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

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Have a happy Halloween

"Ye ghost ship," from the Library of Congress' Prints & Photographs online catalog, which currently provides access to over 50% of the Division's holdings.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thirty-one ancient ships

I'm becoming a big fan of the CBC's Dispatches (which I listen to on KALW). In their show from Oct. 20-26, 2008, the segment "Bosporus big dig" takes us to the construction area for a tunnel beneath the Bosporus Strait, which is a site for stunning archaeological discoveries, including, to date, thirty-one ships dating from the 4th to the 10th centuries.

Meribeth Deen's report is factual without being dry, educational without being pedantic. She conveys the tension of conducting painstaking investigation under the world's scrutiny; when completed, this project will end the "Bosporus bottleneck," and it will be possible to take the train from China to London.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Call For Papers - Coriolis

Coriolis: the Interdisciplinary Journal of Maritime Studies is seeking English language scholarly manuscripts for publication in a new on-line, fully indexed journal published in conjunction with the National Maritime Digital Library, hosted at Mystic Seaport with support from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation.

Named after the physical forces that drive global ocean currents and human activities on the seas, Coriolis welcomes studies in history, literature, art, music, archaeology, and environmental studies from researchers all over the world. The journal particularly seeks anglophonic manuscripts from scholars working outside the North Atlantic/North American regions, including Africa, the Indian Ocean basin, Australia, the Pacific basin, and South America. Papers that explore interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged. Submitted manuscripts will be fully peer-reviewed by university faculty and researchers active in the manuscript's relevant field.

Coriolis will launch in February of 2009 and can be found at

For more information, contact Paul O'Pecko ( or Andrew German, (, Editors, Mystic Seaport Museum.

Section Editors:

Joshua Smith, Associate Professor of Humanities, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

Arts (Literature, Art, Music):
Daniel Brayton, Assistant Professor of English and American Literatures, Middlebury College

Environmental Studies:
Matthew McKenzie, Assistant Professor of History, University of Connecticut

Monday, October 27, 2008

Seafood Watch sushi pocket guide is out!

It's here! The sushi pocket guide is available online, for download, and via mail order (all for free) from Seafood Watch's sushi website.

From there, select the "Animals & Activities" link, and choose the "Podcast, Videos and Webcams" to go to the E-Quarium. The Outer Bay Cam is a real treat--if you're luck, the Giant Pacific Bluefin Tuna will swim by. (For help in finding it, open the Outer Bay Spotting Guide, and don't miss the little blue fish links next to the animal's name--it's a link to an excellent online field guide.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Preservation at work and at home

Are you confronted with preservation issues on the job, but money for training is scarce? Or absent? Preservation 101 is a free online course from the Northeast Document Conservation Center--itself a wealth of free information on preservation and conservation, including Resources for private and family collections, a short, must-read overview for anyone who confronted with preservation issues at home.

And who isn't? The information presented isn't just applicable to medieval manuscripts; have any digital photos? Want to still have those digital photos? Check out the site.

Want to know more? My favorite collection of conservation information for all audiences: COOL--COnservation OnLine. It's all there, from citations to the scientific research behind aging testing to what to with a myriad of objects found in the home, to how to locate a professional conservator.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

CFP: Rethinking the Maritime Museum

The excellent museum studies blog, The Attic, gleans many items of interest to the maritime museum world, including the recent CFP, Rethinking the Maritime Museum from H-Museum. From the Department of Museum Studies' research students, University of Leicester, UK, The Attic has many items of international interest, and now appears in MaritimeCompass' list of recommended blogs (on your right, if you're reading this on our site). Be sure to follow their link to the Museological Review--there's a lot of interesting reading there on cultural heritage.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Princess TaiPing

On Friday Oct. 10, I was biking in to work through Aquatic Park as usual, and luckily I had a camera with me. I never expected to see a junk that wasn't the Grace Quan in Aquatic Park, and little did I know about the treat that lay in store.

Yesterday at our staff meeting, we were privileged to hear a presentation by Nelson Liu (Liu Ning-sheng), captain of the Princess TaiPing, and Angela Chao (Chai Hsiu-Ying). Fifty-four feet long, drawing only about six and a half feet, they sailed into Eureka on Oct. 3, crossing the Pacific in 69 days. They hope to sail down the Pacific Coast of North America, and return to China--if they do, they will making the first documented round-trip voyage of a junk under sail, since the Free China who crossed the Pacific 50 years ago never made it back.

A replica of a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) war junk, her keel was laid on Jan. 20, 2007, and she was built using completely traditional techniques, and as historically accurate as possible. She was even launched traditionally, with a custom-built winch, later donated to a maritime museum. Now this war junk is on a mission of peace and living history--if she is successful, it is hoped she will continue her mission of peace and education through donating her to a maritime museum.

Now she is in San Francisco at the Hyde St. Pier, open to the public, until the end of the month (possibly Oct. 28), from there, continuing on to Hawaii. Visit her if you can--how often does one get the chance to step aboard a Ming Dynasty war junk?


