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TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE®: Charleston – May 19-21, 2017

Charleston welcomes the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Atlantic Coast 2017 series for Tall Ships® Charleston 2017. This event will offer a fantastic opportunity for visitors to step aboard many beautiful tall ships from across the world.

As part of Tall Ships America’s TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Atlantic Coast 2017 Race Series and a feeder port for the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, Tall Ships® Charleston will host a fleet of international vessels, 19–22 May. Charleston will also be the start of a race to Bermuda, where the tall ships will join the Rendez-vouz fleet before racing north to Sail Boston® 2017, 17–22 June.

NMHS members and Sea History readers are invited to attend and meet sail trainers, ship operators, preservationists and supporters from across North America and the world.

For more information visit the Tall Ships America website.

The mission of Tall Ships America is to encourage character building through sail training, promote sail training to the North American public and support education under sail.

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The National Maritime Alliance Needs Your Help!

Photo: US Coast Guard

USCGC Storis (WMEC-38), decommissioned in 2007. Photo: US Coast Guard

Over one year ago, the National Maritime Alliance asked for our help to lobby for passage of the Ships to Be Recycled in the States (STORIS) Act, an attempt to reverse language in the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act that had allowed the Maritime Administration to use all of the maritime heritage grant funds solely for its own maritime heritage. Many of you wrote to your legislators and the relevant committee members—and we thank you for that effort!

Unfortunately, the STORIS act stalled and was not passed. The good news is that new language has been proposed for the National Defense Authorization Act that would achieve much of what was hoped for with the STORIS Act: restoring the maritime heritage grant program and increasing funding. Focusing on key points, rather than the entire act, makes it easier to gain supporters in Congress.

We at NMHS and the National Maritime Alliance are asking for your help again, by emailing your congressional representative and senators, and members of the committees that will be voting on this legislation, by mid-June.

Members of the House Armed Services Committee
Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee
Members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

We have a sample letter here; please complete and personalize the draft letter to the representative or senator’s staff member, and ask that it be shared with the representative or senator. If the staff member’s email is not provided, call the office of the representative or senator to ask for the names and email addresses of the appropriate staff members for committees on commerce and defense, or the legislative director. You can also contact the local office of a representative or senator and ask that your email be forwarded to appropriate staff in Washington, DC. If your representatives are not on these committees (you can write to both senators from your state), write anyway. The bills go to the full House and Senate.

The request asks for inclusion of Section 3508, Title 35, of the National Defense Authorization Act. Sec. 3508 is the main item we wanted in the STORIS Act. It restores the maritime heritage grant program and will increase funding.

Important: Please send a copy of your letter to Tim Runyan at runyant@ecu.edu. Having copies of your letters helps him lobby for this issue more effectively.

The 2015 National Maritime Heritage Grants awarded 34 grants in 19 states, totaling $2,580,197.37. Here is just a sampling of the programs who will benefit:

Amount Award Recipient Project
$50,000 National Maritime Historical Society Indexing, Digitizing, and Online Expansion of Sea History magazine
$200,000 Sound Experience Deck replacement for the National Historic Landmark vessel Adventuress of 1913
$100,088 Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild Restoration of boat deck and hull of the 1902 tug Jupiter
$144,569 North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Development of a large artifact conservation wet lab
$34,000 Seamens Church Institute Build a consortium of interconnected digital archives that trace, map and bring to life the history of maritime culture in New York City
$50,000 USS Constitution Museum “Renewing Old Ironsides,” a chronicle of USS Constitution restoration work, capturing the stories of the artisans and documenting the skills involved.
$178,670 Project Liberty Ship Preservation of the Superstructure of Liberty Ship John W. Brown
$52,900 San Francisco Maritime National Park Association Comprehensive structural survey of the steam ferryboat Eureka, a registered National Historic Landmark vessel

A link to the full list of grants can be found here. Imagine what we could achieve if we could free up more funds for the Maritime Heritage Grants!

 

 

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Success! Maritime Heritage Grant Program Restored

We’re happy to bring you this letter from Tim Runyan, chair of the National Maritime Alliance

Good News!

