The National Maritime Historical Society

2018 Seminar Series Schedule

The 2018 NMHS Seminar Series Schedule is here!  Save the dates below for the upcoming lineup of world-class speakers.  For more information: click on the links below, check out the 2018 NMHS Seminar Series webpage, or download the printer-friendly Seminar Brochure.  We invite you to Sponsor the Series and take advantage of everything our sponsorship options have to offer!  Sign up online, call (914) 737-7878 Ext. 0, or email to sign up today!

​Sat 27 January Iron Dawn with Richard Snow
Sat 10 March Heaven’s Ditch with Jack Kelly
Sat 19 May Blackbeard’s Last Battle with Kevin Duffus
Wed 20 June The Sunken Gold with Joseph Williams
Sat 21 July Hudson River Maritime Museum Excursion
Sat 22 September Art of the Yankee Whale Hunt with Michael Dyer
Sat 3 November Hell Around the Horn with Rick Spilman
Sat 1 December Hudson River Lighthouses II with Scott Craven

Members of the general public are encouraged to attend!  NMHS Seminar Series events are both a great way to learn about new facets of our maritime heritage and also to meet others who share an interest and enthusiasm for the field.  Continental Breakfast & Registration for Saturday seminars begins at 10:30 AM, with lectures starting at 11:00 AM.  (The schedule varies for the June Wednesday evening seminar and the July excursion.  Please see individual listings for details.)  Unless otherwise noted, all seminars are held at the Hendrick Hudson Free Library (185 Kings Ferry Road in Montrose, NY).  There is no charge to attend the seminars, but a $5 to $10 donation at the door is appreciated to support our educational mission.   On our Saturday seminars, if you would  like to join NMHS and the speaker for lunch following the presentation, the cost is $25 prepaid, with cash bar.  For more information and to register for any seminar, please email or call 914 737-7878 x 0.  Can’t make it to a seminar?  Be sure to Subscribe to our YouTube Channel to see the presentation online!

With a Seminar Sponsorship you can support the Series AND enjoy family fun at maritime museums across the country!  A contribution of $100 or higher not only entitles you to a reserved spot for the complete 2018  seminar series, but also to a one-year membership in the Council of American Maritime Museums (CAMM), which includes free admission for a year to over 75 museums nationwide!  (As a Friend of NMHS you’ll also receive the quarterly magazine Sea History, a 10% discount on NMHS merchandise, a membership card and decal.)  Your generosity enables the Society to fulfill its mission by presenting a dynamic range of seminars that promote greater understanding of our rich seafaring heritage and create a constituency to advocate for our maritime legacy.   Thank you!

Check out the full 2018 Seminar Lineup
Sign up for a Seminar Sponsorship

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The NMHS Seminar Series is generously supported by our Sponsors
Howard Slotnick and The Henry L. & Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation
and our Seminar Friends Denise Dunn, Linda Hallenbeck, Liam Murphy, John Plotke, John Shanahan, Jane Syracuse, and Karin Wexler.

The NMHS Seminar Series was founded in 1992 under the auspices of the National Maritime Historical Society at its headquarters on Charles Point in Peekskill, New York.  Its mission is to build greater awareness of the rich seafaring heritage of the Hudson River Valley and the world at large, and to create a constituency to advocate for our maritime legacy.  Through its monthly lecture series and annual outreach events, the NMHS Seminar Series is actively engaged in promoting maritime heritage, providing valuable educational programs and preserving historic ships and traditional seafaring skills. Since its inception, the Series has organized over 300 lectures, seminars, field trips and ship preservation projects featuring noted authors, historians, film producers and artists to publicize the maritime history of our area and abroad.

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Fiddlers’ Green, John Mecray

February 13, 1937 – November 1, 2017

The trustees and staff of the National Maritime Historical Society mourn the loss of marine artist and friend John Mecray.  We extend our deepest condolences to  his wife Mary and all the members of the Mecray family.  We are truly thankful for his enduring artistic contributions to our common maritime heritage.  Fair winds, John.

