In 1839, a 20-year-old Melville boarded a merchant ship docked in New York City and voyaged to Liverpool as a cabin boy. The trip kindled his spirit for adventure. Two years later, he joined a whaler named Acushnet and set off for the Pacific. That’s when he learned how terrifying a 70-foot sperm whale could be.
Melville also learned about Mocha Dick, a vicious whale that had attacked at least 100 vessels and sent 20 boats to the ocean bottom. Lore of the whale fueled nightmares: Rusting harpoons protruded from its back, a ghastly reminder of how many men had failed to kill him—and died trying.
Early drafts of Moby-Dick began like the rest of Melville’s stories, as a playful romp on the high seas. By the time he was finished, it was a dark and lurid 135-chapter tome, a plot freighted with symbolism and wild digressions cataloging practically everything about the Yankee whaling industry.
Reviews were merciless. The New York United States Magazine and Democratic Review charged Melville with crimes against the English language. Critics and fans alike had expected a wild ocean adventure. Instead, Melville gave them a 635-page philosophical brick. Melville would have to spend three decades rotting in a pine box before critics realized there was more to his story. keep reading
“We drank turtle blood and ate the contents of a shark’s stomach”
Douglas Robertson was just 18 when he and his family found themselves shipwrecked and adrift in a tiny lifeboat on the Pacific ocean for almost six weeks after their boat sank. His father, Dougal Robertson, then aged 47, was sailing their boat, the Lucette, from Panama to the Galapagos Islands when it was attacked and sunk by a pod of killer whales on June 15, 1972.
The group managed to scramble aboard a small inflatable life raft with little in the way of tools or provisions and spent the next month and a half fighting for survival in one of the most hostile environments on earth. keep reading
Cruise line to launch world’s first underwater lounge with extra large windows for viewing marine life
These four Explorer class ships will be built in Norway with the first two scheduled to be delivered in 2018. The ships will be “Ice Class” ranked, meaning they can travel to the Polar regions and maneuver though small coves that larger ships can not access.
The forthcoming fleet of four new ships will be constructed in Norway, with two to be delivered in 2018 and the remaining two a year later. The ships will be built by VARD, a Norwegian affiliate of Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard. (Cruise Advice)
More people have climbed Mount Everest than have sailed around the world by boat
The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is a biennial 40,000 nautical-mile circumnavigation of the planet, contested by 12 identical yachts across eight legs and 11 months. This latest edition marks 20 years since the race’s maiden voyage and to date, more than 700 people have completed the course.
Clipper prides itself on being accessible to novice sailors and I’d completed four weeks of (compulsory) training. But was I really cut out for the Pacific? The vomit coating my brand new sailing smock didn’t exactly scream “intrepid mariner”. The head-spinning effect of seasickness had passed, but I was still experiencing bouts of unpredictable projectile vomiting.” keep reading on The Telegraph
Norovirus Sickens Hundreds on First Cruise Ship of the Season
Portland, MAINE – Federal health officials say the first cruise ship to dock in Portland, Maine, this season is under surveillance for norvirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 27 percent of the passengers aboard the Balmoral — operated by the Fred Olsen Cruises — have gotten sick since the cruise began April 16. Washington Post/AP
The Fred Olsen ship Balmoral is on a 34 night ‘Old England to New England’ cruise and 252 of 919 passengers – more than a quarter – have been hit by the virus. Hundreds of British cruise passengers have been struck down with diarrhoea and vomiting. The Balmoral is on a 34 night ‘Old England to New England’ cruise and 252 of 919 passengers – more than a quarter – have been hit by the virus. Eight crew have also been affected. —The Mirror UK
In the early days of the American republic, there were few lights along the American coast, and a dire need to solve this very real human and commercial problem. More than 90 percent of the federal budget came from custom house duties, and frequent shipwrecks made aids to navigation a top national priority.
Both England and France had made rapid advances in construction and improved lighting and training, but in America, little was done despite frequent complaints from numerous maritime interests.
The development of the Fresnel lens and its adoption by most of the rest of the world led to a trial or two in America, (but it was deemed to be) too expensive. By the dawn of the Civil War, the United States was just starting to catch up with the rest of the modern world. more
NEW YORK CITY — “Turner’s Whaling Pictures,” on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art May 10–August 7, will be the first exhibition to unite the series of four whaling scenes painted by the British artist Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) near the end of his career.
The quartet of paintings — comprising The Met’s “Whalers,” circa 1845 and its three companions from Tate Britain — were among the last seascapes exhibited by Turner, for whom marine subjects were a creative mainstay.
