Sailing Bark Europa from Gran Canaria to Antarctica

europaA video for a Sunday morning. Filmmaker Frank Oly joined the bark Europa on a voyage from Gran Canaria to Antarctica. He stayed on board for 3 months and filmed this experience. Europa is a steel-hulled barque registered in the Netherlands. Built as a lightship in 1911, she was converted to a bark in 1994.
Europa cruises worldwide and accepts paying voyage crew for short or long trip segments, including ocean crossings, Sail Training Association races, and annual voyages to Antarctica, and between South Georgia, Tristan da Cunha, and Cape Town.

Sailing from Gran Canaria to Antarctica on board tall ship bark EUROPA

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Cruise Ships Silver Cloud and Norwegian Getaway at the Rio Olympics

silvercloud1

Photo: David Goldman/Associated Press

The accommodations in the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, where most of the Summer Olympics athletes are staying during the games, have received mixed reviews. Australian athletes refused to move into the buildings because of significant plumbing and electrical issues. Argentina’s athletes are renting apartments outside of the village until it can be proven safe. The US basketball teams, however, have no complaints so far as they are being put up aboard the luxury cruise ship Silver Cloud, owned by Silversea Cruises. The ship has accommodations for 296 people. The teams also stayed aboard ship, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, at the Athens 2004 games. As reported by the NY Times, U.S.A. Basketball, the organization that oversees the national men’s and women’s teams, has shunned the athletes’ village since 1992.

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Draken Harald Hårfagre Ends Great Lakes Voyage at Green Bay

After struggling to raise funds to pay for pilotage fees, the replica Viking longship Draken Harald Hårfagre has ended its voyage in the Great Lakes at Green Bay, WI. Plans to go on to Duluth, Minnesota have been abandoned. A planned stop in New York harbor in September will go on as scheduled. From the press release:

In collaboration with the District 3 Western Great Lakes Pilot Association, we recalculated the estimated cost for pilotage for our expedition and have reduced the amount from 430,000 USD to 250,000 USD. This was accomplished by using current pricing tables from each of the Great Lakes districts, while working closely with our District 3 pilot to calculate a speed, route plan and timetable that is safe and works with the design of our ship. Even with this significant reduction in cost, we have not been able to raise enough funds to complete our entire expedition. So it is with a heavy heart that Viking Kings, the organization behind the Draken Harald Hårfagre project has come to the decision to make the Tall Ships Festival in Green Bay the last stop in this Tall Ships Challenge.

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Crystal Says No to SS United States — Not Feasible to Return to Service

Last February we posted “Will the SS United States Sail Again? Crystal Cruises Tosses a Life Line.”  Crystal Cruises had signed an option to purchase the ship and was undertaking a feasibility study to determine whether the ship could be economically put back into service. In the mean time, Crystal Cruises would cover the ship expenses of $60,0000 per month for nine months. The feasibility study is now complete and Crystal Cruises has said, “Thank you, but no thank you.” From the press release: “Crystal Cruises today determined that while the SS United States is structurally sound, the technical and commercial challenges associated with returning the historic liner to service as a modern cruise ship have unfortunately proven insurmountable.”  While Crustal Cruises will not exercise their option to buy the ship, they will contribute $350,000 to aid in the SS Unted States Conservancy’s ongoing mission to save the ship.

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Dragon Hole in South China Sea, World’s Deepest Blue Hole

dragon holeA blue hole in the South China Sea, called variously, Dragon Hole, Longdong and the Eye of the South China Sea, is reported to be the deepest blue hole in the world. At 987 feet (300.89 meters) deep, the Dragon Hole is significantly deeper than the previous record holder, Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas, which is about 663 feet deep. A blue hole is a water-filled sinkhole with the entrance below the water level.

As reported by Live Science: Scientists with the Sansha Ship Course Research Institute for Coral Protection in China used an underwater robot and a depth sensor to investigate the mysterious environment of Dragon Hole, which is a well-known feature in Yongle, a coral reef near the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea, according to Xinhua. They found more than 20 marine organisms living in the upper portions of the hole. Below about 328 feet (100 m), the seawater in the blue hole had almost no oxygen, and thus little life, the researchers told Xinhua on July 22.

