Wednesday, August 28, 2019


28 August 2019: Before we begin today's story, we would like to share a little "victory lap" with our loyal readers. The week, Maritime Maunder celebrated five years of publishing articles of (hopefully) interest to the maritime world. We have gained 95,000 readers worldwide and have brought you over 350 articles! We think it's amazing and herewith, feel entitled to a small bow! Maybe we'll hit the magical 100,000 readers by year's end! Now, on to today's posting.

Maritime Maunder has posted a number of pieces regarding the on going story of the Franklin Expedition to find the Northwest Passage in 1845. Those of you who read any of them might recall the expedition consisted of two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, both fitted out especially for an arduous voyage into the Canadian icepack. You also might recall the expedition vanished with essentially no trace and following extensive research and exploration, the two ships were found in remarkably good condition, sunk, but with no explanation of why. Divers in the frigid Canadian waters can only work a few days a year unless the weather is exceptionally good - and then only a few weeks. Exploring the wrecks under those conditions obviously will take a long time. Maritime Maunder ended previous posts with notice more would be forthcoming  as information became available.  Courtesy of National Geographic, here's the latest on their progress with HMS Terror.


What’s known is that Sir John Franklin set sail in May 1845 with a crew of 133 men and orders to discover the Northwest Passage—a goal that had eluded explorers for centuries.
Then as now, geopolitics was a driving force in Arctic exploration, with the Royal Navy wanting to secure the fabled shortcut to the Pacific ahead of the Russians, who had maritime aspirations of their own. With this in mind no expense was spared.
Franklin was given command of two state-of-the-art ships, Erebus and Terror, both equipped with stout, iron-sheathed hulls and steam engines, as well as the finest scientific equipment and enough food and supplies for three years in the high Arctic. It was one of the best equipped and best prepared expeditions ever to leave Britain’s shores.
HMS Terror in the ice

  As years passed with no word of the expedition, search parties were sent out. Over time the discovery of skeletons and discarded equipment—as well as disturbing evidence of cannibalism—made clear that the expedition had met with disaster. But how and why has remained a mystery.
A brief note found under a cairn gives a bit of the story. Dated April 1848 and signed by Francis Crozier—captain of the Terror, who by then had taken command of the expedition—it stated that the ships had been locked in ice for a year and a half, that 24 of the men were already dead—including Franklin—and that Crozier and the other survivors planned to attempt to walk overland to a remote fur-trading outpost hundreds of miles away on the Canadian mainland. None of them ever arrived.
What caused such a well-equipped expedition to go so badly wrong remains a mystery.
HMS Erebus

But in recent years the two biggest pieces of the puzzle—the ships themselves—were discovered: Erebus in 2014, lying in 36 feet of water off King William Island, and Terror two years later, found in a bay about 45 miles away, in 80 feet of water and largely intact. 
HMS Terror

Why the ships ended up so far apart, which one went down first, and why and how the ships sank are questions archaeologists hope to answer.
“There’s no obvious reason for Terror to have sunk,” says Ryan. “It wasn’t crushed by ice, and there’s no breach in the hull. Yet it appears to have sunk swiftly and suddenly and settled gently to the bottom. What happened?”
Teasing out the answers won’t be easy, even with such a bounty of artifacts. There are plans to excavate both wrecks, but it will be a slow process requiring years.
“Diving up here is extremely difficult,” says Ryan. “The water is extremely cold, making it impossible to stay down for very long, and the diving season is short—a few weeks if you’re lucky, a few days if you’re not.”
Even so, this season’s work on Terror has already provided some tantalizing clues that will help researchers develop a chronology of the disaster.
“We noticed the ship’s propeller still in place,” says Ryan. “We know that it had a mechanism to lift it out of the water during winter so that it wouldn’t be damaged by the ice. So, the fact that it’s deployed suggests it was probably spring or summer when the ship sank. So, too, does the fact that none of the skylights were boarded up, as they would have been to protect them against the winter snows.”

Bottles and dishes photographed by diver launched drones are essentially intact, perhaps an indication of a "peaceful" demise of HMS Terror.

No doubt there are a lot more answers lying beneath the sediment in those cabins, says Ryan. “One way or another, I feel confident we’ll get to the bottom of the story.”


And so the mystery continues to slowly give up it's secrets, and, given time, more answers will appear and archeologists and historians will understand what transpired in the late 1840's. 

When we learn more,  we will bring it to you. 
Until next time, 

                           Fair Winds
                            Old Salt

Monday, August 19, 2019


19 August 2019: Ready for a ghost story? Cue the music .... While not the first occasion of this happening, it is surely rare enough to attract some attention. 

A huge freighter, presumed lost, ran aground on a sandbar near Thongwa township in Myanmar’s Yangon region after disappearing almost a decade previously. Local fishermen were stunned to witness the reappearance of this “ghost ship,” tattered and time-worn but bearing no evidence of its journey since going off the radar.
Most mysteriously, the freighter carried no cargo or any trace of its original crew members.