Language to amend the National Maritime Heritage Act was included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 (the Defense bill) that was favorably voted on today by the US House of Representatives (375 to 34). Members of the House and Senate reached agreement on the bill last week after a summer of tough negotiating. The Senate will consider it next week. Once passed, the president is expected to sign the bill.

The maritime heritage grant program will be restored. Funding for the program was diverted by an amendment to the National Maritime Heritage Act in 2010, initiated by the US Maritime Administration. Advocacy by the maritime heritage community and the support of members of Congress resulted in that agency’s commitment of $7M to the grant program over the past few years.

The new legislation mandates that 18.75% of all ship scrapping proceeds will be committed to the maritime heritage grant program (my goal was 25%, so we have some more work to do). The funds will be transferred to the Department of the Interior where the National Park Service will continue to administer the competitive grant program. The grants fund maritime heritage education and preservation projects.

Additional amendments to the Defense bill require greater transparency in the Maritime Administration’s ship scrapping operations, including timely reporting on the funds available, and the use of funds for the preservation and presentation to the public of the Maritime Administration’s maritime heritage property.

These changes are all beneficial to the maritime heritage grant program.

My thanks to all who have supported this effort.

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December Charles Point Council Seminar: Norseman Saga

Saturday, 3 December
‘Norseman Saga’ and HOLIDAY POT LUCK PARTY at Cortlandt Yacht Club
James L. Nelsondraken_harald_sm
By the latter part of the 8th Century, all of Europe was plunged into the Dark Ages, a violent and uncertain time. Then suddenly and seemingly without warning, a new menace swept onto the scene as Viking raiders from Denmark, Norway and Sweden began crossing the oceans to plunder England, Ireland and the Continent. These Norse invaders came first to pillage, and later to conquer and settle. In less than a hundred years after their depredations began, the Vikings had become a major military and political force throughout Europe.

Author James L. Nelson, who has previously written on such topics as piracy and the naval action of the American Revolution, turns his attention to his own ancestors, the Norsemen, and their raiding and later settling in Europe, and Ireland in particular. He will also discuss the technological advances and unique aspects of Norse ship design and building, and how those advances helped drive the Viking invasion. Nelson is currently working on a series of novels that chronicle the adventures of Viking Thorgrim Night Wolf and company in 9th Century Ireland.

James Nelson has written more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction, all centered on the maritime world.  Book signing to follow.

Holiday Pot luck

Join us for our Holiday Pot Luck Party with James Nelson after the presentation.
Please bring a dish, drink or dessert that serves six to eight people.

Cortlandt Yacht Club
238 Kings Ferry Road, Montrose, NY  10548

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Time Running Out for Historic Falls of Clyde

Falls_of_Clyde_prow

photo: Alexandre via Wikimedia Commons

The historic ship Falls of Clyde, long a fixture of the Honolulu waterfront, is awaiting a miracle. The ship, the world’s only surviving four-masted, full-rigged ship and the only surviving sailing oil tanker afloat, has been impounded by the Hawaii Department of Transportation Harbors Division. The ship has been berthed in Honolulu Harbor for the past seven years, but 2015 brought new urgency. The state announced plans to terminate the permit that allowed the Falls to be docked for free in its present location. Friends of the Falls of Clyde, the group that formed in 2008 to take ownership of the ship when the Bishop Museum announced that it would be unable to meet the daunting price tag of further maintenance and restoration work, stepped up its fundraising efforts, including initiating an Indiegogo campaign, which was unable to raise sufficient funds to get the ship into drydock that season.

This summer, the state gave the group the month of July to present a plan for getting the ship into drydock for restoration work; however, the plan was subsequently rejected, and the state revoked the dock permit, leading to the impound action, when access to the ship was closed off. A hearing followed on 25 August, when Friends of the Falls of Clyde appealed the state’s position and asked, again, to be allowed to work on the ship and resume fundraising efforts. The state’s decision is expected later this month.

We encourage all who are interested and want to lend their support to go to the website of the Friend of the Falls of Clyde, as well as its Facebook page, and the petition to save the ship. Learn more about her history here.

