New London’s SailFest 2014

New London’s Sailfest kicked off yesterday and will continue through Sunday, Jul 13th. It is billed as Southeastern Connecticut’s premier summertime event attracting over 300,000 people over the three-day festival. The festival features a major fireworks display, amusement rides, and over 200 vendors lining the downtown streets. Sailfest produces multiple stages of free entertainment with musical genres ranging in Rock, Celtic, Hip Hop, and Blues. Kids enjoy free shows at the City Pier stage. Sailfest also showcases the 4th largest fireworks display in the Northeast, sponsored by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.  It is unclear whether the schooner Amistad will be attending.   Saturday – 10:00am-11:00pm & Sunday – 9:00am-6:00pm.

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Update: Yang­­-suis & Archimedes Burning Mirrors

Yangsui, in a need of a good polishing

Yang-sui, in a need of a good polishing

One of the great stories from ancient history is of Archimedes Burning Mirrors.  Legend has it that Archimedes designed a series of curved mirrors to reflect and focus the rays of the sun and that these mirrors were used to set a fleet of Roman ships on fire during the Siege of Syracuse in 214–212 BC. Historians have often dismissed the story as a fanciful folk-tale. In January of this year, however, we posted of a modern, if accidental version of the burning mirrors in the form of London’s “Walkie Scorchie,” a glass office tower whose curved surface has been reflecting focussed sunlight, and has melted cars and fried eggs on the sidewalk.   A month later we also posted about a very intentional version of the “burning mirrors”  at the Ivanpah Solar Thermal Power Facility, which is currently the world’s largest solar thermal power system.

Recently, author John Perlin wrote the discovery of Bronze Age Chinese hand-sized “burning mirrors” in his book Let It Shine: The 6,000-Year Story of Solar Energy.   Perlin writesDuring the sixth century BCE, Confucius wrote about the common use of curved mirrors shaped from shiny metal to concentrate the rays of the sun for making fire. These became known as yang­­-suis ­­– translating to solar ignitors, or burning mirrors. 

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City of Water Day Festival, July 12th in New York Harbor

Photo: Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal

Photo: Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal

The Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance is hosting its seventh annual City of Water Day festival this Saturday, July 12th, at multiple locations in New York Harbor.  Festivities will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  This year Hoboken is joining in the fun, hosting free kayak and ferry rides, along with a multitude of children’s activities, concerts and boat tours at Maxwell Place Park.  A free ferry between Maxwell Place Park, Paulus Hook in Jersey City and Governors Island will make five round-trip journeys throughout the day. No tickets are required, but all passengers must disembark at every stop.

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Grand Banks Oyster Bar on the Schooner Sherman Zwicker on the Hudson

zwickerI believe that this is the first straight-out restaurant review that we have done on the Old Salt Blog.  Then again the Grand Banks Oyster Bar on the schooner Sherman Zwicker is not your typical restaurant.  Sherman Zwicker is a  142′ long wooden auxiliary fishing schooner, originally built in 1942 for dory fishing on the Grand Banks. She is now alongside Hudson River Park’s Pier 25 in Manhattan with an oyster bar named Grand Banks on her deck and a soon-to-open exhibition by New Draft Collective in her hold.  The schooner is said to be the largest wooden vessel now afloat in New York.

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Swedish Warship Mars, Sunk in 1564, Preserved in the Baltic

mosaik-a3-300-dpi-copy_81469_990x742National Geographic has published breathtaking photographs and video of the Swedish warship Mars, which exploded and sank in the first battle of Öland in 1564.  Because the ship sank in the dark, cold waters of the Baltic Sea, where the water is brackish and contains relatively little oxygen near the bottom, the ship is amazingly well preserved.

The Mars was believed to be one of the largest ships of her day.  When the ship sank she carried a fortune in silver coins, as well as 800 to 900 sailors, all of which ended at the bottom.  The wreck of the Mars has long been sought after. There is a legend that a specter rose from the inferno when Mars sank, to guard the ship against ever being discovered.  After 450 years, perhaps the legendary specter has retired. At least one silver coin has been recovered. Also numerous bones have been found at the wreck site from the ill-fated sailors and soldiers who went down with the ship.  There is video of the shipwreck after the page break.

Cursed Warship Revealed With Treasure Onboard

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HM Schooner Pickel for Sale on Ebay

HMS Pickle is for sale on Ebay, with a minimum opening bid of £69,500.00, no reserve and five days left in the auction.  The topsail schooner is a replica of the first ship to bring the news of Nelson’s great victory and tragic death at Trafalgar back to England.

We last posted about HMS Pickle when she was for sale back in 2008 when the asking price was £350,000.00.  From the Seller’s Notes of Ebay:  “Pickle is in need of some work to bring her up to scratch.” Apparently while in good shape below the waterline, the schooner needs a few new deck planks and beams.   Click here to learn more.

