Sea-Fever blog


Shiver Me Timbers, It’s Pirate N’ Chief Obama! by Peter A. Mello
April 30, 2009, 9:42 pm
Filed under: maritime heritage | Tags: , ,

Pirate in Chief (click for larger version)

Okay, not really sure why you can choose pirate language in Facebook, especially considering what’s been happening in Somalia, but you can. Go down the bottom of your FB page and click on language.

Interesting crew!

Thanks to FB Friend Ryan Maneri of Oystercatcher Media.

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Google Ships: Duchesse Anne of Dunkirk, France by Peter A. Mello

Click on photo to go to Google Street View    
Duchesse Anne in Dunkirk, France – Formerly a German training-ship called Grossherzogin Elisabeth, built in 1901. She was saved from scrap by the City of Dunkirk in 1981 and is currently an exhibit at Musee Portuaire Dunkerque

. With an overall length of 90 m, she is the biggest tall ship preserved in France. (via GoogleEarthHacks)

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Celebrating Samuel Morse’s 218th Birthday Google Style! by Peter A. Mello
April 27, 2009, 9:45 pm
Filed under: maritime heritage | Tags: , ,

Google Search page logo 

Samuel Finley Breese Morse (April 27, 1791 – April 2, 1872) was the American creator of a single-wire telegraph system and Morse code and (less notably) a painter of historic scenes. (via FB friend Jill M)

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Remembering the Worst Maritime Disaster in American History: S.S. Sultana by Peter A. Mello
April 27, 2009, 11:39 am
Filed under: maritime heritage | Tags: , ,

Sultana on Fire from Harpers Weekly

At 2:00 AM on April 27, 1865, a catastrophic boiler explosion took place on the grossly overcrowded wooden paddlewheeler S.S. Sultana. The ship was less than 10 miles from Memphis, TN on the Mississippi River when the explosion occurred. The overcrowding of the vessel was due to the large number Union soldiers from Ohio and Indiana returning home from the Civil War many of whom were recently released from Confederate prisons. The precise number of casualties is unknown but estimates are that 1,300 to 1,900 lives were lost.

This is the worst maritime disaster in US history yet few American’s are aware of it. In it’s day and ever since, it was overshadowed by the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln which had taken place two weeks earlier on April 14, 1865.

image Last week I received a copy of Alan Huffman’s Sultana: Surviving the Civil War, Prison and the Worst Maritime Disaster in American History (2009). I had the chance to start reading it yesterday and am currently about a quarter of the way through it. So far it’s a fascinating read. If like me, you are interested in American and maritime history as well as leadership, this book’s also for you!

Here’s a few Sultana websites to check out on the 144th anniversary of the worst maritime disaster in American history:

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Sailing’s Boring. Yeah Right! by Peter A. Mello
April 24, 2009, 6:16 pm
Filed under: sailing | Tags: , ,
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FotoFriday: gCaptain’s Megablock Move Time-Lapse by Peter A. Mello
April 24, 2009, 9:51 am
Filed under: FotoFriday, maritime, photography | Tags: , ,

My podcasting partner, Captain John Konrad, Admiral of the gCaptain maritime empire is currently in Korea building a big ship. Here’s a cool time lapse photograph he took.

He has lots of other cool shots in this Shipyard Korea set on his Flickr page including some in HDR. Who would have known he’s such an artiste?

Anyway, he’s probably pretty lonely over there away from family and friends, so go over to his Flickr page and leave him a comment telling him how much you like his photos and how much you miss him. ;-)

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Sea-Fever Style: India House’s “Mildewed Maritime” Decor by Peter A. Mello

Well, that the opinion of ALAN FEUER in his Rooms column in today’s (April 22, 2009) of the New York Times (Time and Tide Gnaw at a Downtown Enclave) While sounding a little harsh, there is more than a ring of truth to it and frankly therein lies the India House’s charm. At least for me.

India House by epicharmus on Flickr.com

A maritime curiosity shop as much as a luncheon club, the India House was where I was taken on a number of occasions by the “big wigs” to celebrate successes when I was cutting my business teeth. For good luck it was always a good idea to rub the belly of the big fat smiling Buddha standing sitting guard inside the front doors. If you like maritime culture, history and heritage, this place is like Disneyland (with cobwebs and expensive threadbare Persian rugs).

And this was a place where captains of industry made history. From the India House’s website:

We will never fully know how discussions over luncheon and private meetings at India House changed history from 1914 through World War Two. The maritime historian, Frank O. Braynard, in his 1973 foreword to the second edition of The Marine Collection at India House, states that “England could not have survived [World War Two] without the armada of American-built, American-manned, American-operated merchant vessels…managed by many of the outstanding members of India House.”

So without the India House, German might be spoken in England today. (more India House history)

Sept 27, 1914 NYT article - click to download PDF

Click on the above article for a PDF download of the original 1914 story which makes interesting reading. I was particularly struck by the following paragraph which shows how little things have changed in nearly 100 years.

