Monday, April 8, 2024


 8 April 2024: Eclipse day! Wear your safety eclipse glasses. We're in April now and spring is upon us. Boats are emerging from winter covers and paint brushes and scrapers are showing up in boat yards as boat-starved owners look forward to getting back on the water. And speaking of water, a recent discovery off the Dry Tortugas in Florida has identified the ship that due to her captain's really bad navigation, wound up ashore there in the mid 1700's. From "Smart News:"


Sunken British Warship That Left Crew Marooned for 66 Days Has Been Identified

Found off the coast of Florida, the HMS “Tyger” left some 300 crew members stranded on Garden Key in 1742.

HMS Tyger off Spain

In 1742, amidst a war between Britain and Spain, a British warship ran aground off the Florida Keys. The crew evacuated, and the vessel was lost.

Now, thanks to a note in an old logbook, researchers have confirmed that sunken wreckage near the islands of Dry Tortugas belongs to the doomed HMS Tyger.

The ship’s remains were first found in 1993 off the coast of Garden Key, the second-largest island in Dry Tortugas National Park and home to the 19th-century military stronghold Fort Jefferson. According to a statement from the National Park Service (NPS), the new research provides “definitive evidence” of the wreck’s identity.

The project is a collaboration between archaeologists from Dry Tortugas National Park, the Submerged Resources Center and the Southeast Archaeological Center. When they surveyed the site in 2021, they found five coral-coated cannons some 1,500 feet from the ship.

The weapons’ location matches an account of the Tyger’s demise found in the margins of an old logbook, which described how the ship’s crew had “lightened her forward” after running aground, per the NPS. The crew members likely dumped the Tyger’s heavy cannons from the boat to slow her descent.

concreted cannon balls from Tyger

“This discovery highlights the importance of preservation in place as future generations of archaeologists, armed with more advanced technologies and research tools, are able to reexamine sites and make new discoveries,” says Josh Marano, the maritime archaeologist who led the project, in the statement.

According to the researchers—who recently published their findings in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology—the 130-foot-long Tyger was built in 1647, making it nearly a century old when it floundered in 1742.

It was the first of three British man-of-war ships to sink in the Keys, where it was stationed during the conflict known as the War of Jenkin’s Ear—“aptly named after British captain Robert Jenkins, who allegedly had his ear cut off by Spanish Coast Guards,” writes the Independent’s Amelia Neath.

According to the NPS, the man-of-war sailed near Cuba and Jamaica before following Spanish ships into the Gulf of Mexico, “logging but not fully registering the increasingly shallow depths.” Ultimately, the Spanish didn’t get the vessel—but the coral reefs of Dry Tortugas did. [ed: the captain's poor navigation made him think they were in the Bahamas, but sadly, not so much!]

When the ship hit the coral, it began taking on water. Despite the crew’s efforts to throw some items overboard and move others to the rear, “bad weather and a series of missteps worsened the situation,” writes the NPS. “It became clear that Tyger was lost, and the captain ordered everyone to abandon ship.” The 300 crew members made their way to Garden Key, where they were marooned for 66 days.

The Tyger’s survivors created Garden Key’s first fortifications—over a century before the construction of Fort Jefferson. Working through heat, thirst and mosquitoes, the crew built small boats from salvaged pieces of their ship, per Artnet’s Richard Whiddington. Using those vessels, they then sailed through enemy territory to Port Royal, Jamaica, traveling 700 miles in 55 days.

“This particular story is one of perseverance and survival,” says James Crutchfield, Dry Tortugas’ park manager, in the statement. “Archaeological finds are exciting, but connecting those finds to the historical record helps us tell the stories of the people that came before us and the events they experienced.”


There's a lesson there for any who are listening: learn how to navigate and pay attention to your depth! 

Until next time,

                                         Fair Winds,

                                                Old Salt

Monday, March 25, 2024


 25 March 2024: As March winds down, early signs of Spring are everywhere: heavy rain (wait! that's supposed to be in April?), flowers popping up, and most importantly, covers coming off boats tucked away for the winter. And surprises await under those covers! Raccoons who took up residence, bird nests, mice, and who knows what else decided to "winter over" in the comfort of your boat. In keeping with the season, the battleship New Jersey was moved from her "museum" berth in Camden New Jersey to the shipyard where she was built in Philadelphia for a "fix-up" (not a major overhaul as she is not in bad shape) -and make no mistake,  moving her is a big deal! From Fox News:


USS New Jersey to leave port for first time in 24 years, big guns will fire salute: 'I love this ship'

'Big J' launched one year after Pearl Harbor attack, will head to Philadelphia for drydock maintenance

Ken Kersch speaks about the USS New Jersey as if it were a warm old friend instead of cold steel military hardware. "I love this ship," said Kersch, who spent four years in the U.S. Navy (1966-70).

"It’s the best ship I served on. She was a part of my life for two years. She’s a part of me now."

Kersch was a machinist on the USS New Jersey from 1967 to 1969, as the battleship supported land operations during the Vietnam War.

Now, on Thursday, he will ride aboard Big J again. She is scheduled to leave her mooring in Camden, New Jersey at 12:10 p.m. for the first time since arriving in 2000. 

