SEA HISTORY No. 173
NATIONAL MARITIME HISTORICAL SOCIETY
THE ART, LITERATURE, ADVENTURE, LORE & LEARNING OF THE SEA
Yo Ho! A-Privateering We Will Go! Zen and the Art of ... Boat Maintenance To the Ends of the Earth HMS Ontario, in Situ
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2021 Wall Calendars—Classic Sail Classic Sail features sailing craft ranging from traditional working vessels and cruising sailboats, to classic designs by photographer Kathy Mansfield, whose work is found in nautical magazines including Classic Boat, WoodenBoat, and Water Craft. Calendar is wall hanging — with large blocks for notes, and beautiful photographs printed on quality heavyweight paper. 22” x 14” (open) Sunday
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Indigenous Peoples’ Thanksgiving Day Day (Canada)
Classic Sail features sailing craft ranging from traditional working vessels and cruising sailboats, to exciting america’s Cup contenders of the past. Kathy Mansfield, whose work is found in nautical magazines, including WoodenBoat, Classic Boat, and Water Craft, brings together american and european boats in this very enjoyable pan-atlantic collection.
image is hi res
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USA: 15.95 CAN: 19.99
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Built originally the 48-foot in Scotland
five decadesKismet raced at the Fife boatyard in the mud until the 1940s, English in 1898, coast. of an estuary and then is pitch Now spent pine over sailing in in Essex good form, oak. on her rebuiltthe hull
September S M T W T F S 1 2 5 6 3 4 7 8 12 13 9 10 14 15 11 19 20 16 17 21 22 18 26 27 23 24 28 29 25 30
P.O. Box 4047 • Hartford, CT • 06147 www.tide-mark.com
XX-2 Title Back Cover
$15.95 ($14.36 for NMHS members) plus $5.50 media mail s/h within the USA.
Images are Hi Res
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By Kathy Mansfield
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Orders received after 20 Dec. 2020 can be priority shipped for $9.50. Call for shipping charges for multiple or international orders.
TO ORDER, CALL 1-800-221-NMHS (6647), ext. 0, or online at www.seahistory.org. NYS residents add applicable sales tax.
courtesy wendy pirsig
12 “If Boat is Going Down”—Bikes, Boats, and Robert Pirsig by Paul F. Johnston Best-selling author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Bob Pirsig spent a good portion of his adult life intimately involved with boats—from building to living aboard them, to cruising and, of course, maintaining them. His widow recently donated a collection of personal items to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Museum curator Paul Johnston shares with us the details of Pirsig’s love of nautical life and takes us on a journey through Pirsig’s experience in the boating world. 20 A Dead Man’s Tale: A Pirate’s Pardon and a Customs Collector’s Collusion by Daniel A. Laliberte The United States authorized more than 500 privateering vessels against Great Britain’s merchant fleet during the War of 1812. After hostilities were over, the letters of marque legitimizing what was essentially targeted piracy became invalid. Piracy re-emerged as a problem in the Straits of Florida and the Caribbean, as privateers no longer had a legal right to seize enemy shipping. In this odd tale of privateers gone rogue, it fell to the cuttermen of the Revenue-Marine to quash the resurgence of this predatory occupation.
courtesy patrick o’brien, artist
24 HMS Ontario Back to Life: A Collaboration of Science, Technology, and Art by John Addyman In 2008 a trio of ship-hunting enthusiasts located the holy grail of shipwrecks in Lake Ontario, HMS Ontario, the largest warship built by the British on the lake during the American Revolutionary War. The 22-gun vessel was lost in a tempest in 1780 with no survivors. Among the three who found the wreck site was Chip Stevens, an award-winning watercolorist who subsequently created a series of paintings portraying the vessel during the storm and how she now looks on the lakebed. This unique take on maritime archaeology has helped bring a lost ship back to life.
courtesy chip stevens, artist
30 To the Ends of the Earth by Jerry Roberts The quest to reach the North and South Poles by indomitable expedition leaders in the early 20th century is replete with stories of triumph and tragedy. Thousands of individuals contributed to our knowledge of the polar regions, knowledge for which many paid with their lives. Historian Jerry Roberts examines why the polar regions mattered so much then— and now—and what’s at stake for nations that claim control of the ever-changing, dangerous, and wild ends of the earth. Cover: Enforcing the Tariff, Charleston, South Carolina, 1833 by Robert Lavin, courtesy of the US Coast Guard Art Collection. (See pages 20–23 for more on how the US Revenue-Marine, predecessor of the US Coast Guard, assisted in combating piracy in American coastal waters in the years following the War of 1812.)
DEPARTMENTS 4 Deck Log & Letters 10 NMHS: A Cause in Motion 36 Sea History for Kids
40 Ship Notes, Seaport & Museum News 48 Reviews 56 Patrons
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SEA HISTORY (issn 0146-9312) is published quarterly by the National Maritime Historical Society, 1000 North Division St., #4, Peekskill NY 10566 USA. Periodicals postage paid at Peekskill NY 10566 and add’l mailing offices. COPYRIGHT © 2020 by the National Maritime Historical Society. Tel: 914 737-7878. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Sea History, PO Box 68, Peekskill NY 10566.
NATIONAL MARITIME HISTORICAL SOCIETY
n the midst of turbulent times, it is critical to remember the stories of the people and events that forged who we are and are shaping the outlines of our future. NMHS works to preserve and promote our maritime heritage through publishing Sea History magazine, and organizing educational programs, seminars, and special events. We do a lot with a small crew and the essential support of our members. Over the years we have reached out to ask you to remember us in your estate plans. Your support can be a real game-changer in building the strength of the Society, especially in a challenging economic climate. In August we lost our decades-long member Robert F. Henkel from St. Charles, Missouri. For many years Bob Henkel was a member at the “retired” level and on occasion would call our office for decals to give to friends to get them involved. We learned recently that he left the Society a very generous bequest in his will. We knew his name, his voice on the phone, and his passion for the sea, but the gift came as a total surprise. Our gratitude to him is boundless. Since his bequest is so important to keeping your Society afloat, we thought we’d tell you a little more about him. Bob was one of five children and right after high school joined McDonnell Douglas in the co-op program. He went to Georgia Tech and finished his Engineering Degree at Washington University in St. Louis. He joined the Navy just prior to the Vietnam War but was put into the Navy Reserves, because at that time he already held a critical job at McDonnell Douglas, and worked on Defense contracts there for his entire career. He always loved the sea. After retirement, some 20 years ago, he and his traveling companion went to Nova Scotia to see the tall ships and it was a meaningful expeRobert F. Henkel (1933–2020) rience for them. Back at home, he was an active model shipbuilder and used the features in Sea History and other publications to learn more about these vessels and the eras in which they sailed, which allowed him to make the models more historically accurate. An avid fisherman, he fished close to home in the Ozarks with his brother Bill as well as on excursions aboard deep-sea fishing vessels, once bringing home an eight-foot sailfish that he had caught and mounted with pride on his wall. He discovered the joys of sailing in the Caribbean and was a proficient boat handler, both under sail and power. A world traveler, he built a personal collection of art from his trips abroad. He was a private person and a sailor, kayaker, skier, and hiker, who went on a photo safari in Africa. Bob Henkel lived a good life. I wonder if ours are the generations most concerned with recording the stories of our history. If so, it will be our responsibility to keep the Society flourishing into the future. We ask you to include a bequest to the Society in your estate planning. Even a modest figure serves as a testimonial to your appreciation for the work the Society undertakes and how together we can plan for the future. You may well expect that the trustees at NMHS have included the Society in their estate planning, but I know you will be inspired, like I am, by the generous and unexpected gift from Bob Henkel. Fair winds, Bob, with our eternal thanks. —Burchenal Green, President 4
NATIONAL MARITIME HISTORICAL SOCIETY PUBLISHER’S CIRCLE: Peter Aron, Guy E. C. Maitland, Ronald L. Oswald OFFICERS & TRUSTEES: Chairman, Ronald L. Oswald; Vice Chairman, Richardo R. Lopes; President, Burchenal Green; Vice Presidents: Jessica MacFarlane, Deirdre O’Regan, Wendy Paggiotta, Nancy Schnaars; Treasurer, William H. White; Secretary, Jean Wort; Trustees: Charles B. Anderson; Walter R. Brown; Christopher J. Culver; William S. Dudley; David Fowler; William J. Green; Karen Helmerson; K. Denise Rucker Krepp; Guy E. C. Maitland; Capt. Jeffrey McAllister; CAPT Sally Chin McElwreath, USN (Ret.); CAPT James A. Noone, USN (Ret.); Richard Patrick O’Leary; ADM Robert J. Papp Jr., USCG (Ret.); Timothy J. Runyan; Richard Scarano; Philip J. Shapiro; Capt. Cesare Sorio; Chairmen Emeriti: Walter R. Brown, Alan G. Choate, Guy E. C. Maitland, Howard Slotnick (1930–2020) FOUNDER: Karl Kortum (1917–1996) PRESIDENT EMERITUS: Peter Stanford (1927–2016) OVERSEERS: Chairman, RADM David C. Brown, USMS (Ret.); RADM Joseph F. Callo, USN (Ret.); George W. Carmany III; Richard du Moulin; Alan D. Hutchison; Gary Jobson; Sir Robin Knox-Johnston; John Lehman; Capt. Brian McAllister; Capt. James J. McNamara; H. C. Bowen Smith; John Stobart; Philip J. Webster; Roberta Weisbrod NMHS ADVISORS: George Bass, Francis Duffy, John Ewald, Timothy Foote, Steven A. Hyman, J. Russell Jinishian, Gunnar Lundeberg, Conrad Milster, William G. Muller, Nancy Hughes Richardson SEA HISTORY EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Chairman, Timothy Runyan; Norman Brouwer, Robert Browning, William Dudley, Lisa Egeli, Daniel Finamore, Kevin Foster, Cathy Green, John Jensen, Frederick Leiner, Joseph Meany, Salvatore Mercogliano, Carla Rahn Phillips, Walter Rybka, Quentin Snediker, William H. White NMHS STAFF: Executive Director, Burchenal Green; Director of Development, Jessica MacFarlane; Accounting/Membership Associate, Andrea Ryan; Senior Staff Writer, Shelley Reid; Executive Assistant, Heather Purvis; Membership Coordinator, Nancy Schnaars SEA HISTORY: Editor, Deirdre E. O’Regan; Advertising Director, Wendy Paggiotta Sea History is printed by The Lane Press, South Burlington, Vermont, USA.
SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
NMHS Legacy Society If you believe we can learn from the past...Create a legacy to shape the future. Since our founding in 1963, the National Maritime Historical Society has striven to tell the stories, great and small, that make up the wondrous panorama of our maritime history. Over the last six decades, hundreds of thousands of readers have discovered in the pages of Sea History magazine a treasure-trove of stories that captivate, inspire and enlighten us all about the vital role of the sea— and those who have sailed upon it. The lessons that our seafaring heritage can teach—courage, ingenuity, self-reliance, and resourcefulness—are timeless. It is more important than ever to bring these lessons to young people—tomorrow’s maritime leaders and informed citizens of the republic. Now you can create a legacy for the next generation to ensure this important part of history is not lost. We know that maritime history is world history, yet the emphasis on teaching history in today’s education system is dwindling— depriving our youth of the precious commodity of hindsight. Help NMHS keep history alive! Making a legacy gift to the Society is a deeply personal and effective way to support our lifelong work, and has a transformative impact on our ability to promote maritime heritage and inspire future generations. A gift in your will or living trust is one of the most effective ways to provide for the Society’s future, and allows you to retain your assets during your lifetime. Alternatively, naming the National Maritime Historical Society on a portion of a retirement or life insurance policy is a simple way to provide for NMHS’s future without writing or re-writing your will or living trust. We are happy to assist as you consider a planned gift to NMHS. Please visit us at www.seahistory.org/plannedgiving, email email@example.com, or call us (914) 737-7878 Ext. 0 for more information.
Have you already made a legacy gift? We hope you will notify us when you have included us in your future planning so that we may thank you and welcome you as a new member of our NMHS Legacy Society.
SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21 5
Thanks for casting a broader net in the stories you cover. I was very glad to see you will seek out more stories on people of color, indigenous people, and women. I have always been proud that seafarers worked together with all nationalities to get the job done. The seafarers language is an example of communicating with a crew of many countries. Thanks, and looking forward to more in-depth stories. Will Jackson Golden, Colorado It was beyond the pale when I read in Sea History magazine about the decision to remove the name from one of the most decorated ships in the US Coast Guard, USCGC Taney. This is unconscionable! I really don’t care about the man Taney, we all have history that is good and bad. I am sure that if you look hard enough, you can find something in everyone’s past that might not have been the right choice at the time. What I do care about is the ship USCGC Taney. This ship has done nothing wrong, yet it is being punished by removing the name and doing a disservice to all the sailors who served aboard. The Taney has proudly served its country for 50 years, providing invaluable service in three wars, conducting search-and-rescue missions, acting as law enforcement on the high seas and saving many lives over its commendable history. A history that this “ship USCGC Taney” accomplished and now has been taken away by calling her just one of the treasure class ships. It is clear that whoever made the deci6
sion to remove the name has never served aboard a ship. If so, they would have known the bond that sailors have with their ships. It is something that is truly remarkable and lasts a lifetime. As a teenager, I had the opportunity to visit the Taney in Alameda, CA, during an open house and saw firsthand the pride of the crew. She was called the “Queen of the Pacific.” I think it is time to put the name of this historic ship back where it belongs or give it back to the Coast Guard for a proper burial at sea. I hope that you find this letter helpful rather than unpleasant—it was written with the best of intentions from a former US Navy sailor who served aboard three different ships, that live in my memory/heart still today. William Lavine San Jose, California Removing Taney’s name from the Coast Guard cutter was the right call. The USCG designation (WHEC-37) remains the same. The original naming of the ship after Taney was a reflection of the distorted view of Southern and US history dominating the moment. The change in no way diminishes the contributions of the ship and generations of crew. It might be hard to swallow for some surviving crew who identify with the name (but not the meaning of the name). John Odin Jensen, PhD Pensacola Florida Dr. Jensen is a member of the Sea History Editorial Advisory Board.
Great magazine though, do not stray from your mission, grovelling is not what we are looking for. Hendrik Bergen
Hospital Ships — A Grateful Captain, Lieutenant, and POW I had the good fortune to meet my late wife, Liz, when she was serving as an ensign, US Navy Nurse Corps, registered nurse anesthetist, at the US Naval Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. I was a Lieutenant, Junior Grade, United States Coast Guard at the time, serving as a watch officer in the CG Cutter Triton in the Caribbean Sea. Triton was on patrol when I suffered a ruptured appendix, and it was five days before my ship could get me to Corpus Christi Naval Hospital, by which time my condition was classified as “extremely critical.” My parents were notified of my critical condition. I was Liz’s patient for over six weeks, during which time we became so fond of each other’s company that we were married in 1953. The marriage lasted for 67 years and produced three daughters, five granddaughters, and a grandson.
courtesy capt robert a. moss, uscg (ret.)
Reconciling Social Justice and Maritime Heritage From the editor: In the previous issue of Sea History, our president, Burchenal Green, reported on the actions that a number of maritime heritage organizations are taking in light of the national discussion surrounding race and inequality. In that issue’s “Deck Log,” she also renewed the Society’s pledge to continue our efforts to be inclusive in the stories we cover. We received a great deal of positive feedback—but not unanimous support—and the letters below will show the range of opinions that our readers have regarding this issue. —DO’R
I was struck by the overwhelming number of reactive issues published in this issue [Sea History 172, Autumn 2020]. Now that racial injustice, inequality, diversity, social justice became the buzzwords next to Covid-19, you jumped on the bandwagon big time. Do not worry, it is a typical American CAPT Robert and LT Elizabeth Moss, 1953. reaction. I just find it a little too much for a magazine like this and it only covers CauMy wife had a profound experience in casians vs. what we call now African Amer- her Navy career. In the 1990s, she shared icans. The seafaring segment did their share in our community paper a particularly in bringing these people over but they did meaningful story about the experience she not round them up in Africa. had serving aboard the hospital ship USS Going back to racial injustice, inequal- Haven immediately after World War II. I ity, diversity, social justice, then also address am including this in my letter in case you and include seamen from China, Philip- want to share it with your readers. pines, Indonesia, and other nations and CAPT Robert A. Moss, USCG (Ret.) recognize their contributions. Seguim, Washington SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
We Welcome Your Feedback!
Please email correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org
United States Navy Nurse Corps Wartime Recollections by Lieutenant Elizabeth W. Moss, USN (NC) (Ret.) There is a painting that hangs in our hallway. It will surely never hang in the Louvre, but I cherish it and rarely pass it by without being reminded, just for an instant, of the most moving and rewarding experience of my nine proud years in the United States Navy Nurse Corps. The painting shows a pair of B-29s flying low over an austere Japanese landscape. There is a “rainbow” bridge in the foreground and a group of grim-looking prison barracks. A dozen parachutes are drifting down into the camp; a few have already landed. They are cargo chutes attached to crates bound with steel straps. The crates contain food, cigarettes, and clothing. A close look at the painting shows that it is not done on canvas, but rather on what appears to be silk. The artist has written an inscription across the bottom: War is Over, August 1945, Uncle Remembers Prisoners. Sakai River, Tobata, Japan. Fukuoka Camp No. 3 Miss Elizabeth from Sally It was, indeed, August of 1945. I was a junior grade lieutenant, serving as an anesthetist in the Navy Hospital Ship USS Haven (AH12). We were part of an immense task force that was anchored in Pearl Harbor preparing for that final goal of the Pacific War—the invasion of the Japanese homeland. Then suddenly there were the two atomic bombs and it was over. Hundreds of ships at Pearl erupted with whistles, flares, bells, and searchlights, but within hours Haven was ordered to join a task group bound for the devastated port of Nagasaki. Our mission was to release the Allied prisoners that were being held in the nearby Japanese prison camps. Ten days later our force was cautiously standing into Nagasaki Harbor. I say “cautiously” because we had no idea how
courtesy capt robert a. moss, uscg (ret.)
From the editor: The following is the article Captain Moss mentions as written by his late wife, Elizabeth Moss, which we are pleased to be able to share with his fellow NMHS members.
complete the surrender had been and how we would be received. We were escorted by the cruiser USS Wichita (CA45) and some destroyers. Leading us all was a flotilla of minesweepers, for the entrance had been heavily mined by the defending Japanese. Eventually we made fast to a wharf where there was a railroad spur and we got ready to receive our patients. To this day, almost 50 years after the event, I am moved to tears—tears of joy, of compassion, of elation, of overwhelming emotion—when I reflect upon the scene
that followed. The prisoners arrived in rail box cars. They were of all nationalities— Americans, British (some from the fall of Singapore), Dutch, French, Malaysians, Indonesians. As the trains rolled in, we were all cheering. Bands from the Wichita and Haven played “Hail, Hail The Gang’s All Here,” and “California, Here I Come,” and many of the popular tunes of the time. Everyone was crying. Yes, I mean everyone! I saw crusty chief petty officers, who had seen four years of Pacific hell, with tears streaming down their grizzled cheeks.
Join Us for a Voyage into History Our seafaring heritage comes alive in the pages of Sea History, from the ancient mariners of Greece to Portuguese navigators opening up the ocean world to the heroic efforts of sailors in modern-day conflicts. Each issue brings new insights and discoveries. If you love the sea, rivers, lakes, and
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SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21 7
Timeline of the Dolphin Striker I am afraid there’s something not quite right about the illustration of a whaleship model on p. 17 of the Autumn 2020 issue. The caption dates the model at ca. 1765, but the model is clearly shown equipped with a martingale or dolphin-striker, a feature known not to have been invented until 1792. So, either it’s a 19th-century model (my guess) or someone added the dolphin-striker to the model at a later date. John Fitzhugh Millar Williamsburg, Virginia From the editor: We contacted the collections and research department at the Nantucket Historical Association, which owns the ship model, and they replied that: We believe that the hull of the model is from the 18th century, but we agree that the rig was redone in more recent times, probably ★
J. P. URANKER WOODCARVER
THE TRADITION OF HANDCARVED EAGLES CONTINUES TODAY
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As we got the prisoners off the trains— most were mere scarecrows—we got them into showers and de-lousing stations that had been set up on the pier. We separated those that were ambulatory from those that needed more immediate medical care, and we listened to them talking. “Doughnuts? Doughnuts!?” one of them exclaimed. “I forgot there were such things.” They marvelled at the stuff in the magazines and newspapers we handed out. “Shirley Temple,” one POW remarked upon seeing the young star’s picture on a magazine cover. “They told us she was dead!” But the most poignant and chilling talk dealt with their experience as prisoners. Some of these men had been on the infamous Bataan Death March and had endured unspeakable mental and physical suffering, and yet they would tell of their ordeals in the most matter-of-fact, almost detached manner. The lack of rancor in their delivery only served to enhance the horror of their words. It was my custom to make regular visits to my patients for as long as they were aboard the ship. During one of these rounds, I met a young Indonesian soldier who I know only by his nickname, “Sally.” One day Sally said to me, “Miss Elizabeth, before the war I was an artist, and if you could get me some paints I would like to do a picture for you.” The ship’s recreation officer provided a paint set, and so it was that Sally produced the painting that hangs in our hallway and still, after all these years, arrests my attention. Why is it painted on silk, you ask? And what are those rust-colored stains on the painting? Well, you see, Sally didn’t have any proper canvas on which to paint, but he had saved a piece of one of those parachutes that had been brought to the inmates of Fukuoka Camp No. 3—the first assurance that “Uncle Remembers Prisoners.” Sally was apologetic about the rustcolored stains. “I tried to find a clean piece of silk, Miss Elizabeth, but most of the parachutes had blood on them. You see, we prisoners were so eager to get into those crates that a lot of us got cut when we were tearing off those metal bands that were wrapped around the boxes.” A few days later, Sally was moved to another hospital ship for the voyage back to his native Sumatra. I never saw him again.
Martingale, a.k.a. Dolphin striker in first half of the 20th century. The davits and boats are also modern additions to the original model.—NHA OWNER’S STATEMENT: Statement filed 9/28/20 required by the Act of Aug. 12, 1970, Sec. 3685, Title 39, US Code: Sea History is published quarterly at 5 John Walsh Blvd., Peekskill NY 10566; minimum subscription price is $17.50. Publisher and editor-in-chief: None; Editor is Deirdre E. O’Regan; owner is National Maritime Historical Society, a non-profit corporation; all are located at 5 John Walsh Blvd., Peekskill NY 10566. During the 12 months preceding October 2019 the average number of (A) copies printed each issue was 17,215; (B) paid and/or requested circulation was: (1) outside county mail subscriptions 6,516; (2) in-county subscriptions 0; (3) sales through dealers, carriers, counter sales, other nonUSPS paid distribution 2148; (4) other classes mailed through USPS 319; (C) total paid and/or requested circulation was 8983; (D) free distribution by mail, samples, complimentary and other 6,917; (E) free distribution outside the mails 530; (F) total free distribution was 7,447; (G) total distribution 16,430; (H) copies not distributed 785; (I) total [of 15G and H] 17,215; (J) Percentage paid and/or requested circulation 55%. The actual numbers for the single issue preceding October 2020 are: (A) total number printed 8,755; (B) paid and/or requested circulation was: (1) outside-county mail subscriptions 5,967; (2) incounty subscriptions 0; (3) sales through dealers, carriers, counter sales, other non-USPS paid distribution 60; (4) other classes mailed through USPS 80; (C) total paid and/or requested circulation was 6,107; (D) free distribution by mail, samples, complimentary and other 0; (E) free distribution outside the mails 250; (F) total free distribution was 1,875; (G) total distribution 7,982; (H) copies not distributed 773; (I) total [of 15G and H] 8,755 (J) Percentage paid and/or requested circulation 77%. I certify that the above statements are correct and complete. (signed) Burchenal Green, Executive Director, National Maritime Historical Society.
SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
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SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21 9
A CAUSE IN MOTION
A Look Astern as NMHS Sets a Course for the Future
video footage courtesy voyage digital media
his year the Society, like so many organizations, is facing a convergence of challenges. In March our offices had to shut down because of COVID-19, and we soon learned that we would have to cancel all in-person events for the rest of 2020. We were also in the midst of planning a major move for our headquarters, after having occupied the same location for 27 years. Managing all these things is no small feat, especially with the added challenge of staggering our staff time in the current office space as we conduct the regular work of the organization and pack up to move across town by the end of the year. (At the time of this printing, we should be happily unpacking boxes—or unpacking them anyway—at our new location at 1000 North Division Street, #4, Peekskill, New York 10566. Look out for the official announcement!) NMHS is proud of its now 10,000-plus volume library and its extensive archives. In addition to serving as a repository for books and other maritime records, the Society also maintains extensive files representing nearly 60 years of running the organization. At times it seems like a lot to sift through, and some difficult decisions need to be made. Just one example—we have dozens of folders within which are the original intricate drawings of ships made by long-time vice president Norma Stanford that NMHS has put on medallions, bookmarks, and other merchandise over the years. In those folders are also records about vendors, distribution, etc. This was great work, but do we keep it and why? It is a little trickier to purge your belongings when you are a historical society; our office staff and archivist have been going through these records and storage areas for months in preparation for the move. That brings us to the plans we embarked on this past summer as we faced the reality NMHS recently created an online datathat our big event of the year, the NMHS Annual Awards Dinner in New York City, would base of all past awardees, accessible at have to go virtual. We decided www.seahistory.org/awards. that this would be a good time to reflect on our past award recipients rather than deny a new honoree their chance to shine at the podium at the New York Yacht Club’s famous Model Room. We trust that we can return to that spectacular venue in 2021. In the meantime, we dug into our records to create an online catalogue featuring profiles of each awardee since 1968, including a short biographical statement and photo. The Society’s coveted awards have been presented to individuals and organizations for half a century, and Dinner chairman Christopher J. Culver welcomes guests just before he began his on-camera interview with ADM Jonathan W. Greenert, USN (Ret.) 30th Chief of Naval Operations. 10
SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
it was inspiring to look back at the accomplishments of so many whose impact on the maritime heritage has been profound and lasting. We relished the opportunity to pay tribute to all our former award recipients—more than 200 of them! Be sure to read about them on our website at www.seahistory.org/awards. For our new experiment in planning a virtual event, in addition to honoring the entire slate of past awardees, we asked a handful of them to join us on camera for a conversation about what they are working on now, or something meaningful they wanted to share about the experience that got them the award in the first place. We only had time to talk to a half dozen or so people one-on-one, followed by ship roll calls and award recipient shout-outs from across the nation, but they spoke well for their fellow NMHS awardees. You can see these conversations and Honorary dinner chairman George W. Carmany III interviews 2003 the full video of the event on our website. It is a proud NMHS Distinguished Service Award recipient Dr. Robert Ballard at representation of the wide range of topics that people in the the Ocean Exploration Trust headquarters in New London, Connecticut. maritime heritage field are engaged in, and the impressive accomplishment and diversity exhibited in so many areas—historic ship restoration, classic yacht racing, Navy, Coast Guard, merchant marine, and other sea services, artists, authors, teachers, sailors, historians, boat builders…and more.
(left) Sea History editor Deirdre O’Regan interviews former award recipients Nathaniel Philbrick and Quentin Snediker, whose work has been instrumental to the commemoration of Mayflower’s landing in America 400 years ago. (right) The volunteer crew of the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s 1863 Star of India (recipient of the 1996 Karl Kortum American Ship Trust Award) makes roll call for the 2020 NMHS Annual Awards show. Our video production was put together by NMHS vice chairman Richardo Lopes and his son, videographer Alessandro Lopes, of Voyage Digital Media. Rick is a long-time NMHS trustee and an award-winning documentarian. The Lopeses’ short biopics of the recipients are shown at NMHS’s awards dinners and are a highlight of the evening—our guests inevitably rave about how much they learned about the honorees and enjoyed the films. This year though, we turned the tide on Rick and asked him to step out from behind the camera and allow himself to be interviewed by fellow trustee Admiral Robert Papp Jr., USCG (Ret.). The outcome is a true gem, as are all the interviews and award recipient video clips. We would like to thank all who helped us put the virtual event together and to all who participated. We hope you have enjoyed these highlights from the evening, and that you watch the video in full at www.seahistory.org/AAD2020. —Burchenal Green, NMHS President NMHS vice chairman and documentarian Richardo Lopes, winner of the 2013 David A. O’Neil Sheet Anchor Award, with son and videographer Alessandro Lopes on location in Boothbay, Maine. SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21 11
courtesy of mother jones
hen American author Robert M. Pirsig (1928–2017) published his first book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (ZAMM) in 1974, it—and he—became an immediate sensation. The story was based on a 5,700-mile motorcycle trip that Pirsig and his eleven-year-old son Chris took from Minneapolis to San Francisco and back in 1968. The book’s strong philosophical foundation made it reach beyond the stan-
by Paul F. Johnston
dard adventure narrative, and resonate with readers from across a wide spectrum. A New Yorker review compared it to Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick,1 and within a few short months, it sold more than 50,000 copies. By a year’s passage, the number topped a million. Since then, HarperCollins estimates that well over six million copies of ZAMM—in several editions and 27 languages—are in circulation worldwide, and the book remains in print. It is
photo by jaclyn nash, smithsonian
“ If Boat Is Going Down”— Bikes, Boats, and Robert Pirsig
read in college literature, religion, and philosophy courses, and today Pirsig is considered a pioneer in the academic study of the history of technology in the areas of equipment maintenance, tinkering, and do-it-yourself. What most people don’t know is that Pirsig’s strongest lifelong interest was actually in ships and boats. His first maritime experience was in November 1932 at the age of four, when his family left Minnesota and crossed the Atlantic aboard the old Cunard liner Mauretania. His father, Maynard Pirsig, had accepted a short post in England, and the ocean passage the family made to get there impressed little Robert immensely. In July 1933 the family returned aboard Berengaria, and the two voyages left an indelible and formative memory that lasted throughout his life, even briefly appearing in his second and last book Lila (1991): “…the foghorn that frightened him and made him run up the gangplank. He was only four and the ship was the Mauritania [sic] going to England.”2 As a nine-year-old elementary school student with a measured IQ of 170, Pirsig won a book for earning good grades. When This image combining Zen, motorcycle, and boat imagery appeared in a 1977 Pirsig interview in Mother Jones magazine. Note that the boat is at the top of the illustration. SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
(right) This photograph of a Jeddah bumboat is one of only a few pictures Pirsig took documenting his research trip to India. (below) Pirsig with another stowaway on the cargo ship, 1951.
courtesy of wendy pirsig
(above) Robert Pirsig’s personal copy of The Book of Old Ships, open to the entry on Sir Francis Drake.
courtesy of wendy pirsig
it turned out that he already owned the prize volume, he instead asked for a copy of Henry Culver’s 1924 The Book of Old Ships, illustrated by Gordon Grant. He kept that book for his entire life, reminiscing in Lila that “his favorite book had been a book about old ships, which he’d paged through slowly, again and again, wondering what it would be like to live in one of those little ornamented aft cabins with the tiny windows, staring out like Sir Francis Drake at the surging waves rolling under you. It seemed as though all his life after that, whenever he took long trips, he ended up on a dock in a harbor somewhere, staring at the boats.”3 After high school, Bob Pirsig served in the Army from 1946–48 in Korea. Undoubtedly, there would have been at least a voyage or two aboard a troopship, and his military service was notable as it provided his earliest exposure to eastern Zen. After earning a BA in philosophy from the University of Minnesota, in 1951 he spent a year in India at Banaras Hindu University, studying further. He flew to India, but returned by ship, first booking a passage on an unidentified P&O liner from Mangalore to Bombay. The passengers lightered from shore to the liner on a “Jeddah Bumboat”—an Arab dhow—that was unusual enough to warrant one of only about fifty photographs he took of his year-long India sojourn. He booked a deck passage and, as the only westerner on deck for the three-day transit, was entertaining to the crew. From Bombay, Pirsig found an American cargo vessel with a forty-day itinerary to Houston via the Suez Canal. Passengers were not permitted, however, so Pirsig essentially stowed away, partially earning his passage by doing office work for the captain. He had to hide in the ship’s hospital during inspection at the Suez Canal, and remembered eating handfuls of wheat from the hold to supplement the meals he could get with the crew. He had bought a pet monkey in India, but that relationship did not survive the ocean passage. He returned to the Midwest and enrolled in journalism school, but left before finishing. For most of 1954, Pirsig and his new wife, Nancy (née James, who had been an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota when he was studying there), dealt
SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21 13
photo by richard strauss, smithsonia n
cards at a Reno casino to save enough to hitchhike to Mexico. His plan was to write “the great book,” but a week-long interval with a typewriter in an empty room wrestling with writer’s block promptly put an end to that idea. He then decided to build boats for a living in Mexico, where labor was cheaper than in the States. He wrote to his father back in Minnesota and asked him to mail him a book from his collection at home, Boats Anyone Can Build, which had a design for a small ocean-going yacht with an auxiliary engine. Pirsig also asked him to send along builders’ plans of several 30-40 foot auxiliary sailboat designs for future projects. With abundant inexpensive local cedar and mahogany and skilled boatbuilders charging only two dollars per day, Pirsig estimated he could build
a boat for $500, sail it to Texas, where he could buy and install a used car engine, and sell the finished product for $2,000. During this interval he worked with a Cuban carpenter named Pancho Piquet, of whom he wrote: “He was the fastest carpenter I’ve ever seen…And careful. He never slowed down, even in that jungle heat. We didn’t have any electricity but he could work faster with hand tools than most people do with power tools. He was in his fifties or sixties and I was twentysomething. One night a big Norte, a norther, blew in off the Gulf of Mexico and it blew so hard…it took the roof off his house and carried it away. But instead of fixing it he got drunk and he stayed drunk for more than a month. After a couple of weeks his wife had to come begging for money for
food. That was so sad. I think partly he got drunk because he knew everything was going wrong and the boat would never get built. And that was true. I ran out of money and had to quit.”4 Pirsig spent six months on the project before moving back to the States with little more than some leftover boat cedar. In the interim, the Pirsigs—now new parents—returned to Minnesota, where Bob would resume his studies in journalism. He then became a freelance journalist and technical writer, even writing “ads for the mortuary cosmetics industry.”5 Over the next several years Pirsig undertook writing his book, an autobiographical novel that surfed the zeitgeist perfectly. The book, of course, is his masterpiece, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance had such enormous and rapid success that it bred “Pirsig’s Pilgrims”—random knocks on his front door and other unwelcome phenomena that triggered the writer’s aversion to public attention. What did Pirsig do with the ZAMM royalties? Buy a new house, car, or motorcycle? Not even close: he ordered a brand new $60,000 thirty-two-foot Westsail fiberglass cutter from a California yacht builder. A Colin Archer design, this was a heavily built, roomy, oceangoing design for serious long-distance cruising. The Pirsigs had previously chartered a wooden boat with a gaff rig—and a skipper—in Newport, Rhode Island, for a two-day overnight cruise to see how it fit. Although they hit some bad summer weather, the positive experience overall led to the W32—and a fiberglass hull. Pirsig and his second son, Ted, went to California in 1975 to check on the W32 construction. Some 830 W32s were built from 1971–80, many of which were sold as kits. Pirsig contemplated a kit but wisely decided to buy the finished boat, probably thinking back to his Mexican boat-building experience. After it was completed, Pirsig had it trucked to Wisconsin, where he launched it at Bayfield, christening it Arete, the Greek word for excellence (a frequently occurring topic in ZAMM). Nancy Pirsig had taken Watercolor of Arete, depicted shortly before its British landfall in August 1979. Painting by William Tillar. SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
courtesy of wendy pirsig
Bob Pirsig at the tiller aboard Arete off Miami, 1977. a sailmaking class over the winter and sewed a big “drifter-reacher” for light air that was rarely used offshore. Pirsig and a friend, Paul Leverentz, sailed Arete easterly through the Great Lakes into the New York canal system, and then down the Hudson River and southerly along the East Coast to North Carolina. There, son Ted signed on, expecting a relaxing Caribbean cruise, and the trio sailed for the Virgin Islands. By then it was December, and taking a new boat on its shakedown blue-water cruise proved a mistake. Arete hit heavy winter weather that sickened the crew, broke the self-steering gear, buried the spreaders on both sides of the boat in high seas, and blew the yacht off course. They put in to Puerto Rico instead of their intended destination in the Virgin Islands. Ted flew back from San Juan to the mainland and never sailed again; Nancy Pirsig replaced Ted onboard, and the couple sailed back to New Haven, Connecticut, via Bermuda. Pirsig worked
on his next book while living aboard Arete in New Haven Harbor that spring and summer. The following autumn the couple set sail for Florida again, but Nancy Pirsig bailed in Annapolis. Bob Pirsig arrived in Miami alone, his marriage on the rocks. What did Pirsig publish after ZAMM? Another terrestrial tale building on the success of his prior best seller? Not at all— his first significant post-ZAMM prose was a nautical-themed article, “Cruising Blues and Their Cure,” for Esquire magazine. He wrote about getaway sailing dreams versus the reality of liveaboard life and long-distance cruising on a small boat, saying “those who see sailing as an escape from reality have got their understanding of both sailing and reality completely backwards. Sailing is not an escape but a return to and confrontation of a reality from which modern civilization is itself an escape…sailing returns to the old realities of dark and heat and cold.”6 At some point in his journey, he took some of the timber he’d saved in
his garage from the Mexican boatbuilding episode and routed out some cedar toolboxes for his finer machine tools. Not surprisingly, Pirsig’s second book, Lila: An Inquiry into Morals, is about a man and his boat. On Labor Day 1976, Pirsig, who normally shunned publicity, boarded a journalist in Boston Harbor and took him for an overnight sail down the Massachusetts coast. A landsman battling seasickness, the young writer anticipated enlightenment as he watched Pirsig take on maintenance of a frozen traveler block, but he was disappointed when Pirsig pulled out a sharp tool, a rattle can of spray lube, and added to the effort a few salty words, just like anyone else. “I scrape the bottom, clean the deck, keep the boat up, and that seems like High Quality.” At the same time, Pirsig was still grappling with his unwelcome instant fame: “…now the outsider is the number one insider…now I have to watch myself, because I’ll say things which I throw out just for the fun of it, and many people
SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21 15
photo by richard strauss, smithsonian
The Pirsig’s nautical chart tracking their 1979 transAtlantic crossing. Arete’s daily position is marked in pencil across the top of the chart. The route took them right through the storm that killed fifteen sailors and sank several boats that were competing in the Fastnet Race.
