Thursday, December 21, 2023


 21 December 2023: Well, friends, we've reached the end - for this year - and we look forward to a bright shiny new one (hopefully).  This is a perennial favorite - of mine, for sure, and from what I have gathered, from a good number of you. Robert Louis Stevenson surely does have a way with words! We can feel the frozen lines, the cold wind and spray, the frustration at rounding the headland, and the pain this young man felt at leaving his family. 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.


Powerful words and so evocative for any who have been to sea during the winter months....

We here at Maritime Maunder want to wish all of our readers (who celebrate it) a most joyous Christmas and the best of everything in the new year. Stay safe, and be healthy!

Until next time (next year!)

                                               Fair Winds,

                                                          Old Salt



Friday, December 15, 2023


 15 DECEMBER 2023: Middle of the month - 2 weeks to a new (and hopefully better) year and more cold weather coming... and off we go with a traditional and perennial favorite of Maritime Maunder readers (or so I am told). Courtesy of the United States Navy Band:


click this link:

(it may require a couple of "clicks")


We'll be back with the traditional Christmas at Sea poem in a week or so.... 

Until next time,

                                           Fair Winds,

                                                    Old Salt

Saturday, December 2, 2023


 2 December 2023: Here we are in December already; Christmas and the new year just around the corner. And then, 2024! Yikes! And a further "yikes" - Maritime Maunder has now passed 180,000 readers! As our British friends might say, "Egads!" Thanks so much to all of you!

Before we get into today's offering, a correction to the last post (on the Spanish treasure ship off Columbia): the estimated value of the treasure is $20 billion, not the $40 billion stated in the post. Where that came from, I have no idea but at least we have corrected it, in case any of you are planning to seek out the wreck and recover the treasure, we are sorry to have misled you! For only $20 billion, probably not worth it! 

And speaking of wrecks, we have posted in the past about the discovery of the British ship sunk off Newport Rhode Island the struggle to identify it; is it HMB Endeavour (Cap't Cook's ship that sailed through the Pacific, discovering a host of islands and ultimately, Australia. She was subsequently given over to the Royal Navy for use during the American Revolution and renamed HMB Lord Sandwich) or is it a sister ship? The following combined (and edited) from ABC Australia and the BBC.


'New evidence' found in mystery of where Captain Cook's HMB Endeavour shipwreck lies, National Maritime Museum says

Australian maritime scientists have doubled down on claims a shipwreck off the US coast is Captain Cook's Endeavour, which he famously sailed while exploring the South Pacific.

reproduction of Endeavour

 A pump-well and section of the wreck's bow further provide evidence as to the identity of the ship, the Australian National Maritime Museum said.

The museum first declared the wreck located in Newport Harbour, Rhode Island, to be the Endeavour in February 2022 following decades of archaeological examination.

However, the claims were shot down by US experts also examining the ship, who said that despite finds "consistent with what might be expected of the Endeavour" there was not yet indisputable data to support the claim.

Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project executive director Kathy Abbass said a "legitimate report" on the wreck's identity would be released when the group's study was complete.

But the museum said there had been no further dissenting responses to its claims that the vessel was the Endeavour in the past two years, and its final archaeological report would be released in 2024.

Most recently, the discovery of the vessel's pump-well allowed museum maritime archaeologists Kieran Hosty and James Hunter to compare it to plans of the Endeavour generated during a British Admiralty survey of the vessel in 1768.

According to the museum, the positions of the surviving pump-shaft stump and pump-well partitions on the wreck aligned perfectly with those in the archival document.

Having compared the wreck site to the historical plans, archaeologists were also able to accurately predict the location of the ship's bow, where they found another convincing piece of evidence.

A distinctive "scarph" joint in the surviving keel timber allowed the team to take further measurements of the wreck, providing another match to the historical British documents.

The design of the scarph itself, which was unusual for vessels of that era, was also an exact match for the form and size of the joint on the Endeavour's plans, the museum said.

A survey of 40 18th-century ship plans showed just one other matched the Rhode Island wreck — that of the Marquis of Rockingham, built in 1770 by the same shipwright that produced the Endeavour.

Maritime Museum director and chief executive Daryl Karp said the finds further supported Australian researchers' claims of the Endeavour's identity.

"The additional research done by our maritime archaeologists that led to the identification of the pump well, which in turn enabled clarity on the final physical position of the wreck and the keel-stem scarph joint, provides further evidence as to the identity of the wreck," she said.


The Endeavour was renamed Lord Sandwich and sunk by British forces during the American War of Independence in 1778, accounting for its possible final resting location.

Maritime Museum director and chief executive Daryl Karp said the finds further supported Australian researchers' claims of the Endeavour's identity.

'The museum of course also acknowledges the work of the team from the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project, and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission for their assistance and oversight over many years,' she said.

Time may be running out on full confirmation of the ship's identity after a report in August 2022 suggested the ship is being devoured by shipworms


Sounds like they might have got it right! Though with so little of the ship left, we are not sure if it adds much to the collective knowledge. I guess it's nice to close out the chapter and know the final resting place of such a famous vessel!

Until next time, 

                                   Fair Winds,

                                      Old Salt