Ex Maritime Museum Leader Pleads Guilty

John S. Carter by Jennifer Longley - AP

This afternoon the Boston Herald reports that John S. Carter pleaded guilty to a number of charges related to crimes committed during his tenure as president of Independence Maritime Museum in Philadelphia. It’s reported that he defrauded the museum of $1.5 million “to buy a carriage house for his Cape Cod home, art, jewelry and even a root canal.”  Nice cap to a 17 year career at the top of an institution!

I’ve written about this a number of times over the past few months and this post will hopefully close the chapter on this unfortunate story.

Why do people in positions of authority do self-destructive things like this?

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The Return of Storm Flags

Effective June 1, 2007, the US Coast Guard has reinstituted the storm warning flag and light system which the National Weather Service canceled in 1989.

 From the USCG press release:

“Storm flags are a nautical tradition for mariners and the Coast Guard is pleased to bring back this part of our maritime heritage. However, the real message is that as the flags indicate changing weather from gale to storm to hurricane conditions, everyone, not just mariners, must tune in to National Weather Service broadcasts and start thinking what they will do to prepare for the worst. The power of nature cannot be underestimated. These nautical flags are intended to visually communicate to the American public the lesson of past hurricanes to take personal responsibility for individual safety in the face of an approaching storm,” said Capt. Jim McPherson, the Coast Guard’s chief of public affairs.

In this age of advanced technology and 24 hour media that has the ability to reach nearly every potentially impacted Americans, it’s interesting the the US Coast Guard has revived a centuries old tradition of using signal flags to warn citizens about impending severe weather. To underscore the irony, here’s a YouTube video that educates us about the new old system. (The video hangs up a few seconds in but you can nudge it by clicking on the progress bar to the right of the spot where it freezes.)

Don’t get me wrong, I love the flags and the idea of keeping the tradition alive. They also can also serve as a powerful tool to teach young people about weather. It just seems a little odd for the US Coast Guard to be holding press conferences and making videos about this. Seems like we have a lot of other more pressing matters to raise the public’s awareness.

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International Maritime institutions Announce Plans to Merge

The International Yacht Restoration School and the Museum of Yachting, both located in Newport, RI announced their plans to merge. These are 2 great maritime institutions that should benefit greatly from consolidation.

Sharing the same lineage, these organizations have real potential to complement each other. IYRS president Terry Nathan has done a great job during his tenure in focusing and executing the strategy of his organization while the Museum of Yachting has been without a chief executive for a number of years. This merge should bring together 2 staffs without a lot of overlap. Finally, in a small city like Newport, it will provide some donors a single choice of support which will hopefully lead to more meaningful gifts over time for a combined institution.  

This can truly be a winning merger for all of the various stakeholders and both boards should be applauded for the courage to make it happen.

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Help, I’ve Been Shanghaied by CBS’s Pirate Master

Embarrassingly, I am a reality TV junkie. Well, that may overstate things a bit since I am particular in my viewing habits. I love the Amazing Race and Deadliest Catch and enjoy the Apprentice. Once in a while I’ll watch Survivor, Big Brother and, shamefully, The Real World, too. Now, CBS has got me with their new show Pirate Master.

This is probably not too much of a surprise to people who regularly read the Sea-Fever blog or who know me personally. I do have a THING for what I call maritime culture. It all started back with childhood visits to the New Bedford Whaling Museum where there is a half scale model of a tall ship absolutely perfect for grade school adventures. A little later in life I had the good fortune to sail on the “pirate-like” tall ship Tabor Boy throughout my high school years and this experience is currently being chronicled over at The Tabor Boy Project. For the last 6 years, I have been the executive director of the American Sail Training Association which is an international nonprofit with 200 tall ships and sail training vessels from all over the world. The Barque Picton Castle, the ship used in the Pirate Master was one of the more visible vessels in the ASTA fleet. Today, through Sea-Changes Foundation and Sea-Fever Consulting LLC I create maritime experiential education and maritime cultural initiatives for youth of all ages.  Continue reading Help, I’ve Been Shanghaied by CBS’s Pirate Master

Happy Birthday!

Today is John Masefield’s birthday! Born on June 1, 1878, he was British poet laureate from 1930 to 1967 beating out Rudyard Kipling who many thought would have been the logical choice. Masefield was the longest serving British poet laureate with the exception of Tennyson.

John Masefield’s classic poem Sea-Fever was the inspiration for our company’s name and philosophy.


I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

Masefield’s life was greatly influenced by his adolescent experiences at sea under sail. While those years were not easy ones, they opened up a vast new world to a young man who had challenging beginnings to say the least. Masefield ultimately lead a life of exploring, learning and creativity and left his mark on the world through his powerful and evocative poetry.  

For John Masefield’s biography click here

For a Adobe PDF download of Masefield’s Salt-Water Ballads which includes Sea-Fever, click here.

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