Maritime Monday 249; Dock Like an Egyptian

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The Process of Laying the Very First Transatlantic Cable on Techdirt

One of my favorite Wired articles ever is Neal Stephenson’s insanely long, but wonderfully entertaining account of laying fiber optic cable across oceans from back in 1997. If you’ve never read it, set aside a few hours and dig in. While he mentions, briefly, the first transatlantic cable laid in 1858 — and suggests reading other accounts of what happened — he doesn’t go into much detail as to what happened.

However, Shocklee points us to a (much shorter!) Wired UK piece about the laying of the first transatlantic cable. If you’d like to know the basics, it’s basically two boats meet in the middle of the ocean, with each taking half the cable, and they then (slowly, carefully) head back towards their home coasts. It didn’t always go smoothly:

After experiments in the Bay of Biscay had been conducted, the plan was changed — the Niagara and Agamemnos met in the centre of the Atlantic on 26 June and attached their respective cables to each other, then headed for opposite sides of the ocean. Again, the cable broke — once after less than 6km had been laid, again after about 100km and then a third time when 370km had been laid. The boats returned to port.

It’s a fun read, reminding you of the massive amount of work that goes into the infrastructure that we rely on every day.

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Towmasters: the Master of Towing Vessels Assoc. Forum – Photo Of The Week – 1/24/11

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Shipyard Men

from The Monitor

The Company Men is not an extraordinary Hollywood film, but it does have a bit of an interesting setting for us mariner types. The setting of this “corporate drama” is of a large US industrial conglomerate, the fictional GTX of Boston, with a focus on the drama of “cost cutting” to please shareholders in the company’s shipbuilding division. The cost cutting measures result in the firing of thousands of people in the shipyards, including at the top of the “corporate ladder”, to which the impacts on the characters is chronicled in this film.

keep reading »

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Whales return to New York City: Massive mammals appearing again in seas near city; draws sightseers

BY Barbara Ross;  DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Sunday, January 30th 2011

Whales, dolphins and seals have made a triumphant return to the waters just outside New York Harbor – and the comeback has even sparked whale and seal-watching tours.

Tom Paladino, captain of two ferry boats from the Rockaways, says pods of aquatic mammals off the city’s coast have “increased tenfold.”

keep reading

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Nazis Up the Mississippi, And Other Axis Invasion Scenarios on Big Think

Plan Four is the much-discussed invasion by way of Gibraltar-Dakar-Natal-Trinidad, which President Roosevelt’s Good Neighbour policy has tried to defend against. It is based on combining the Jap, German, Italian and Vichy navies, freed by the capture of Gibraltar and Suez. They must fight the Allied fleets somewhere. Invasion pours up the Mississippi Valley.    keep reading via trixietreats

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Family on Delta Queen Cruise in Deck Chairs – 1961 found photo

How the Seahorse Got Its Curvaceous Shape

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If you’ve ever wondered why the seahorse has its elegantly curved body (aside from luring snorkelers into the water), wonder no more: it helps them hunt.

Researchers at the University of Antwerp in Belgium, led by biomechanicist Sam Van Wassenbergh, analyzed video footage of seahorses on the hunt and used mathematical models to come to the conclusion that a seahorse’s curvy neck lets it strike at more distant prey.

keep reading »

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Brig Antelope in Boston Harbor – 1863 – Fitz Henry Lane

Wealthy owners of sailing vessels commissioned images of their ships, just as landowners hired artists to paint pictures of their houses. Much of Lane’s income came from executing such works. Here, the artist painted Antelope (identifiable through her signal flags), as she appeared on her 1843 maiden voyage from East Boston to Asia.

Antelope was one of the fastest ships trading between Boston, India, and China, a route that required extraordinary speed due to unpredictable weather and frequent pirate activity. Asian trade-in tea, fabric, and opium-established significant fortunes for many New England merchants.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (more)

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Freighters Taking on Ore at Duluth, MN

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Crew on the steamer “Västkusten” – Photograph by: Carl Curman, 1880s
Via Swedish National Heritage Board

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Dad painting the boom on the SS Carlsbad*, 1949.  Norwegian captain and crew. He said he loved the captain; would have done anything for him.

-submitted by bowsprite

* 1 of approximately 500 Type T2 tankers (oil tanker / navy oiler) built for the United States Maritime Commission during WW II.

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“Oh, Morgan’s men are out for you.” – Illustration by N.C. Wyeth for “The Golden Galleon” by Paul Hervey Fox. Scribner’s Magazine, August 1917  – Original (1067 x 1621)

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Half hull construction model of the Washington Irving – 1845 – Donald McKay

Canadian-born Donald McKay (1810-1880) was one of the nineteenth-century’s most important designers and builder of ships. Some of the fastest clipper ships ever made were produced in his East Boston shipyard, established in 1845.

