Thursday, April 30, 2015


30 April 2015: In 2000, the late Steve Fossett set a record for the fastest passage in a sailing craft to from Newport Rhode Island to Bermuda. On April 20 of this year, that record fell when LENDING CLUB made the same run, clocking an average speed of 27 kts (about 32 MPH)! 

Now, in fairness, Lending Club is not your everyday sail boat - or even a participant in the bi-annual Newport Bermuda race; nope, not even a little bit. She is a 105' maxi-trimaran. Take a look:

Yep, 105' of speed, and on this run (I'll give you the link to the video in a second) she posted a top speed of over 40 kts!

Now I suppose you want to know what her time was. OK - here you are. Sit down before you read this. Oh wait - first a comparison. The usual time for the racers in the Newport Bermuda race is around four days - give or take 12 hours. Lending Club managed it in under 24 hours! Yep, 23H 9m 52sec! Now that's fast!

Here's a link to the video they made, courtesy of Lending Club and

Lending Club's Record run to Bermuda 

So there you have it friends, an amazing feat. Yep it's quicker to fly, but not nearly exciting!
                                       Fair Winds,
                                          Old Salt

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


28 April 2015:  In my last offering - the Evolution of the frigate - I mentioned that the LCS - the Littoral Combat Ship - was something less than the success hoped for by the Navy and the design team. In fact, I think I called it a dismal failure. That comment caught some flak and we received a little "push back" on it. I now will offer some commentary as to why I made the remark and which new ship is far superior and should not have been cancelled to fund the LCS.
While the Littoral Combat Ship is ultra modern looking, remarkably fast, shallow draft (relatively) and requires a smaller crew, it did not measure up to the various tasks to which it was intended. The plan was to equip the vessel with "mission packages" which are an exchangeable cluster of weapons and equipment which could be fitted in less than 96 hours in port, effectively reconfiguring the ship for a different mission profile. Of course, should the needs change while the ship is at sea ... While that sounds great, in fact it has taken over two weeks to change the mission package and reconfigure the ship and its crew for the new assignment.

Things that seem too good to be true usually are. A weapons system designed for a dozen different missions makes them good at none - each is a compromise. But the concept - at least on paper - was brilliant. With the 3 packages, we get 3 ships for the price of one ($450 million) and are able to replace a bunch of small vessels getting a bit long in the tooth. But ... there's always a "but," right? So, what's the problem? Well, design flaws wound up costing the government $780 million for one hull and 2 packages. And on top of that, the ship is too lightly armed to fight anything it's likely to encounter.

The ship can't handle serious rough weather, nor has it the ability to withstand an explosion (like often happens in combat). Additionally, back when the DOD first realized things weren't going quite as planned, they contracted for another ship, in fact, a different design, also called the LCS. That one was worse, it seems. Hmmm. There was relatively little oversight in the construction/testing part of the process by the Navy which probably accounts for the fact that too many of the systems failed. And then, the DOD cut the projected "buy" from 52 to 32 ships, at the same time, authorizing the Navy to identify a "more capable and lethal small surface combatant ..." Witness further that in eleven years into the program, there are only 6 six ships built. It is time, we think, to admit defeat in this project and move on ... or reopen the Zumwalt Class of DDG 1000, a design that actually was a success, but scrapped for cost reasons. 

The DDG-1000, the Zumwalt class cost nearly $2.5 billion each to build - but it  works. They cut off the program after 3 ships to build the LCS; now, with that program curtailed, perhaps it's time to reconsider the DDG-1000 class even though it costs more. What good is a ship that while fast and shallow, would be unlikely to survive in a combat situation, will likely be set up with the wrong "mission package" (Murphy's Law, you know, can not be ignored!), when there are available alternatives that do work.

Zumwalt DDG-1000
 While this forum was never intended to be an "op-ed" piece, occasionally, it happens that I need to either vent or defend a position. So forgive me, but this is one of those times! By the way, we just hit 4000 viewers! I guess we must be doing something right!

