Tuesday, April 25, 2017


25 April 2017: Greetings again from the briney! This time it's a bit less boisterous and I am writing from the English Channel. We anticipate landing in England (from France) tomorrow AM. The seas are substantially calmer - about 6'-8' - and the wind appears to be in the area of 25kts. so all in all, a bit more pleasant than last week's wild ride! 

Since we are soon in British waters, I thought the following story regarding the wreck of a Dutch ship might be appropriate. Enjoy!

In 1740, a Dutch merchant ship called 'De Rooswijk' sank on the notorious Goodwin Sands in Kent, killing all 350 people on board.
Now, almost 280 years later, a huge research mission is being launched to salvage the enormous merchant ship.

Researchers hope that recovering the wreck will provide valuable insights into life during the Dutch Golden Age.
De Rooswijk belonged to the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and was built in 1737.
In 1740 it set sail from the Netherlands on its second voyage to the East, laden with silver ingots and coins to buy up hugely profitable spices in what is now known as Indonesia.
Yet the ship never made it to Asia as it went down just off the British coast in January 1740, with all 350 people on board drowning.
Divers have already been exploring the wreckage site near the town of Deal in Kent to unlock some of its secrets since it was discovered in 1996.

underwater view of the remains

In 2004, diver Ken Welling visited the wreck, and retrieved two complete chests and hundreds of silver bars. Several dives since have recovered hundreds of Mexican silver cobs of the 1720s and early 1730s, and transitional 'klippes' coins that date to around 1733.
Hundreds more 'pillar dollars' have also been discovered and sold at auction.

wood and silver recovered from the wreck

Today, the Dutch government announced plans to salvage the wreck so it can be fully investigated.
Maritime archaeologist Mr Martijn Manders, who will lead the research, said: 'A big part of our history lies on the bottom of the sea.'
As the wreck is being threatened by currents and a future sand extraction project there is some urgency involved.
Ms Jet Bussemaker, Dutch Minister for Education, Culture and Science said: 'The ship offers a unique look to the past. The archaeological information which we can get out of the wreck is of utmost value to interpret this period in our history.'
Mr Manders hopes that by retrieving the full inventory of the ship, a lot more secrets will be uncovered about maritime trade during the Dutch Golden Age.
He said: 'A part lies underneath the sand, where the conditions are very good.

Maritime archaeologists and students from both the UK and the Netherlands will work on the project from July to October, 24 hours a day, in shifts lasting twelve hours.

Those shifts will be arduous to say the least!
 Should more appear on this story we will endeavor to bring it to you.... should be interesting.

Until next time (and likely from the comfort of dry land and a fast(er) wifi signal!)
                                          Fair Winds,
                                                Old Salt

Thursday, April 20, 2017


20 April 2017:

Today’s post will be short as the wifi I have available is extremely limited….and the computer keeps dancing around; for clarification, I am in the Bay of Biscay on a typical day in that locale. The wind is about 50kts and the seas are running between 12 and 15 feet. Fortunately, we are in a vessel that handles the conditions well, though we are taking waves at the 10th deck level. The sun is shining which makes for some beautiful light and rainbows through the spray. 

We sailed through the very waters off Cape Trafalgar where Adm. Nelson defeated the Combined Fleet in 1805. 

dawn, just before entering the Bay of Biscay

spray on the 10th deck (above the bridge)

We recently visited the coast of Portugal and southern Spain including Portimao and Lisbon (Portugal) and Barcelona in Spain. A stop in Gibraltar gave us a good look at “the Rock” and the wonderful Barbary Apes which are not apes at all but Macaco Monkeys. What a busy harbor, a major refueling port for ships both entering and leaving the Med due to the very low price of fuel.  


The 17th century cannon guards a high point on Gibraltar - note the array of ships awaiting fuel or clearance on the coast. Interestingly, there are 4 HanJin ships which have been detained given the current situation with North Korea.

"Barbary Ape"

At Sagres on the coast of Portugal is what used to be called The End of the World; it still is, though clearly, everyone knows there is more out there beyond the Atlantic Ocean! 

Light (vis at 60 miles) at The End of The World

OK - I can't fight the elements any longer. That will do it for now and should the be more to share later, (and assuming a calmer environment!) I will offer some more hopefully interesting material. 

So, until next time,
                fair winds (and hopefully less than the 50kts we are currently enjoying!)
                                           Old Salt

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


11 April 2017: Out of the water in Dry Dock # 1 in Charlestown Navy Yard (Boston), USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) has almost completed her overhaul which happens every 20 years. We posted a couple of years ago (Yes, She was put in dry dock almost 2 years ago) the story of her "haul out" with images of her crossing the sill. Now, the Boston Globe reports she is close to complete and will be refloated in July of this year. Here's the story:

The last surviving member of the US Navy’s original class of six frigates, the Constitution will return to the waters at Charlestown Navy Yard with nearly 100 new white oak planks and more than 2,200 fresh copper sheets on its recaulked hull.  

Though the ship won’t be fully outfitted for launch until September, the Navy said the end of the drydocking is an important step in the restoration process, which is required every 20 years to keep the historic vessel from falling victim to shipworms and other marine hazards.

The Constitution, the oldest commissioned ship in the Navy, operated from 1798 to 1854, earning the nickname Old Ironsides. It captured 33 vessels and is known for three victories* against British ships during the War of 1812.

During the restoration process, the ship has remained open to visitors. From April 15 through July 10, people will be able to check out the Constitution’s top deck from Tuesday through Friday from 2:30 to 6 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Through April 14, the visiting hours are Thursday and Friday from 2:30 to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 [*ed: there actually were four: Guerrierre, Java, Cyane, and Levant, the last two being beat at the same time!]

Starting July 10 and continuing into September, deck access will be limited so workers can restore its masts and other parts of its rigging and complete the restoration project, estimated to cost between $12 million and $15 million.

The Navy yard will remain open, however, and there will still be opportunities to see presentations about the ship and to interact with the crew. The ship returns to the water July 23 at midnight. 

Margherita M. Desy, a historian with the Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston, said the project has been an opportunity to see the Constitution in its full majesty.

By exposing the area that normally sits below the water line, conservators and visitors have been able to catch a glimpse of how the four-story vessel towered over the North End when it was under construction there centuries ago, Desy said.

A view of the keel of Constitution. Officials say that about 2,200 of the 3,400 copper sheets have been replaced. 

“Every time the ship is taken out of the water and this extraordinary ship is revealed to us and our visitors . . . we once again marvel at the beauty of her design, the scale of the body of this very large warship,” Desy said. “It’s a privilege to have any opportunity to work on her and to work aboard her.”

The restoration has also given members of the public a chance to put a small mark on the ship. Many who visited the USS Constitution Museum wrote their names on sheets of copper that were later placed on the ship’s hull.

“It’s kind of fun that visitors to the museum over the past two years have literally been able to inscribe their names in history,” Desy said.

We will of course post here re-launch in July. 

For the next couple of weeks, we will be away (at sea) and will have very limited access to wifi, hence this may be the final post until May.... If possible, we will offer more, but it's not assured.

That's it for now (and maybe for a couple of weeks!)

                            Fair Winds,
                                        Old Salt