From the sound’s of Feuer’s article, the same people who I spied across the room thirty years ago are still going there today. They appeared to be pretty old back then so there must be something good going on here. Maybe the new marketing pitch should be “Eat in the India House and Live Forever!”

This economy is causing all kinds of casualties. And while most people wouldn’t notice if the India House rolled up its carpet, it would be a real loss to our national maritime heritage. And heck, where else can you go and grab a good turkey club and feel like you are eating in a maritime museum.

The NY Times has a cool interactive feature you should check out.

Previous NY Times article: Streetscapes/India House, at 1 Hanover Square; A Club Created With the Theme of World Commerce

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Bowsprite’s Guide to New York Harbor Schooners by Peter A. Mello
April 22, 2009, 11:01 pm
Filed under: maritime art, maritime heritage | Tags: , , , , ,

Regular readers of Sea-Fever know that I have a special place in my heart for maritime art and as well as good old storytelling though social media. Combine the two and you’ve got yourself a winner and that’s just what Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook does.

Here’s how Bowsprite starts a recent post (the Schooners of New York Harbor) that caught my attention:

Overheard on VHF, on two different occasions:

  • Princess to the sailing boat, Adirondack coming out of Chelsea Piers.”
    Adirondack to the Princess, we’re at North Cove, going south. You want the Imagine.”
    “Sorry.”
  • Adirondack, by the Statue, this is the tug and barge coming up on your stern…”
    No response. It is not the Adirondack, but the Pioneer at the old buoy 31 (now 35), with no other schooner in sight…

What ship is that?

Well, should the old girl not readily show you her derrière bearing her escutcheon (plate with the boat’s name), below are some of the schooners (et al) of NYHarbor, drawn more or less to proportional scale, with some identifying marks, so you can call her by name:

Then in Bowsprite’s inimitable style, artwork like this illustrates a guide to the the schooners of New York Harbor.

Please make sure you visit and read the Schooners of New York Harbor and of course, subscribe to this wonderful maritime blog. EVERY Bowsprite post takes us on a magical tour of a working harbor. And while there are eight million stories in New York City, we are lucky that Bowsprite’s wonderful artwork and tugster’s great photography have the waterfront covered.

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Happy Sir Robin Knox Johnston Earth Day! by Peter A. Mello

image While most people, including the Mello family, are celebrating Earth Day, today also marks the 40th anniversary of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s completion of the first-ever single-handed solo non-stop circumnavigation.

Celebratory in it’s success yet profoundly revelatory in how man impacts our planet, there is no better way to raise awareness of the Earth’s challenges than sailing round it in a small boat. Johnston was the first to do this 30,000 mile trip and 313 days at sea in a 32 ft teak ketch. To put this feat in its proper perspective, solo non stop circumnavigation is often referred to as the Mount Everest of sailing; only thing is over 1,500 people have made it to the top of the world while less than 100 have sailed around it alone without stopping.

This “holiday” came to my attention via Twitter and the concept seems to have been launched by the great Messing About In Sailboats blog which is not to be confused with the equally great Messing About In Ships podcast.

I’m sure there are going to be lots of great posts with videos and old newspaper clippings and amazing sea stories so check back at Messing About In Sailboats to see how they aggregate this stuff. If you’re on Twitter, make sure you follow the hash tag #RKJ today. (Since you’re over there, might as well follow me, too. ;-)

Since I used to be the executive director of the American Sail Training Association, I guess my affinity for Sir Robin probably comes from his incredible support of and influence over the tall ships / sail training industry as chairman of the Sail Training Association (UK). That organization has since split in two becoming Tall Ships Youth Trust and Sail Training International. Although his time at STA preceded mine at ASTA, I had the great fortune of meeting him on several occasions and he is definitely a “larger than life figure.”

Last year, Jenny and I went to the New Bedford Whaling Museum to see a special screening of Deep Water. While the movie may be “about” Donald Crowhurst, it’s really about Sir Robin Knox Johnston and all his fellow competitors. It’s an incredible story of the stresses and strains of the long distance solo sailor and you’ll come away even more impressed by the remarkable men and women who participate in this sport. (Make sure you also read NY Times – Study of Solo Sailor Stress and How Humans Cope) If you read this blog but have not watched Deep Water yet, get right over to Netflix and order it, you won’t be disappointed.

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDs67LfPYPU]
YouTube – Deep Water – New Trailer!

Finally, ScuttButt tweeted some good advice for today everyday:

Scuttlebutt on Twitter re RKJ Day

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The Launch of the Weekly Leader Podcast by Peter A. Mello

Weekly Leader podcast On the very unlikely chance that you are not a subscriber or regular reader of my other Internet baby, Weekly Leader, we launched a podcast yesterday and you should listen to it and give me your feedback.

I’m lucky to have had Pam Fox Rollin as a co-host for this first episode and even luckier to have had the opportunity to interview Peter Aceto who is the CEO of ING Direct Canada.

Please check it out and let me know what you think.

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