Saturday, December 24, 2016


24 December 2016: This timely verse by Robert Louis Stevenson has become a perennial favorite of many of our readers. So, in the spirit of the season and for those of you who have NOT been at sea in the northern latitudes at this time of year, here's what it's like! (and it's apparent that Mr. Stevenson has in fact, been to sea; he knows whereof he writes!)

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;
The decks were like a slide, where a seaman scarce could stand;
The wind was a nor’wester, blowing squally off the sea;
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.
They heard the surf a-roaring before the break of day’
But ‘twas only with the peep of light we saw how ill we lay.
We tumbled every hand on deck instanter, with a shout,
And we gave her the main tops’l, and stood by to go about.

All day we tacked and tacked between the South head and the North;

All day we hauled the frozen sheets, and got no further forth;
All day was cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread,
For very life and nature we tacked from head to head.

We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide race roared;
But every tack we made brought the North Head close aboard.
So’s we saw the cliff and houses and the breakers running high,
And the coastguard in his garden, with this glass against his eye.

The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam;
The good red fires were burning bright in every longshore home;
The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out;
And I vow we smelled the victuals as the vessel went about.

The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer;
For it’s just that I should tell you how (of all the days in the year)
This day of our adversity was blessed Christmas morn,
And the house above the coastguard’s was the house where I was born.

O well I saw the pleasant room, the pleasant faces there,
My mother’s silver spectacles, my father’s silver hair;
And well I saw the firelight, like a flight of homely elves,
Go dancing round the china plates that stand upon the shelves.

And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me,
Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea;
And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way,
To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessed Christmas Day.

They lit the high sea-light, and the dark began to fall.
“All hands to loose t’gallant sails,” I heard the captain call.
“By the Lord, she’ll never stand it,” our first mate, Jackson, cried.
….”It’s one way or the other, Mr. Jackson,” he replied.

She staggered to her bearings, but the sails were new and good,
And the ship smelt up to windward just as though she understood;
As the winter’s day was ending, in the entry of the night,
We cleared the weary headland, and passed below the light.

And they heaved a might breath, every soul on board but me,
As they saw her nose again pointing handsome out to sea;
But all that I could think of, in the darkness and the cold,
Was just that I was leaving home and my folks were growing old.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it. And while I am loath to predict the future, I hope there might be another posting to Maritime Maunder before the calendar changes to yet another year .... in case there is not, we at Maritime Maunder want to wish all of you a most happy, healthy, and prosperous new year. 

                             Fair winds, 
                                Old Salt

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


 20 December 2016: Sorry for the delay in a new posting - got caught up in Christmas prep and then celebrated my wife's and my 50th wedding anniversary... took a while to recover from that. But here we are, back again with a fun Christmas post that really resonates. Click the link and be sure your sound is on.....


 Hope you enjoyed it.... and thanks to the US Navy for all you do, including making great music!

Until next time,
                               Fair Winds, 
                                    Old Salt

Sunday, December 11, 2016


11 December 2016: With the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the American military bases at Pearl Harbor Hawaii just observed this past week, we thought a piece about NOAA's dive on on one of the two mini subs the Japanese Navy tried to insert into Pearl Harbor just prior to the aerial attack. Both subs were discovered and sunk outside the harbor. One was subsequently towed into deep water and scuttled; the other was not and remained in place where she was sunk. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) dove the wreck this past week and published some pictures of it....

 From NOAA:

On Wednesday, the 75th anniversary of the “date which will live in infamy,” the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer dispatched a robotic vehicle to explore two Japanese mini submarines, an event that they live-streamed.

In what marks the first US shots fired in World War II, the USS Ward fired at one mini-sub on the morning of December 7, 1941, sinking it, after it was first spotted attempting to enter the harbor, partially submerged. Ninety minutes after the Ward sunk the sub, the aerial attack by the Japanese began.  

"Until now, only a handful of explorers and scientists have seen these relics of the war in the deep sea," James Delgado, the director of maritime heritage, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, said in a statement before the dive, "but thanks to technology, anyone and everyone can now dive with us in the first live exploration of the 'midget' submarines that represent the beginning of the war in the Pacific."

“The aft ends of the torpedo tubes and mechanisms are visible through the gap at flange,” the scientists reported in a document with their observations about the sunken sub provided by NOAA. “This was for us a reminder of not only the deadly intent of the mission, but also its failure.”

Thanks to NOAA for this great offering. It is always thrilling to visit wrecks and imagine what happened... in this case, we know.

That's it for now. See you next time. 

                          Fair Winds,
                               Old Salt

PS As a matter of interest, Maritime Maunder has passed the 31,000 reader mark! No idea what has triggered the sudden interest and following, but we are not only gratified, but humbled. Thank you.