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

Thursday, December 29, 2005

England Again

Greenwich University and the National Maritime museum have been granted nearly £200,000 by the Leverhulme Trust for a three-year programme of research into a mass of unseen documents. The subject of the research is to be how the Royal Navy provided 140,000 men each year with hundreds of tonnes of meat, wheat, biscuits, flour, fruit, beer, rum and spirits - in far-flung locations during the Napoleonic wars.

Roger Knight, professor of naval history from the university's Greenwich Maritime Institute and author of this year's biography of The Pursuit of Victory: The Life And Achievement of Horatio Nelson, said: "The mass feeding of men was an unqualified success for the Royal Navy, one of the reasons it triumphed over the navies of France and Spain."

Guardian News Story

Perennially interesting / but seldom covered

About three or four times a year researchers arrive at the library looking for information on the intimiate details of life in the 19th century forecastle. It's something not many of the journals recorded and aside from one log that alludes to various activities - in a secret code - we've little primary sources on the subject.

Such does not appear to be the case when dealing with the 20th century. In fact the Merseyside Maritime Museum will be recreating a gay seafarer's cabin in the museum's main gallery as part of a major exhibition next year called Hello Sailor! Gay Life on the Ocean Wave. Exhibit curator, Dr Jo Stanley, of Lancaster University, is also co-wrote of the book, Hello Sailor! The Hidden History of Gay Life at Sea upon which the exhibit is based.

Unlike gay life on land which was illegal, going beyond state boarders opened up possiblities for new lifestyles and personal expression. One of the truly unique aspects of life at sea.

Check out the Daily Post article for more information.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Deja Vu

This morning's Op Ed piece in the Boston Globe reminds me of so many pieces from the Mystic Seaport archives and from conversations among collegues. Henry A. Lachance, marine artist, freelance writer, and a founding member of the Boston Maritime History Committee and the Medford Maritime Heritage Society, writes lamenting the fact that Boston, with its all its rich maritime heritiage, does not have a maritime museum.

A Maritime Museum for Boston

The really funny thing (and here I mean, funny strange, as opposed to funny ha-ha) is that there are many maritime heritage sites within 100 miles of Boston. Why is there the need for 1 (One) central site? In fact, the more I keep this blog, and the more maritime heritiage news I run across, the more I realize, there are an awful lot of maritime heritage sites. Why are we all spending so much time bemoaning the fact that maritime history is being ignored/forgotten? Something just isn't fitting here.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Least we forget

Past presidents have also made very poor choices. On this day in 1807 the US Embargo Act took effect, banning trade with Britain, France and the rest of the world. Merchants, sea captains, and sailors were naturally dismayed to find themselves without income and to see the ships rotting at the wharves.

(Sorry - lots has been going on in the maritime world, but things have also been busy in the pre-Christmas world of yours truly - will post more soon.)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Bermuda Maritime Museum

The BDASun, the online version of the Bermuda Sun, reports that the Parsonage Building of the Bermuda Maritime Museum is rotting away in the midst a bureaucratic red tape.

Bermuda Maritime Museum represents itself as Bermuda's:

largest and most-visited attraction and custodian of Bermuda’s fascinating maritime traditions. Set in six acres at the Royal Naval Dockyard, it includes eight historic exhibit buildings.

As such - the BDASun story is particularly disturbing.

Massachusetts Maritime Update

News continues to come from Massachusetts Maritime Academy. On Thursday, December 16th the Massachusetts Higher Board of Education reversed the firing of the president. On Friday John Linnon, a retired Coast Guard Admiral who was appointed to the MMA board in 1999, resigned from the Board of Trustees. Citing the poor handling of the entire affair, Linnon is leaving just as the Board of Higher Education is investigating whether or not the Trustees violated open meeting, and other laws during the firing.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Getting the collections out

MBNA, the world's largest independent credit card issuer and the leader in the affinity marketplace, and also a supporter of the communities in which it operates has granted the Atlantic Challenge library $6000 to help catalog their maritime library and make the collection available through the catalog of the Rockland Public Library.