Until next time, 
                                   Fair Winds,
                                          Old Salt

Friday, April 24, 2015


24 April 2015: Probably one of the most often mis-used words in the maritime lexicon is frigate. And I am not talking about what you say what you're fed up and about to walk away! No, we're talking ships, here - remember this is a maritime blog. So what's the story with frigates and how have they evolved since the Age of Sail. I am sure that some of the great historical frigate captains of days long gone by would be hard pressed to recognize one today - or even imagine what these ships are capable of. So lets take a look:
First - an over view - start to end - of what we're going to talk about. Here's an early version (think 17th century

And here's the other end of the spectrum:(think now.)

Quite a change, but interestingly, while sometimes even the name has changed, much of the mission of the frigate is unchanged. 

The frigate was the workhorse of the sailing navy. As such, the ships designated frigates were used as fast scouts, messengers, and agile fighting ships capable of taking on larger, more ponderous vessels, often with more guns and longer range. They were heavily armed (relative to their size) and capable of remaining at sea for long periods. While "ship-to-ship" gun battles have pretty much disappeared from the operations of most of the world's navies - they use missiles which give them a "stand off" capability rather than slugging it out toe to toe, as it were - the modern frigates do fight, they do act as the "eyes" of the fleet from time to time (though planes often so a faster job of it!) and they are superior now for protecting capital ships (like carriers) which don't have the agility to defend themselves. The early frigates were built in the early 17th century to defend merchant shipping from pirates. Their guns were carried on a lower deck, out of the weather, and with their considerable weight, adding to the stability of the vessel. These vessels were ship-rigged meaning they carried three masts with square sails on all of them, triangular shaped jibs forward, and a trapazoid-shaped "driver" with a gaff on the after, or mizzen, mast. The ships evolved, adding more guns and more sails (still only three masts, though) but retaining the original 4:1 length to beam (width) ratio. This design gave them a superior turn speed. By early 19th century, frigates carried many guns - 38+ if English and 44+ if American. And they were beautiful to behold.

USS Constitution engaging HMS Java
Modern replica of l'Hermione (France)       

By time of the American Civil War, steam propulsion was added, but they kept the sails as the ships could not carry enough wood or later, coal, to sustain a long cruise. 

The last ship built for the U.S. Navy that was solely wind driven was the sloop of war USS Constellation, currently a museum ship moored in Baltimore MD.
USS Constellation in Baltimore
Note that I did not call her a frigate. She is not, in spite of the efforts of many in the mid and late 20th century to convince a gullible audience that she was in fact a sistership to USS Constitution in Boston. It was later proven to all, and admitted by the management of the ship, that she was in fact not that, but held her own claim to fame as the last wind propelled ship built for the navy (1854). 

 By the early 20th century, steam propulsion and iron ships were de rigueur. Frigates gave way to "destroyers" which filled the same mission profile - fast, heavily armed (still with guns) and with a refueling at sea capability, able to remain at sea for long periods. The WWI "four pipers" were considered "disposable" to all but their crews and continued in use in early WWII. They were coal fired. Then a newer breed of destroyer, only 2 stacks, but boasting an oil-fired, steam driven plant and able to make 36 knots, came to be as the work horse of the navy. Shore bombardment, carrier protection, anti-aircraft abilities, and anti-submarine weapons and detection gear all made them the backbone of the fleet. And thankfully (to those of us who served in them) were no longer considered "disposable." By the early 60's, a "new" breed of ship began to appear as a replacement for the venerable destroyer: the frigate! Imagine that! 
They were bigger - now taking the place of the light cruisers of WWII. And pretty soon, the destroyers began to disappear, phased out of active service. 

Here is one of my favorite images. USS Constitution, the oldest frigate in the Navy, under her own sail power, being escorted by the then-newest frigate in the Navy while the Navy flight team, the Blue Angels, passed overhead. The occasion was Constitution's 200th birthday!

