Own the Historic Schooner Isaac H. Evans for an Essay & $125

isaacevansThe 129 year old, 90 foot long schooner Isaac H. Evans, sailing out of Rockland, Maine could be yours for $125 and a 200 word essay. Captain Brenda Thomas, owner and master of the schooner, hopes to attract up to 8,000 entries, which would raise up to $1 million. The schooner was built as a Delaware oyster schooner in 1886 but has been sailing in the Maine “windjammer fleet” since 1973. The schooner is a National Historic Landmark. While the schooner is outfitted to carry passengers, the new owner does not necessarily have to continue that line of work. Captain Thomas says that “the person doesn’t have to operate it as a schooner. They could live on it, turn it into a restaurant. A Scout group could get it and offer sail training. There are no strings attached.

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US Coast Guard Busts Narco-sub with $181 Million in Cocaine Aboard



The submarine war at sea continues. Last month, the USCG Cutter Stratton intercepted a semi-submersible vessel in the eastern Pacific Ocean around 200 miles south of Mexico, loaded with 16,000 pounds of cocaine, worth an estimated $181 million. Four men were arrested aboard the sub and taken into custody. The 40′ long narco sub was taken under tow, but later sank in international waters.

As we posted about in 2010, The New Generation of Narco Submarines: Sometime in the 1990s, cocaine smugglers switched from high speed power boats, which were easy to spot on radar, to semi-submersibles, which were almost invisible to radar and difficult to spot from other boats. They have been dubbed narco subs and typically have been around 30-40 feet long, capable of traveling around 6 knots and carrying several tons of cocaine.

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Captain Mary’s Story Hour on the Cutter Lilac & Rides on the Fireboat John J Harvey

If you are anywhere near the lower Hudson River this Sunday, August 9th, be sure to stop by the Cutter Lilac for Captain Mary’s Story Hour, a family event for all ages, from 10:30 AM to 1:15 PM. Mary Habstritt, aka “Captain Mary,” will be reading Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey. In addition to hearing about the fireboat John J. Harvey which pumped water for 80 hours to aid firefighters during the Sept. 11 attacks, visitors will also be able to take a ride on the historic fireboat.

Participants may choose to depart on the fireboat from Pier 66 Maritime (in Hudson River Park at 26th Street) at 10:30 a.m. and share the story at Lilac after, or read the story at Lilac first and board the fireboat there for a trip out to the Harbor and back leaving at 12:00 noon and returning at 1:00 PM. The first reading of the storybook will be at 11:30 and the second is at 12:30 on the buoy deck at Lilac.

Reservations are required for the boat rides since space is limited and there is a $10 refundable fee per person that is forfeit if you do not take the ride. A third fireboat ride has been added at 1:30. No advance registration is needed for the reading. Click here to register for the 10:30 , the 12:00 or the 1:15 fireboat rides.

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Timelapse Cruise Ship Under Construction

This is a time lapse of the construction of a cruise ship for the German AIDA Cruises at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works. Superficially, it is an entertaining short video in which an entire new ship emerges as if assembled from Lego blocks.

Watch a bit closer and you can get a sense of the extreme complexity of building a cruise ship. Cruise ships are among the most complicated of all ships to build. Each block is a fully fabricated sub-assembly, which must fit perfectly with the blocks on all sides. All the structure, machinery, wiring, piping, hydraulics and ventilation must line up to very fine tolerances. The design and engineering is exacting. For many years, the only shipyards which had the capacity to build cruise ships economically were European. Obviously, MHI is now fully capable of building cruise ships, as well.

AIDAprima Cruise Ship : Full Construction Time-lapse by MKtimelapse

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Natalia Molchanova — World’s Greatest Free Diver, Presumed Dead

freediver1On Sunday, 53-year-old  Natalia Molchanova, a world record holder and arguably the greatest free diver that the world has ever seen, slipped below the surface on a practice dive off Ibiza. She did not surface again and is presumed dead. The search for her was suspended this morning.  A joint statement was issued AIDA International and Molchanova’s family:

The Worlds Most Accomplished and Famous Female Freediver, Natalia Molchanova, is Missing

Natalia Molchanova was recreationally freediving off the coast of Spain on August 2, 2015 when she was separated from her peers. She was diving without fins to around 30 to 40m and supposable got into strong underwater current. Search efforts have been ongoing during daylight hours and the next day since she was reported missing by three peers. She disappeared while diving approximately two miles northwest of the port of La Savina at Poniente de es Freus.

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Washington and Hamilton on the US Coast Guard’s 225th Birthday

Washington & Hamilton at Federal Hall

Washington & Hamilton at Federal Hall

Today, on the 225th anniversary of George Washington signing of the legislation establishing the Revenue-Marine, the predecessor to the United States Coast Guard, President George Washington and his Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, returned to Federal Hall in New York City, where the act was signed on August 4, 1790. OK, they were not literally Washington and Hamilton. (Alexander Hamilton is buried just a few blocks to the west at Trinity Church in lower Manhattan.) Washington was portrayed by John Lopes and Hamilton by Ian Rose.