The dauntless dreadnought is now the centerpiece of the Battleship New Jersey Museum & Memorial

She's being tugged six miles down the Delaware River for drydock maintenance at Philadelphia Navy Yard

The New Jersey is expected to return to Camden in two months. 

Kersch, a machinist during his active service, will fire the guns of the USS New Jersey as it departs its home port and again in response to a salute from Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia.

"It’s a historic homecoming."

"It’s a historic homecoming," Marshall Spevak, CEO of The Homeport Alliance, the nonprofit that operates the ship, told Fox News Digital. 

He said visitors will have the rare opportunity to walk under the battleship as it's suspended in Philadelphia drydock.

The USS New Jersey was built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and launched Dec. 7, 1942 — exactly one year to the day after Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor catapulted the United States into World War II.


"She supported every amphibious campaign of the Pacific War from 1943 onward," said Spevak.

She went on to an unprecedented career of service, active for 21 years across six decades. 

The USS New Jersey fought in the Korean War, was placed in reserve, then recommissioned for duty in Vietnam. [ed: your scribe witnessed her firing in support of shore activities in VietNam as she fired her 16" guns over  our heads - we were on a destroyer. Quite a sight/experience]

She was already the world’s last active battleship in the late 1960s, as big-gun warcraft were considered a vestige of outdated naval warfare. 

Yet the USS New Jersey was modernized and reactivated again in 1981, as part of President Ronald Reagan’s pledge to create a "600-ship Navy."

The battleship was sent to the Eastern Mediterranean during the Lebanese Civil War in 1984, firing hundreds of shells on Syrian military positions. 

She remained in active service until 1990 and arrived at its home in Camden in 2000. The Battleship New Jersey Museum opened in October 2001.

"She’s the most decorated ship in history, she’s the longest battleship in history and she’s also the fastest battleship in history," said Kersh, who has worked for the Battleship New Jersey Museum since its inception.


UPDATE: She moved:


When she comes back to her "museum" berth, we will try to bring you the images! 

Until next time,

                                            Fair Winds,

                                              old Salt



Sunday, March 10, 2024


 10 March 2024: Almost half way thru March, friends - though my mother did constantly admonish me to "not wish my life away" - I am looking forward to the onset of consistently warm sunny weather! This week, our mail was left for us, soggy from the rain, on the front door step, but at least it was delivered pretty much on time. Not so much for the folks in this post. Brings delayed delivery to a whole new level! From CBS NEWS:


In 1807, a ship was seized by the British navy, the crew jailed and the cargo taken. Archivists just opened the packages.

The red sweater appears as if it was purchased yesterday – but it's been more than 200 years since the handmade gift has seen the light of day. 

Archivists opened parcels from the Anne-Marie cargo ship, which was seized by the British Navy during the Second Battle of Copenhagen, Thursday at the National Archives in the United Kingdom. Along with the sweater, the archivists opened parcels containing fabric samples, stockings, silver coins and other items from the beleaguered ship.

Sarah Noble, the senior conservation manager for imaging at the National Archives in the United Kingdom, handles a wad of paper rix-dollars which were wrapped around 18 silver coins, which include Danish skillings dating back to the reign of Frederick III of Denmark, 1648-1670 which was found in a parcel among a stash of 19th-century letters, when opened for the first time at the National Archives in Kew, London. Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images

But none were as unique as the surviving sweater, the archivists said, "This is a rare example of a parcel surviving in the Prize Papers, which often contain letters consigned to ships for delivery by sea," said Dr. Amanda Bevan of the National Archives.

The fine hand-knit sweater was shipped from the Faroe Islands by a carpenter named Niels C. Winther, a statement from the National Archives said. It was accompanied by a letter from Winther to the fiancé of Mr P Ladsen in Copenhagen saying, 'my wife sends her regards, thank you for the pudding rice. She sends your fiancé this sweater and hopes that it is not displeasing to her.' The letter was written in Danish. 

Sarah Noble, the senior conservation manager for imaging at the National Archives in the United Kingdom, holds a 200-year-old sweater in a traditional Faroese knit which was found in a parcel among a stash of 19th-century letters, when opened for the first time at the National Archives in Kew, London. Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images

The cargo ship had sailed from the Faroe Islands through Denmark when it was targeted by the HMS Defence off the coast of Norway on Sept. 2, 1807, and both the cargo and the ship's mailbox were taken, the statement said. Archivists said they plan to digitize the letters and the packages' contents.

Various cargo from shipwrecks have been recently recovered. Last month, divers exploring the British HMS Erebus wreck off the coast of Canada discovered an array of "fascinating artifacts," including pistols, coins and an intact thermometer. 

Last year, divers discovered a Dutch warship off the coast of southern England. The ship was carrying a cargo of marble tiles for use in building high-status homes.


I wonder if  the recipient of the sweater even knew someone thought enough of him/her to knit it! But a truly amazing find, nonetheless! Wonder what else was in there. We have written about the Erebus (Franklin's expedition ship) discovered in Canadian waters in the past, but perhaps the recent discoveries will precipitate further posts! Wait and see! 

Until next time,

                                            Fair Winds

                                                  Old Salt