Thursday, December 23, 2021


 23 December 2021: Last week, I mentioned our Christmas tradition is a two part posting and here is the 2nd part. This marvelous poem is clearly the result of someone who has experienced the joy of being at sea in unpleasant winter weather and knows the dangers and discomforts of it. Enjoy!




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 mighty 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.                             


And with that stirring bit of doggerel, we want to wish all of you a most joyous holiday season and hope you stay safe and warm!

Until next time!

                                              Fair Winds, 

                                                        Old Salt 



Saturday, December 18, 2021


18 December 2021: Here at Maritime Maunder, wehave a couple of traditional and seasonal posts which our readers seem to enjoy. The week of Christmas we post this U TUBE music video - which is fun for everyone - and on the weekend of Christmas itself (or the closest weekend to Christmas) we post a wonderful reflection in verse of a young man gone to sea. So, without further ado, let the fun begin!

Click on arrow to play and be sure your speakers are on!


Enjoy and happy Christmas to all of you who celebrate it!

Until next time,      

                                      Fair Winds, 

                                           Old Salt


Tuesday, December 14, 2021


 14 December 2021 : Hello friends! Sorry the for the delay in posting this week - the past weekend (when I usually try to get these done) was a bit hectic with some major surgery, dental surgery, and some stomach issues - all in the same three day period! But all is well now and we'll get you caught up. 

The Battle of Trafalgar occurred in 1805 and for those of you unfamiliar with the particulars of it, we offer the following - very concise - history lesson. The British fleet, led by Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, took on the combined French and Spanish fleets off the coast of Cape Trafalgar on the Southwest coast of Spain. Nelson put up the quickly famous signal, "England expects every man to do his duty"and led his fleet to cut the enemy line. The tactic was successful and England, after some serious losses, carried the day. Sadly, the biggest loss England experienced was the death of Admiral Nelson, killed by a sniper aloft in the rig of one of the French ships. He was shipped home in a cask of spirits and buried in the biggest funeral procession ever seen in London - before or since. His flagship, HMS Victory, still exists, albeit "on the hard" (in a drydock) and without her topmasts. (Victory is the oldest Navy ship in the world. USS Constitution is the oldest warship still afloat)  But, she is open to visitors in the Royal Dockyards, Portsmouth, England, and people can see the exact spot where Nelson was shot and subsequently expired. Worth a visit for sure!

The subject of our story, HMS Implacable, was a French ship which survived the Battle but was captured by the British after Trafalgar. She was just five years into her life. Here's the story, from the British post:


 The Trafalgar survivor that lasted until 1949 before being scuttled | Nostalgia

HMS Implacable was a 74-gun third rate of the Royal Navy.

However, she was originally the French navy's Téméraire-class ship-of-the-line Duguay-Trouin, launched in 1800.

She survived the Battle of Trafalgar five years later only for the British to capture her at the subsequent Battle of Cape Ortegal.

Remarkably Implacable survived the Second World War. Still, the Admiralty scuttled her by an explosive charge on December 2, 1949.

HMS Implacable around 1930 in Portsmouth Harbour

 A fireboat towed her from Portsmouth Harbour to a spot east of the Isle of Wight and she sank into Saint Catherine's Deep, about five miles from Ventnor.

A French warship was in attendance to render honours.

Implacable  was by then the second oldest ship of the navy after HMS Victory, and there were heavy protests against her disposal.

However, given post-war austerity the government decided against restoring her, which was estimated at £150,000 with another £50,000 for re-rigging.


Sometimes, reality affects what we'd like to do - or in this case - hold onto. Maintaining a ship of that age is incredibly expensive and in post war England, there was little left over after pursuing the war for "nice to have" ships!

Until next week, 

                                     Fair winds, 

                                                   Old Salt

Sunday, December 5, 2021


5 December 2021: Where has this year gone!? 26 days til a new year, 20 days until Christmas. Seems like we were just last week sitting on the beach and sailing our boats. Wearing bathing suits (Yes, I realize that some of you may not be in cold weather, but here in the northeast, it's surely not bathing suit weather! (And yes, I know some of you are "frost biters" sailing throughout the winter months,, but for most of us, boating is a warm weather pleasure!) 

On a positive note, I am pleased, amazed, and humbled to report that Maritime Maunder has attained over 130,000 - 130,350 to be exact - readers. Thank you for your attention and I will continue to try and post interesting maritime items of general interest (to the maritime world)!

Today's post is of general interest and of equal import to flyers as well as those who go to sea: the use of the word MAYDAY. Some years ago, I recall reporting a couple of incidents here on the Atlantic Coast of people hoaxing the Coast Guard with a "mayday" call. They were ultimately caught and hopefully now enjoying life a bit poorer and looking through bars.


In May 2020, the pilot of Pakistan International Airlines Flight PK 8303 reported technical problems and uttered the dreaded "mayday" alert. "We have lost two engines. Mayday, mayday, mayday," were the pilot's last words, according to Business Insider. Ninety-seven people perished.

"Mayday!" is an international distress call used by airplane pilots, boat captains and some emergency response personnel. The U.S. Coast Guard deals with roughly 25,000 distress calls every year, some of which involve the "mayday" code.

The signal arose just after World War I, as air traffic between Britain and mainland Europe increased dramatically. All nearby nations needed an internationally understood signal that would alert authorities to urgent aircraft problems.

Why not just use the standard "SOS" call that navy captains used when they were in trouble? Well, ships communicated through telegraph using Morse code, and this technology made "SOS" (three dots, three dashes, three dots) unmistakable. By contrast, aircraft pilots used radio calls, and "SOS," owing to its consonants, could be misheard as other letters, like "F."

 Frederick Stanley Mockford, a senior radio officer in London, was put in charge of finding an appropriate code word. He reasoned that because so much of the air traffic flew between Croydon and Le Bourget Airport in Paris, it might make sense to use a derivative of a French word.

He came up with "mayday," the French pronunciation of "m'aider" ("help me"), which itself is a distilled version of "venez m'aider," or "come help me." The U.S. formally adopted "mayday" as a distress signal in 1927.

Due to radio interference and loud ambient noise, pilots and captains are told to repeat the word three times: "Mayday, mayday, mayday." The repetition also serves to distinguish the transmission from others that simply refer to the mayday call.

 Given its importance, most people respect the mayday signal and use it only when absolutely necessary. Sadly, the Coast Guard occasionally deals with hoax calls, owing in large part due to the virtually untraceable VHF radio signals it uses to receive distress signals. As a result, hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless man-hours may be wasted trying to rescue people who were never in danger. People who abuse this system can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined $250,000.

"Mayday" is the signal that there's an urgent and life-threatening situation in progress. However, operators can also fall back on, "pan-pan," which means you have an urgent situation that's not immediately putting lives at risk – for instance, your boat ran out of fuel and you need assistance.


As a  final reminder, please think before you grab that mic and start hollering "mayday" when you've run out of gas or beer. It's for use in dire emergency when lives are on the line.

 Until next time friends. And thanks for the interest in our blog!

                                     Fair Winds, 

                                             Old Salt