photo by richard strauss, smithsonian
take them very seriously. It’s a very unsettling experience.”7 Pirsig managed fame— along with its stresses and anxiety—by sailing away from it. Pirsig and his second wife, Wendy, taught themselves celestial navigation and in August of 1979 sailed across the Atlantic from St. Pierre near Newfoundland to
the Scilly Islands, off Cornwall, England. Expecting a smooth and easy transit in August, they navigated with a C. Plath sextant, a wristwatch, and a Texas Instruments TI-59 calculator that Pirsig had programmed with navigational algorithms. Just before setting out, he forgot his own cruising article’s advice and conclusion,
optimistically musing “…the passage is like a bus ride nowadays…just set your sails and go read a magazine…cruising is like a Zen sesshin, or meditation retreat. After a while you just wear out even the terror and dread.”8 As it turned out, blue water ocean voyaging was a bit different from the more casual coastal or interisland cruising the Pirsigs had experienced up to that point. Just a couple of days before making landfall in Cornwall, they sailed smack through the middle of the infamous storm of 14 August 1979 that killed fifteen professional sailors and four spectators in the nearby Fastnet Race—a famous and competitive 600-mile round trip slog from the Isle of Wight in the English Channel to Fastnet Rock off the south coast of Ireland, and back. Of the 303 starters in that year’s race, only 86 finished. Twenty-four yachts were abandoned, 193 retired, approximately 75 capsized, and five sank. Of course, the Pirsigs knew only that they were in a really stout boat in a really bad storm that took away their appetites and deprived them of sleep. The day after the storm, Wendy Pirsig’s journal ruefully recorded a With a sextant, log, watch, chart and TI-59 calculator, the Pirsigs navigated easterly across the Atlantic in August 1979. SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
courtesy of wendy pirsig
Bob Pirsig and daughter Nell aboard Arete in Tananger, Norway, 1981.
courtesy of wendy pirsig
radically different perspective from Bob Pirsig’s words a couple of weeks earlier: “Wild horses couldn’t drag us across the North Atlantic again and we’ll probably try to avoid any ocean sailing anywhere if we can. Day sailing, from port to port along the coast, is the way to go from now on.” 9 Just before he was supposed to visit them in England, Bob Pirsig’s twenty-twoyear-old son Chris—who had accompanied his father on the now-famous 1968 motorcycle trek—was murdered in San Francisco. The Pirsigs settled into their grief as they settled in Falmouth Harbor as liveaboards for the next several months. Pirsig resumed writing. The following spring they sailed north up the English Channel to Holland; a year later, in 1981, daughter Nell was born there, with Arete tied up in a Dutch canal. Just two months later, the family sailed across the North Sea and spent the next three years in Norway and Sweden as Bob kept adding chapters to Lila. In late 1984 Lila and daughter Nell were both far enough along for the Pirsigs to make the voyage homeward, taking it slow as they sailed south, transiting German, Dutch, Belgian, and French canals to the Mediterranean. The next year Bob
Bob and Wendy Pirsig with Arete hauled out so they could clean and repaint the bottom in advance of their transAtlantic crossing. and two Swedish crewmembers sailed Arete back across the Atlantic, while Wendy and Nell flew back, carrying with them the completed Lila manuscript and an Apple II computer. Pirsig spent almost seventeen years writing Lila. It was another autobiographical novel, and a loose sequel to ZAMM, about a boat captain on the Hudson River and in Long Island Sound, and a philosophical discourse on “Morals” that also revisited “Quality.” Although it was a finalist for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Lila never achieved the widespread popularity of its older sibling. It would be Pirsig’s last book. The Pirsigs kept Arete in New England and continued to daysail for many years, with Bob Pirsig repairing and maintaining the vessel offseason in his driveway until its sale in 2014. In late 2016, with her husband in failing health, Wendy Pirsig contacted the Smithsonian and asked if there might be interest in her husband’s motorcycle. A visit to the family home in Maine revealed not only motorcycle-related items, but also extensive materials relating to Bob’s boating life. A selection of items illustrating both sides of Robert Pirsig’s life now resides at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21 17
photo by richard strauss, smithsonian
(above) Pirsig’s typewriter and Apple II computer, on which he wrote his two books. The Apple is shown with the top off, displaying the seven aftermarket cards for extra speed, graphics, and memory. (right) Pirsig routed out some of his leftover boatbuilding cedar from Mexico for a custom case for his tap and die set. (below) In 2004, Pirsig replaced Arete’s pulpit in his garage in Maine.
courtesy of wendy pirsig
The track chart of the three-week 1979 Atlantic transit is among the donated items, along with the sextant, log line, and calculator used to navigate that and later voyages. A watercolor of Arete by Morrow editor Jim Landis’s father-in-law was derived from a photo taken by a Royal Navy helicopter checking on the survivors of the 1979 Fastnet Race. A worn Arete propeller, the lantern that illuminated the cabin, a sail repair kit, and other items from the boat augment the collection, providing unparalleled material context to the writer and his surroundings. Bob later wrote: “It was always in my mind when I bought my boat and we took that trip to Europe. We were following the trip of the Mauretania.” Particularly poignant—even prescient in hindsight—is a two-page, single-spaced list Bob typed up titled “IF BOAT IS GOING DOWN BRING THIS LIST,” as though there might be adequate time to consult it, gather up its long and detailed list of contents, and hop into a life raft with everything all snugly fastened down. Wendy Pirsig donated the typewriter on which Bob’s books were written, together with the Apple II computer on which he also wrote and programmed games for Nell. He had hot-rodded his Apple II, stacking seven cards inside that attest to his technical computer prowess. The Smithsonian has another Apple II, which had belonged to a computer programmer and was loaded with only three cards, but that’s another story for another day.
SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
The community of historians, writers, and museum staff with both motorcycle licenses and an interest in boats is very small. I regret not meeting Bob Pirsig, but I do feel an affinity through shared interests, and I especially appreciate kindred experiences that those with bikes and boats at heart can know. It’s interesting to talk about the different artifacts in the lifespanning collection—especially the tools— and speculate about their use in light of ZAMM’s influence and its impact on American culture, as we measure and document them and the maritime objects. Rarely are we offered such deep context relative to an individual’s personal material culture. We plan to present this extraordinary gift to the nation soon, in an exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of ZAMM’s publication in 2024.
courtesy william morrow
Dr. Paul F. Johnston is Curator of Maritime History at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC; he also works with the museum’s motorcycle collection. He is profoundly grateful to the Pirsig family, together with retired William Morrow editor James Landis, for many of the stories, details, and images in this article. The museum is located on the National Mall at 14th Street and Constitution Ave., NW. (http://americanhistory.si.edu)
Robert M. Pirsig died at home in South Berwick, Maine, on 24 April 2017 at age 88.
NOTES 1 George Steiner, “Uneasy Rider,” The New Yorker, 15 April 1974. 2 Lila, chapter 28, p. 378. 3 Lila, chapter 28, p. 382. 4 Lila, chapter 14, p. 189. 5 See Tim Adams, “The interview: Robert Pirsig,” The Guardian for 18 November 2006, occasioned by a new edition of Lila (1991) on its fifteenth anniversary. Pirsig was remarkably candid in this interview. 6 “Cruising Blues and Their Cure,” Esquire 87.1 (May 1977) 65-68. It can be found
online at http://moq.org/forum/Pirsig/ cruisingblues.html 7 Ed Zuckerman, “Zen And The Art of Sailboat Maintenance: At Sea with Robert Pirsig,” Mother Jones (May 1977) 56-61. 8 Wendy Pirsig journal for 18 and 30 July 1979. 9 Renowned America’s Cup sailor and raconteur Gary Jobson was tactician aboard yachtsman Ted Turner’s yacht Tenacious in the 1979 Fastnet Race and made a film about it (www.jobsonsailing.com/ac/53).
SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21 19
A Dead Man’s Tale: A Pirate’s Pardon and a Customs Collector’s Collusion by Daniel A. Laliberte
aptain John Smith of the private armed schooner Young Spartan was incensed. It was 11 April 1818, and his ship’s boat had just returned from depositing the crew of his recently acquired prize, the merchant brig Norberg, on a deserted island just north of Cuba. He had intended to dump the Norberg crew overboard, but his first lieutenant, Ralph Clintock, and the ship’s doctor threatened to mutiny should he do so. Murder would have crossed the thin line between legal privateering and piracy—a hanging offense. His boat crew had returned from the island with a note from the stranded part
library of congress
owner and supercargo of the Norberg, a man named Cosler. In the note, Cosler threatened to see Smith charged with piracy if he were rescued. That changed things. Young Spartan possessed a letter of marque from the revolutionary Republic of Mexico that authorized the seizure of Spanish shipping, but Smith did not want to risk testing it in a US court. He knew that the United States did not yet recognize Mexican independence. More importantly, he also knew that the Norberg was actually a Danish-flagged vessel in which his second lieutenant had planted Spanish papers to justify capturing her on the high seas. Further, he was legally obligated to
Port Royal Sound
bring any prize into port and petition an Admiralty court for the rights to the vessel and her cargo, and he was also required to safeguard its crew and their personal property. Marooning definitely crossed a line. Unwilling to take the chance that the Norberg’s owner and crew might be rescued and accuse him of piracy to American authorities, Smith determined to “go on shore and kill the whole crew…particularly the damned rascal Cosler.” Apparently, even his virtuous first lieutenant recognized the danger and volunteered to lead the mission. Clintock took a boat back to the island with a shore party. From the deck of the Young Spartan, shots were heard ashore. Clintock soon returned and reported the deed was done. Satisfied, Smith ordered the two vessels set a course for Savannah, Georgia, where he would dispose of the Norberg and her cargo under a secret agreement he had pre-arranged with the collector of customs there. It never dawned on him that Clintock and the shore party would spare the lives of the Norberg’s crew by just firing over their heads, and if he had entertained the idea, the likelihood that they would be rescued was slim to none. Such wanton acts of piracy by vessels like the Young Spartan had begun to increase beginning in mid-1815. That this followed the end of the War of 1812 was no coincidence. During the war, the United States had loosed a swarm of more than 500 privateering vessels against Great Britain’s merchant fleet. Those privateers had brought thousands of prizes worth millions of dollars back to the States. Now that hostilities were over, the letters of marque legitimizing what was essentially targeted piracy were invalid. Vessels purpose-built for privateering could not just switch to carrying cargo, at least not with any efficiency. Privateers were designed for speed. Accommodating a large crew and a few guns, they had little space Young Spartan’s stomping grounds in the summer of 1818. Cosler and his crew from the Norberg were put ashore on one of the small islands off the north coast of Cuba. SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
courtesy of the artist: www.patrickobrienstudio.com
for freight. They were intended to cruise in search of merchant ships that could be easily overtaken. Only small, high-value items, such as bullion or specie, and sometimes alcohol, were transferred to the privateer; generally, a prize crew would be detached to man the captured vessel and sail it to the coast while the cruiser continued its hunt. Luckily for these now-unemployed privateers, a number of Spain’s former colonies in the New World had risen in revolt and declared independence in recent years. Without formal navies of their own, they were more than happy to issue letters of marque to any vessel and crew willing to attack the commerce of their mother country. Although US neutrality laws prohibited American vessels from attacking ships of a nation with which the US was not at war, there were plenty of loopholes in the legislation that could be exploited by unscrupulous mariners and shipowners. Sometimes it was as simple as hauling down the Stars and Stripes after clearing US waters and hoisting the ensign of a newly established Latin American country. Officers and crew would then quickly swear allegiance to the new flag, new registration papers were drawn up and signed, and presto—a new vessel was added to the fleet of the rebel nation. The US government took a dim view of these antics, and many perpetrators were seized by cutters of the Revenue Marine, both in port or outbound, but still in US waters. Revenue cutters were limited, however, and many more of these impromptu privateers successfully slipped out to sea seeking to decimate the Spanish merchant fleet. Young Spartan was one such vessel. As a Baltimore-built schooner, her sharply raked hull and expansive spread of sail made her fast enough to overtake most any merchantman afloat; and while she sported only a single long gun (probably an eightto-twelve-pound muzzle-loading cannon) on a pivot-mount just forward of midships, her fore-and-aft schooner rig enabled her to escape to windward from more heavily armed pursuers. By 1818, the Young Spartan’s depredations had become notorious enough to earn mention in a letter of protest from the Spanish ambassador, Louis de Onís,
Guardian of the Republic–USS Enterprise, by Patrick O’Brien, 24 x 36 inches, oil on canvas The Baltimore-built topsail schooner, with its raked hull and masts, was designed for speed, making it a good choice for privateering. to the US Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams. In the letter, Onís charged that the United States was turning a blind eye to blatant violations of US and international law. Young Spartan, he noted, had been constructed, outfitted, armed, and manned in the United States. Not only was she attacking Spanish ships in the Straits of Florida, she was bringing them into US ports to dispose of the illegally gotten gains! As bad as this sounded, the situation was actually much worse—the Collector of Customs in the Port of Savannah, Archibald S. Bulloch, and his brother, James, were p.d. mfa, boston
p.d. museo nacional de las intervenciones, mexico
(left) Luis de Onís y González-Vara (1762– 1827), Spanish envoy to the United States, and (above) then Secretary of State John Quincy Adams (1767–1848) exchanged words with respect to the depredations of the Young Spartan and the collusion on the part of the collector of customs. Of note: Onís and Adams were in the middle of negotiations at the time as they hashed out the terms of the Florida Purchase Treaty (a.k.a. the AdamsOnís Treaty) that was signed the following winter. The treaty established the sale of Florida to the United States and defined the western boundary of the United States, separating it from New Spain.