John moved his family to Newport, RI the same year that the Tall Ships first came to the Island in 1976 and launched his second career as a marine artist. John combined his superb painting talent with an encyclopedic knowledge of sea faring history. Over the years his paintings and rare drawings were hung in homes of America’s premier art collections.

John’s keen interest in yachts and yachting history led to the founding of the Museum of Yachting and their annual classic yacht regatta. In 1993, he helped found the International Yacht Restoration School, IYRS, where he was trustee. John is a member of the Mystic Seaport Museum’s Yachting Committee, the New York Yacht Club, The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Herreshoff Marine Museum, among others.


In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name to the International Yacht Restoration School, 449 Thames Street, Newport, RI 02840 or the Hope Hospice Palliative Care Rhode Island, 1085 North Main Street, Providence, RI 02904 or the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.


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In the Pages of Sea History 157

Sea History 157 is in the mail and on the newsstands. Just look at what’s in this issue:

Cutterman Frank Newcomb and the Rescue of USS Winslow, by William H. Thiesen
When the United States declared war on Spain in the spring of 1898, US Revenue Cutter Service Lt. Frank Newcomb, in command of USRC Hudson out of New York, was sent to patrol the north coast of Cuba. Not long after their arrival, Newcomb and his crew led a daring rescue of a disabled US Navy torpedo boat, under attack during the Battle of Cárdenas.

Lieutenant Charles Hunter, USN, and the Blanche Affair, by Evelyn M. Cherpak
In the days before wireless communications, naval captains had to use their best judgment to assess a potential enemy at sea without the benefit of verifying their planned course of action with their superiors. In the Civil War, US Navy lieutenant Charles Hunter considered it within his authority to stop ships at sea and seize them. The ramifications were deemed controversial and demonstrate the difficult gray area lesser commanders had to navigate.

Welcome to the New Land, Draken Harald Hårfagre, by Ingeborg Louise “Vesla” Adie
In 2016, the largest Viking ship built in modern times sailed to North America and toured the Great Lakes and the northeast, inspiring Norwegian-Americans to learn more about their proud Viking heritage and share it with the world.
Find this article in Featured Articles from Sea History.

The Rivers: A Celebration of Life and Work on America’s Waterways, by Daven Anderson
Each year, more than 500 million tons of freight flow past American cities and towns along our inland waterways, mostly out of the public eye. Artist Daven Anderson’s latest exhibition looks at the working craft and culture on our inland rivers, in all their grit and beauty.
Online exclusive: see more of Daven Anderson’s works here.

Funding for America’s Maritime Heritage: Rounding the Bases, by Timothy J. Runyan
While funding established by the Maritime Heritage Act of 1994 was reinstated a few years ago, the full amount promised has yet to be made available. National Maritime Alliance Chair, Dr. Timothy Runyan, has kept the pressure on Congress to restore full funding to the grants program, and he can’t do it alone. In this update, Dr. Runyan explains how we can help.

The Barque Picton Castle Bosun School: Learning the Traditional Skills of the Sailing Ship Seafarer, by Captain Daniel D. Moreland
While the Age of Sail in its true form has long passed and, with it, the everyday knowledge and skills of the mariner and rigger, there is still one place where one can go to learn the ways of a ship from a master, without committing to a long term at sea.



Plus, you’ll find the regular features you look forward to in every issue:

Deck Log
NMHS: A Cause in Motion
Marine Art News
Sea History for Kids
Ship Notes, Seaport & Museum News
Maritime History on the Internet
Book Reviews

On our cover this issue: Morning Mist, Lower Mississippi River Mile Post 174 by Daven Anderson, Watercolor and Mixed Media on Paper, 20 x 26.5 inches.

Click here to learn more about Sea History magazine.