Atlantic Challenge, located in Rockland, Maine, has been offering various programs to students for more than thirty years, using boatbuilding and seamanship as tools that allow youth and adults to explore themselves and their maritime history.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Look familiar?

If you're watching this year's Orange Bowl and a FedEx Commercial pops up with a familiar location you might be recognizing Mystic Seaport. This week the Museum stood in for a "Maine Location" in the FedEx commercial. The commercial features (Stonington, CT) lobstermen sorting a large catch and realizing, upon spotting a FedEx truck, that they could grow their business by having FedEx ship their lobsters.

This will also not be the first time Stonington Lobster boats appeared North of the Mystic River Bridge in a big screen production. For five free lobsters who can name that film?

Nanhai No 1

On December 28th the Chinese government will begin salvage of the 25 to 30 meter, 800 to 1000 year old (sources vary) merchant ship. The ship, dubbed the Nanhai No. 1 (South China Sea No. 1) is the first ancient vessel discovered on what is called the Marine Silk Road.

The salvage operation will also be a first. A large steel basket has been constructed inorder that the vessel together with the surrounding silt will be lifted intact from the ocean floor and placed in the Nanhai No 1 Museum. The Chinese government has set aside 150 million yuan (about 18.5 million US dollars) to house the vessel and the approximately 50,000 to 70,000 relics that are expected to be onboard.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

More news from Maine Maritime

A few weeks ago I was delighted to post on the happenings at Maine Maritime, today I sadly report that one of the forces behind all those happenings is leaving the Museum. Tom Wilcox, executive director of Maine Maritime Museum, will step down within six months to pursue other opportunities.

The Mid-Coast Times Record carries the full story.

National Sailing Hall of Fame

Next week officials are expected to announce the new location for the National Sailing Hall of Fame. Of the final three contenders, Annapolis, Maryland; Newport, R.I.; and San Diego, California, Annapolis appears the most excited, and the most assured of hosting the Hall.

While it is not entirely clear, it appears the Museum will most likely feature video, memorabilia and archives relating to yacht racing.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Massachusetts Maritime Academy

Between sex scandals and president firings, news items about the Massachusetts Maritime Academy have been coming into my mailbox pretty regularly for the last few weeks. Like most stories I debate momentarily on whether or not they would make good blog material, and in general I've passed on this kind of story. However, due to the increasing volume and controversy involved in this I think it is something that people in the maritime world should at least be aware of. The following is a link to an blog article by Massachusetts resident Greg O'Brien who has been following the story.

Righting The Ship At Massachusetts Maritime Academy: Damn The Politics! Full Speed Ahead!

The comments following the article are very interesting as well.

Also - Statements from the Board of Trustees

Pepsi Americas' Sail 2006

From June 30th - July 5, 2006, Beaufort, North Carolina in collaboration with the North Carolina Maritime Museum will host a gathering of tall ships.

Pepsi Americas' Sail 2006 website

Olde Beaufort Seaport

According to reports in Myrtle Beach Online the North Carolina Maritime Museum will being developing a maritime village known as Olde Beaufort Seaport. The village will include a wharf; welcome center; boardwalk and outdoor performance pavilion; a shipyard with marine railway, foundry and sawmill; and halls with exhibits such as a Shipwreck Hall featuring artifacts from Queen Anne's Revenge.

Construction of the Seaport was marked by the arrival of the Meka II, a
half-scale replica of a 17th century pirate brigantine, commanded by Capt. Horatio Sinbad. Captain Sinbad holds what may be the only active privateer commission in the United States. I'll have to check on that one.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

"Seattle is a maritime city"

Feliks Banel, the deputy director of Seattle's Museum of History and Industry recently made what would appear to be a self evident statement: "Seattle is a maritime city. We could use the city's maritime heritage as a lens to see the greater Seattle story." A newly released report however, shows that this may actually be a new thought to some. The Seattle/Kings County Task Force on Maritime Heritage identifies the numerous underdeveloped and at risk maritime resources and outlines a plan for reorganizing and promoting the city's cultural attractions and its integration with the sea.