So, progress continued - everyone thought they had a better idea, a better "mousetrap" if you will, and the design continued to evolve. In my opinion (as a former destroyerman) not always for the better. Guns were replaced with missiles, part of the the mission was replaced by aircraft, and the original concept of design specification disappeared. Even the name evolved, although there are still frigates sailing the oceans of the world. Here is what the true modern day frigate looks like:
And remember when I mentioned the original purpose was to defend against pirates? Guess what's being used off the coast of Somalia these days? Yep! Frigates! 

And then came someone's bright idea, the Littoral Combat Ship. It has been a dismal failure, unable to fulfill the mission - or even keep running. But billions were spent on it, so keep using it! Big advantage, they tell me, is that it carries a much smaller crew. Ok, fine!

 So, now you know. And perhaps the real meaning of frigate is now clear! 

I will leave you with that hope. And wish you all, until next time,
                           Fair Winds
                              Old Salt

Sunday, April 19, 2015


19 April 2015: Back in October - the 8th, it was, I wrote a piece on the effort of people in France to build a replica of Hermione, the ship that brought the Marquis de Lafayette to this country back in 1780 to provide military and financial support to Washington's beleaguered Revolutionary War effort. The original Hermione set sail from France on 21 March and arrived in Boston 38 days later, a pretty decent passage.

The reproduction, built in the traditional method of ship building, mostly by volunteers, departed La Rochelle France yesterday, 18th April, headed for Virgina first, then other ports (see below). She has a volunteer crew, with of course, a bunch of professional tall ship mariners aboard, and will spend most of the summer along the East Coast of North America. It must have been an astonishing event for the people of France to see the culmination of 20 years of brainstorming, fundraising, and hard work, sailing out to sea! 

Fireworks and a large spectator fleet gave the beautiful vessel a proper send off as she headed out with a fair breeze filling her 2,600 square yards of linen sails. Her cannons roared out their approval of the good wishes.

Her schedule, while in the U.S. will be as shown below and as many international tall ships will gather to welcome her in many of the ports, it should prove to be a grand and glorious spectacle reminiscent of the many convocations of tall ships that celebrated the bicentennial of the War of 1812 here in America. 

Her itinerary as of this date:  

5-7 June, Yorktown, VA
9 June, Mt. Vernon, VA
10-12 June, Alexandria, VA
16-17 June, Annapolis MD
19-21 June, Baltimore, MD
25-28 June, Philadelphia, PA
1-4 July, New York NY
6-7 July, Greenport, NY
8-9 July, Newport RI                

10-12 July, Boston, MA
14-15 July, Castine, ME
18 July, Lunenburg, NS

Of course, these dates are weather dependent and it is possible that there might be a few changes. But I am sure your local papers and news outlets will be right on top of this story (yeah, right!) and should I hear of anything noteworthy, I will try to remember to post it here.  

So, for now, that will do it on Hermione, and to her and her stalwart crew, (and you dear reader) I wish 
                                                    Fair Winds,
                                          Old Salt

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


15 April 2015:  Everyone probably knows the story of the sinking of the Titanic - movies, books and magazine articles have covered it thoroughly. But there are always a few things that slip through the seine and thus are overlooked. Instead of writing yet another article on that famous ship's sinking, I thought it might be more interesting to have a look at a few fact that frequently go unnoticed.But first, a photo of the mighty lady herself, the then largest ship in the world.

She sailed under the aegis of RMS - Royal Mail Steamer - which functionally gave her the protection of the Crown i.e. an attack on this ship was essentially an attack on England.  

Her aftermost funnel was not a funnel at all, but simply an air vent added to make her look more impressive!

Her lookouts -at that time, they hung out in a "crows nest" above the bridge - did NOT have the use of binoculars. It has been postulated that had they had them, they might have not struck the iceberg that sunk them. The lapse of time between the sighting and the collision was less than a minute.

