Maritime Monday for January 15th, 2018: A Load of Guano

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January 14, 2018

Norwegian immigrants on their way to America on the SS Hero in 1870. Hulton Archive/Getty Images From 1870 to 1910 a quarter of Norway’s working-age population emigrated, mostly to the United States. You read that right — one-fourth of its workers left the country. Back then Norway was quite poor…

In other words, a shithole.

“Immigrants that Norway sent to the U.S. during that great migration wave of the 1870s were its poorest and least educated citizens” on NPR

“Can I get you a refill?” – Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd shown on board the Bear of Oakland on May 10, 1935 (with) a collection of emperor penguins, the first to be brought back alive from the South Polar regions. more pics

(via Bitter End blog) The 39-year-old blue blood “Dick” Byrd from Virginia, was a slight but strong man with a chiseled, smooth-shaven face. He looked the part of a hero and acted like one, too, admired already for the responsible, safety-first ethics he had demonstrated exploring the North Pole by ship and plane in 1926. Now he had his eye on the South Pole… You’re about to shove off from a New York dock and helm an exploration to the bottom of the earth, where the ice is more than a mile thick and it’s cold enough to freeze spit in midair. Any sailor headed for Tahiti, much less Antarctica, knows you need booze to make a long voyage bearable. 

(But) You can’t drink because it’s 1928 and that marvelously stupid morality law, Prohibition, is in effect. 

Admiral Byrd’s Secretly Boozy Expedition to Antarctica

A cruise operated by Royal Caribbean International in Frenchman Bay, off the coast of Bar Harbor, Me. Credit: Tristan Spinski for The New York Times

Since the late 1990s, Bar Harbor has been a popular port of call for cruise ships. Much of the attraction is nearby Acadia National Park, where deep evergreen forests meet the craggy, glacier-sculpted coast of the Atlantic and where Cadillac Mountain, the highest point along the Eastern Seaboard, offers spectacular views.

But in recent years, the number of cruise ships has sharply escalated, aggravating tensions between residents whose livelihoods depend on tourists — and want to cater to the cruise ships — and others who may or may not depend on tourists but who worry that too many could spoil what draws people here in the first place.

A Maine town is embroiled in a debate over the ships that have magnified its status and brought huge crowds on NY Times

Smithsonian: From wind turbines to massive sunfish to octopus cities, the seas proved full of surprises this year

The Top Ten Ocean Stories of 2017

Guard duty at this lighthouse is probably not the best job for anyone with a tendency to go sleepwalking. Precariously perched on a rock pillar in the Westman Islands around six miles from Iceland’s mainland, the Þrídrangaviti lighthouse is arguably the most isolated lighthouse in the world, and most definitely the scariest. –MessyNessy

Lonely Lighthouse Perfect for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

Just another Day at the Office – ©Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation, photographed by Christoph Gerigk

The Guy Who Digs up Lost Cities Buried at Sea

Pearls have been valued since ancient times. In India, the Roman Empire and Egypt–to name just a few places–pearls were markers of extreme wealth. Given their natural rarity and the difficulty of obtaining them, people have been trying to make affordable alternatives to these super-luxe items for a long time as well. Coming up with ways to lower the price of pearls—either through culturing or by out-right fakery—took centuries.

Why Pearls No Longer Cost a Fortune – Reliable, standardized records for weather only stretch back around 100 years. Now, as Jonathan Amos reports for the BBC, scientists are hoping to recover more of that historical weather data—and they need your help. Many historical weather records, particularly those from before 1950, have never been brought into the digital age, (making) that data inaccessible to scientists. A new citizen science project, called Weather Rescue, is seeking volunteers to tease through weather reports from the early 1900s and enter the data into a digital database by hand.

The records comes from the “Daily Weather Reports” stored in the U.K.’s Met Office. Robert FitzRoy, the founder of that office and captain of the voyage that took Charles Darwin around the world, started these telegraphed transmissions in 1860, soon after the organization began.

Another project, called Old Weather, led by Kevin Wood of the University of Washington, is looking through the log books of whaling vessels as well as Navy and Coast Guard vessels to find older data about weather in the Arctic.
A new citizen-science project needs volunteers to digitize decades of temperature, rain and barometric data from across western Europe
Living in a shipping container in the middle of the desert might not sound like everybody’s idea of fun, but wait until you see this stunning creation by London-based designer James Whitaker. Go Looky
German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller was the first European to imagine North and South America as separate continents, the first to create a full 360-degree view of the world that included the Pacific Ocean, and the first to use the name “America” to label any part of the world. (Image via Christie’s)

For sale: a Waldseemüller world map in the form of a set of gores for a globe, 1507

Yeah, no…

If you’re a species that has spent millions of years sucking blood, getting cooked in a vat of your own is due punishment.