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secretly part owners of the Young Spartan. Not only was the collector facilitating the entry and disposition of pirated vessels and their cargoes, his brother had given written instructions to the ship’s current captain, John Smith, laying out specific procedures to be followed if he chose to take non-Spanish-flagged prizes. This was, of course, accessory to piracy. Captain Smith followed these instructions closely in the case of the Norberg. He assigned his second lieutenant, John Ferguson, the same lieutenant who had planted the false Spanish papers aboard, and six men to impersonate the Norberg’s original crew. As the Norberg approached the entrance to the Savannah River on 23 April, Ferguson sent a letter to the collector of customs ashore via the pilot who had come out to meet them. That night several schooners came alongside and offloaded most of the Norberg’s main cargo: 500 boxes of Cuban sugar worth around $50,000. In the morning, Lieutenant Ferguson, now posing as “Captain Altmann,” was allowed to enter port and sell the remaining cargo—all in blatant contravention of US customs laws. Captain Smith and Lt. Ferguson then took the ship’s share of the profits—some $17,000—and skipped town. The money should have been distributed among the ship’s crew at the rate of a few thousand dollars per officer and a few hundred dollars per crewman—the equivalent of a typical merchant mariner’s full year’s wages— earned in roughly two months since the Young Spartan departed Amelia Island back in February. With nothing to show for their efforts, Clintock—now Captain Clintock—and his crew returned to sea in search of new prizes. It was a good thing for them that they did not linger in Savannah. Less than two weeks later on 14 May, an astonishing article appeared in the local newspaper, the Savannah Republican. It spun a sordid tale of piracy and impersonation. That same day, US Attorney William Davies filed a “libel”—a type of lien—against the Norberg, still anchored in the Savannah River, which directed the seizure of the vessel and identified the Young Spartan and its captain as pirates. As it turned out, the marooned Mr. Cosler had returned from the dead and made good on his promise. 22
Cosler was apparently also aware of the sweetheart deal between the Bullochs and the Young Spartan’s captain and promptly filed suit against the Bullochs for the value of his ship and cargo. Anxious to settle the issue and keep their names out of public notice, the Bullochs quickly negotiated and paid an out-of-court settlement of $45,000 to placate Cosler and company. The issue, however, was far from settled. Young Spartan was already back at sea on the prowl and her piratical activities were now public knowledge. Less than three weeks later, on the morning of 4 June, Clintock and his men captured the Spanish brig Pastora in the Florida Straits, near Holein-the-Wall in the Bahamas. The Pastora had left Havana and was sailing northwards with the Gulf Stream with a valuable cargo for Corunna, Spain. As a Spanish-flagged vessel, one could reasonably argue that she was a legitimate prize, unlike the Norberg. The Young Spartan’s flirtation with playing by the rules, however, did not last long. At 2pm that same day, Captain Francis Gatechair of the schooner Colonel George Armistead out of Baltimore sighted the two vessels ahead in close proximity to each other. He was southbound for Havana and his course would bring him to within what his ship’s log termed a “pistol shot”—about fifteen to twenty yards—of the vessels. His description was prescient. As Gatechair’s schooner came abeam of the vessels, a sudden volley of cannon and musket fire from the Young Spartan shredded Armistead’s sails and damaged her rig, making any escape out of the question. Gatechair heaved to and hoped for the best. He quickly obeyed an order to send his ship’s papers over for examination. Clintock reviewed the papers, which clearly showed the Armistead to be a USflag vessel and therefore outside the scope of Young Spartan’s letter of marque. Accordingly, Clintock decided to release the Armistead, but still sent over a boarding party to relieve the vessel of easily pilfered valuables. What should have been a quick and minor interaction quickly spiraled out of control. Muskets and pistols were discharged freely in an orgy of intimidation and threats intended to cow the Armistead’s company into compliance. His men proceeded to systematically strip the vessel,
crew, and passengers of cash, jewelry, and even fine clothing and other items, including a set of silverware the Spanish Consul in Baltimore was shipping home. Clintock had hoped to avoid bloodshed and take advantage of the opportunity to offload the prisoners from the Pastora at the same time, but that hope was lost when several of his men decided it would be great sport to fire a ragged volley in the direction of the small boat ferrying the Pastora’s crew to the Armistead. One shot struck and killed the Cuban captain. Now that someone had been murdered, Clintock changed the plan. Although he was unaware that they had been outed as pirates, he made the fortuitous decision to avoid Savannah and instead chose to take his prize over twenty miles farther north to Port Royal, South Carolina. There he could sell the cargo directly to local smugglers, keeping all of the profits for himself and his crew. The vessels reached Port Royal Sound on the 14th of June. Within two days they were doing a brisk business selling goods to local smugglers. Word of this activity soon made its way to Captain John Jackson of the US Revenue Cutter Dallas, stationed in Savannah. The cutter Dallas should have been an even match for the pirate vessel. Like the Young Spartan, the 56-foot schooner also carried a single cannon and was manned by an equal complement of fifteen to eighteen officers and crew, but instead Jackson sent one of his officers, Lieutenant Hubbard, and just nine of his men in two of the cutter’s boats to investigate. Jackson had taken command of the revenue cutter only a month earlier, but having previously served as a lieutenant onboard, he was familiar with both his vessel and the operating area. He probably judged that the smaller vessels would attract less attention than the cutter and be better able to pursue smugglers or pirates who might attempt to escape into shallower waters. It was a tactic he would repeat later in his career during joint antipiracy operations with the Navy. On the 18th, Lieutenant Hubbard and his men spied the Young Spartan, the Pastora, and a local smuggler, the sloop FireFly of Beaufort, moored together near Port Royal. The cuttermen came alongside SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
uscg art collection
Enforcing the Tariff, Charleston, South Carolina, 1833 by Robert Lavin The US Revenue-Marine was established in 1790 to enforce US Customs laws along the coast. Its cutters were particularly active just after the War of 1812 when there was a resurgence of piracy along the southern coast and in the Caribbean. lives of many of his victims, particularly Cosler and the Norberg crew. In the end, the president pardoned him—nearly three years after his arrest. The Bulloch brothers escaped prosecution. Despite considerable circumstantial evidence of their involvement in the scheme, the authorities were uneasy about pursuing an investigation against the politically connected pair. The only direct evidence—the written instructions to the Young Spartan— had mysteriously vanished from court files after Clintock’s trial. Not coincidentally, the brother-in-law of Archibald Bulloch was the court clerk. John Quincy Adams disagreed with this decision. He argued that pursuing the wealthy connected sponsors, regardless of securing a conviction, “would do more to put down piracy than hanging a whole navy of common sailors.” Had his advice been heeded, perhaps eliminating the scourge of piracy from America’s backyard would not have taken another decade and claimed hundreds of lives. Dan Laliberte served for more than thirty years in the US Coast Guard, during which time he participated in or provided intelligence support to the interdiction and repatriation of hundreds of undocumented Haitian migrants, and the seizure of numerous drug smuggling vessels and the arrest of their crews. He writes on historical topics involving the Revenue Marine Service and Coast Guard.
digital library of georgia
and got aboard before the pirates realized they were not potential buyers coming to sample the wares. Despite being caught off guard, the pirates refused to surrender. With more than a 2:1 advantage in numbers over Hubbard and his men, a melée could have gone either way. The standoff was resolved when the pirates negotiated to be allowed to leave in the Young Spartan’s boat. Hubbard quickly agreed. Upon departure of the pirates, Hubbard took possession of all three vessels and with his small crew sailed them back to Savannah the next day. After a few days of sifting through the evidence found onboard the vessels— remarkably, they kept records of their illgotten gains, including papers and receipts for the sale of goods from the Norberg and the Pastora, and other valuables such as the silverware from the Armistead—Jackson sent Lieutenant Hubbard with a boat and several men back to Port Royal Sound. Hubbard was able to recover much of the fenced cargo and round up most of the Young Spartan’s crew, who had not left the area, including their leader, Ralph Clintock. Meanwhile, Jackson led efforts to recover the Norberg’s cargo in Savannah. Despite a very detailed deposition of one of the captured pirates, William Blyth, regarding the Young Spartan’s activities from the time it left Amelia Island in February until its capture in June, Clintock was charged with piracy only of the Norberg. The jury did not buy his argument that he believed he was operating under a legal letter of marque—although this defense seems to have worked for his crew: only Clintock was sentenced to hang. His conviction and sentence were affirmed by the US Supreme Court, but his execution was stayed to give President James Monroe time to consider his request for a pardon. President Monroe and Secretary of State John Quincy Adams discussed the request at length. On one hand, a signal had to be sent to discourage the growing number of attacks on ships in America’s own back yard; on the other, the American citizenry of the time loved their pirates. Even the president was loath to see one hung unless someone had been wantonly killed during the crime. By all accounts Clintock had put himself at risk to save the
“Marshal’s sales...All the Armament of the Schooner Young Spartan,” plus the sales of Young Spartan and FireFly, as advertised in the Savannah Republican, 16 July 1818.
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HMS Ontario Back to Life:
snow is a brig, rigged with a snow mast immediately abaft the mainmast, upon which a trysail or fore-and-aft gaff sail is carried.