Now: what really happened - and no, I was not there! The time of this disaster occurred at a time of flux in how ships were controlled and what orders were given to effect a change of course. Previously, in the age of sail, helm orders were thought of in the way a tiller worked. If you steer a boat/ship with a tiller and you want to change course to starboard, you move the tiller to port which in turn moves the rudder and the ship turns to starboard. And vice versa. Those orders, by the way, were called "tiller orders" (wow! the things we learn!) Once the age of steam arrived, changes in the protocol began to surface and if you wanted the ship to move to starboard, you said turn your wheel (helm) to starboard. And the ship would then turn to the right (starboard). Those orders were ... and still are ... called "rudder orders." Ok, what does this have to do with Titanic scraping along the iceberg? The helmsman was new; he was trained in the new form of command where starboard your helm meant turn the ship to starboard. The officer of the deck who gave the order was from the "old school" - and well, the rest, as they say is history. The watch officer gave the order to "starboard your helm" expecting the ship would turn to port. But the helmsman, being a relative newbie, did just what was ordered: he turned his helm to starboard and the ship responded by turning to starboard. And so turned toward the berg.

Supposedly the very iceberg that Titanic hit

She sank 2 hours and 40 minutes later, killing 1500 people due mainly to the fact that there was a paucity of life boats. She carried 20 boats which would hold some 1200 people; there were 2223 souls on board including the crew. She  was capable of carrying 64 lifeboats. Once below the surface, it has been figured that the ship hit bottom about 15 minutes later at 12,500' down.

 The wreck was found by Bob Ballard using a deep submergence remotely operated sub in 1985. Artifacts have been recovered, and surprisingly, given the extraordinary depth of the ship, the wreck has actually suffered from plunderers!

So, for now, friends, I wish you                             

                            Fair Winds

                              old Salt

Monday, April 13, 2015


13 April 2015: As promised in the previous post, here is the story of the second Confederate raider - the one with the longest and probably the most successful record of all the raiders fighting for the South: CSS Shenandoah.

Built on the banks for the River Clyde in Scotland, she was launched in August of 1863 as Sea King, a British commercial transport vessel for the Asian tea trade and  troop transport.

As happened with Alabama, the ship sailed, ostensibly for India, on a trading voyage and was followed closely out by the supply steamer, Laurel. In the latter was the Confederate officers and the nucleus of her military crew along with naval guns, munitions, and ships stores. And as with Alabama, she sailed toward the Azores, but unlike the other ship, the transformation into a warship  occurred at sea. Her commander would be Lieutenant James Waddell and even with volunteers from both the supply ship and the original crew of Sea King, Waddell was barely able to bring the crew to half strength.

He sailed around the Cape of Good Hope to Australia, capturing a prize in the Indian Ocean and once in Australia, took on more supplies and additional crew.
With orders to seek out and 'utterly destroy' commerce from the North, Waddell chose to sail the Cape of Good Hope-to-Australia route as well as pay a visit to  the American Pacific whale fishery - not unlike David Porter in Essex in 1813 did to the British. He was marginally successful, burning 4 whalers, before he headed north to the Aleutians and then on to the Bering Sea. There he managed to capture and burn 11 more ships.

In June 1865, he learned from the captain of a prize ship that the Civil War had ended with Lee's surrender that previous April. Waddell would have none of it, in spite of the offer of a San Francisco newspaper from 10 weeks before which talked about Lee's flight from Richmond. He went on to capture and burn 10 more whalers in just 7 hours, all below the Arctic Circle. On 2 August, Waddell finally learned the truth, believed it, and lowered the Confederate flag. He then proceeded to transform his ship into an ordinary merchant vessel, the guns struck below. He determined that to avoid trial in a U.S. court for piracy, he would surrender the ship in Liverpool. He was required to fly his Confederate flag while entering, as the pilot refused to guide the ship in without a flag. He sailed up the Mersey under Confederate colors. Once there, Waddell surrendered his ship to the captain of HMS Donegal on 6 November 1865, lowering for the last time, his Confederate flag.