Full story

Task Force Home Page

Personal comment: I visited Seattle in July of 2004 and came away with three strong impressions.
1. This city had more coffee shops per square inch than anywhere in the world (and that's a good thing)

2. Mt. Rainer is amazing!

3. Everywhere you go - there is water and there are boats.

Monday, December 05, 2005

NARA transfers submarine blueprints to Wisconsin Maritime Museum

The drawings for 28 World War II fleet submarines designed by Electric Boat in Groton, CT and built in Manitowoc, Wisconsin are now back in Manitowoc after years at the National Archives. Keith Kerr, an archives specialist for the Archives estimates the collection, which weighs more than 1,200 pounds, consists of nearly 3,000 items.

Bill Thiesen, curator at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, envisions using a small percentage of the drawings for an exhibition. Pending processing which depends upon grants, the plans would be used for research, information, and preservation. A library archive housing the drawings will be off-limits, but the public can view prints if they've identified which ones they want to see.

Please refer to the full story at the

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Maritime Domain Awareness

As part of the United States Coast Guard's MDA program, the America's Waterway Watch is a program similar to Neighborhood Watch, in which people who live, work, or play in our maritime domain keep a look out for the unusual.

When something just doesn't look right to the average boater they are encouraged to call the Coast Guard or local law enforcement. Call the National Response Center at 800-424-8802 or 877-24WATCH. If there is immediate danger to life or property, call 9-1-1, or call the Coast Guard on Marine Channel 16.

The Coast Guard lists the following actions as suspicious:

People appearing to be engaged in surveillance of any kind (taking notes, shooting video or photos, making sketches, or asking questions).
Unattended vessels or vehicles in unusual locations.
Lights flashing between boats.
Unusual diving activity.
Unusual number of people on board.
Unusual night operations.
Recovering or tossing items into/onto the waterway or shoreline.
Operating in or passing through an area that does not typically have such activity.
Fishing/hunting in locations not typically used for those activities.
Missing fencing or lighting near sensitive locations.
Anchoring in an area not typically used for anchorage.
Transfer of people or things between ships or between ship and shore outside of port.
Anyone operating in an aggressive manner.
Individuals establishing businesses or roadside food stands near sensitive locations.
Small planes flying over critical locations.
People attempting to buy or rent fishing or recreational vessels with cash for short-term, undefined use.

And remember - "You're in Command" (

What's at your museum?

Okay, I can't hold back on this one any longer. Peabody Essex, the holder of one of the richest maritime collections is presently promoting their newest exhibit with a great deal of fanfare. They've even taken out TV time to let everyone know they have a new exhibit on --- Tea Pots.

Meanwhile, South Street Seaport, the maritime museum located in one of the United States richest maritime ports is hosting an exhibit on, no sorry that is of, body parts. "Bodies: The Exhibition" features the remains of 22 humans, with more than 260 organs and partial body parts on display.

A maritime exhibit anyone?

Please note non-maritime image of violets. Only 4 months to the start of spring.

Lessons from London

The National Maritime Museum in England won two gold awards at the prestigious Visit London Awards 2005 ceremony on 29 November.

As the winner of the Large Visitor Attraction category, the Museum was rated highly for its customer care, interaction with the local community, care for the environment, accessibility for disabled visitors, investment in staff training, and its marketing campaigns, which achieve an impressive number of repeat visitors.

The museum beat off stiff competition, with Tate Modern taking the silver award and Churchill Museum & Cabinet War Rooms and Madame Tussauds London taking joint bronze. what are they doing that other maritime museums aren't?