The topic of whaling resonated with some of Turner’s favorite themes: modern maritime labor, Britain’s global naval empire, human ambition and frailty, and the awe-inspiring power of nature. The four pictures were inspired by Thomas Beale’s “Natural History of the Sperm Whale” (1839), with this painting based on an account of the pursuit of a whale in the North Pacific. more
- bio and selected works on wikipedia
- Whalers; exhibited 1845 at the Tate
- selected works from the Tate Gallery
- Trailer and review of the film ‘Mr. Turner,’ about the life of the artist
Lead Captain Cy Williams of Strike Zone Sportfishing was getting ready for a fishing charter out of Knudson Cove Marina in Ketchikan, Alaska when he noticed a whale in the harbor. He started recording and got quite a show when the giant whale was ready for his close up, now.
Candace Barnes was visiting from out-of-town and caught the spectacle from another angle.
As a Liberty ship, she operated as a merchant ship of the United States Merchant Marine during World War II and later was a vocational high school training ship in New York City for many years. Now preserved, she is a museum ship and cruise ship berthed at Clinton Street Pier 1 in Baltimore Harbor in Maryland. John W. Brown was named after the Canadian-born American labor union leader John W. Brown (1867-1941). The other surviving operational Liberty ship is SS Jeremiah O’Brien in San Francisco, California.
Laid down at the Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard in Baltimore, Maryland, on 28 July 1942; launched on 7 September 1942, the third of three Liberty ships launched at the yard that day. She completed fitting out on 19 September 1942, making her total construction time only 54 days. more on wikipedia
This Week in Shipbuilding History (via Nauticus)
On 6 May, 1956, the USS WISCONSIN collided with destroyer USS EATON in a heavy fog off the Virginia Capes. She then put into Norfolk with extensive damage to her bow, and one week later entered dry dock at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
A 120 ton, 68 foot (21 m) section of the bow of the never-completed battleship USS Kentucky (BB-66) was transported by barge, in one section, from Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Corporation of Newport News, Virginia, across Hampton Roads to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
Working around the clock, Wisconsin’s ship’s force and shipyard personnel completed the operation which grafted the new bow on the old battleship in 16 days.
By June 1956, the ship was ready to return to sea, and resumed her midshipman training on 9 July 1956.
The Kentucky had been deemed obsolete and construction was suspended. She remained tied-up dockside, serving as a source for spare-parts. Eventually struck from the Navy List 9 June 1958; her cannibalized hulk was sold for scrapping to Boston Metals Co., Baltimore, Md. more on NavSource
The Wisconsin was eventually decommissioned 30 September 1991, having earned a total of six battle stars for service in World War II and Korea, as well as a Navy Unit Commendation for service during the January/February 1991 Gulf War. She currently serves as a museum ship operated by Nauticus, at the National Maritime Center in Norfolk, Virginia. (wikipedia)
Effective this month, tattoo enthusiasts who serve in the U.S. Navy can ink a lot more realestate. The latest policy change is an effort to remain attractive to millennials who may be excluded from serving due to the size of their body artwork. That was apparent when the USS Toledo pulled into Connecticut’s naval base in New London last week and tattoo artist Adam Hyllier’s phone started ringing.
Body art is nothing new in the Navy. At the Puget Sound Navy Museum in Bremerton, Washington, there’s a whole exhibit devoted to maritime tattoo history. Curator Megan Churchwell traces it back to the 1700s. At the time tattoos were more practical than decorative. A sailor’s would tattoo his initials and maybe his birth date so his body could be identified if he was lost at sea. more
Hartford Courant – Groton is home to the U.S. Naval Submarine Base New London, the Naval Submarine School, the Submarine Force Library and Museum; the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine, the historic USS Nautilus; and the General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard.
The state has so much sub history that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy designated October 2015 through October 2016 a yearlong observance of “Connecticut’s Submarine Century,” celebrating 100 years of submarine activity in Connecticut. “Connecticut was the perfect location for our nation’s first submarine base in 1916, and since that time our state has become the professional birthplace of every officer and crew members in the Navy’s undersea profession”
Groton and New London have planned a summer filled with submarine-related activities and surrounding shoreline areas feature museums, historic forts, parks and beaches, restaurants and ice cream shops to round out day trips. Groton Mayor Marian Galbraith says the Submarine Century calendar includes lectures, films, concerts, community festivals, a submarine art trail and more. Even better — most of the events are free. details and calendar
Newly declassified images show the World War II veteran aircraft carrier USS Independence (CVL-22), one of nearly a hundred ships used as targets in the first tests of the atomic bomb at Bikini Atoll in the summer of 1946.
The explosion of the fission bomb, largely identical to the weapon used on Nagasaki on 9 August 1945, occurred 158 metres above sea level and had a yield of 23 kilotons. The main aim was to test the effects of nuclear weapons on ships. To that end 78 vessels, many of which had been captured during World War II, were anchored in the lagoon. The blast sunk only five, leaving another 14 seriously damaged.