 The British government released the crew, many of whom were English, unconditionally.

The ship was later sold to the Sultan of Zanzibar, and was lost in a hurricane on 15 April 1872.

As a hint of what's just over the horizon, this week marks the anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic. Perhaps we'll have a look at that vessel next.

Until then, 
                         Fair Winds.
                             old Salt

Friday, April 10, 2015


10 April 2015: I realized, only after pushing the "publish" button on the last post, that it was our 100th post! I suspect that some of you (like me) never thought we'd get to 100, but we have and I am told that some people are enjoying them. We have passed 3500 readers and keep adding countries to the growing list of participants. I would love to hear how some of you in far away places found Maritime Maunder; I find it amazing, but incredible, that people in Russia, India, Turkey, and Taiwan, France, and Switzerland have signed in to read it. Email me or use "comment" on blog site to tell me how you found us and what you think! (Email is
So for today: the American Civil War ended yesterday 9th April, but in 1865, with the surrender of the Confederacy to the Union at Appomattox VA. But what many don't know is that there were several very effective Confederate "raiders" sailing the seas and laying waste to Union shipping, but commercial and naval. Two of the more famous - notorious? - were Shenandoah and Alabama.
CSS Alabama
CSS Shenandoah
Today, we'll talk about the raider Alabama and in our next post, we'll tell you the tale of Shenandoah, probably one of the most famous privateers ever.
So ALABAMA: She was a "screw sloop-of-war" (that meant she had sails but also a propeller (as opposed to a side wheel or stern wheel). Built secretly in England for the Confederate Navy, she served admirably as a raider of merchant and naval vessels belonging to Union interest for her two year life. For the English to avoid violating their somewhat tacit neutrality, she was built as "hull number 290", launched on 15 May 1862 as Enrica and slipped out to sea in late July. A civilian captain and crew sailed her to the Azores where Capt Raphael Semmes assumed command, put aboard a naval crew, reconfigured her with guns, more coal, and a modified rig. In three days of round the clock work by the civilian crew, the new naval crew, and the crew of the Confederate supply ship (brought over the guns, coal, and new crew), CSS Alabama was born, named a Confederate Raider, and went to sea. Her armament consisted of 6 broadside 32-pounder cannon and 2 pivot guns, one a 100-pounder 7 inch bore (rifled) and the other an 8" smoothbore. Both were mounted on the center line. She was 220' long and displaced 1050 tons and was capable of speed of 13 Kts under power.
She sailed the eastern Atlantic, basically raising Hell with Union merchant shipping. In January 1863, she entered the Gulf of Mexico and quickly found and sank the Union Navy side-wheeler, USS Hatteras off Galveston. She then headed south, cruising with good success off the coast of Brazil then over to Africa where she continued her depredations on merchant ships owned by Union interests. Union warships hunted unsuccessfully for this scourge of the Atlantic, but each time they saw her, the Alabama was able to sail/motor away, leaving her pursuers in the dust!
In June 1864, Alabama made port in Cherbourg France for a refit and overhaul. Semmes requested and received permission to drydock his ship. The U.S. Sloop of war USS Kearsarge arrived two days later and basically blockaded the harbor. Semmes, however, would not shirk; he sent a message to Captain Winslow in the Union ship that he intended to come out and fight within a few days, and please wait for him! They met on 19th June and maneuvered to gain an advantage. Little in the art of naval warfare had changed in the previous 50 years and positioning your ship to deliver a "raking fire" - a broadside fired into the bow or stern of the enemy and obviously decimating the deck and its people - was paramount in the minds of both captains. Alabama managed it first, and a shot from the 7" rifle into the stern of Kearsarge very nearly ended it quickly. It was pure good luck for Winslow and his crew that the shell did not explode! Unfortunately for the Confederates, their gunnery was not as accurate as the Union's and, with the benefit of the outboard chain armor on Kearsarge, the contest ended with the sinking of the Confederate raider.