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Checking in with Columbia

We reported on the excursion steamer Columbia one year ago in Sea History 149 (Winter 2014–15). Believed to be the oldest intact remaining passenger steamer in the country, the veteran of nearly 90 years of ferrying passengers back and forth to Bob-Lo Island had been towed to the Toledo, Ohio, Ironhead Marine for initial cleanup and repairs before making the journey to Buffalo, NY, where work continues.

Photo: Joe Russello for the SS Columbia ProjectWe’ve received this year-end update from the good folks at the SS Columbia Project:

We have made tremendous progress in the past year. Columbia has undergone a $1.6 million hull restoration. The boat has traveled over 250 nautical miles, glided across three rivers—Detroit, Maumee, and Buffalo—and crossed Lake Erie. She has passed the shorelines of three states—Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania—before landing for the first time in New York State.

It was a memorable experience to watch. A flotilla led by the fireboat Edward M. Cotter, the tall ship Spirit of Buffalo, and private vessels, from sailboats to kayaks, greeted our steamboat as she came into Buffalo Harbor.  Columbia is now docked in the Buffalo River at Silo City, where our crew has prepared her for winter.

Columbia was built in 1902 by the Detroit Dry Dock Company in Wyandotte, Michigan. Her designer was the well-known naval architect Frank Kirby, working with artist and architect Louis O. Keil. She carried passengers from Detroit to the amusement park on Boblo Island. The 80-minute cruise was an attraction in its own right; Columbia had a full-sized ballroom and bands played popular music to entertain the crowds. Columbia and her “little sister,” Ste. Claire, the “Boblo boats,” served the island until 1991, just two years before the amusement park closed altogether.

The Boblo boats were declared national Historic Landmark Vessels in 1992; unfortunately, campaigns to restore them and find new homes for them weren’t able to secure the funding necessary for the undertaking. New York preservationist Richard Anderson formulated a plan to bring Columbia to the Hudson River, which had its own heyday of steam ferries, to serve as a cultural flagship reconnecting New York City to the waterfront cities and towns along the scenic Hudson Valley. Mr. Anderson passed away in 2013, but SS Columbia Project is continuing his work to make Columbia‘s new mission a reality.


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Remembering the “Ship of Miracles”

Staff Officer Robert Lunney (photo courtesy RADM Lunney)

Staff Officer Robert Lunney (photo courtesy RADM Lunney)

In February of 2013, Rear Admiral Robert Lunney presented a talk for the NMHS Charles Point Council seminar series, The Hungnam Evacuation and the Ship of Miracles in the Korean War. RADM Lunney, a longtime friend of NMHS and former president of the NY chapter of the US Navy League, told us about his experience aboard SS Meredith Victory with the extraordinary rescue of 14,000 Korean men, women, and children in December 1950.

RADM Lunney has shared with us this article in last week’s Korea Herald commemorating the anniversary of that momentous event. To learn even more about that amazing rescue, check out the book Ship of Miracles: 14,000 Lives and One Miraculous Voyage, or the documentary video Ship of Miracles.

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Opportunity to Sail a Viking Ship Across the Atlantic

Draken-1200_628_01-10-1024x539Do you think you’ve got the Viking spirit? Expedition America 2016 is looking for a few good men and women to crew aboard Draken Harald Hårfagre (Dragon Harald Fairhair), the largest viking ship built in modern times. The ship will leave her home port in Haugesund, Norway, in May 2016 to voyage across the North Atlantic Ocean. The journey will recreate the first transatlantic crossing, and the Viking discovery of the New World, more than a thousand years ago. The project will, like Leif Eriksson, create cross-border meetings and inspire people to go beyond the horizon in a modern Viking saga. Along the route, the ship will touch on Iceland and Greenland, and then to the US and Canada, passing Viking settlements and new archaeological findings.

