been a topic of some contention as a there is a Cuban regulation barring anyone born in Cuba from entering or leaving the Communist-ruled country by sea. Under pressure from the US, Cuba agreed to lift the ban.

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Draken Harald Hårfagre — First Day at Sea and Detour to Lerwick

draken1The Draken Harald Hårfagre, the largest Viking longship in the world, is on her way, hopscotching across the Atlantic, to raid and plunder visit the United States this summer.  After departing Haugesund, Norway and sailing for a day at sea, the longship had to put into Lerwick in the Shetland Islands to repair a broken shroud.  The task was made significantly more difficult by modern electronics. Electronic cabling for antennas running down the backside of the mast complicated the repair.  This is not the first time that the longship has diverted to Lerwick. In 2014, the put in to replace a broken mast.

The goal of the voyage is to explore one of the most legendary of all sea voyages – the Viking discovery of the New World. Draken Harald Hårfagre and her crew will sail for Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland and then through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes before returning to the US East Coast in the late summer.

Draken sets course towards America

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Missing Boys’ Boat Found, Restarting Tragic Family Saga

missingboatA 19-foot boat, which has been missing since last July, has been recovered in the Atlantic, restarting the saga of two families’ tragedy involving their two missing sons, lawyers, lawsuits, and suggestions of abduction and foul play.

On Friday, July 28th, 2015, two fourteen-year-old boys, Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, headed out the Jupiter Inlet into the Atlantic Ocean in a 19-foot open boat powered by a single outboard motor. That afternoon there were reports of squalls and high winds. The boys did not return to the inlet that evening.

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Charting by ASV

Here is an interesting video about how NOAA is using Automated Surface Vehicles (ASVs) to map the bottom in areas where larger survey craft cannot go.  They are essentially drone boats used to update NOAA’s publicly available nautical charts.

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Harriett Tubman and the Great Combahee Ferry Raid

Harriet TubmanThis is an updated repost from 2014. Now that it has been announced that Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackon on the US $20 bill, it seems worthwhile to recall the Great Combahee Ferry Raid, which Harriet Tubman helped plan, scouted and ultimately help lead, becoming the only woman to lead a military raid in US Civil War.

Born a slave, Harriet Tubman escaped and would become a leading “conductor” on the “Underground Railroad” which helped slaves escape from  bondage in the South to freedom in the North and in Canada, prior to the Civil War.  Nicknamed “Moses,” she is said to have made more than nineteen trips back into the slave-holding South to rescue more than 300 slaves.  Her greatest rescue mission, however, came during the Civil War, when she planned and help lead a Union riverboat raid at Combahee Ferry in South Carolina on the second of June, 1863, freeing over 720 slaves.

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New York’s Working Harbor Committee Seeking Executive Director

whcbannerLast year, John Doswell, the Executive Director of  New York’s Working Harbor Committee, died after a long illness. The Committee is now seeking an Executive Director to continue the great work that John and his colleagues have undertaken. For those interested, click on the link below for the complete job description.

Working Harbor Committee – Executive Director Job Description

The Working Harbor Committee is a nonprofit organization with a the goal of strengthening awareness of the working harbor’s history and vitality today, and its opportunities for the future. It seeks to involve people in learning how the harbor works and what it does; to educate about the rich and challenging history of the harbor, and to make people aware of the need to build and sustain the working harbor.

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NTSB Locates El Faro’s Voyage Data Recorder

vdrelfaroThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced that “cargo ship El Faro’s voyage data recorder was located early Tuesday morning in 15,000 feet of water, about 41 miles (36 nautical miles) northeast of Acklins and Crooked Islands, Bahamas, by a team of investigators and scientists using remotely operated undersea search equipment. 

The investigative team is comprised of specialists from the National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. Coast Guard, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Tote Services, the owner and operator of El Faro.

At about 1 a.m. EDT the team aboard the research vessel Atlantis located the El Faro’s mast where the VDR was mounted. After examining numerous images provided by undersea search equipment, the team positively identified the VDR.

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Ngoc Nguyen, From Boat Refugee to Maersk Captain

maerskcaptainIn 1981, Ngoc Nguyen was 13, one of the at least 800,000 of the so-called Vietnamese “boat people” who fled Vietnam by boat after the end of the war. He was crammed in an overcrowded boat with his family, among 65 other refugees adrift in the South China Sea, when they were picked up by the Arnold Maersk. Now 34 years later, took to the bridge of the container ship, Thomas Maersk, as its captain.

From Maersk.com: Nguyen remembers his family’s escape in 1981 as if it were yesterday: “Two days had passed since the patrol boat had chased us away from the shores of Vietnam. With only a compass, a dwindling supply of gas and no food or water, our chances of reaching land safely were looking bleak.”

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“Bubble Man” Reza Baluchi Tries Again — Coast Guard Says ‘No’

bubblemanuscg“Bubble Man” Reza Baluchi is at it again, but this time, the Coast Guard told him to turn around not far from shore  before putting himself or others in danger. After warning him not to leave port without a support vessel, the US Coast Guard intercepted Baluchi in his inside his Hydropod, a home-made inflatable plastic bubble with a metal frame, about 7 miles off the coast of Jupiter, Florida.  Baluchi had announced his intention to run inside the bubble craft on a 3,500-mile five-month trek between Florida and islands in the Atlantic and Caribbean.

In October of 2104, we posted about his attempt to run inside his inflatable bubble, which looks a bit like an aquatic hamster cage, on a 1,000-mile voyage from Florida to Bermuda. The Coast Guard rescued him roughly 70 miles off the Florida coast after he became dehydrated and disoriented and triggered an emergency beacon. That rescue cost taxpayers around $140,000, according to the Coast Guard.

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SS Great Britain — “The Greatest Experiment Since the Creation”

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I recently visited the museum ship SS Great Britain, in Bristol, UK.  When she was launched in 1843, the iron-hulled luxury passenger steamship SS Great Britain was described as “the greatest experiment since the Creation.”

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Loch Ness Monster (Movie Prop) Located in the Loch

Photo: Kongsberg Maritime

Photo: Kongsberg Maritime

At long last, Nessie has been located on the bottom of Loch Ness! The monster is, however, not the legendary beastie, but instead a 30-foot long movie prop which sank in the Loch almost 50 years ago.  The prop was to be used in the filming of “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes,” directed by Billy Wilder. The model featured a neck and two humps. Director Wilder asked that the humps be removed which adversely affected the model’s buoyancy, causing the model to sink to the lake bottom, where it has been since 1969.  A new model, without humps, was built and the scene was shot in a tank rather than the loch.

The model monster was discovered by a robot drone operated by the Norwegian company Kongsberg Maritime, which has been working with VisitScotland and Adrain Shine’s The Loch Ness Project.  The Loch Ness Project is gathering scientific information on the loch’s ecology, as well as keeping an eye out for the legendary monster.

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