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The Fishermen, the Swimmer and the Great White Shark off Manhattan Beach

Attack victim being carried through surf

Attack victim being carried through surf

This weekend, Steven Robles, 40, was swimming off Manhattan Beach in Southern California on Saturday morning when he was attacked by a juvenile 7′ long great white shark. He suffered a single bite wound on the right side of his rib cage and was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and then released to recover at home. If that was the entire story, it would be easy just to write it off as an another example of how dangerous great whites can be. The story ends up being a bit more complicated, however.

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Hannah Whiteley Kiteboarding — Life Simple & Good

An amazing video of Hannah Whiteley kiteboarding in South Africa from Scuttlebutt Sailing News.  Enjoy.

Hannah Whiteley ‘Essence’

Hannah Whiteley ‘Essence’ from Hannah Whiteley on Vimeo.

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The Barracuda Bites Back — Crew of Korean Bulker JS Comet Medevaced Off Florida Coast

JS_COMETThe US Coast Guard in Florida faced an unusual challenge earlier this week.  Virtually the entire crew, 19 out of 21, on the 35,362 dwt Korean bulk carrier JS Comet had become seriously ill with symptoms of food poisoning and needed to be rescued. The ship was anchored in the Atlantic three miles off Port Canaveral, Florida while Tropical Storm Arthur raged offshore. The condition of the crew and the 35 knot winds and five to 6-foot seas raised by the tropical storm made evacuation by boat impossible. Despite the deteriorating weather conditions, the Coast Guard successfully evacuate the 19 sick crew members leaving only two crew aboard the ship.

So, what poisoned the crew? The crew told the Coast Guard they believe they got food poisoning from bad sushi. gCaptain reports that an unconfirmed report indicates the crew may have eaten some bad barracuda, which may have been contaminated with ciguatoxin.

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Inside the Costa Concordia — New Video, Days Before Refloating

In just over a week, salvors expect to  start pumping air into sponson tanks welded along the hull of the Costa Concordia to refloat the ship.   Prior to the refloating, Italian police have released footage showing the underwater interior of the wrecked cruise ship. 

Costa Concordia: New video of the inside of sunken cruise ship

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Queen Elizabeth II Christens Aircraft Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth

hmsqeToday, Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II christened the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth. As the ceremony was held in Rosyth, Scotland, the queen christened the ship with a bottle of whiskey from the Bowmore Distillery, rather than the more traditional champagne. The new carrier will be the largest warship ever constructed for the UK. With a displacement of 65,000 tonnes, the ship is 280m long, about 70m wide, and carry some 1,600 personnel, including air crew. The new ship is roughly three times the size of HMS Illustrious, the Royal Navy’s remaining carrier.

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South Australia Eviro Boss Says Historic Clipper, City of Adelaide, “The Last Thing We Need…”

The composite clipper, City of Adelaide, built in 1864, is the world’s oldest surviving clipper ship. Between 1864 and 1887 the ship made 23 voyages from London and Plymouth to Adelaide, South Australia. Approximately a quarter of a million Australians can trace an ancestor that migrated, or was a passenger, on the City of Adelaide. The historic clipper was recently transported to its namesake city, following a lavish send off featuring Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, on the River Thames at Greenwich near London.

Apparently, the reception that the ship has received in Australia has been somewhat less enthusuastic.  South Australia’s Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources CEO Allan Holmes has called the clipper restoration project an “indulgence” and “eventual taxpayer burden.”  He went on to say,”I’m not a supporter, I think it’s the last thing we need. As a government official I know where this is going to end up, they’ll come calling on government to pay the bill, there’s no doubt about that. Government will be under enormous pressure because we have this hulk, this wreck in the port with public expectation that something is going to be done about it.”

City of Adelaide clipper restoration project an indulgence and eventual taxpayer burden, SA Environment Dept says

In contrast, a few years ago, the City of Adelaide zoo spent close to $30 million building a pavilion for borrowed Chinese pandas.   It appears that borrowed pandas have a higher priority to government officials than Australia’s maritime heritage.

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Congratulations, Again, to Admiral Michelle Howard, Four Star Admiral & Vice Chief of Naval Operations

Last December, we congratulated Admiral Michelle Howard on her nomination to serve as Vice Chief for Naval Operations. The nomination was confirmed and yesterday she was promoted to the number two position in the US Navy. She will be the first woman to serve as a four star admiral.

Indeed, Admiral Howard is associated with many firsts.  She was the first African-American woman to achieve three star rank in the U.S. Armed Forces as well as being first woman and African-American woman to achieve the rank of admiral in the Navy. She was the first African-American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Rushmore. She is the first African-American Vice Chief for Naval Operations. She was also the first admiral selected from the U.S. Naval Academy class of 1982 and the first female graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy selected for flag rank.  Admiral Howard was also in command of the anti-terror strike force which rescued Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates following the attack on the Maersk Alabama.

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Modern-day Mary Celeste – the Mystery of Tanker Galuh Pusaka in the South China Sea



The owners of the product tanker Arsenal  lost contact with the ship while she was underway in the South China Sea near the Anambas Archipelago, Indonesia. Fearing that the ship might have been hijacked by pirates, they contacted the Indonesian Navy, which began a search for the missing tanker. (Not long afterwards, the Arsenal re-established contact after apparently suffering a failure in its communication equipment.)

