TAke A Wet Tour of London (Without Rain)

Over the past few days, The Telegraph (UK) has published 2 useful articles for maritime culture fans heading to London. “Watery London Day One” and “Day Two.” These are “sponsored” articles, whatever that means, but they do provide you with a fun itinerary in, on and about maritime London including the HMS Belfast, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and London RIB Voyages. Check out the articles for all of the maritime attractions.

Okay, this is definitely a “sponsored” ad but it does look like fun!

YouTube – London Rib with Logo London Rib copy Program Stream

A ship designed to knock those “condescending, supercilious bastards” down a peg

Jesse Pesta wrote a great piece on the SS United States for the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal. Fans of World’s Fastest Ocean Liner Put Out a Distress Call Sept. 29, 2009) (free content) There’s a great nostalgic slideshow which includes the below photo of the author onboard at 2 years old.

Wall St. Journal article author Jesse Pesta onboard the SS United States at 2 years old. Courtesy of Jesse Pesta via the Wall Street Journal

The quote in the title of this post comes from the naval architect, William Francis Gibbs, a very interesting character who prided himself in beating his British counterparts in designing the fastest ship in the world. In fact, this was more a matter of national than personal pride during the post World War II technology boom. That’s him in the below photo watching his ship leave NY harbor.

Naval Architect William F. Gibbs watching the S UNited States in NYC. courtesy Susan Gibbs via the Wall Street Journal

If you’ve read Mr. Pesta’s article in the Wall Street Journal and you’re still not convinced that this grand old ship should be saved to preserve an important piece of America’s maritime heritage history, please watch this trailer for the PBS documentary by Big Ship Films, Lady in Waiting.

Here’s another promo for the documentary that has some different footage and is worth watching.

Wonder what it was like to sail the Atlantic on the SS United States? Here’s a home movie from the 1950’s (via ShipGeek):

YouTube – SS United States Unknown Home Movies

Unfortunately, things look a little different now. Here’s a video from Phillip Buehler great Modern Ruins website where he rollerblades the Promenade Deck to music by the ship’s orchestra that he found on eBay. Make sure you check out all of the amazing then and now photos in the SS United States section of Modern Ruins.

YouTube – Rollerblading on the SS United States Prominade Deck

This is a project of monstrous proportions.  We can only hope that this old grand dame does not end up on a beach to broken up somewhere far away. She deserves better than that.  Please raise awareness, spread the word and share this post with people you know who might care. Thanks.

Important links:

SS United States Conservancy (website / blog)

Coalition to Save the SS United States

Mike Alexander’s SS United States Site

The “SS United States Group” on Yahoo Groups

This Day In Maritime History: A Stove Boat Begets A Whale of a Tale

Gregory Peck as Ahab in Moby-Dick

Wired.com reminds us that November 20, 1820 marks the real life event that inspired one of the classics of American literature, Moby-Dick.

The story of the Essex was the inspiration for a young Herman Melville who himself served time at sea on similar whaleships. More recently the Essex story was chronicled in nonfiction fashion by Nathaniel Phlibrick in his award winning book, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex .

From Wired.com:

The Essex had taken its share of whales and on Nov. 20 appeared ready to take a few more when a pod was sighted off the starboard beam.

The ship’s three remaining whaleboats — one had been destroyed by a whale’s flukes during an earlier hunt — were dispatched for the kill. As the harpooning began, First Mate Owen Chase, commanding one of the whaleboats, looked back and saw a large sperm whale, which he estimated at 85 feet, approaching the Essex.

As he watched helplessly, the whale propelled itself into the ship with great force. Some crewmen on board were knocked off their feet by the collision, and Chase watched in disbelief as the whale drew back and rammed the ship again. This time the Essex was holed below the waterline, and doomed.

The crew organized what provisions they could and two days later abandoned ship aboard the three whaleboats. Twenty men left the Essex. Eight would ultimately survive the harrowing ordeal that played out over the next three months.

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