Fan of Full Fathom Five? Be sure to check it out at its new home!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Déjà vu

The next few weeks will see the beginning of two historic ocean voyages. Both Sir Francis Chichester’s Gypsy Moth IV, and a recreation of Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki are set to sail in recreations of their original epic journeys.

Such obviously different vessels, they still share a common heritage. Both were captained by strong figures bent on making a statement about man and his relationship with the sea, and both, in accomplishing their voyages became legends in their own times. I can still picture the full color illustrated edition of “Kon-Tiki for Young People’ that sat on my childhood bookshelf right next to “Little Women.”

This time around the Gypsy Moth IV is sailing with alternating teams of young sailors, and the Kon-Tiki sails with a crew that includes Olav Heyerdahl, Thor Heyerdahl’s grandson.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

World Maritime Day

Without shipping, international trade in the raw materials, energy products and affordable manufactured goods and food that help sustain our civilisation would be virtually impossible and the world would grind to a halt - half of us would starve, the other half would freeze! Intertanko

Following quickly on the heals of "Talk Like a Pirate Day" (mentioned below) September 29, 2005, World Maritime Day is a day dedicated to modern maritime trade and celebrated by the United Nations and the International Maritime Organization and dedicated to International Shipping.

To help commemorate this day the Round Table of international shipping associations has published a Shipping Facts booklet, the Australians used it as both a political statement and a means to call attention to demands of the Seafarers Union, and of Belapur is providing a free supplimentary page for seafarers. (If you want a quick peak into today's maritime trade and work environment this is an interesting site. I surfed around it for about 15 minutes. In some ways the business is much different than those I know from working with 19th century papers, and in another way, it's very familiar.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Great Lakes Ship Sources

If you’re looking for information on Great Lakes Vessels be sure to look into the Milwaukee Public Library’s Great Lakes Ship Files. Containing data on more than 7,000 vessels the files “include ships that sailed in 1679 and some that are on the lakes today; some that are diesel-powered, some rigged with sails, and some barges; cargo vessels, passenger boats, military and even pleasure craft.”

I ran 5 quick searches on known vessels and found good qualify information on 4. Library holds addition files in their collection on these vessels. Interested researchers can then obtain copies by contacting the Library.

Another good resource is the United States Vessel Enrolments for the Great Lakes

Many thanks to Mario M. Einaudi, Catalog Librarian for the Kemble Collection of The Huntington Library for bring the Milwaukee Public Library’s site to our attention.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Encyclopedia of New England

Newly published! The Encyclopedia of New England is a new reference work dedicated to New England's history and culture. Published by Yale University Press and edited by Burt Feintuch and David H. Watters the Encyclopedia contains (according to the publisher:

• 1,300 alphabetically arranged entries examining significant people, places, events, ideas,and artifacts

• Fascinating and little-known facts that rarely appear in history books

• More than 500 illustrations and maps

• Contributions from nearly 1,000 distinguished scholars and writers, including journalists, academics, and specialists from museums, industries, and historical societies

• 1.5 million words in 22 thematic sections, ranging from agriculture to tourism, each with an introduction by a leading specialist in the field

American Philosophical Society Library Resident Research Fellowship

The Society is once again accepting research applications for scholars, PH.D candidates and holders of Ph.D's to do research in its collections, many of which hold significant maritime connections.

The stipend is $2,000 per month, and the term of the fellowship is a minimum of one month and a maximum of three, taken between June 1, 2006 and May 31, 2007. Applications are due no later than March 1. This is a receipt deadline. Applicants will be informed by mail whether all materials were received. For additional information call 215-440-3443 or send an email inquiry to Notification is sent in May.

More informatin and applications are available at:

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Sea Literature: Call for Papers

National Conference
Popular Culture Association & American Culture Association
Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel
Atlanta, GA

April 12-15, 2006

Proposals are especially encouraged on
Film, music & television
Historical sea documents
Seafaring & sea sagas

Presentations on all other aspects of the sea are welcome.


Please send title and 150-word abstract by November 1, 2005, to

Stephen Curley
Department of General Academics
Texas A&M University at Galveston
Galveston, TX 77553-1675


Monday, September 19, 2005

Walking the plank

Well, I've just been reminded that today is Talk Like a Pirate Day, an important maritime date that I almost neglected to celebrate.