The reenactment was part of a commemoration of the United States Coast Guard’s birthday and was organized jointly by the Coast Guard, the National Park Service and the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society.  (Until today, I was not aware of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society.)

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Near 300th Anniversary of Terra Firme Fleet Disaster, Divers Find $1MM in Spanish Gold

1715goldOn July 30, 1715 the Spanish Terra Firme and New Spain fleets, bound from Havana to Spain, were hit by a hurricane off the coast of Florida.  Eleven ships were blown up on to the reefs and sank. Only one ship escaped. More than 1,000 sailors lost their lives.

On July 17, Eric Schmitt and his family were diving on the fleet flagship, Capitana, when they found a trove of 52 Spanish gold coins, 40 feet of gold chain, and 110 silver coins and buttons all worth over one million dollars. The discovery was kept quiet for a few weeks to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the disaster. Who receives the benefit of the gold is unclear. The Schmitt family was diving under a contract with 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels, a Florida company that holds exclusive rights to searching the wrecks.

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The Indian Ocean Gyre, the Garbage Patch and Malaysia Air Flight 370

iogyreA wing flap from Malaysia Air Flight 370, which disappeared in 2014, has washed up on the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa, roughly 2,300 miles away from where most believe that the plane crashed, on the opposite side of the ocean near Australia. So how did the wing flap make it the two thousand miles across the the Indian Ocean?  It appears to have ridden the Indian Ocean gyre, along with the rest of the trash cast off into the Indian Ocean.

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What Happened to the Polina Star III? New Oyster 90 Sinks off Spain

oyster90In early July, the year old Polina Star III – an extended 90ft version of the Oyster 825 — suffered some sort of hull failure and sank off the East Coast of Spain. The Oyster press release describes it as a “a serious incident which compromised the integrity of the moulded hull.”  The five crew were rescued by the Spanish Coastguard before the vessel sank on July 4th. What happened to Polina Star III, delivered last May?  Divers have been sent to investigate the wreck. So far, the company has only said that “the possibility of impact with an underwater object propagating structural failure has not been ruled out. Recovery of the vessel will facilitate further detailed investigation.”

Surprisingly, the only reporting that we have seen of the sinking is in the Oyster statement posted on their website on July 24th. The statement goes on to say:

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The Problem with Boat Names & Double-Enders

inspiredvirginAs we posted today, Donna Lange has just set off on her second solo circumnavigation on her Southern Cross 28, Inspired Insanity. A photo of the Donna and the boat points out one problem with painting a boat name on a double-ender. Reading across from left to right the boat’s name is Inspired Insanity from the Virgin Islands.  On the other hand, reading from up to down and then left to right, the name becomes Inspired Virgin from the Insanity Islands.

I am not sure where the Insanity Islands are on a chart but I have the distinct recollection of visiting once or twice.

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Bon Voyage — Donna Lange & Inspired Insanity on Second Solo Circumnativation

donnalangeToday, Donna Lange set off today from Bristol, RI on her Southern Cross 28, Inspired Insanity, attempting to sail single-handed nonstop around the world. This will be her second circumnavigation, although the first non-stop. She made two post calls on her first trip around between 2005 and 2007.  Here her description of the voyage she she began today:

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The Hallucinogen Magic of Sea Sapphires

Sea sapphires are amazing creatures. These tiny crustaceans flash in brilliant shades of blue, green, red and gold, and then seem to disappear completely, as if by magic. RR Helm wrote in Deep Sea News, “When I first saw a sea sapphire I thought I was hallucinating.” She also referred to sea sapphires as “the most beautiful animal you’ve never seen.

Now, researchers have published a paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society which explains how these remarkable creatures pull off their light and invisibility trick. Those interested in the details should read: Structural Basis for the Brilliant Colors of the Sapphirinid Copepods. For the rest of us, the video below gives a more general explanation.

The secret to the sea sapphire’s colors and invisibility

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The French Prize by James Nelson — a Review

frenchprizeFor fans of his “Revolution at Sea Saga,” Jame’s Nelson’s The French Prize is an introduction to the next generation. Isaac Biddlecombe, the Revolutionary War naval hero of the previous saga, has a son, Jack, coming of age in the young American republic. The novel is set during the so-called Quasi-War, an undeclared war fought almost entirely at sea between the United States of America and the French Republic from 1798 to 1800.  Jack Biddlecombe is a skilled sailor and ship’s officer, while also a bit of a hot-head and a brawler. He has been given his first command, the merchant ship Abigail, bound for Barbados. Concerned about the danger of French privateers in the West Indies, the ship owner has six pound cannon installed on the deck of the ship. Oddly, the ship owner also happens to be one of his father’s political rivals. As Jack sails for the West Indies, toward the guns of a French warship, he is wholly unaware of the layers of political intrigue that surround the voyage.

In addition to duels, storms, and battles at sea, Nelson gives Jack Biddlecome an engaging passenger for the trip in the form of William Wentworth, of the “Boston Wentworths”, the son of wealth and position, who seems in equal parts amused, annoyed and intrigued by the young captain. When they aren’t literally trying to kill each other, they become allies of sorts. I would not be surprised to see William Wentworth in future books of the series. The French Prize is a fun and engaging read.