 

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Griffiths Headstone Unveiled

headstone_2

 

On 23 July the headstone for the grave of legendary naval architect John W. Griffiths (October 6, 1809–March 30, 1882), designer of steamships, war vessels, and the record-setting clippers Sea Witch and Rainbow, at Linden Hill United Methodist Cemetery in Ridgewood, Queens. The monument was designed by NMHS Advisory Committee Chair Melbourne Smith. Capt. Matt Carmel offered these remarks:

Welcome everyone. I am Captain Matt Carmel and was volunteered to give today’s weekly shipboard sermon from the quarterdeck, often known as “a few words from the holy book and get back to work.” I hope Rabbi Singer is watching from above because based on my expulsion from Hebrew school 45 years ago, he must be thinking nes gadol haya sham: “a great miracle happened there.”

No one likes a long speech, so I will keep it brief. But before I begin, I would like to say a few words.

 

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

These famous lines are by John Donne, a metaphysical poet and cleric in the Church of England. The passage is taken from his 1624 Meditation 17, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions. Its meaning can be distilled to a common truth. Human beings necessarily depend on each other.

The idea for honoring John Willis Griffiths was born out of a “friendly” political difference between myself and Melbourne Smith, alternately of esteemed and dubious repute, depending on whether or not the “sun is below the yard”. And not “yard arm” as he often corrects the uninitiated.

So one day I hazarded a discussion on current political matters and affairs of state. One thing lead to another, it came to blows and we were knocked on our beam ends. But time heals all wounds.

As a gesture of reconciliation, I conspired with my sister, a fellow traveler, to take a gravestone rubbing of his adopted patron ship designer and mentor. My first task was to find where Griffiths was buried which was a task in and of itself. Undaunted, I ultimately came to this hallowed ground. And what to my surprise should I find? Melbourne’s patron had no headstone at all. Why this was so remains shrouded in mystery.

Not one to pass up an opportunity to make a nuisance of myself, I convinced several friends and new found acquaintances to join me in my quest to raise sufficient funds for erecting a proper headstone on Griffiths final resting place.

And succeed we did. by finding our real life patron Bruce Johnson, director of business development of the Brooklin Boat Yard, whose non-profit foundation footed the bulk of the cost. The fruits of his generosity, and others, will be unveiled here today.

In addition to Bruce, our indebtedness extends to fellow shipmates and hardy tars, in alphabetical order:

Adam Brodsky, Deputy Editorial Page Editor of the NY Post
Dr. Larrie Ferreiro, Adjunct Professor of System Engineering at Catholic University
Steve Gorelick, Executive Director of the NJ Motion Picture & Television Commission
Burchenal Green, President of the National Maritime Historical Society
Charles Lauber, Superintendent of the Linden Hill United Methodist Cemetery
Michael Lewis, President of the Lewis Monument Co.
Ron Oswald, Chairman of the National Maritime Historical Society
Charles Ricciardi, Operations & Creative Director of the NJ Motion Picture & Television Commission
Lewis Brett Smiler, research consultant to The Thomas Edison Papers
And lastly, Melbourne Smith, President of the International Historical Watercraft Society

Theologian John of Salisbury, wrote a Latin treatise on logic in 1159 called Metalogicon, in which he said:

“We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours.”

So now we come to the brief part. To my fellow clods of earth who one day will be washed away by the sea, let’s cheer our codependency and America’s great maritime achievements. Huzzah!

 

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NOAA Announces Discovery of USS Conestoga

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Navy have announced the discovery of the wreck of USS Conestoga (AT-54), lost in 1921 en route to Pearl Harbor.

USS Conestoga at San Diego, California, January 1921. (Naval Historical Center Photograph NH 71299)

USS Conestoga at San Diego, California, January 1921. (Naval Historical Center Photograph NH 71299)

Launched in 1903 from Baltimore’s Sparrows Point shipyard, Conestoga towed coal barges for the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Co., until America’s entry into WWI; in 1917 the US Navy purchased the tug, commissioned as a minesweeper. After the war, she was eventually assigned to service in the Pacific. Conestoga departed San Francisco Bay bound for Pearl Harbor, to eventually go on to American Samoa. The tug never arrived at her destination, and the subsequent search provided no clues to her fate.

The wreck was discovered when NOAA researchers were mapping the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, off the California coast.

Read more about this story at the NOAA website.

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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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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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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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