Every March, 30,000 gourmets flood the small village of Montemor-o-Velho, Portugal for the annual Lamprey and Rice Festival.

keep reading on Gastro Obscura

This 1793 grave is an early version of the kilogram. It is possible this object, now owned by the National Institute of Standards and Technology museum, was once pirate treasure. -NIST Museum

In 1793, the brand new United States of America needed a standard measuring system because the states were using a hodgepodge of systems. For example, in New York, they were using Dutch systems, and in New England, they were using English systems. This made interstate commerce difficult.

Secretary of State Jefferson knew about a new French system and thought it was just what America needed. He wrote to his pals in France who sent over a scientist named Joseph Dombey, carrying a small copper 3 inches tall cylinder with a little handle on top. Except, while crossing the Atlantic, Dombey ran into a giant storm.  Keep reading

see also: Pirates of the Caribbean (Metric Edition) on Taking Measure; official blog of the National Institute of Standards and Technology

GPOY: Illustration from The Ashley Book of Knots (Garden City, NJ, Doubleday Press, 1944) (courtesy New Bedford Whaling Museum) on HyperAllergic

Clifford Warren Ashley was an artist who studied under the influential illustrator Howard Pyle, painted expressive maritime scenes, and published histories of whaling related to the waterfront of his hometown, New Bedford, Massachusetts. Yet he’s best remembered for a wildly popular book on knots.

Thou Shalt Knot at the New Bedford Whaling Museum celebrates the legacy of Clifford W. Ashley, artist and author of the Must-Have book for sailors

A Whaleship on the Marine Railway at Fairhaven (ca. 1916) by Clifford Warren Ashley (December 18, 1881 – September 18, 1947)
Portland, Maine History 1786 to Present: A boatload of men in front of the Preble House, Wadsworth-Longfellow house to left. The boat is named “Champion”, and there is a faint “1857” on the back, leading me to believe this is a sort of reenactment of the involvement of the Champion of the Seas in the Indian Mutiny against the rule of the British East India Company.
Daguerreotype: “Champion of the Seas,” East Boston; circa 1854 – Champion of the Seas was the second largest clipper ship destined for the Liverpool, England – Melbourne, Australia passenger service. She was ordered by James Baines of the Black Ball Line from Donald McKay. She was launched 19 April 1854 and remained in the passenger trade until 3 January, 1877, when she was abandoned, leaking badly, with a load of guano off Cape Horn. Champion set a record for the fastest day’s run in 24 hours: 465 nautical miles (861 km) noon to noon 10–11 December 1854 on her maiden voyage. This record stood until August 1984, nearly 130 years. During the Indian Mutiny of 1857, the British government chartered three Black Ball clippers to carry troops to Calcutta. more

detailed description of the ship

Cooke, Captain Edward (fl. circa 1700) A Voyage to the South Sea, and Round the World. London: by H.M. for B. Lintot, R. Gosling, A. Bettesworth, and W. Innys, 1712. First Edition; Sold for: $4,613. Image via Skinner Auctions

Work by conservationists from North Carolina’s Department of Natural and Cultural Resources shows that Blackbeard and his crew got a kick out of reading “voyage narratives” — a popular form of literature in the late 17th and early 18th century that chronicled the true accounts of maritime expeditions.

Specifically, Blackbeard kept a copy of Edward Cooke’s A Voyage to the South Sea, and Round the World, Perform’d in the Years 1708, 1709, 1710 and 1711, detailing the British naval officer’s participation in a global expedition aboard the ships Duke and Dutchess.

The conservators made the discovery while working on artifacts pulled from the wreckage of Blackbeard’s flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, which ran aground near Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina in 1718.

Paper Scraps Recovered From Blackbeard’s Cannon Reveal What Pirates Were Reading

see also: Chance Blackbeard Discovery Reveals Pirate Reading Habits on National Geographic

Gastro Obscura – On April 9, 1990, American newspapers reported on an unusual deal. Pepsi had come to a three billion dollar agreement with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union had long traded Stolichnaya vodka in return for Pepsi concentrate. But this time, Pepsi got 10 Soviet ships. Keep Reading

video: Pepsi was once the 6th Biggest Military in the World

The president of Pepsi told the American National Security Adviser: “We are disarming the USSR faster than you”.

LEGO has announced that the Ship in a Bottle 21313 set that was born out of a fan submitted LEGO Ideas project is now a reality complete with an official release date and everything. keep reading

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