Neighboring countries had firmly believed that the container ship, named “Sam Ratulangi PB 1600,” was lost to the depths of the ocean. Fishermen reported the baffling reappearance before bravely boarding and inspecting the ship for clues. The navy, coast guard, and police joined in the hunt on the massive 177-meter-long freighter weighing in at an estimated 26,510 tons.
 “No crew or cargo was found on the ship,” said Thongwa municipality MP Ne Win Yangon, as quoted by the Myanmar Times. “It was quite puzzling how such a big ship turned up in our waters,” he continued. “The authorities are keeping a watch on it.”
After a detailed investigation, however, Myanmar officials found the answers they were looking for.
According to ABC7, the ship was being towed to a salvage yard in Bangladesh when the tugboat lost control during a storm. Broken tugboat cables were still attached to the freighter when it grounded. Myanmar navy representatives backed up the idea that the ship was being towed, reporting that “two cables were found at its head,” said the BBC.
Bangladesh was the likely destination. The country has a significant ship-breaking industry; hundreds of commercial freighters are scrapped in Chittagong every single year, and the Sam Ratulangi was probably destined for the same fate.
Based on clues from the navy’s coastal radar, navy crew scoured the waters for a tugboat near the site of the washed-up ghost ship Sam Ratulangi, and found one. A tugboat vessel named “Independence,” said Straits Times, was carrying 13 Indonesian crew members about 50 miles from Yangon’s shores.
The 13 crew members offered up some illuminating information. The Independence had been towing the Sam Ratulangi toward a salvage factory in Bangladesh two weeks earlier. However, some of the ship’s cables detached in a bout of bad weather and the crew decided to leave the battered freighter behind.
The 18-year-old Sam Ratulangi was last spotted off the coast of Taiwan in 2009, and bore the flag of Indonesia.
The Burmese Navy inspected the ship on August 30, 2018, and discovered significant damage including rust and a huge split in the hull from having been beached on a sandbar for several days.
According to the Independent, the Sam Ratulangi is not the first ghost ship that has haunted Asian waters. In recent years, a number of mysterious vessels have been identified drifting off the shores of Japan. In some cases, the corpses of crew members were found on board; in others, the ships were deserted.
The Sam Ratulangi, however, is the first of its size to have emerged so mysteriously after so long lost at sea.

So, keep an eye peeled. One never knows when another ghost will appear out of the mists!

Until next time,
                                       Fair winds, 
                                         Old Salt

Monday, August 12, 2019


12 August 2019: OK - not everyone has heard of "square" waves and many who have just dismiss the concept as a joke or a myth, like sea dragons, monsters, and the Bermuda Triangle. Well, friends, thanks to, here is photographic (and not "photoshopped") proof.  Not just amazing, but kind of scary as well,if you are out on the water, or swimming in the sea. 

Square Waves Are an Actual Thing — and If You See Them, You Should Stay Away From the Water

The phenomenon is thought to have caused many shipwrecks over the years.

Like sand on the beach and a breeze in the air, waves are an expected and welcome part of any trip to the sea. They’re fun to splash in, soothing to listen to, and thrilling to ride, if surfing’s your thing.

But anyone who’s ever seen The Perfect Storm or The Poseidon Adventure knows that not all waves are so friendly. And unfortunately, the ones that might cause danger don’t all come with a glaring warning sign on them.

That’s the case with the beautiful phenomenon of a cross sea. Formed both in the open ocean and nearer to coastlines, the rare event happens when wind from two separate weather systems collides, causing waves to move in competing directions. When the wave systems intersect, it creates a grid-like pattern in the sea, reminiscent of squares on a chessboard.

When on land, the unusual sight is cause for a photo opp. But while the waves might seem like they’re moving gently along, it’s definitely not something you’d want to be caught in. That’s because cross seas are notorious for creating powerful rip tides that are difficult to escape from. (Imagine having to dodge waves from both sides at one time while swimming.) According to the European Space Agency, cross seas are also thought to have caused a large number of shipwrecks over the years, with waves that can reach nearly 10 feet high.

While the unique wave patterns can occur anywhere, they tend to stick closer to shore and hang around for just a short moment. Isle de RĂ©, an island off the west coast of France, however, is said to have a better chance of seeing the rare squares due to its geology. So, if you’re hoping to witness this fascinating scene in person, you might want to head to Europe (and keep your eyes peeled at your hometown beach, too).
Just remember to stay out of the water.

Interestingly, Isle de Re is the site of some major boat building operations as well as the shipyard where the reproduction frigate Hermione was built.

So now you have been warned! 

Until next time,
                                Fair Winds (without square waves, please!)

                                    Old Salt