Maritime Monday for September 5th, 2016: Dem Bones, Dem Bones

Monkey Fist
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September 4, 2016

chickletChiclet, ship’s cat aboard the historic tanker Mary A Whalen in NY’s Atlantic Basin,
now digging in her claws in preparation for Hermine

Operation Sealion; Ships in Wilhelmshaven preparing for the invasion of Great Britain (Bundesarchiv)

WarHistoryOnlineMuch Like the Allies’ later D-Day plans, Operation Sealion was marked by daring and ingenuity

This Week’s Mystery Ship: unmailed photo postcard of an early sail-steamer; found at Finger Lakes (NY) area antique shop. Any ideas?
“I was attracted by the romantic notion of sitting on a rock, writing haikus and dashing off the occasional watercolour…”

beefheartIn the early Seventies I worked as a lighthouse keeper on three islands off the west coast of Scotland.

I was 19 when I interviewed for the job. My hair hung well below my shoulders. I had a great set of Captain Beefheart records and I walked about with a permanent grin on my face as I had recently, finally, lost my virginity. I rolled my own cigarettes, was a member of Amnesty International and had just read Kerouac’s Desolation Angels. In short, I was eminently suitable for the job…

Thus begins a marvelous essay by Peter Hill, in the London Review of Books.

keep reading on World of the Written Word by maritime historian Joan Druett

Light Between Oceans
Isabel (Alicia Vikander) and Tom (Michael Fassbender) make a life for themselves on a remote island in The Light Between Oceans. (Davi Russo)

In the Theaters: The Light Between Oceans

The gorgeous new period drama The Light Between Oceans does know what it’s looking for. Set on the fictitious island of Janus, which lies some distance from the Australian coast, the film understands the romance and the mystique that arises from picturesque isolation.

The lighthouse keeper on this godforsaken paradise is Tom, played by Michael Fassbender with tight lips and a weary stare. He’s a stoic World War I veteran with no family and a fat ton of survivor’s remorse.

These qualities would seem to make him the ideal candidate for such a solitary gig, but lighthouse keepers, we’re told, fare better when they have companions to help tend to the chores. So it’s good for work when Tom quickly falls for Isabel (Alicia Vikander), the pretty young woman in the closest port town who’s OK with the isolation. keep reading

whale omen
Humans have been fascinated with cetaceans–the taxonomic order that includes whales and dolphins–for over 2,000 years. Europeans in the 1600s illustrated beached whales as monsters and bad omens, surrounded by bewildered audiences.

In the 1860s, a whale from Gothenburg, Sweden was shuffled across European cities and set up as a morbid cafe, recounts Joe Roman in his book, Whale. A passerby would see large whale jaws hinged toward the sky, revealing upper-class social adventurers drinking tea in its cavernous throat. +

whale Edward Penniman
whale jaw gate, c. 1880; Penniman House (run by the National Park Service as a museum)

By 1868 Captain Edward Penniman had become a successful enough whaler to build himself this fancy French Empire-style house on land he bought from his father. By 1868 Captain Edward Penniman had become a successful enough whaler to build himself this fancy French Empire-style house on land he bought from his father.

Since 1976 it’s been on the National Register of Historic Places, and is run by the National Park Service as a museum, whale bones included.

The Cape Cod House That Whaling Built – Eastham, Mass

whale hals
A small Denmark town displays a pair of titanic jaw bones as their community symbol

The original whale, who “donated” its bones, was shot back in 1868 in the Barents Sea by Captain C. Klitgard, a resident of Hals. The blue whale’s jaw bones were removed, bleached, and given a new life as a local landmark. The jaw still stands in the Hals town square, acting as an unofficial symbol for the town. 

Hals Whale Jaws – Hals, Denmark

whale Bragararch
A whale’s jawbone and a malfunctioning harpoon welcome you to the village of Bragar , Scotland

In September of 1920, the corpse of an 80-foot-long blue whale drifted into Bragar Bay, on the western Atlantic side of the Isle of Lewis. It had a harpoon in its head, trailed by 50 feet of rope. The harpoon had not detonated, but had merely become lodged into the whale’s body thus sentencing it to a slow death.

Looking at the skeletal remains of the beast, local postmaster Murdo Morrison thought the jawbone might make a nice addition to his gate. With the assistance of two horses and a lot of village men, he hauled the jawbone up to his workshop.  keep reading

whale falk
The southernmost Anglican cathedral in the world has whale bones standing in its yard

Consecrated in the town of Stanley in 1892, Christ Church Cathedral is one of the crown jewels of the Falkland Islands. In 1933, an arch made of the giant jaw bones of two blue whales was erected in front of the church to commemorate a century of British rule. keep reading

whale whitby
These 20-foot jaw bones were a sign that whalers had survived the hunt.

In the 18th and 19th centuries the whaling industry was thriving in the seaside town of Whitby in North Yorkshire. Dozens of ships braved the Arctic seas off Greenland to hunt these elusive leviathans for their lucrative whale oil. Many of the crews never came back.