courtesy national maritime museum, london
ntario slipped from her launching cradle at Carleton Island, 154 miles northeast of Niagara, on 10 May 1780. Not long afterwards, the billow and snap of her bright sails took her out onto Lake Ontario, where she would enforce British control of the lake and conduct raids on American territory. At eighty feet in length with a twentyfive-foot beam, the 22-gun snow1 was the biggest vessel the British would have on Lake Ontario at the time, large enough to transport a raiding party comprising soldiers and Mohawk, Seneca, and Iroquois tribesmen down into the Schoharie River, where they would burn rebel colonists’ farms and crops and stifle General George Washington’s supply lines. Throughout her first summer season, HMS Ontario made trips in a triangular route ferrying troops and supplies between Oswego, Niagara, and Carleton Island (where the lake meets the St. Lawrence River). Her building at the remote location in the Great Lakes was quite an achievement, and she was the pride of the Canadian naval force flying the British flag. The famous gales of November had not yet made their appearance, but on 31 October, as Ontario was sailing east between Fort Niagara and Oswego, New York, she ran straight into the remnants of the Great Hurricane of 1780 that had wreaked havoc in the Caribbean and along its track up the eastern seaboard. Ontario never made it into port, and all anyone knew was that somewhere along that route, the ship foundered and sank with all hands—120 souls aboard, including American prisoners of war, women and children, her British crew, and the commodore of the British lake squadron, Captain James Andrews. The next day, items from the ship washed up on the lakeshore about thirty miles east of Fort Niagara near what is now Golden Hill State Park in Barker, New York. Almost a year later, six bodies were recovered from an area just thirteen miles
by John Addyman
British Admiralty plans for HMS Ontario. from Niagara, the ship’s last port of embarkation. Other than that, for 228 years, no one knew the fate of the ship—other than the obvious—and Ontario lay undisturbed in 500 feet of water, with only fish and zebra mussels visiting her remains. Undisturbed, but not forgotten. No one knew exactly where on the lakebed the ship had landed, but that did not deter a zealous couple of retirees and a tech diver who joined them on the hunt for Ontario and other sunken vessels—not just ships, but planes as well. The team comprised electrical engineers Jim Kennard and Dan Scoville, and architect and artist Chip Stevens. Each brought different skills that would contribute to the effort in the search for these wrecks that they knew were still there. Unlike shipwrecks in seawater, the Great Lakes’ cold freshwater preserves ship remains remarkably well, often upright, with rigs still standing if they are deep enough to have not become navigational hazards. The team’s season ran from April, when the air and water are very cold, into early October, when the lake is rolling over for winter. Through the years, the men have found two or three wrecks per season, but as their skills and equipment improved, they became even more successful, spending less time on searching and more time on finding. The team considered HMS Ontario the holy grail of Lake Ontario’s shipwrecks, and they were persistent and patient over the years as they pursued their quest to find
courtesy roland stevens
A Collaboration of Science, Technology, and Art
(l–r) Roland “Chip” Stevens, Dan Scoville, and Jim Kennard: the team that discovered the remains of HMS Ontario on the bottom of Lake Ontario in 2008. the warship’s remains. Kennard conducted the exhaustive research to narrow down the search area: an electrical engineer, he built his own side-scan sonar to power the search for objects in the lake’s deepest waters. Scoville had a big boat equipped with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), and, perhaps most valuable, experience executing GPS-guided search patterns at deadslow speeds. Stevens is a career architect and an award-winning watercolorist; he has the eye and artistic talent to help people visualize what wrecks look like as they rest on the bottom of the lake. He also has the talent to depict what a ship looked like before it wrecked, and even during the site formation process. SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
As their search went into deeper waters, their work became more challenging. When they deployed the ROV, it was so deep and dark that they could get only video glimpses of targets on the bottom, even when employing high-intensity lights. The team felt the pressure to find and catalog as many wrecks as possible since the arrival of the zebra mussel in the late 1980s. “The major threat to all shipwrecks and planes lost in Lake Ontario is the rapid growth of quagga and zebra mussels,” Stevens said. “They cover all wrecks with a layer five to six inches thick, obscuring important details. Other invasive species and aquatic conditions threaten metal components with deterioration.” In May of 2008, the team picked up the image of a large wreck about 500 feet down on side-scan sonar. They sent the ROV down to shoot video, but the darkness at that depth only allowed them to collect images of small sections at a time. The team spent weeks, in one-hour sessions, recording the shapes that emerged from the murk. Was this the Ontario? “We could discern all kinds of ship’s gear on and around the ship: catheads, anchors, the tiller, number of hatches and their location, spars (both rigged and detached), bilge pumps, deadeyes and chainplates, swivel gun mounts, cannon, two ship’s tenders, hull construction details, cabin and deck furniture—all key features that told us about when the ship was constructed and for what purpose.” “We knew it was a square-rigger—you could see the yards where they landed on deck when the rigging began to break down.” Like other Great Lakes wrecks of sailing ships, the masts are still standing. In fact, both masts still have topmasts rigged and the mainmast its topgallant mast. Stevens said that the video footage from when the ROV approached the stern really struck the team. What other vessel would have had stern galleys…with the glass on two of them still intact! “Still, we didn’t know it was Ontario until we saw the scrollwork on the bow. Then we knew.” The story of Ontario became clearer as the team confirmed it had the find of the century—not only the discovery of Ontario’s grave, but evidence of how she probably went down.
By following maritime archaeological guidelines for documentation, they could “make a more-educated guess of why Ontario met her demise,” Stevens said. Evidence lies in the debris field on the bottom of the lake, the condition and position of the ship, what was left on the deck, and where it ended up when the ship settled on the lakebed. “I think they got hit by a lot of stuff,” said Stevens. “A snow squall or a waterspout spun off of the hurricane. The end of the bowsprit was broken off and with it the jibboom, and that may have pulled down the fore topgallantmast. Then there is the placement of the guns on the deck—they would never be in this position, so clearly something totally traumatic happened.” HMS Ontario was sailing easterly along the southern shore of the lake. Stevens and the team speculate that a blast of wind must have knocked her over because the tiller is pinned hard to port by two guns
rov images courtesy dan scoville
that would have been lashed on the quarterdeck. If the gun tackles parted, sending the cannons loose across the deck towards the helmsmen, there would have been no way the crew could free the tiller in time to steer the ship out of harm’s way. One cannon is right up against the tiller; another is under it. “It is likely that Ontario then rolled on her side. If sails were set, the drag they would have created would prevent the ship from righting itself. As more water poured down into the hold, the remaining guns lurched over to the port side.” As a lifelong sailor who has had his own moments on Lake Ontario when a storm came up suddenly and getting to safe haven was dicey, Stevens can empathize with what these sailors faced 250 years ago. “What agony the crew must have experienced,” he said. “Especially in the last moments before sinking.” Confident in the identity of their find, the team did their work cautiously, making their forays during the weekdays and avoiding weekend boat traffic that might have attracted attention to their activity. The trio had two goals when they started: first, to locate HMS Ontario on the lakebed, and second, to protect her as an intact historic artifact. The ship is a gravesite, of course, and the team has worked with that sensitivity in mind. The exact location of Ontario remains a secret. After Ontario was discovered and after an extensive video record was made, it was Stevens’s turn to apply his unique talents to the effort. With an architect’s eye for scale and with an understanding of 18thcentury ship construction, he set to marrying science and technology with art. He started by bringing the ship into focus, developing vivid images of Ontario out of the darkness, precisely scaling his drawings and even making corrections to British Admiralty plans to reflect changes that were made during construction in Canada. (left) Screen-grabs of the team’s ROV video footage. Despite being covered by mussels, the ship’s characteristics are plainly visible, from the deadeyes and chainplates (top); to the stern galleys (middle); to the scrollwork at the bow that matches the British Admiralty plan drawings (bottom).
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grainy, and the blanket of mussels covers almost every inch of the ship (except for the ship’s bell forward and galley windows in the stern). “When you pause the video, it looks like a snowstorm,” he said. “We couldn’t get good definition from the video or screen shots to draw the whole wreck; I had to do lots of snippets and sketches, then try to put them together. Once I’d done that, I’d look at the video again and make corrections. It took four or five times before I could begin work on the actual painting.” “Here is where the artist can play a key role by drawing clusters of parts on layers of tracing paper, then assembling them in the correct sequence to make a composite tracing of the ship as it looks on the lakebed,” he said. “After that’s complete, I make a large print of the whole wreck site, and we look at the video over and over again, make red-line corrections on the print, and then I draw a second composite
to incorporate corrections and add missing information. This takes a lot of time.” For an artist to visualize the shape with any amount of detail underneath all that growth requires a sharp eye, and here again, Stevens was thwarted because of Ontario’s inaccessible location: Working from video taken from the ROV poses a problem in that the high-intensity light from the ROV casts shadows, so some things are shadowed and some are not. It’s like a telephone pole on the street. As you approach it from one direction, it seems simple enough, but as you go by the whole background and perspective keeps changing. Copying a still image doesn’t give you proper relationships or size and position in relation to the rest of the ship. I put the individual sketches into a
courtesy roland stevens
courtesy dan scoville
What emerged from Stevens’s pencils, inks and brushes was a sensitive and poignant set of pictures of something that disappeared in 1780. Back in his Lake Ontario shoreside studio in Pultneyville, New York, Stevens began the painstaking reconstruction of Ontario, using the video images the team had shot, foot-by-foot. It’s a painstaking process. The video images are exceedingly
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foremast, the top rail is clearly visible, with only the netting having rotted away. In creating his paintings of HMS Ontario, Stevens went from the seven or eight layers of tissue-paper studies to drawing Ontario in pen and ink, then did some minor shading to get perspective:
courtesy roland stevens
Even though she lies canted at a 45-degree angle on the bottom, I couldn’t really draw it the way I wanted it to look. I wanted to show the scrollwork at the bow, plus the location of the anchors and the spars laying across the deck. Amongst the cluster of yards on the foredeck is what we assume is the fore topgallant mast, which is squared off on one end.
HMS Ontario as she looks on the bottom of Lake Ontario. Watercolor by Roland Stevens
From what we saw from the sonar image, I could extract approximate measurements and compare them to the original shipbuilder’s plans. As I scrolled through the video footage from the ROV, I made my first studies [sketches] with tracing paper. I studied where the masts go through the deck and how high off the deck they reach, the location of the hatches, chainplates and catheads, bitts, winch, and so on. I go through several layers of tracing paper to pin it down to something that looks plausible.
(below) The top rail is still in place at the foremast doublings. (right) A diagram of a top rail in similar vessels from William Falconer’s An Universal Dictionary of the Marine (1769) as viewed from aft.
p.d. project gutenberg
Then there was the challenge of seeing through the blanket of mussels covering every inch of the ship, except for the ship’s bronze bell. Tapping into his lifetime of experience on boats and working on the water, Stevens mentally peeled away the mussels to bring the 200-year-old features of the ship into light. His process begins with science and ends with art:
Stevens next focuses on details that give clues to the site formation process. Were there broken spars, was the rudder damaged, had the small boats been launched? “I make educated guesses on some things and then pull measurements on them and look at references I have access to. With a gray marker I shade in the masts, for example, to get a sense of where I am on the wreck.” Remarkably, not only are Ontario’s masts still standing, but main topmast and main topgallantmast are still in place where they were rigged 240 years ago. On the
courtesy dan scoville
proper sequence and blended them into a composite drawing, using our documentation and research to guide me.
And this is where it gets interesting. Typically, I sketch the line of the mast, the ship’s breadth and length, and locate the guns and ship’s tenders. To make it look like it’s underwater, I paint anything that will be shadowy or shaded first, then I take my 11/2 -inch house-painting brush and get a wash across the whole thing. Then I can go back and use toilet paper—yes, toilet
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paper—to lift up the masts and so on to make the masts seen brighter. Toilet paper lifts the paint right off. There was all kinds of stuff in the water, so I splashed on some debris on the bottom. The painting took two to three hours. My final presentation is of the entire wreck site, roughly to scale, painted in an underwater scene. Ontario looks as she is today, forlorn and alone. As fascinating as that painting is, the culminating work that most people savor is Stevens’s depiction of HMS Ontario under sail and with the rig straining under the power of the wind and waves. He used 18th-century oil paintings as guides for choosing colors and tones, flags, and other
page 28 watercolors by roland stevens
details. Before he was done, he added details that would remind the viewer that living, breathing people occupied this vessel and perished as it slipped beneath the waves. Light in the stern galley where the captain’s quarters were located, waves breaking over the stern, lots of snow, and, for scale, he added silhouettes of two crewmen (one up forward and one aloft). To bring Ontario out of her purgatory and fill her sails with wind and wonder once again took years of work and dedication, and a special kind of artistry. Stevens’s paintings tell their own story, reflecting the loneliness and drama of the tragedy. A journalist for more than 50 years, John Addyman is a freelance writer, photographer and retired editor living in upstate New York. Artist Chip Stevens: A Signature Member of the American Society of Marine Artists, Roland “Chip” Stevens is an awardwinning watercolorist whose paintings have received awards in numerous national, state, and regional exhibitions. He and his wife, Georgia, reside in Pultneyville, New York, on the south shore of Lake Ontario, just east of where he grew up in Rochester. A registered architect with a master’s degree in architecture in urban design from Syracuse University, he is a retired county planner. Stevens has been an amateur archaeologist for sixty years, plays the bagpipes, and is still an active skier. While shipwrecks may be an unusual subject for a marine artist, he has mastered their representation to share these scenes with those who will never don dive gear or have access to high-tech remote sensing vehicles. Visitors to his website can view examples of his art on many more shipwrecks, plus other subjects that reflect his interests, from interior scenes of boat sheds to animals, landscapes, and, yes, ships and boats that are alive and well on top of the water. (www.rolandestevens.com)
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tug Daniel McAllister toric sailing vessel M on Canvas by Oswald Bre The steam tug Daniel McAllister with the 4-Masted historic sailing vessel Manga Reva Oil on Canvas by Oswald Brett
McAllister Towing is one of the oldest marine towing and transportation companies in the United States. Founded by Captain James McAllister in 1864 with a single sail lighter, McAllister continues to this day as a thriving family business. SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020â&#x20AC;&#x201C;21 29
To the Ends of the Earth
courtesy the national library, norway
ike many of you, I have long reveled in the epic stories of those who set out to explore the frozen worlds surrounding the North and South Poles. Names like Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen, and a host of others still conjure images of dogged tenacity and determination. They linger as seemingly immortal ghosts from a distant epoch when discovery did not involve computers or satellites. The push for the poles was the Victorian Age’s equivalent of the space race, culminating in the early decades of the 20th century when the flags were finally planted, and these incredible stories of triumph and tragedy were embedded into our collective psyche. But what was it all for? It might be tempting to dismiss the whole era as an ego-driven quest to stick a flag in the world’s most remote places before the other guy did. After all, the poles are virtually uninhabitable and fundamentally useless. At least they were then. Strong egos and national pride certainly had a lot to do with it, but in addition to the part of human nature that drives us to explore and mark
by Jerry Roberts our turf (there are flags on the moon, right?) we also have an innate desire to chart the uncharted. While the race to the poles gripped the public imagination, there was a far more valuable prize being sought in the frozen wastelands at the top of the world. It prompted countless expeditions by numerous seafaring nations as well as privately sponsored voyages. In 1553, just a few decades after Columbus tried to sail around the world to reach the other side, an expedition comprising three ships under Sir Hugh Willoughby departed England in search of a route over the top of the earth. Two of these ships vanished into the Arctic quagmire; it was later discovered they had become trapped in ice. Their crews, including Sir Willoughby, perished trying to discover the fabled Northwest Passage and they would not be the last. The stories of those who relentlessly clawed their way through frozen seas in search of this navigational holy grail are the stuff of enduring legend. In the end, it would take three full centuries before the passage was traversed, and even then, it remained unviable until very recently, when global warming began to change the equation. Collectively, these explorations to the polar regions have resulted in some of the greatest sea stories ever told. But the story is far from over. Just log onto any major news or environmental website and you’ll realize that for the past several decades there has been a renewed and accelerating focus on the polar regions. Climate change, sea level rise, the potential of untapped natural resources, and an increasingly viable Northwest Passage have put the spotlight back onto these remote areas. The effects of accelerating global warming and the melting of these vast frozen regions will have huge repercussions. This is why the poles have become the new ground zero for the research needed to better understand the effects we are having on the global environment, and—if it’s not too late—to change our course. This is where maritime history meets the future, back at the ends of the earth. Norway’s celebrated polar explorer Roald Amundsen (1872–1928).