While Draken Harald Hårfagre is not a replica, she was constructed based on knowledge of traditional Viking boatbuilding, descriptions in Old Norse literature and foreign contemporary sources , visual representations of Viking ships, old sailing records, and the example of the construction of the Gokstad ship. Construction began in 2010. Launched in 2012, the ship sailed in the waters along the Norwegian coast, making her first ocean voyage from Haugesund, Norway, to Liverpool,  UK, and back.

Draken-1200_628_02.-01pg-1024x539Expedition 2016 is looking for volunteers to crew the ship for at least a two-month leg of the journey. It’s not an undertaking for the faint of heart or delicate of hairstyle; the ship’s design is open-deck, with just a tent for shelter. But the stories to take home will last a lifetime for a lucky few.

Photos courtesy Expedition America 2016; photographer Peder Jacobsson




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In the Pages of Sea History 153

Sea History 153 is in the mail and on the newsstands. Just look at what’s in this issue:

National Teacher Joseph Hughes & Matthew Blount iHistory Day—Prizes in Maritime History
Meet the winners of this year’s NMHS maritime history competition, part of the National History Day program. More than half a million middle and high school students take part in the NHD research-project competition.

Cutterman Hugh George Campbell: Master and Commander of Super-Cutter Eagle and Forgotten Hero of the Quasi War, by William H. Thiesen
Hugh Campbell served his country in four naval wars as a patriot, cutterman, combat captain, and senior naval officer. In a two-year campaign in the West Indies during the Quasi War, Campbell and his crew captured twenty-two privateers, prize ships, and enemy merchantmen, while destroying a number of others. All this was achieved without losing a single member of his crew.

H4 NMMA New Look at the Longitude Problem,” by Daniel McFadden
The exhibition Ships, Clocks, and Stars: The Quest for Longitude, produced by the National Maritime Museum in London, takes into consideration the many angles and players who were working on solving the great challenge of their time. For a limited time, the exhibition is on display at Mystic Seaport, offering the chance to see Harrison’s famous sea clocks up close.

Trade vs. Diplomacy: The Problem of the Free Port Marstrand During the American Revolution, by Rikard Drakenlordh
During the War for Independence, American shipowners sought to establish trading partners around the world, both for economic interests and to supply the fighting forces at home with much-needed supplies. Great Britain tried to quash this attempt. Caught in the middle were neutral nations trying to establish free ports.

Dr. Robert Ballard watches the bow of the Titanic 6/4 come into view on plasma screens in the control van, as the ROV Hercules photographs the shipreck on HD cameras 12,500 feet below. NOAA oceanographer Catalina Martinez sits to his left. She is part of the ocean exploration program, which supported the expedition by providing the NOAA research vessel Ronald H. Brown.

Maritime Archaeology in the 21st Century, by James P. Delgado
Advances in technology, awareness, and education, and a shift in how both academia and the diving community view shipwrecks, have driven the field of maritime archaeology into a new era. James Delgado, director of NOAA’s Maritime Heritage Program, traces the evolution of the field from its beginnings to how maritime archaeology is practiced today.
Find this article in Featured Articles from Sea History

Sailors in Distress: The Origins of the First Federal Healthcare Legislation, by Harold D. Langley

V0020360 Two sailors with amputated legs, an eyepatch and an amputate Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images Two sailors with amputated legs, an eyepatch and an amputated arm moving with the aid of crutches. Etching by S.B., 1783. 1783 By: S. B.after: Edward YoungPublished: 20 September 1783 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

Wellcome Library, London.

One of the first orders of business for the First Federal Congress when it met in 1789 was to address who would pay for the care of stranded American seamen in foreign ports and sick and disabled seamen who arrived in American ports with no one to take them in.



This issue’s cover is  Eagle and Constitution on Convoy Duty, April 1799, digital painting by Peter Rindlisbacher.