Many boats were capsized and many men were killed. Successful crews would tie a whale’s jaw bone atop the ship’s mast as a sign that they had killed the animal and not the other way around. Upon a fleet’s return to port, eager onlookers would watch for the telltale sign of good news. keep reading

whale bone alley
Whale Bone Alley – Siberian whale bones mark the location of an ancient butchering yard

Jutting out of the northern tip of Siberia’s remote Yttygran Island, giant whale ribs and vertebrae mark the area known as Whale Bone Alley, where once the great sea beasts were slaughtered and their meat stored by the local tribes. Mainly jawbones, ribs, and vertebrae, Whale Bone Alley is thought to have been created around 600 years ago. keep reading

whale show
Monster Embalmed Whale show of the Pacific Whaling Company, date unknown. (Photo: Courtesy of

Whale displays reigned supreme for over 100 years: “Jonah”, the humpback whale, rotted across the U.K in the 1950s as an unpreserved exhibit and memorable olfactory experience. In 1967, traveling showman Jerry Malone bought one of the last whale carcasses hunted in the United States, froze it with liquid nitrogen, and carted it around the country as “Little Irvy” until 1995. +

The Lost and Found Art of Assembling Whale Skeletons

whale smith
The Marine Mammals Collection at the Museum Support Center in Suitland, Maryland (all photographs by Dylan Thuras/Atlas Obscura)

From Blue Whale Skull to Narwhal Tusks, Behind-the-Scenes at the Smithsonian Marine Mammals Collection

As the world’s largest research collection dedicated to the planet’s most massive mammals, the Smithsonian’s Marine Mammal Collection has two cavernous warehouses to contain everything from a blue whale skull to a drawer full of narwhal tusks. Part of the Museum Support Center in Suitland, Maryland, the collection dates to the 1850s, and includes thousands of specimens related to marine life.  keep reading on Atlas Obscura

whale ben
A chaotic collection of maritime artifacts, art and really whatever else happens to be around

In an old Basque fishing port on the coast of western Newfoundland lies artist Ben Ploughman’s quirky Museum of Whales and Things. go see

Sam O'Nella
watch on You Tube – Warning; NSFW
arabia boat
In 1856, the Steamboat Arabia was frontier bound, loaded with supplies for 16 towns. With two hundred tons of precious cargo aboard, it left Kansas up the Missouri river on a routine trip, but waiting silently at the water’s surface, lost in the glare of the setting sun, was the thick trunk of a huge, fallen walnut tree lying directly in the path of the approaching steamboat.

The lethal impact came without warning, piercing the thick hull of the steamer. Water poured through the gaping hole and the Arabia sank to the bottom of the Missouri River within minutes. Everyone on board miraculously swam to safety, except for one forgotten mule, tied to the deck. *

The Arabia was built in 1853 around the Monongahela River in Brownsville, Pennsylvania. Its paddle wheels were 28 feet (8.5 m) across, and its steam boilers consumed approximately thirty cords of wood per day. It averaged five miles (8 km) an hour going upstream. Arabia (steamboat) on wikipedia

Uncovering the local legend of the steamboat Arabia lying buried beneath a farmer’s field. (Photo: Courtesy of the Arabia Steamboat Museum)

How a Champagne-Laden Steamship Ended Up in a Kansas Cornfield 

“You don’t have to go into the ocean to find a shipwreck,” says Kansas City explorer David Hawley. “They’re buried in your own back yard.”

Hawley and his intrepid team have quite the incredible passion: discovering and excavating steamboats from the 19th century that may have sunk in the Missouri, but now lie beneath fields of farmers’ midwestern corn. “Ours is a tale of treasures lost,” says Hawley. “A journey to locate sunken steamboats mystery cargo that vanished long ago.”

keep reading

arabia fruit
With the lack of air to spoil them, thousands of artifacts were recovered intact, including jars of preserved food that are still edible, tested by one of the excavators themselves, who ate a pickle from the Arabia finding it to be still perfectly fresh.

 What was Found (and still edible) inside a 150 year-old Sunken Steamboat

arabia mus
These artifacts are now housed in a cool little museum in Kansas City called the Arabia Steamboat Museum, where you can also find a display honoring the found skeleton remains of that poor wee mule.
The Guardian – Sometimes it’s the fishing boats that look for the killer whales and humpbacks, hoping to locate the shoals of herring that migrate to these Arctic Norwegian waters. In recent winters, the whales have also started to follow the boats.

2016 wildlife photographer of the year finalists

“Misery,” Thomas Rowlandson, 1786, Royal Collection Trust

 British Tars: Revolt of the Marlborough

Three days at sea after casting off from the coast of Africa, the crew and cargo of Captain Robert Codd’s Marlborough were only just settling into a routine. Over three hundred enslaved people from Bonny (in modern day Nigeria) and the Gold Coast were confined aboard the ship, the ninth such voyage for Captain Codd.

liverpool slaver
“A Liverpool Slave Ship,” William Jackson, 18th century – Merseyside Maritime Museum

It was October 14, 1752. Codd was a slaver and used to the constancy of death among the enslaved, but he knew that his money would be made by delivering as many healthy slaves as possible. To keep them presentable enough to be sold in the West Indies, Codd ordered that his human cargo be washed. Most of the crew took to the task of washing the enslaved up on the deck.

It was noted that they “behaved, for a considerable Time, in a very Civil manner, and quite unsuspected of any Design of Mischief.”

“The Gold Coast slaves rose upon the Quarter Deck,” John Harris, a young sailor, later wrote, “and alarm’d the whole Ship, knock’d the Centuries [sentries] down at the Barricado, and toss’d them over board.” Given sailors’ notorious lack of swimming skill, the sentries were as good as dead.

Precisely what happened next is unclear.

Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart Four

Museum of Found Photos – Passengers Boarding a Hovercraft
Detail – Circa 1896. “Ship’s company, U.S.S. Maine.” Two years before the battleship blew up and sank in Havana Harbor, killing most of the crew and precipitating the Spanish-American War. 8×10 glass negative by Edward H. Hart. View full size on Shorpy

deltax-ray delta one: 1956 men’s adventure magazine

cunw sept 5 2015

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