The Indonesia navy did find a tanker, however. At roughly 03 49 15 N, 106 33 20 E, they came upon the Indonesia-flagged product tanker Galuh Pusaka, drifting with engine and navigational lights off, without crew or cargo, but with fresh provisions in the galley. The ship was towed to the Indonesian naval base at Tarempa. The suspicion is that the tanker was used by pirates to siphon and transport stolen oil from hijacked ships. It may have been used by the pirates for some time, as the last AIS signal received from the tanker dates back to Sept 24, 2010. Lt. Col. Agung Jaya Saktika, Tarempa Maritime Authorities, said the tanker had significant damage and a lot of the communication and navigational equipment was missing. The Galuh Pusaka, IMO 7511060, is a product tanker of 2500 DWT, built in 1975, flying the Indonesia flag. The manager of record is Waruna Nusa Sentana, Sumatra.

Modern Mary Celeste – the mystery of tanker Galuh Pusaka, South China sea

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The Dazzle Ships, Then and Now

Cargo Ship SS West Mahomet in Dazzle 1918

Cargo Ship SS West Mahomet in Dazzle 1918

We posted earlier today about the USS Slater’s dazzle camouflage paint.  Dazzle, sometimes referred to as razzle dazzle, is a very different approach to camouflage.  Where most camouflage attempts to hide an object or person, dazzle camouflage on ships uses complex patterns of geometric shapes in contrasting colors, to make it difficult to identity the ship and to determine which direction it is traveling.  If successful, the dazzle camouflage will confuse the targeting of the guns or torpedoes.

Norman Wilkinson is usually credited with developed the widely used disruptive coloration that became known as dazzle painting. Dazzle reached its peak usage in World War I but continued to be used throughout World War II.   The color schemes ranged from checker-board or stripped patterns to wildly abstract geometric imagery. Many dazzle schemes were black, white and gray, while some used brighter colors, including red, blues and purples and greens.

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USS Slater Dazzles as She Returns to Albany

USS Slater in dazzle camouflage

USS Slater in dazzle camouflage

In April we posted about the drydocking of USS Slater, the last World War II destroyer escort still afloat in the United States, at  Caddell Dry Dock in Staten Island.  Yesterday, her repairs completed, newly cleaned, and painted, she returned to her home port, up the Hudson in Albany, NY.  Her new paint job is  dazzling.  Literally.  She has been repainted in the “dazzle” camouflage scheme that she wore in service in 1945.

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Mermaid Monday — Professional Mermaids, the World by the Tail!

Photo: Weeki Wachee

Photo: Weeki Wachee

I have recently discovered that mermaids are indeed real, well, after a fashion, though not in the sense suggested by cheesy fake documentaries shown on the Discovery Channel.   There is a small cadre of women who perform as mermaids and models professionally.  It is certainly one of the more unusual jobs, though no doubt providing steadier work than scuba-diving Santas, which does tend to be highly seasonal.

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International Moth Racing — Foiling is Not Just for the America’s Cup

Well before the billionaire’s AC72 catamarans were rising up on foils to race in the America’s Cup, nimble Moth dinghies were flying on hydrofoils around the buoys. I will admit to being fascinated by the foiling Moths, although they appear to be rather challenging to sail. Perhaps beyond my capabilities. The Moths are light and relatively simple, while still being a wonder of design, engineering and fabrication.  Here is a wonderful video by Onne van der Wal of a recent Moth regatta in Newport on Narragansett Bay, RI.

2014 11th Hour Cup – Moth Racing in Newport, Rhode Island

2014 11th Hour Cup – Moth Racing in Newport, Rhode Island from Onne van der Wal on Vimeo.

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Return of Migaloo, the White Humpback — Concerns Over Skin Cancer

Photo: Ray Alley

Photo: Ray Alley

Migaloo, the white humpback whale has been spotted making his way up Australia’s Queensland’s coast on his annual migration to warmer waters. Migaloo was first seen in 1991 and is believed to be around 28 years old and is one of a few albino humpback whales ever observed. This is the 23rd consecutive year Migaloo has been spotted on the Australia’s eastern seaboard.  As whales go, Migiloo is something of a rock star. Fans track his yearly migration. He has several websites devoted to him and as well as a Twitter account and multiple Facebook pages.

This year there is increased concern that Migaloo’s albinism may have made the humpback susceptible to skin cancer. Continue reading

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Humpback Whales off New York Harbor

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of whales off New York harbor. In 2011, researchers from Cornell recorded the sounds of fin whale, blue whale, humpback whale, minke whale, sei whale, and the North Atlantic right whale using an array of hydrophones off Long Island and New York harbor. The downside of increased whale activity is that the harbor has also seen an increase in the number of whales struck and killed by ships. Earlier this spring, we saw two dead whales carried into the harbor on the bows of ships in less than a month. On the positive side New Yorkers are able to watch humpbacks feeding just a mile of New York City beaches.

Local Whale Watching

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