Category Archives: Sailing

Titanic risk of Arctic cruises

Scheduling an Arctic pleasure cruise? Better think again.

“Tero Vauraste, boss of Finnish shipping firm Arctia, warned there would be little authorities could do if a ship got into distress there, due to the lack of infrastructure. ‘The Northwest Passage is thousands and thousands of nautical miles with absolutely nothing,’ he said.”

Moreover, technology is self-limiting in that region, according to Vauraste:

“Navigation in icy waters is made more difficult by poor satellite imagery. An ice field might move at a speed of 4-5 knots, but a ship will receive a satellite picture of it that is 10-20 hours old.”

Via FoxNews.

Our inept Navy


You could blame Obumbles. Lots of people are. But it was our allegedly mighty Navy that made the mess he only stepped in. Presumably the immediate, on-scene commander of this humiliation has been relieved and is awaiting courts martial and a ruined career. They do that to commanders whose boats merely run aground. Not to mention the chatty noncom who ought to be booted.

Via PowerLine & Mouth of the Brazos

UPDATE:  Instead of competence, this is what they focus on.

Bigger than Dunkirk

A video that’s been around at least since 2007, but I never saw it before Friday.

It teaches a great lesson in the heroism of the common man. As its epigraph says: A hero is a man who does what he can.

Adios Sometimes Islands


The runoff from the recent 27 days of rain has slowed to a trickle on Lake Travis. But it was enough in the last few days to cover the Sometimes Islands at 667.63 feet above mean sea level. Say goodbye to the drought, all you global warming believers. Bye, bye.

Still only a dream


Our politicians are such lightweights who are more concerned with graft and repression than actual accomplishment that their space agency is content to build tinker-toys. The real dreams of space conquest are still only dreams.

When Old Ironsides shelled Da Nang


It was in the spring of 1845, according to the USS Constitution Museum, at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Massachusetts, where Old Ironsides is docked nearby, still afloat after more than 200 years.

Captain John “Mad Jack” Percival was then in charge of the pride of the American Revolution’s world cruise and he ordered the shelling that redistributed some of the tile on the roofs of old Da Nang. Back then the French had dubbed it Tourane—or soup bowl—for the shape of its harbor on the South China Sea.

Percival was acting on behalf of what he thought were some unfairly detained French missionaries, though the Vietnamese emperor Thiệu Trị considered them disruptive. I alluded to the incident in my Vietnam war novel The Butterfly Rose, which focuses not only on our war there but the 19th century French invasion as well.

I didn’t give much space to the shelling, apparently done by the ship’s starboard Paixhans guns, the first naval guns designed to fire explosive shells, being preoccupied by my fictional French Foreign Legion assault on Hoi An a few miles south and almost 20 years in the future, during the American civil war.

So it’s good to see the museum website’s offering of the story and you should give it a read to appreciate just how long ago American involvement in that part of the world began—almost a hundred years older than the accepted 1950s version of most contemporary histories.

Our post WWII role as world policeman, it seems, is much older than we think.

Yankee hypocrisy: The lies New York publishers tell

I’ve been wondering what to do for a post on this Sesquicentennial year (1863) of the American Civil War. I finally decided that this 3-year-old review on “The Wanderer: The Last American Slave Ship and the Conspiracy that Set its Sails” suits the case with a little editing.

“The title is a phony, as the author makes clear deep in his text. The truth seems to have been too much for his New York publisher to bear. That is the author’s unveiling of the little known business offices of slave traders in New York City and their slave ships down at the wharves of Lower Manhattan. They were the real “last American slave ship(s).”

Author Erik Calonius shows how, until 1864, the third year of the war, these Yankee slave dealers gathered their capital from Northern businessmen and sent their ships to West Africa to buy African slaves low and then sell them high in Cuba and the Caribbean. Then they hosed down their Middle Passage decks and steamed home to New York City.

“All under the disinterested eyes of corrupt port officialdom (despite federal law then making American slave-trading a crime punishable by death). The book’s focus on the Southern sloop Wanderer and the few hot-heads who took it to the mouth of the Congo River for slaves and then back to Georgia once in 1859 ignores the New York slavers which operated for another five years.

“Calonius smartly weaves the Wanderer tale in with the 1850s politics of North and South and other events, such as the John Brown raid, that precipitated the American Civil War. The tracing of the successful descendants of one Wanderer slave was a nice touch. Would have been much better, though, to have included a few of the unwilling passengers of the more numerous New York slave ships.

“I suppose we should be pleased that the publishers didn’t snip the real story out of the book entirely.”