According to local legend, the Dragon Hole is mentioned in the Ming dynasty novel “Journey to the West,” in which a supernatural monkey character gets a magical golden cudgel from an undersea kingdom ruled by a dragon.  So far, however, no dragons have been observed in the blue hole.

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Tall Ship Festival Green Bay 2016 — Nine Ships including the Draken Harald Hårfagre

drakengreenbay

Draken Harald Hårfagre has made it to Green Bay!

The Green Bay Tall Ship Festival kicks off this Friday, August 5th, at noon and runs through Sunday, August 7th. It features nine tall ships, including the replica Viking longship Draken Harald Hårfagre. There had been some question as to whether the longship would be able to make it to Green Bay after encountering issues with pilotage fees in the Great Lakes. The other ships participating in the festival are El Galeón, S/V Denis Sullivan, U.S. Brig Niagara, Madeline, Windy, Appledore IV, and When & If.  The festival also features food, music, educational events and activities for the kids.

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Whales Returning to New York — Dead & Alive

hbreach1After decades of absence, whales are returning to the waters around New York City. Competing whale watching cruises depart New York docks in the warmer months to see humpback, fin whales and dolphins, often within site of the city skyline. Some whales have been seen within 200 yards of shore and close to the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge, one of the region’s busiest shipping channels. Pods of humpbanks whales have also returned to nearby Long Island Sound.

Unfortunately, not all whales arrive in the harbor alive. Last week, the carcass of a dead whale struck by a ship several days before in New Jersey resurfaced in the Hudson River. Kimberly Durham, the rescue program director of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation on Long Island, reports that 2015 was the worst year yet for whale mortality in the area. “Nine dead whales, mostly humpbacks, washed up on Long Island beaches,” she said, “almost double the number in our previous peak year of 1991.” Most of the carcasses had wounds consistent with ship strikes. 2014 was almost as bad. In one month’s time in the spring of 2014, two dead whales were carried on the bows of ships arriving in New York’s upper harbor.

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LILAC: Flower of the Delaware — A Coast Guard Day Presentation, August 6th

lilaccgdayThe Lilac Preservation Project is hosting “LILAC: Flower of the Delaware, A Coast Guard Day Presentation” on Thursday, August 4th, at 6:00 PM on the historic lighthouse tender Lilac at Pier 25, the foot of West Street and N. Moore Street, on the Hudson River in Manhattan.

Lilac is a retired 1933 Coast Guard cutter that once carried supplies to lighthouses and maintained buoys. Decommissioned in 1972, USCGC Lilac is America’s only surviving steam-powered lighthouse tender and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is eligible to become a National Historic Landmark.

From their press release:
Have you wondered what a lighthouse tender did? What’s involved in tending buoys? Why do some Coast Guard cutters have black hulls? Join us on August 4th, the 226th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Coast Guard, to get some answers.

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The Viking Longship that Sailed to Chicago in 1893

Viking 1893

Viking 1893

The replica Viking longship Draken Harald Hårfagre successfully crossed the Atlantic and made it to the the Pepsi Tall Ships Chicago 2016 festival, which took place this weekend, despite challenges associated with paying Great lakes pilotage fees.  Building a replica longship, crossing the Atlantic and traveling inland to Chicago is a considerable achievement in its own right. I was surprised to learn that this is not the first time that the feat was accomplished. A Viking longship crossed the Atlantic and traveled to Chicago 123 years ago. Remarkably the ship, named Viking, survives to this day.

In 1893, a copy of the Gokstad ship was built and sailed under the command of Captain Magnus Andersen and a crew of 11 from Bergen, Norway to the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The Gokstad ship was a 9th-century Viking ship discovered in 1880 in a burial mound at Gokstad in Sandar, Sandefjord, Vestfold, Norway. The new ship, named simply Viking,was built at the Rødsverven shipyard in Sandefjord, Norway as a plank by plank copy of the Gokstad ship. The Viking was 78 feet long, 17 feet wide, and 6.5 feet and was sailed to North America, via Newfoundland and New York, up the Hudson River, through the Erie Canal and into the Great Lakes to Chicago.