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The Glory and the Danger of Open Water — Thoughts on Two Missing Teens

capsized boatOn Friday, two 14 year old boys went missing in the Atlantic off Jupiter, FL. Their 19′ boat was found capsized on Sunday night. The Coast Guard, and now the Navy, is continuing the search for the teens, Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen.

The missing boys reminded me of how easily that could have been me, almost a half century ago. Open water can be such a glorious and also very dangerous place if you are young, adventurous and think that you know what you are doing.

When I was around 15, my family moved to Treasure Island on the west coast of Florida. I got a job cleaning boats at a local marina and saved enough to buy an old 16′ runabout with a 33 hp outboard motor.  Most of the time I used the boat to run around the sheltered waters of Boca Ciega Bay, but I would often head out through John’s Pass into the Gulf of Mexico to go fishing or just cruise around offshore.

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‘Sea Slaves’: the Human Misery that Feeds Pets and Livestock

Slave labor on fishing boats, particularity in Asia, has been a serious problem for many years. In 2011, we posted about reports that the crews of of chartered fishing vessels operating in New Zealand waters were being systematically abused and robbed of their pay. More recently, the AP investigated the abuse of seamen in Thai shrimping business. They found that Thai and Burmese fishermen were being held against their will and often beaten or killed on trawlers catching “trash fish” also know as bycatch, to supply Thai shrimp farms. The bycatch is also used to make pet food and food for livestock.

Now in the third of his series, Outlaw Ocean, Ian Urbina, of the New York Times, writes of ‘Sea Slaves’: the Human Misery that Feeds Pets and Livestock.  Well worth reading.  A short video companion to the article:

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Will Pollution Limit Faroe Island Pilot Whale Hunts?

pilotwhaleAround the world, pollution is a serious threat to whales. Ironically, on the Faroe Islands, pollution may help to curtail whaling, where protests have failed.  The residents of the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic have been hunting pilot whales for almost a thousand years, since about the time of the first Norse settlements on the islands. The yearly hunt has been the subject of considerable controversy for some time. The Faroe islanders argue that the pilot whales are not endangered and that the hunt is wholly sustainable. Protests against the hunt have hardened the resolve of many on the islands to continue it.

This year, as in years past, protesters from Sea Shepherds have been arrested for attempting to interfere with the hunt.  Other conservation groups, notable WDC, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, have abandoned the confrontational approach taken by the Sea Shepherds, who are best known for their reality TV show.  WDC state on their website:

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Kick ’em Jenny – Ready to Rock Out From Underwater

kick'emjennyBack in 2011, we posted a short quiz: Is Kick’em Jenny a Dutch rockabilly singer, a Dutch Celtic Symfo-Folk band or an active submarine volcano on the floor of the Caribbean Sea? The answer is yes to all three. I am not sure what the first two are up to these days, but the underwater volcano is acting up.

Kick’em Jenny, is located off the northern coast of Grenada, in the Lesser Antilles, and is roughly 600 feet underwater. As reported by CNN, officials raised its threat level Thursday to orange, which means it could erupt with less than 24-hour notice. An eruption could sink ships and hurl hot rock and ash into the air. Kick’em Jenny started rumbling on July 11, and has produced more than 200 small earthquakes since then, according to the Seismic Research Centre at the University of the West Indies.

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Fifty One Years Ago, Trawler Snoopy and Eight Crew Casualties of Torpedo Alley

snoopyFifty one years ago this week, on July 23, 1964, the scallop trawler Snoopy was trawling off Currituck Sound, NC.  During World War II that stretch of the coast earned the grim nickname, Torpedo Alley, when German U-boats sank nearly 400 ships in the area, killing over 5,000 merchant seamen. That Friday night, Torpedo Alley would claim eight more sailors, among the last causalities of the unrestricted submarine warfare of World War II.

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Stowaways — Complicated, Messy, Expensive and Possibly Dangerous

stowawayFirst published in gCaptain.

Recently, the New York Times published Stowaways and Crimes Aboard Aboard a Scofflaw Ship, the first of a four part series, by Ian Urbina. At the core of the article, Urbina tells the story of two South Africans who have the misfortune to stowaway onboard a Greek reefer ship whose owner is notorious for shady dealings. Only one of the stowaways ultimately survives. The account is vivid, well researched and well told. Nevertheless, it doesn’t and really can’t capture the full scope of the problem of stowaways in shipping today.

The good news is that most shipowners and ship owning corporations are not the sort of shoddy fly-by night operators described in Urbina’s article. The bad news is that dealing with stowaways on shipboard is usually expensive, complicated and in some cases dangerous.

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Lucy Bellwood’s Baggywrinkles: A Lubber’s Guide to Life at Sea

lucybaggywI have long been a fan of Lucy Bellwood. A tall ship sailor and cartoonist; she is talented, smart and funny. Her  wonderful series, Baggywrinkles, based on the time she has spent working aboard replica 18th-century tall ships, has appeared an issue at a time online. She is now raising money via Kickstarter to publish the entire series, including new and as yet unseen work, as Baggywrinkles: A Lubber’s Guide to Life at Sea.

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