Thursday, January 17, 2019

JOHN PAUL JONES' SHIP?

17 January 2019: In an article from the Yorkshire Post (England) the discovery of Bonhomme Richard, the ship on which American naval hero John Paul Jones uttered his famous words, "I have not yet begun to fight!" when asked if he would surrender, announced success in a several year hunt for wreckage. The article indicates little doubt in the accuracy of the the find, but several maritime archeologists have since come forward throwing a little doubt - or skepticism - on the discovery. We will stay with this find - I suspect we'll see more as the weather moderates in Britain and further dives are made - as we here at Maritime Maunder would really love to know the rest of the story. 
But first, the Mr. Berhens' piece from the Yorkshire Post:
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He is as familiar to American maritime students as Admiral Lord Nelson is to ours – not least for having uttered the immortal words, “Surrender? I have not yet begun to fight” as his ship sank off the Yorkshire coast.
But while John Paul Jones went down in history as the father of the US Navy, the final secret of the stricken Bonhomme Richard is only now beginning to emerge from its watery grave.
Previously believed to be some six miles out to sea, explorers now say the site is walkable from the beach and visible from the cliffs above.
The revelation, at a meeting in Filey, before an invited audience of 100, has set off a scramble to claim the land for tourism, with the lucrative US market in sight.

Mystery has for decades surrounded the exact location of the wreck. It went down in flames during the American Revolutionary war, at the bloody Battle of Flamborough Head in 1779, in which Jones led a makeshift flotilla of French ships into the North Sea, harassing commercial shipping as far as Bridlington.

In a deadly skirmish in which both sides claimed victory, Jones – who had fled his native Scotland to become one of the first commanders in the rebel service – took over the 50-gun British frigate HMS Serapis, and went to America a hero. As a result, the name of Flamborough Head is as embedded in US schoolbooks as Gettysburg. 

Bonhomme Richard fights Serapis off Flamborough Head
The prospect of Americans making pilgrimages to Yorkshire to see at first hand where it happened, is a “considerable opportunity” for the region’s thriving tourism industry, one of the men behind the search for the shipwreck said.
“It’s one of the most significant elements that make up the founding history of the of the USA, and it’s right on our doorstep,” said Bruce Blackburn, chief executive of Merlin Burrows, a marine archeology firm based in Harrogate, which has now registered the site the Government receiver.
“It’s an amazing maritime find. It’s just brilliant.
“You can walk out on to the wreck from the shore. You can literally go to the beach and look in the water and see where it is. And you can go on the cliffs and look down on it and see the shadow’s outline. The question for the community is, who owns the land and who will build a visitor centre on it.”
American explorers have over the years spent an estimated $200m on trying to find what is left of Bonhomme Richard, a one-time merchant vessel given to the new colony by a French shipping magnate.

Bonhomme Richard by Jeff Hunt

But Mr Blackburn said: “It’s not where everyone thought it was going to be. We have made a brand spanking new determination of where the wreck is actually located.”
The exact location has not been disclosed. “We’re not about to put the site at risk of souvenir hunters,” he said.

His firm made the discovery two years ago but withheld the information until registration documents had been lodged.
The delegates at Filey’s White Lodge Hotel were the first to hear of it, along with news of the discovery of wooden figurehead of a lion and shield that adorned the bow, and a carving of a shepherdess from the stern.
Mr Blackburn said: “We expect a task force to be formed that will get the visitor strategy in place. They can set up a Bonhomme Richard trail – people will land at Leeds Bradford or Manchester and make their way from there.
“We’re talking about a generation of employment – it’s that far reaching. Once the Americans learn of it, it will generate a lot of interest.”
Some of the debris recovered from Bonhomme Richard betrays burn marks consistent with the explosions that sank it, said Tim Akers, head of research at Merlin Burrows.
“The site itself is not easy to research. The debris is covered in sediment and it is very cold, but the preservation is very good,” he said.
More than 250 men died at Flambrough Head, with John Paul Jones’ ship lost as a result of what would now be considered “friendly fire” from a companion vessel.
Mr Blackburn, whose firm is now the wreck’s custodian, said: “He’s considered one of the founding fathers of the United States, despite the fact that he was effectively a Scottish pirate.”
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Not sure we would label him as a "Scottish pirate" but then we aren't English. Perhaps, given the times and Jones' history,  "mercenary" might be more appropriate! In any case, should more appear on this (and I suspect it will) we will endeavor to update our readers, which as a matter of interest (to us anyway), are closing in on 80,000! WOW!