Washington Irving, a 751-ton packet ship, was the first vessel McKay constructed there, and he may have used this model in its construction. Packet ships carried passengers, mail, and freight between two ports-in this case, Boston and Liverpool, England. The ship was launched in 1845 for Enoch Train’s White Diamond Line, and the model descended in the family of Captain Daniel Upton, who once commanded the ship.

more

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via Shotopop

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Michael Wm. Kaluta’s Mermaids

So legendary comic book artist Michael Wm. Kaluta lives in a beautiful, jam-packed New York City apartment filled to the brim with wonders. There are books from floor to ceiling practically that he can pull out and open to pages you can just fall into… old old storybooks with ladies draped around the first letter of every chapter, crumbling books you’ve never heard of with passages he’ll read to you that will break your heart wide open. And then there are his own colorful images all around, each of them opening into some new world… And in the main room, right above the television – where, a year ago, he and I sat down for a Marlene Dietrich festival because he is the kind of man who can appreciate him some Marlene, and let’s face it that is the best kind of man to be – is one of his famous mermaids, her long long tail swooping down and weirdly, wonderfully, turning into the feathers of a peacock…

keep reading on I Am A Mermaid »

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REALITY #2 – 1971; Death is the Sailor (more)

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Empire Builders by Fred Taylor for the Empire Marketing Board. Date: c. 1930

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The Seas Are Free Again 1946Canadian Pacific SteamshipsThey Serve You Still

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HMS Hornblower by Mattias Adolfsson on Michael May’s Adventure Blog also: Love at First Sight

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M/V Liberty under construction – photo taken by January 23, 2011 in Anacortes, WA – photo by jon

Scheduled for delivery – June 2011

Length – 148′ (89.25M)  Beam – 60′ (18.0M) – Depth – 30′ (7.4M)  Speed -15 knots

The Crowley Maritime Type 750 Legacy Class Articulated Tug and Barge combination is the largest ever designed. The three 330,000 bbs barges are being constructed at VT Halter, Pascagoula, MS and the three tugs at Dakota Creek in Washington state.

The tugs, designed by Naviform in Vancouver, BC, have unique propulsion pod housing. The two Wartsila C32 Main Engines and the controllable pitch propellers produce a total of 16,000 HP. Each engine/propeller is arranged in two separate engine rooms and are capable of running on heavy fuel oil.

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World War 2 sea forts – Red Sands – off the North Kent coast near Herne Bay/Whitstable UK

Zap! I Sunk Your Battle Ship… With a Laser

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Weapons-grade lasers still sound like the stuff of science fiction, but thanks to a major breakthrough by researchers at the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico, the Navy has taken a big step toward making this bit of sci-fi real. With the Free Electron Laser (FEL) program, the Navy hopes to use laser beams to blast enemies out of the sea and sky, and for the first time, they’re starting to generate enough power to do so, with the newfound ability to create a megawatt-level laser beam.

keep reading »

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Sailing Alone Around the World
Captain Joshua Slocum. New York: The Century Co., 1900.

First edition, first printing. Original blue cloth stamped in silver and green. Illustrated

“Nova Scotia born, with family roots in New England, Captain Slocum commanded some of the finest tall ships that ever sailed the seas. On April 24, 1895, at the age of 51, he departed Boston in his tiny sloop Spray and sailed around the world single-handed, a passage of 46,000 miles, returning to Newport, Rhode Island on June 27, 1898.

This historic achievement made him the patron saint of small-boat voyagers, navigators and adventurers all over the world.” ~Excerpt from the Joshua Slocum Society International.

(via book-aesthete)

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Melinda Hannigan   Ship series: PACIFIC TRADER

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“The nine-to-five is one of the greatest atrocities sprung upon mankind. You give your life away to a function that doesn’t interest you. This situation so repelled me that I was driven to drink, starvation, and mad females, simply as an alternative.”

-Charles Bukowski via lance-on-deck

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Spillway in Gatun Dam Illustration by W.B. Van Ingen for “The Building of the Panama Canal” by George W. Goethals. Scribner’s Magazine, March 1915.  Original (1799 x 1177)

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Low-tech Magazine: Aerial ropeways: automatic cargo transport for a bargain

These days, we use them almost exclusively to transport skiers and snowboarders up snow slopes, but before the 1940s, aerial ropeways were a common means of cargo transport, not only in mountainous regions but also on flat terrain, with large-scale systems already built during the Middle Ages.

Cargo tramways can be fully or partly powered by gravity, and some deliver excess power that can be utilized to generate electricity or to drive cranes or machinery in nearby factories. Some innovative systems have been constructed in recent years.

keep reading »

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FISH by JTO

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tokyocandies: Rubens Cantuni’s Illustrations Galore

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Water Wench Wednesday for January 26, 2011 on Scuttlefish

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vhf prose on Bowsprite – “Coming to you as quick as my little propellers will take me.”


Monkey Fist is a smack-talking, potty mouthed, Yankee hating, Red Sox fan in Portland, Maine.  In addition to compiling Maritime Monday, she blogs about nautical art, history, and marine science on Adventures of the Blackgang. Submit story ideas, news links, photographs, or items of interest to her at [email protected].  She can also out-belch any man.

Maritime Monday Archives »


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J. Frederick Smith; illustrator (bio and links to more)

Header Graphic:  Nile Cruises – Angla American Nile & Tourist Co brochure cover – 1931/32

A splendid item of 1930s Ancient Egyptian inspired design – the idiom was highly popular at the time following the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb – and what better for selling a tour up the Nile?  Original (5196 x 4616)