So avast ye hearties and away.

Hurricanes and the War of 1812

The wonderful folks at the Navy Department Library have recently posted transcripts of key Naval documents regarding previous hurricanes and New Orleans in 1812. It appears that two hurricances struck the area in the months of August and September destroying ships and taking out bridges but resulting in no loss of life. Government response, in light of the limited communication available in 1812, was relatively swift.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Don't get me wrong, I like pirates as much as the next person. I even did an earlier entry on the "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequel but what I don't get is how almost every maritime heritage festival out there now has to have a pirate or "swashbuckler" connection.

Take for instance the recent Toshiba Tall Ships Festival in Dana, California. This annual festival commemorates California's rich maritime heritage in the town named after Richard Henry Dana by holding swordfights aboard a replica of the Pilgrim.(I must have missed that part of Two Years Before the Mast) Then too this year's Maritime Festival at Thunder Bay features a "Pirate Play Station." Greenport, Long Island's Maritime Festival offers pirates who "roam the streets in an interactive role-play". There is also the University of Connecticut's upcoming "Festival by the Sound" complete with "roving swashbucklers" and treasure maps!. Just up the coast at the Mystic Seaport Museum you can have your picture taken with a parrot after, of course, you've purchased your pirate hat.

Here at the Library we like to say we don't have much information or documentation from pirates, they didn't leave their logbooks, or treasure maps behind. We do have records from the much more mundane privateers, those covert government operators who stole the property of other countries for their own personal gain as well as the benefit of their own country. Perhaps maritime heritage should celebrate the privateer. With only a little spin they can be a hero and a freedom fighter, and they didn't wear funny hats.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Hiking and the Sea

I've spent the last few days hiking in Vermont wondering at the beauty of the natural world, the clear mountain lakes, the enduring granite peaks, and the endless forests. Occasionally I'd think about this blog and wonder how in the heck I'd connect all this deep woods wonder with the maritime world. Today I wandered through the bookstore and found the answer.

Oak: The Frame of CivilizationI haven't read it yet but flipping through the pages it certainly appears to be well written and interesting. Hey - any book whose preface talks about building the American navy, well, it has to be maritime. Of course any boatbuilder will tell you of the key role oak has played in shipbuilding. Sure, the King marked the pine for his masts, but what did they use for the keel? the knees? and the trunnels.

In addition to outlining the oak's role in boat construction and trade as well as it's other uses, certified arborist and former New York Times columnist William Bryant Logan also gives the scientific history of this magnificent tree. Certainly another addition to the Christmas list.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Position Announcement - Associate Professor of Martime History

New Positions in Maritime History are opening all around - here's two:

Old Dominion University invites applications for an Associate Professor in Maritime History, a new field for the Department of History. Position begins July 2006. Successful applicant will be a distinguished scholar of maritime history, and will be expected to lead in the creation and development of a Center for Maritime History. The Center will offer a concentration in maritime history for the B.A. and M.A. degrees. Ph.D. in history, a record of teaching and scholarship meriting appointment as an Associate profesor and strong interpersonal skills required.

The University of Connecticut invites applications for a tenure-track appointment at the Assistant Professor level in United States History/American Studies at its Avery Point campus. Suggested specializations: nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. history combined with an interdisciplinary focus on American culture. An interest in coastal and maritime history is also preferred.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Eastern Perspectives on Discovery

By now we all know that there is some question as to which Europeans first "discovered" America. What I didn't know until yesterday was that the Chinese probably visited the North American continent before Columbus - and that they came with a much bigger fleet.

The Chinese government is currently celebrating their maritime heritage with extensive celebrations of the 600th anniversary of China's most celebrated admiral, and potential North American visitor, Zheng He. He embarked on seven great voyages between 1405 and 1431, sailing into the Pacific, the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, and possibly Australia and North America. Spiegel Online carries the full story.

According to Chinese sources Zheng He's fleet comprised 30,000 men and over 300 ships. These included Treasure ships, horse ships, supply ships, Fuchuan warships, troop transports, patrol boats and water tankers.

Books on Zheng He and the Chinese Fleet