Until next time, 
                                   Fair winds, 
                                      Old Salt



Thursday, January 10, 2019

IS THE EARTH FLAT?

10 January 2019: We have all (I assume) heard of people who are convinced the earth is not a ball floating in space, but rather a disk, i.e. flat. There are reams and reams of scientific information out there which quite thoroughly debunks this theory, but the Flat Earthers, as they call themselves, refuse to accept scientific proof, believing instead that images from outer space have all been photshopped and that reports from astronauts are simply lies offered to conform with conventional wisdom. The following is from the British periodical, The Guardian, and adds further fuel to the argument against the earth being flat. (Not that we need further proof!)

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A group of people who believe the Earth is flat have announced their “biggest, boldest, best adventure yet”: a Flat Earth cruise scheduled for 2020.
The cruise, organized by the Flat Earth International Conference, promises to be a lovely time. Flat earthers – who include the rapper B.o.B. and reality television person Tila Tequila – will be able to enjoy restaurants, swimming pools and perhaps even an artificial surf wave.
There’s just one problem for those seeking to celebrate the flatness of the Earth. The navigational systems cruise ships, and other vessels, use rely on the fact that the Earth is not flat: theoretically puncturing the beliefs of the flat Earth crowd.


“Ships navigate based on the principle that the Earth is round,” said Henk Keijer, a former cruise ship captain who sailed all over the globe during a 23-year career.
“Nautical charts are designed with that in mind: that the Earth is round.”
Keijer, who now works as a forensic marine expert for Robson Forensic, said the existence of GPS, the global positioning system, alone is proof that the Earth is a sphere, not a flat disc. GPS relies on 24 main satellites which orbit the Earth to provide positional and navigational information.
“The reason why 24 satellites were used is because on the curvature of the Earth,” Keijer said.
“A minimum of three satellites are required to determine a position. But someone located on the other side of the Earth would also like to know their position, so they also require a certain number of satellites.


“Had the Earth been flat, a total of three satellites would have been enough to provide this information to everyone on Earth. But it is not enough, because the Earth is round.”
While there are different theories within the Flat Earth community, the core belief is the Earth is flat. The FEIC claims that after “extensive experimentation, analysis, and research”, its adherents came to believe the Earth is not a sphere.
A common model offered for the exact topography of the Earth is that it is a large disk, surrounded by “an ice wall barrier” – Antarctica.
The Flat Earth Society, which is not connected to the FEIC, has suggested that “the space agencies of the world” have conspired to fake “space travel and exploration”.


“This likely began during the cold war,” the Flat Earth Society says. “The USSR and USA were obsessed with beating each other into space to the point that each faked their accomplishments in an attempt to keep pace with the other’s supposed achievements.”
The FEIC did not respond to requests for more information on the Flat Earth cruise. The organization could potentially try to staff the cruise ship with a crew which does not think the Earth is round, but Keijer said that would be difficult.
“I have sailed 2 million miles, give or take,” Keijer said.
“I have not encountered one sea captain who believes the Earth is flat.”
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Make your own decision; as for those of us at Maritime Maunder who have been to sea, navigated with GPS (among other methods), and have yet to "fall off the edge," we'll stick with the "big blue ball" theory.

Until next time, 
                                                  Fair winds,
                                                                Old Salt