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Black Tom — 100 Years Ago Today, the Night New York Harbor Exploded

blacktomfireAt around 2 a.m. on the Sunday morning of July 30, 1916, one hundred years ago today, explosions on Black Tom Island rocked New York harbor. The blasts lit the night sky and shook the earth with the force of a Richter scale 5.5 earthquake. Black Tom Island, located on the New Jersey side of the harbor, was one of the largest munitions terminals in the country, storing and shipping millions of tons of ammunition and high explosives to the French and the British, who were in the second year of what was then called the “Great War” against Germany and it allies.

The explosions that rocked the harbor were an estimated two million pounds of munitions detonating, sending bullets and shrapnel flying into the night, seriously damaging the nearby Statue of Liberty. Thousands of windows in the skyscrapers of downtown Manhattan and in Brooklyn were blown out. Windows as far north as Time Square in midtown were also shattered. In Jersey City, the outer wall of City Hall was cracked and the stained glass windows at St. Patrick’s Church were smashed. The clock tower of The Jersey Journal building in Journal Square, over a mile away, was struck by debris, stopping the clock at 2:12 a.m. Five hundred immigrants at Ellis Island were evacuated. The blasts were heard and felt for, at least, 90 miles in every direction, as far as Maryland and Connecticut.  In Philadelphia, residents were woken up by the explosions.

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Andrea Doria Lifeboat Launching—60 Years Later

adlifeboat1On July 25, 1956, the Italian Line passenger liner Andrea Doria was approaching the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, bound for New York City, when she collided with the eastbound MS Stockholm of the Swedish American Line and sank. Now 60 years later, the Andrea Doria’s newly restored Lifeboat #1 will be launched from the waterfront at the SUNY Maritime College, tomorrow, Saturday, June 30th. The public is invited to attend and willing participants will be able to row the lifeboat out into Long Island Sound for a short excursion.

From the National Maritime Historical Society press release:

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ONAK Origami Canoe — Paddling for City Dwellers

onakSeveral years ago, we posted about the Oru, the origami kayak. Now, two Belgian designers, Otto Van de Steene and Thomas Weyn, have developed ONAK, an origami full-sized  canoe with urban paddlers in mind.  The canoe is made of a custom-made polypropylene which is both robust and light weight.  The canoe is made of recyclable materials and  weighs only 37 lbs and measures 47 x 15 x 10 inches when folded. ONAK’s case on wheels can be unfolded into a two to three person canoe in 10 minutes. ONAK is now running a Kickstarter campaign to fund initial production and so far have raised close to $190,000.  The ONAK is a very interesting design, particularly for those who want the flexibility of a canoe but have limited storage space. Click here to learn more.

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SSV Oliver Hazard Perry Earns Certificate of Inspection — Summer Sails Set

ohpastern`

Photo: George Bekris

Congratulations to the officers, crew and the shore staff of the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry. The 200′ long tall ship recently completed the necessary drills and inspections required by the US Coast Guard in order for the ship to qualify as a Sailing School Vessel.  The three-masted, full rigged ship is Rhode Island’s official “Sailing Education Vessel” and carries 14,000 sq. ft. of sail area and seven miles of running rigging. Her tallest mast is 13 ½ stories high.

“We are very pleased with the way the crew has come together and that the Perry has made it through all the complexities of Coast Guard certification to receive her USCG Certificate of Inspection,” said Captain David Dawes, who joined the ship three months ago. “The ship is performing as expected, and we’re confident we’ll be able to give trainees an excellent experience this summer.”

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Viking Longship Draken Harald Hårfagre Sails on Confused Inland Seas

Photo: Draken Expedition/Peder Jacobsson

Photo: Draken Expedition/Peder Jacobsson

The Pepsi Tall Ships Chicago 2016 festival begins tomorrow, July 27th, and runs for five days through the 31st, at Chicago’s Navy Pier on Lake Michigan. One of the participating ships was expected to be the replica Viking longship Draken Harald Hårfagre.