Interestingly, some 41 of the Confederate survivors, including Capt Semmes, were rescued by a British yacht owned by John Lancaster named Deerhound. Lancaster spirited them away to England while a frustrated Capt Winslow, busy collecting his rescue boats, could do nothing but watch. And to add insult to injury, shunning the traditional relinquishing of the vanquished's sword, Capt Semmes flung his into the sea, further frustrating the Union commander!
In 2002, a diving expedition raised many artifacts, including the ship's bell, from the wreck of Alabama. They are now housed in the Naval History And Heritage Command conservation lab, Washington DC.

Next time, Shenandoah. Even more colorful! Until then, I wish you all

                                                    Fair Winds,
                                                         Old Salt

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


7 April 2015: The second leg of the grueling 'round the world Volvo race (sail boats, folks, not cars!) has finished with, remarkably, the boats all within minutes of each other. the Abu Dhabi entry, skippered by Ian Walker of Britain, won, again, beating the second finisher by just 32 minutes! 

Abu Dhabi boat nearing the Horn and, below, in a bit more boisterous weather!
That remarkable finish came after sailing 6776 miles through some of the wildest ocean anywhere! Second was the Spanish boat, MAPFRE, followed by the Turkish American crew in Team ALVIMEDICA. 

Sadly, the Chinese boat, DONG FENG had to withdraw from the the leg after breaking their mast just west of Cape Horn. 
 Just another day at the office!

The crews will get a few days - they restart on 19th April - to repair themselves and their boats before heading off on the 3rd leg which will finish in Newport RI in mid June... should be exciting! 

The race will conclude on 27 June in Sweden. I will try to post info as I can.

So, until the next time, I wish you calm seas and stout rigs! and 

                                       Fair Winds
                                           Old Salt


Saturday, April 4, 2015


4 April 2015: It just occurred to me that some of you might have been fooled by my posting on 1 April (April Fool's Day!) as I did receive a few bits of correspondence asking mostly about the bridge - cost, length, etc. I had meant to cry April Fools in the next post but got a bit wrapped up in the stupidity of the inexperienced sailor who took a 36' boat into the Gulf Stream off Cape Hatteras solo that I quite forgot! So, with that in mind, the post from 1 April was a JOKE. Besides, that particular species of sea dragon has not been seen for centuries, clearly a give-away of the spurious nature of the article to any who know their dragons.

So for today, another case of inexperience, stupidity, and expecting others - in this case, again, the Coast Guard - to bail you out. And thanks for some info from gCaptain and Rick Spillman's blog as well as the Associated Press.

Liana's Ransome is/was a steel hulled, shallow draft, 85' schooner-rigged tourist boat designed for day-motoring/pretend sailing in the Caribbean in fine weather. She was built at a yard in Texas in 2005.
                                         Here's what she looks like when not in extremis and though her sails are up, she is motoring, as she was designed to do. The sails are purely for looks - decoration, if you will.

Initially, the press, when they got wind of the ship in trouble off the coast of Maine, leaped in with both feet firmly mired in conjecture, referring to the vessel as a "tall ship" which she clearly is NOT.
So, wha' hoppen? Well, shipmates, gather 'round. After some work was done in Nova Scotia - interestingly, repairing the damage done in an earlier dismasting - the ship got underway to go back to the Caribbean (one would assume) under engine power. No one has offered to 'splain how she got to Canada in the first place. She was not certified to sail anywhere under only sail power. So, 12 hours out, her port engine quits followed shortly by her starboard engine and then, not surprisingly, her generator failed. While the owner/captain, Ryan Tilley, was probably not terribly surprised (money was always in short supply) he figured "Let's try setting sail!" Well, since the ship was not certified or designed to operate under sail exclusively, this idea was a disaster waiting to happen. And it did. The wind was about 30 kts - just right for a Real tall ship, but of course, Liana's Ransome was not that, was she. So when sails - made on the cheap as purely decoration - were up, they all ripped and fouled the masts. Now, they were without engine and without sails. Call the Coast Guard.
So much for the "swashbuckling adventure" advertising on their webpage! I wonder if they fired their fake one quarter-size scale models of 24-pounder cannon? Further, it was reported that that was about all their crew was qualified to do. That and serve drinks to their pirate-wannabe tourists. But in fairness, their website lists the crew as being a "colorful pirate crew in period costumes complete with cutlass and flintlock pistols..." Hmmm.