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty on the beach

Please read Peter Mello's excellent post on poverty in the maritime world, which he wrote to participate in Blog Action Day 2008.

His title, "Shipbreaking/People Breaking" says it all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ports, Forts & Sports

The Call for Papers is out for the 2009 Annual Conference of the North American Society for Oceanic History, Steamship Historical Society of America and National Maritime Historical Society, "Ports, Forts and Sports: Maritime Economy, Defense and Recreation through Time and across Space." If you missed the announcement on H-Maritime, you may not have heard that papers from graduate students are especially encouraged and solicited--so get writing, and build that CV!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Top ten whale titles

The latest top ten list from the Guardian brings us Philip Hoare's top ten whale tales. The author of Leviathan, or The Whale starts his list with Moby Dick, but continues with more obscure titles including nonfiction covering various disciplines, poetry, and even a guidebook to marine mammals.

The article even links to the BBC's The Hunt for Moby-Dick if you're looking for an audio-visual exploration of this leviathan of whaling literature.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Any Takers?

JFK's yacht "Manitou" is for sale for$1.3 million. A 62-foot Sparkman and Stephens-designed yawl built by M.M. Davis and Sons in Solomons Island in 1937 "Manitou" was President John F. Kennedy's sailing White House.

While Franklin D. Roosevelt's U.S.S Sequoia is perhaps the most famous presidential yacht there are several others. Most listed on the Presidential yachts page.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sailing again with the Canadians

The CBC's Dispatches program is addressing maritime matters again this week; the story for Oct. 6/12, 2008 features David McGuffin's interviews concerning piracy off of Somalia. He provides an interesting overview of the international issues as well as details as he speaks with those on the scene, including those on board the Ville de Qu├ębec. The conversation continues with Roger Middleton discussing causes, details of the pirates' tactics, the limitations of defenses, and suggestions for possible solutions.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Franklin Expedition developments

"The archeological discoveries exceeded our expectations," says Robert Grenier, chief of underwater archeology at Parks Canada, in a Reuters Canada article. Their major find: fragments of copper sheeting likely from the expedition's vessels. Although fog, snow, and high winds hampered their activities this season, they will be returning to continue their work in 2009 and 2010.

In addition, a detailed essay refuting the long-held theory that the expedition members' lead poisoning was due their tinned food has been published in the September issue of the Journal of the Hakluyt Society. In his paper, which the Society has kindly made available online as a .pdf file (complete with color illustrations), William Battersby attributes the lead poisoning to a unique system for distilling water in Erebus and Terror. These systems, though, were fitted into the ships at the last minute; conclusive proof of the lead content of the systems' components would come through archaeological discoveries. For that, the wait continues.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Life at sea: an update

A while ago, Kelly had posted Life at Sea featuring the CS6 crew of the USS Enterprise--the link to the video was unfortunately broken, but I've tracked it down. If you haven't seen it, it's a treat:

You can find it at:
Or google it by title: "CS6 Crew of the USS Enterprise CVN-65 Numa Numa"

Also, dontskydive helpfully explains, "CS6 is the Combat Systems Division responsible for Radar and Navigation onboard an Aircraft Carrier." Thanks dontskydive!

Looking for the song? It is "Dragostea Din Tei" by O-Zone, and you can find it on the album Disco Zone--it's a great album.

What makes for a successful museum these days?

This month's The Atlantic has an article on Philippe de Montebello, the soon-to-depart Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The short summary of said article is that the Met has flourished in the last 3 decades under his persistence in mounting high quality exhibits, based on, and contributing to scholarship.

In an era when more and more museums (and it seems especially maritime museums) are launching more "Popular events" such as Pirate Days, than exhibits it's a refreshing take on the situation.

If you’re interested in reading more:

(Image is from the Met's collection -
John Singer Sargent (1856–1925)

Schooner and Bark in Harbor (from Scrapbook)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

On patrol with the Canadian Navy

Part one of this week's Dispatches from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is a story not just about the Canadian Navy's pursuit of pirates and gunrunners in the Middle East, but was made as they carried out their duties. It's heartstopping listening as reporter David Common is there with the crew as they carry out Operation Altair on HMCS Calgary.

About ten minutes in length, the podcast is available for streaming or download, under the show for Sept. 29/Oct. 5.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Celebrating Nelson

To celebrate the 250th anniversary of Lord Horatio Nelson's birth, the Guardian published its latest top ten book list, Roy and Lesley Adkins's top 10 Nelson books. Their recommendation is that one read two or three of the many biographies, but their annotations will guide the reader who might be interested in reading only one--or in finding a place to begin studying Nelson and his world. If you're interested in the man, his navy, Portsmouth, or in touring Nelson memorials, you'll find a book here of interest.

Also on Monday, a new bust of Nelson was unveiled in Portsmouth. The article in the Telegraph has a nice photo, but the article on This is Bath covers the details of the painstaking research that the sculptor, Robert Hornyold-Strickland, conducted to construct the best likeness possible, including his study of a life mask produced in Austria in 1800 and only recently authenticated.