Earlier this month we posted that the replica Viking longship Draken Harald Hårfagre may be forced from the Tall Ships Challenge 2016 by pilotage fees. After successfully crossing the Atlantic to participate in Tall Ships America‘s Tall Ship Challenge 2016, the cost of pilotage in the Great Lakes threatened to turn the ship back.  The Draken Expedition has believed that as a non-profit sail training ship, they would exempt from the pilotage requirments. While that may be true in Canadian waters, in the US portion of the Great Lakes, the ship is required to carry a pilot aboard. The cost of pilotage could reach as high as $400,000, a sum well beyond the means of the Draken Expedition.  So far, the Draken Expedition has raised enough money to travel to the recent tall ship’s festival in Bay City, MI and potentially to the Chicago festival. Whether the expedition will be able to continue her planned tour of the Great Lakes is uncertain.  The Sons of Norway have raised over $70,000 thus far to keep the ship sailing. Click here to donate.

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Mary Rose Open for Public Viewing After 471 Years

mary roserevealFour hundred and seventy one years after it sank in the Solent in 1545, King Henry VIII’s flag ship, Mary Rose, is now, once again, accessible to the viewing public at the Mary Rose Museum in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, in Great Britain. The ship was raised from the seabed in 1982 and had undergone 34 years of preservation and restoration. 19,000 artifacts have been recovered from the ship and wreck site so far. Mary Rose sank on July 19, 1545 during the third French war. Of the 500 men aboard, only 35 survived.

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John W. Griffith’s Headstone Unveiled in Linden Hill Cemetery

griffithdtombstoneYesterday, one hundred and thirty four year after his death, a headstone was unveiled at the grave of John Willis Griffiths, a gifted American naval architect who is often referred to as the “Father of the Clipper Ship.”  Although Griffiths was a brilliant engineer, designer, writer, editor and publisher; he died poor and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Linden Hill United Methodist Cemetery in Queens, NY.  The effort to provide a headstone for Griffith’s grave was spearheaded by Matt Carmel and Melbourne Smith with the sponsorship of the National Maritime Historical Society, assisted by Dr. Larrie D. Ferreiro and Adam Brodsky of the New York Post.  Bruce Johnson, yacht designer and Director of Business Development  for the ‎Brooklin Boat Yard, Front Street Shipyard & Rockport Marine, provided major financial support for the project.

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Octopi in the Sky — Giant Octopus and Squid Kites

Only slightly nautical but a lot of fun, nevertheless.

Giant Octopus Kite

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Explosion, Death and Bandits on the Peruvian Amazon

Aqua

Aqua

Last October, we took a five day cruise on the Amazon from Iquitos, Peru.  It was a fascinating trip. Iquitos is 2,000 nautical miles up the Amazon and yet is a deep water port with a controlling draft of around 20 feet. With a population approaching a half million, it is also the largest city in the world which is not accessible by road or rail.  A small eco-tourist excursion cruise industry has developed in and around Iquitos.  While the cruises are wonderful, they are not wholly without risk.  The last few months have particularly difficult. Continue reading

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Reefing the Ana Cecilia

anaceciliaLast week, we posted about the upcoming scuttling of the Luck Lady, ex-Newtown Creek, later this month as an artificial reef off Pompano Beach, FL. Recently, about fifty miles to the north of Pompano, the cargo ship Ana Cecilia was sunk about 1.25 miles offshore off Rivera Beach, as the newest of 11 other vessels that that have been scuttled as artificial reefs in the immediate area.

The Ana Cecilia has a colorful past. She was the first vessel to  deliver cargo from Miami to Cuba in 50 years when she carried humanitarian aid in 2012. She was seized in September 2015 after Customs found more than 386 bricks of cocaine aboard, valued to $10 million. The ship was later donated to Palm Beach County in support of its system of more than 150 artificial reefs.

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John Willis Griffiths — Father of the Clipper Ship

In June, we posted about the upcoming unveiling of a headstone for the brilliant, but largely forgotten, American naval architect John Willis Griffiths. This Saturday, July 23rd, the National Maritime Historical Society will unveil the headstone at Griffiths’ previously unmarked grave in Queens at the Linden Hill United Methodist Cemetery at 10:30 am.  Griffiths was a pioneer in both sail and steam, a designer, a shipbuilder, a hydrodynamicist, a writer and an editor. Of all his accomplishments he is best remembered as the father of the clipper ship. Here is a short documentary honoring Griffiths, done to raise money for the new headstone, narrated by Captain Matt Carmel.

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