 So after the Coasties rescued the crew (who, once ashore, thought it a wonderful adventure and a lark, based on the video posted of them relating the story of their rescue!) a fishing boat took the now crewless (no, I didn't say "clueless") vessel under tow and dragged her into Kittery Point Yacht Yard in Eliot ME. Where, one might presume, she will again be repaired and perhaps will attempt the journey south one more time - on the theory that the 3rd try will be the charm!

And, so, friends, on that happy note, we will end this abbreviated series of maritime stupidity with another rousing huzzah for the overworked, under funded, United States Coast Guard! (and probably under appreciated as well!)

Until the next time,
                               Fair Winds,
                                      Old Salt

Friday, April 3, 2015


3 April 2015: It's been in the headlines: "man rescued at sea, 200 miles off Cape Hatteras." "66 Days at sea in 36' sailboat." "Coast Guard airlifts survivor at sea" Well, folks, here's the lesson for today: If you are a 37 year old man - or woman - who lives on a 36' elderly boat don't take it to sea until you learn how to sail it!
Apparently, Louis Jordan's sailing experience consisted solely of sailing (?) motoring (?) on day trips on the intercoastal and he had never, so I am told, taken the boat offshore. Sailing in the "big water" is an entirely different experience than running up and down the intercoastal - and singlehanded in a 36' sail boat offshore, is different still. 

The man and his boat,  Angel, had been missing for 66 days - he went out "to do a little sailing and some fishing" in the 3rd week of January. He was found by a German container ship this week and collected by a Coast Guard helo yesterday from his rescuer, and flown to the hospital ashore. The boat - Angel - had apparently capsized and was left adrift, possibly to become one of the many drifting obstacles in the ocean waiting for another sail boat to come to grief when they meet, probably in the dark of night.

But, God bless the German container ship and God bless our Coast Guard - always ready to save some idiot from themselves! 


So, I leave you today with a thought: if you are going to sea, know what you are doing, and let people know where you're going!

Until next time,
                                                  Fair Winds,
                                                        Old Salt


Wednesday, April 1, 2015


1 April 2015: We were out on the water the other day having a look at the beginnings of the new bridge/causeway being built between Northwest Point on Grand Cayman and the south coast of Cuba. It looks like a beautiful span; I am sorry I can't put up a picture of it, but I can't get a digital version of it easily. It will be high enough for ship traffic as well, I am told, have a tunnel under part of it, apparently not unlike the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel. There  are, I am told, plans to continue on from the north side of Cuba to Key West, should the first leg work out well. It is a big undertaking and will take a while to complete, but they tell me the first bit, Cayman to Cuba, is expected to open by the Winter of 2016 - possibly in time for Christmas travel. Likely to piss off the airlines, but maybe they'll get their acts together and improve their service. One can hope!

In any case, while we were out - actually we were on our way back to the harbor and it was beginning to get dark - we noticed an unusual disturbance in the water just ahead of us. One of my guests asked me to slow down and "let's have a look!" Bad choice. I only had time to grab one picture, but I think it's not bad. Fellow popped right up beside us, took a look, scared the wee wee out of most of us, and disappeared back into the depths. But not before grabbing poor old Charlie, who was hanging out to see better, and taking him down with him. Charlie never surfaced, poor chap!  Here's the pic:

I hope your day has been brightened a bit and wish you a happy April!

Keep smiling - it makes people wonder what you've been up to!

                                    Fair Winds,
                                        Old Salt