Plus, you’ll find the regular features you look forward to in every issue:

Deck Log
NMHS: A Cause in Motion
Marine Art News
Sea History for Kids
Ship Notes, Seaport & Museum News
Maritime History on the Internet
Book Reviews

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Colombian Government Reports Identification of San Jose Shipwreck

GalleonThe government of Colombia has announced that it has located the remains of the Spanish galleon San Jose, lost in a battle against the British ship Expedition, in the War of Spanish Succession, 307 years ago. The wreck, located not far from Cartagena, is believed to be carrying a cargo including gold, silver and emeralds, with a value estimated to be in the billions.

The wreck is reported to be in a location different from that of a site previously believed to be the San Jose, a site which inspired lawsuits between the Colombian government and the American salvage company Sea Search Armada over the ownership and disposition of items to be recovered.

Read More About It:

Wreck Of Legendary Spanish Galleon Is Finally Found, Colombia Says

Colombia treasure-laden San Jose galleon ‘is found’

Colombia to build museum for Spanish galleon discovery, president says

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Free Weekday Admission to Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in February

CBMM_FreeinFebruaryThanks to generous sponsor support, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum will be offering free admission Monday through Friday during the month of February. Free admission covers access to the entire museum, including the working boatyard and 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse, as well as numerous permanent and changing exhibitions along CBMM’s waterfront campus in historic St. Michaels, MD.

The Free in February program includes President’s Day, and is made possible through the generous sponsor support of the Talbot Bank and Awful Arthur’s of St. Michaels, MD. Guests will also receive a voucher for a 15% discount off of a meal at Awful Arthur’s on the day of the museum visit.

CBMM_FreeinFebruary_Boatshop“Winter offers a great time to explore our 12 exhibition buildings and beautiful campus, especially while enjoying the town’s great restaurants, shops, hotels and inns,” said CBMM’s President Kristen Greenaway. “We have a great number of inside exhibitions for all ages to enjoy, the waterfowl are abundant along a quieter harbor and the Miles River, and you can see great things happening in our boatyard as education programs and the restoration of our historic fleet of Chesapeake vessels ramp up in the colder months.”

CBMM_FreeinFebruary_BroadReachGuests can also take in the exhibition  A Broad Reach: 50 Years of Collecting, which features 50 significant objects that have been accessioned into the museum’s collection over the past 50 years, presented on both floors of the Steamboat Building. The exhibition will be closing to the public in 2016.

Admission will be free weekdays in February for all museum guests. General admission is otherwise good for two consecutive days and is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students with ID, $6 for children 6-17, and free for museum members and children five and under. The museum is open 10 AM to 4 PM seven days a week, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.



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SS United States Conservancy Announces Preliminary Agreement

The SS United States Conservancy (SSUSC) has announced that it has entered into a preliminary agreement in support of the redevelopment of SS United States. While few details are available at this time, the SSUSC issued a press release announcing the agreement on Monday.

Designed by William Francis Gibbs and built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, SS United States was subsidized by the US government with the understanding that she would be repurposed for troop transport should the need ever arise. Strict US Navy standards were observed, including compartmentalization to combat flooding and dual engine rooms for redundancy in case one of them was rendered inoperable. Designer Gibbs also went to great lengths to prevent the threat of fire; no wood was permitted in any of the public rooms, with the famous exception of the grand pianos and the catering crew’s butcher blocks.

United States undertook her maiden voyage on 3 July 1952 from New York to Le Havre and Southampton, and on that voyage set a record for the eastbound crossing by a liner, earning the ship the historic Blue Riband for her achievement. The ship enjoyed a decade of prestige, hosting statesmen and celebrities on the Atlantic. The 1960s saw a decline in ocean travel, and in 1969 she was removed from service. She changed hands multiple times since retirement, and has been berthed in Philadelphia since 1996. The SSUSC purchased the United States in 2010, and has been looking for partners to develop the ship as a multipurpose venue. This new announcement might signal the first step in a new incarnation for the historic liner.


Photo courtesy SS United States Conservancy

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