The US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Ocean Exploration and Research and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries worked with the Boeing Company in 2015 to pinpoint the wreck, which lies nearly 30 miles off the central California coast. –source
The carrier is “amazingly intact,” said NOAA scientists. (A glowing report?) Video and more
Cruisers had to walk through metal detectors, then were greeted with a free rum and Coke
Think of a hammerhead, and you probably imagine a carnivorous shark with a mallet-shaped head patrolling the seas for prey. But a 243-million-year-old fossil found in the Yunnan Province of southwestern China may just turn that image on its head.
This ancient hammerhead was no fish; it was a reptile. And instead of feasting on schools of hapless prey, its jagged teeth helped it forage for mouthfuls of algae—making it the first marine reptile that was a patchouli-smelling vegetarian. Ok, except for the patchouli part.
“It’s basically an underwater lawn mower. There is absolutely nothing like it alive today.” see full article
right: Newly found fossil of prehistoric John Deere; Photograph by W. Gao, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology
National Underwater and Marine Agency – When commercial diver Wayne Brusate discovered the remains of the SS Regina—a victim of the Great Storm on the Great Lakes—he dubbed it the “good luck wreck.” Boxes of horseshoes and other salvaged artifacts symbolized a lucky streak for him, but not for the Canadian package freighter. The ship, its cargo and all hands—15 including the captain—were lost in Lake Huron off Pt. Sanilac, Michigan, in early November, 1913.
The eureka moment came when divers worked their way up into the hold and chanced upon a spirited bounty of aged liquor and wines. Found were $33,000 worth (in 1913 dollars) of Mumm and Veuve Clicquot Gold Label champagne, long necks still glistening with pink foil identifying the French treat. Divers soon learned to slap rubber bands on the corks, or else they would pop a few moments after reaching the surface due to changes in temperature and pressure.
Officials at Christie’s Auction House, where the champagne was sold, had to taste it before offering it for sale. They were delighted with its aged flavor, and had the same happy experience with dozens of cases of Dewar’s and Whyte and Mackay Scotch whiskey that were also part of the cargo. full story
A cruise ship carrying tourists from the UK, France, New Zealand, India, Korea and Taiwan, spectacularly caught fire in a blaze at Tuan Chau Harbour. Thought to have started in the kitchen, the wooden boat – which did not have an automatic firefighting system – was quickly engulfed in flames. More than 40 people were on board, including 37 foreign tourists. Thirty-three passengers were taken safely back to Hanoi. – Yahoo New Zealand
Third World, wooden ship, no fire suppression… I KNOW, LET’S GET TICKETS!!!
Hate to Burst Your Bubble, Kids, but… Science
How Waves Could Have Created the Loch Ness Monster
Washington Navy Yard: Final Departure for Museum Ship USS Barry (DD-933)
Washington Post: They had cut down the masts, severed the underwater anchoring lines and adjusted the ballast to make the ship ride bow high. The towing chain had been passed through the “bull nose” up front. The skeleton crew was on board. And the moon had provided a very high tide, with plenty of extra water under the keel. At 7:38 a.m. Saturday, three powder-blue tugboats backed the former USS Barry away from Pier 2 at the Washington Navy Yard and into the Anacostia River for its final voyage.
Cutting a sleek profile with its sharp, angled bow and its bold hull number — 933 — as it was towed by the tugs Emily Ann, Meagan Ann and Thomas D. Witte of the Donjon Marine Co., which handled the job for the Navy. The Forrest Sherman-class destroyer was built at the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, in the mid-1950s. The ship had to be moved because plans for a new Douglass bridge called for an immovable span that would have locked the Barry upstream.
They expected to reach the Chesapeake Bay on Sunday morning, Donjon Marine project manager Gordon Lorenson said via email on Saturday. The route then would take the vessels up the bay, through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal to the Delaware River, and then on to Philadelphia.
The announcement effectively ends hopes the 22,000-ton vessel, which was Britain’s only aircraft carrier when it retired in 2014, can be saved. At least three cities submitted proposals to try to preserve the 689ft-long vessel, but each fell through because of the scale of the undertaking. The ship that was rushed in to service for the Falklands War and later went on to sail 900,000 miles around the world on deployments, will be sold for recycling before this fall.
The vessel, known affectionately as Lusty, is likely to follow its sister carriers and be sent to Turkey for scrap. HMS Ark Royal (R07) was scrapped for £2.9m in 2013 and HMS Invincible (R05) fetched around £2m in 2011. more on The Telegraph
The government flatly rejected
A candidate fairly elected,
Ignoring the vote base
For Boaty McBoatface,
And leaving us all disaffected.