Looking Back Innumerable expeditions and thousands of individuals have contributed to our knowledge of the polar regions, knowledge many paid for with their lives. For the sake of simplicity, we can focus on three broad fronts: the search for a Northwest Passage, and efforts to reach farther and farther north or south, and ultimately to the poles themselves. The Passage After Sir Willoughby’s ill-fated expedition, efforts continued and incremental successes were achieved. People like Henry Hudson, Martin Frobisher, Sir John Ross, James Clark Ross, Sir William Perry, and others continued to push farther north as well as probe the frozen labyrinth above the North American continent. In 1845, an expedition under Sir John Franklin sailed off on another major assault on the Northwest Passage by the Royal Navy, only to disappear into the frozen north with the loss of all its 133 officers and men. Dozens of rescue missions were launched, without success. Ironically, one of those missions, sent out in 1850 at the prodding of Lady Franklin and commanded by Captain Robert McClure, actually managed to traverse the passage, but only by taking to the ice after their ships had also become frozen in. The man ultimately credited with making the first true voyage by a vessel through the entire passage was Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen in 1903–06. Five years later, he would beat Britain’s Robert Falcon Scott to the South Pole. North Pole The conquest of the North Pole involved a great number of expeditions spread over three centuries. These efforts would eventually involve ships, dirigibles, balloons, aircraft, and of course slogging across the Arctic ice. Although American explorer Robert Peary was credited as the first to reach the pole (in 1909), Fredrick Cook claimed to have done so a year earlier, but his evidence was questioned and Peary’s claim stood. Interestingly, another of Peary’s expedition crewmembers, Matthew Henson, later claimed that he actually stood SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
The South The assault on the Antarctic also involved an astounding number of expeditions and
courtesy the national library, norway
centuries of effort. By the time the South Pole had been reached, more than two dozen expeditions had set out in the attempt. In 1773 legendary British explorer Captain James Cook became the first to circumnavigate Antarctica. Of its impact, he wrote, “I make bold to declare that the world will derive no benefit from it.” (right) Matthew Henson was an integral member of Robert Peary’s team on the trek to the North Pole in 1909. The only black member of the crew, his contributions were largely ignored upon their return. Peary was celebrated right away, but Henson had to wait decades to be so recognized.
defense visual information distribution service
North Controversy Today The controversy continues. In 2007 Russia placed a titanium flag on the seabed beneath the North Pole, claiming rights to vast potential resources there. These claims are refuted by other Arctic nations, including Canada and Denmark, which have each made counter claims. The potential of untapped resources and the thawing of the Northwest Passage changes the entire dynamic for international maritime commerce and global security. Meanwhile, cruise companies are lining up to take adventure tourists into Arctic waters that were once a barrier to the most intrepid explorers. Recent climate models predict that by the middle of this century, perhaps as early as 2037, the North Pole may be free of ice in the summer months… a truly sobering thought.
In 1926, Roald Amundsen led an expedition to the North Pole aboard the airship Norge.
USS Skate (SSN-578) reached the North Pole on 17 March 1959 by breaking through the ice from underneath.
us navy photo
at the pole first, since he was walking several yards ahead of Peary when they reached the site—or thought they had. The dispute lingers on. In 1988, a reanalysis by the National Geographic Society, a sponsor of the original expedition, agreed with other recent findings that Peary’s expedition probably did not actually make it all the way to the pole. The controversy does not end there. In 1926 Rear Admiral Richard Byrd, USN, claimed to have been the first to fly over the pole on 9 May. Just three days later, none other than famed polar explorer Roald Amundsen flew over it in the airship Norge, dropping flags to mark the spot. It is now widely believed that Byrd never reached the pole, so it may, in fact, be that Amundsen was the first human being to reach both poles, as well as the first to traverse the Northwest Passage. In 1929, Byrd successfully flew over the South Pole—an undisputed first. The first people verified to have actually stood at the geographic North Pole were members of a Russian scientific expedition that were airlifted there in 1948. In 1958 the American submarine USS Nautilus passed directly under the North Pole, and in 1959 USS Skate broke through the ice and surfaced there.
SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21 31
library of congress
While explorers came for discovery and glory, others came for seals and whaling. In fact, the first to set foot on the Antarctic continent was American sealer John Davis in 1821. But of all those who have left their mark on the history of Antarctic exploration, three names stand above the others: Amundsen, Scott, and Shackleton. Robert Falcon Scott and his team, which included a 27-year-old Ernest Shackleton, first attempted to reach the South Pole in 1901 but were forced to turn back, suffering snow blindness and scurvy amongst the men. Shackleton led his own expedition in 1907–09 and made it within 97 miles of the South Pole before having to abandon the quest. Scott returned and finally reached his objective on 17 January 1912, only to find that Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had planted his flag there a month earlier. On the long trudge back to the ship, Scott and his four-man team were overcome by exhaustion, starvation, and hypothermia. None of the five who had reached the pole would survive. Three of the men, including Scott, perished in a tent less than eleven miles from a supply depot that would have saved their lives. The final page of his journal reads: “We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more. For God’s sake look after our people.” Shackleton launched the ambitious Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition to cross the continent in August of 1914. His plan was to land a party on one side of the
Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition team arrived at the South Pole on 17 January 1912, only to find a Norwegian flag planted there by Roald Amundsen, who had reached the site a month before. Here are Scott’s men posing with him in front of Amundsen’s tent. (l–r) Edward Wilson, Robert F. Scott, Edgar Evans, Laurence Oates, and H. R. Bowers. All five men would perish on their return journey. continent and trek overland to the other side, to be picked up by a second ship. His primary vessel, Endurance, became trapped in pack ice in the Weddell Sea in January 1915 before ever making landfall. Over the next nine months, the ice swept the ship and crew hundreds of miles slowly to the northwest along the Antarctic Peninsula. By the end of October, the ship was being crushed in the ice and Shackleton ordered his men to move supplies and the ship’s three boats onto the ice before Endurance
Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874–1922); (above) Shackleton’s expedition ship Endurance, trapped in the pack ice.
sank. They survived on ice flows for three months before the ice began to break up and they were able to get the boats into the water. The 27-man crew made a perilous open-water crossing in the three boats to terra firma at Elephant Island, off the end of the Antarctic Peninsula. Leaving most of the crew to shelter on the desolate, uninhabited island, Shackleton and five of his men pulled off an incredible 800-mile, sixteen-day voyage through the Southern Ocean in one of the boats, reaching the whaling station—and salvation—on South Georgia Island. Shackleton then mounted four separate rescue missions before finally reaching the balance of his crew on Elephant Island on 30 August 1916. Despite their grueling ordeal, not a single man was lost, a feat credited to Shackleton’s determination and extraordinary leadership under extreme conditions. He never reached the South Pole, but Shackleton is regarded as one of the greatest explorers of all time. Bill Baker As I set out to write this article, I wanted to talk with someone who had actually been to the poles. Fortunately, I did not have to look far. Dr. William Baker, former CEO of New York Public Television, is an old friend with whom I share a love of maritime history. He was among the first handful of people to have actually stood at both the SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
courtesy bill baker
Bill Baker at the South Pole.
courtesy national science foundation
North and South Poles and has been a lecturer on numerous expedition ships carrying modern-day explorers into both the Arctic and Antarctic waters and adventures ashore. Despite the obvious similarities of being surrounded by ice and snow as far as the eye can see, I asked him if the poles are at all different. Very different, Bill assured me. For a start, the North Pole sits atop floating pack ice that’s only about 10 feet thick, with the sea floor more than 13,000 feet below. There is no land mass there; it is part of the ocean. The South Pole sits atop thick glacial ice firmly resting on solid ground. At the North Pole you are only a few feet above sea level. The elevation at the South Pole is 9,306 feet—9,000 of which are solid ice. That brings up another difference—temperature. Both poles are cold because the angle of the earth’s axis does not allow much direct sunlight. The sun is always low. In the winter, it is so far beneath the horizon that the poles remain as dark as night for months at a time. Yet while both are cold, the South Pole is measurably colder. It is at a much higher altitude and sits atop nearly two miles of ice. The North Pole’s relatively thin pack-ice sheet floats atop
The Amundsen-Scott research station at the geographic South Pole is a scientifically important outpost built and operated at the most remote location on earth. seawater, which, while cold, is not nearly as cold as 9,000 feet of glacial mass. During summer months the North Pole averages about 32 degrees Fahrenheit, while the South Pole average is -18. In winter the North Pole averages -40 degrees, while at the South Pole you are looking at -76! Since 1957, the United States has maintained a permanent research station at the South Pole. McMurdo Station was built two years earlier on the coast on Ross Island by the US Navy Seabees (Ross Island is permanently connected to the mainland by ice). McMurdo is the largest facility in Antarctica, with a harbor, airstrips, and more than 85 buildings. Its seasonal population of researchers ranges from 1,000 in the summer to 200 in winter months. At the South Pole, the Amundsen Scott South Pole Station ranges from 200 to 50 personnel seasonally. A handful of other nations also maintain research facilities on the frozen continent. There are none at the North Pole, which sits atop floating sea ice (at least for now). Because the ice is slowly drifting, it is impossible to establish and maintain a permanent facility in a fixed position relative to the North Pole. Flags placed there long ago began to slowly drift off the geographic pole almost as soon as they were planted. Research in the area is accomplished through drift stations.
McMurdo and the Cleveland Plague When Bill Baker first visited Antarctica in 1974, he flew from his home in Cleveland, Ohio, to California, then Fiji, and on to New Zealand, where he waited a week for a weather window to make the flight across the Southern Ocean to McMurdo. From there he was flown to the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, which at the time was run by the US Navy. The aircraft stood by with its engines running for six hours while Bill filmed a segment for ABC News. Upon returning to McMurdo, Bill learned that a virus he had brought with him from home had spread. A common cold is a nuisance anywhere else, but among the isolated crew at the research station, it was newsworthy. It made the New York Times, which called it the “Cleveland Plague.” I asked Bill what his takeaway was from all of this. He started by telling me that it is impossible to describe the profound visual beauty, especially on the Antarctic Peninsula. Like many of us, he is concerned about how climate change is threatening these remote places, but what struck him most was that Antarctica is a place where the peoples of the world have decided to set their individual claims aside and maintain an entire continent as a place for peaceful scientific research and international cooperation.
SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21 33
Ancient Ice I asked Bill if he knew anyone I could speak to who was actually doing research in these regions. He connected me with Doug Howard, whom he met on one of his visits to Antarctica. Doug is a planetary geologist who does research in both the Antarctic and Arctic regions. One of the things he studies are similarities between these areas and Mars. He amazed me by explaining that there are deep subglacial lakes on Antarctica that contain liquid water from millennia gone by, and like the ice cores being drawn from deep within glaciers, they can be studied to analyze what was in the atmosphere back when they were formed. This ancient ice and water hold a record of long-term climate cycles. Doug also studies extremophiles—biological life forms that can survive in the most extreme conditions conceivable, such as within these subglacial lakes. Russia maintains the Vostok Station research center in Antarctica to study all of this. We know that pressure or ice melt can at times cause shallow subglacial lakes to rupture, causing catastrophic flooding to the surface. Evidence of similar flooding can be seen on Mars, pointing to subglacial lakes there as well. Are there extremophiles there too, waiting to be discovered? When I asked for his thoughts, Doug takes the long view. We need to study climate change and better understand how man-made global warming is interfering
The icebreaker USCGC Glacier (WAGB-4) approaching McMurdo Station, Antarctica. The US Navy commissioned the icebreaker Glacier to participate in Operation Deep Freeze (1955–56), during which the McMurdo Station was constructed. Glacier was transferred to the US Coast Guard in 1966; she was decommissioned in 1987. with natural cycles. The earth has survived catastrophic meteor strikes that totally changed the dynamics (remember the dinosaurs?) and yet recovered. The natural mechanisms that have allowed the earth to repair itself, however, are under increasing threat—by us. There will come a tipping point beyond which the environment will
not recover, at least not within a timeframe that would make any difference to all of us non-extremophiles. His more immediate concern is the effect that climate change, particularly in the Arctic, will have on our national security as new shipping routes open, valuable resources become tempting, and the region becomes a stage for geopolitics. It’s all a lot to think about.
courtesy the national library, norway
Jerry Roberts is a writer and historian who has served in leadership and creative roles with several major museums over the past 35 years. An avid mariner and storyteller, he has written several books, documentaries, and articles, and has been a long-time contributor to Sea History. (jerrypaulroberts.com)
Polar explorers were experienced mariners and most spent long periods of time aboard ships en route to the polar regions and as living quarters tied to—or frozen in—the pack ice. In this remarkable photo of a mundane scene from 1910, Roald Amundsen looks on as Martin Rønne sews on a machine. A sun canopy is rigged to keep the sled dogs in the shade on the voyage to Antarctica. SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
The NATIONAL MARITIME HISTORICAL SOCIETY offers this spectacular limited-edition giclée on canvas by acclaimed artist Donald Demers
giclée on canvas • 24” x 16” This limited-edition (50-count) signed print depicts the 1874 barquentine VIOLET, outbound on the East River just past the Brooklyn Bridge. Master marine painter Don Demers has long been a good friend to NMHS and his art has graced the covers of Sea History multiple times in recent years. We are pleased to offer this special opportunity to our readers.
$395 + $50 s/h within the USA only. A portion of each sale supports the National Maritime Historical Society.
To order, call 1-800-221-NMHS (6647), ext. 0. or visit our website at www.seahistory.org NYS residents add applicable sales tax.
SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21 35
SEA HISTORY for kids Careers in the Maritime Field
US Coast Guard Public Affairs Chief Crystalynn Kneen rystalynn Kneen is the communications director for the Master Chief Petty Officer of the United States Coast Guard. That’s quite a mouthful when someone asks you what your job title is, so let’s break it down: Crystalynn serves in the Coast Guard as a public affairs specialist, and in her current position, she serves as the communications director for a high-ranking military official. The Master Chief Petty Officer (MCPOCG) is the senior enlisted member of the Coast Guard and serves as the principal advisor to the USCG Commandant on all enlisted personnel matters. As part of her job as the MCPOCG communications director, Crystalynn writes news releases, creates talking points for the MCPOCG, and shoots still photography and video to share with news outlets and update social media pages. Crystalynn’s typical day varies, depending on whether she is working out of her office in Washington, DC, or traveling to different Coast Guard units across the country. On a typical day in the office, she monitors and updates the MCPOCG’s social media platforms, and scans through the Coast Guard news feed to see what might pertain to the MCPOCG’s duties. If the Master Chief Petty Officer has an interview, podcast, or presentation coming up, she will work on materials for those events. If the Master Chief Petty Officer is traveling to Coast Guard units to meet with personnel or participate in an event, Crystalynn accompanies him and documents the visit to share through press releases for both the Coast Guard community and for the public at large, and through Coast Guard social media.
photos courtesy uscg pao
USCG Public Affairs Chief Crystalynn Kneen at her desk in Washington, DC. She is usually the one behind the camera.
Crystalynn joined the Coast Guard specifically to pursue this career, but she took a circuitous route to get where she is today. She grew up far from the coast in Colorado with dreams of becoming a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News, a daily newspaper out of Denver. Out of high school, however, she enlisted in the US Navy, and it wasn’t until she had finished her enlistment and returned home that she discovered that she could combine her dreams of working in the news media with military service. While she had been away, her younger brother and sister had joined the Coast Guard, and it was her sister’s job in the Public Affairs Office that got her thinking about it. “I loved the military and I loved writing, so I thought being a public affairs specialist in the Coast Guard would be the perfect career for me.” And they train you. She still had to go to boot camp, like anyone else who enlists, but from there she was sent to the Coast Guard Public Affairs Apprentice School at the Defense Information School in Fort Meade, Maryland: “There, I learned the basics in newswriting, feature writing, photography, media relations, and military public affairs. I also took a videography course from the Defense Information School. After a few years, I was accepted into the Coast Guard Advanced Education Program, through which I attended Washington State University and received a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications.” Public affairs specialists get to see and document all that the Coast Guard does, from search-and-rescue to law enforcement to administration roles: “We tell the Coast Guard’s story!” (Visit www.gocoastguard.com to learn more about a career with the Coast Guard in the public affairs office, as well as all the other kinds of jobs available to new recruits.)
photo by coast guard warrant officer timothy tamargo
Chief Kneen shooting photos of boot camp graduation for CG Recruit Company C-199, whose members were mentored by the MCPOCG.
SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
Animals in Sea History by Richard King
ames H. Williams grew up in Rhode Island in the 1870s. His father, a sailor and a loving dad, died when James was only seven, but it was always clear that he had wanted his son to go to college. Yet James fell in love with the sea as a child, so his mother allowed him to apprentice to a merchant ship captain as soon as he could. Young James was aboard a ship in Barbados when that captain—his guardian—died, leaving the fourteen-year-old boy working aboard another ship far from home and among strangers. So began his decades as a merchant ship sailor and whaleman. Over time he established himself as a writer about life at sea, which included an important record of a ceremony involving a “poor old horse.” In January of 1888, at 23 years old, James Williams was in Philadelphia when he signed onto a ship bound for Calcutta. As was customary, he was given an advance in pay for signing on board as crew, but just before the ship was scheduled to depart, he learned of the death of his beloved James H. Williams mother. The captain refused to grant him time off to go the funeral, accusing him of planning to take off with the advance pay and claiming that the letter he showed them was forged. Williams protested and the captain called the police, who showed up and proceeded to beat him with clubs, throw him in jail, and charge him with desertion! “So I sailed away with a heavy heart,” Williams wrote later, having never been able to pay respects to his mom. That advance in pay, their debt to the shipowners, had to be earned back at sea before the crewmembers could begin earning money for themselves. Williams wrote that after two months out at sea, the crew’s “dead horse” was “worked up.” He described his shipmates hauling a horse up to the yardarm while singing a sea chantey with SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
the refrain: “Oh, poor Old Man, your horse must die! And I think so; and I hope so!” Williams wrote that they then cut the halyard and “let the old ‘dead horse’ drop into the sea.”
Stan Hugill made this sketch of the “Dead Horse Halyard Shanty” to illustrate his 1961 book, Shanties from the Seven Seas.
Thankfully, this was not a real horse, but an effigy, a large puppet, that the crew likely crafted with old sailcloth, worn-out rope, a spare barrel, and maybe pieces of scrap wood to form the legs. If the advance pay caused so much grief, then why did they accept it in the first place? Once a ship left port, the men would not be paid until the end of the voyage, which was of no help to them if they had families
The “Dead Horse Festival” aboard an English ship bound for Australia, as illustrated in Harper’s Weekly, 11 November 1882.
SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
ashore who needed to pay bills. This was long before credit cards and online banking. The advance in pay allowed them to share money with loved ones ashore, pay bills in port, or buy clothing and supplies for the upcoming voyage. The traditional “dead horse” ceremony marked the day that the debt to the ship was paid off. On some ships, this would be a day-long festival, a theatrical event in which the horse puppet was paraded around and auctioned. As the crew sang the dead-horse chantey, the horse was hoisted aloft to a yardarm, where they even sometimes lit the thing on fire or whizzed off a flare before cutting the line and dropping the “poor old horse” into the sea. During his years at sea, James Williams would
have taken part in a few dead-horse ceremonies and sung the dead-horse chantey. Williams was biracial, with a black father and a white mother, and personally suffered from racism both ashore and at sea. In addition to his job as a professional mariner, Williams wrote dozens of articles for an influential magazine called the Independent in which he advocated for the establishment of unions, better wages, and new laws to improve the lives and treatment of sailors. James Williams died in 1927 after his retirement at Sailor’s Snug Harbor on Staten Island, New York. His beautifully written essays of life at sea—and its hardships—were published in 1959 in a narrative titled, Blow the Man Down: A Yankee Seaman’s Adventures Under Sail.
The Horse at Sea What could be more American than the image of wild horses running free across the Western plains? But the horses that we think of, like the ones in this photo, were introduced to North America by the Spanish, who sailed them across the Atlantic Ocean in ships. So what does this have to do with maritime history? Well, the deadhorse ceremony that James Williams experienced at sea was just one use of the word “horse” in a sailor’s vocabulary. James and his shipmates would have known a half dozen or so other references to horses on merchant ships of the 1800s, none of which are all that favorable if you’re fond of horses. Here are a few examples: The iron bar on deck, used as a traveler for a sail’s sheet, was called a “horse.” The footrope that Williams and his fellow sailors used to stand on and balance themselves when working on a sail out on a yard was also called a “horse.” White crests of foam on the tops of waves are called “horses” and a type of cirrus cloud are known as “mare’s tales.” When the salted beef that was fed to the crew was really tough, the sailors would call it “salt horse.” It’s possible that there may indeed have been some ships that fed horsemeat to their crews, but food historians believe that was uncommon. The “horse latitudes” are another phrase for the doldrums, the regions around 30° North and 30° South, in which there can be periods of long calms at sea. Some declare, dubiously, that the derivation for this phrase is that ships once threw horses overboard at these latitudes, because the animals had died from the lack of freshwater or even that the sailors were forced to sacrifice the horses to reduce the ship’s weight. Some also contend that somewhere in the horse latitudes or the dead-horse festival is the derivation for the expression “flog a dead horse.” For more “Animals in Sea History” go to www.seahistory.org or educators.mysticseaport.org.
“Sea History for Kids” is sponsored by the Henry L. & Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation
Decorative Nautical Charts
to the Bremen Quay on 7 October. “We are quite satisfied with the shipyard’s repairs and we are happy that No. 5 Elbe can return to Hamburg. The reconstruction of the interior and rigging, as well as the equipment, will be carried out at the Bremen Quay,” reported Markus Söhl, a member of the board of the Hamburg Maritime Foundation, which owns the vessel. In other big news from Germany: The barque Peking was given a hero’s welcome as she returned to the city of Hamburg after three years of extensive restoration work. On 7 September, Peking was towed from the Peters Shipyard in Wewelsfleth to her provisional berth on the Bremen Quay at Peking hamburg maritim
No. 5 Elbe
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out, the copper plating was reattached with bronze nails. The schooner was returned to the water in September and towed back
We are happy to report that the schooner No. 5 Elbe is back in the water. The vessel, made famous for the thirteen voyages she made under the leadership of Captain Warwick Tompkins under the name Wander Bird, was severely damaged by a collision with a container vessel in June of last year. The schooner was taken to the Hvide Sande Shipyard in Denmark for repairs. The copper plating around the point of impact in the bow was removed to assess the damage to the frames, keel, and keelson. Once the necessary repairs were carried
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Hamburg’s current Port Museum, welcomed by a flotilla of tugs, fireboats, private watercraft, and historic vessels. The Hamburg Maritime Foundation turned over ownership of the 1911 Blohm + Voss ship to the Hamburg Historical Museums Foundation; she will be the flagship of the planned German Port Museum, projected to be completed in 2025. (https://shmh.de/ en) … The 1936 Nantucket Lightship LV-112 has entered dry dock in Chelsea, Massachusetts, for its next phase of restoration. Last year, the US Lightship Museum (USLM), owner of the lightship LV112, received two matching grants that will go towards restoring the vessel’s interior structural components, critical to maintaining the integrity of the ship’s hull so that it can remain open to the public. $487,500 comes from a Save America’s Treasures grant from the National Park Service, and the matching grant is a $575,000 Community Preservation Act grant from the City of Boston. Upon her relaunch, 75% of the planned restoration will have been completed. Nantucket LV-112’s shipyard work is being performed at the historic Fitzgerald Shipyard in Boston Harbor— adjacent to the former US Lighthouse SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
Service / USCG Buoy Depot, now occupied by Eastern Minerals as a storage and docking port. The depot was used as a servicing facility for buoys, lightships, and lighthouse tenders. LV-112 was routinely serviced there while it was a commissioned USCG floating lighthouse. At 150 feet in length, Nantucket LV-112 is the largest US lightship
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Nantucket Lightship LV-112 being towed to dry dock in Boston Harbor. ever built; she operated out of the USCGBase Boston from 1936–75. The USLM was formed in 2009 as a non-profit organization to rescue the ship from being scrapped after many years of neglect in Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY, and returned the ship to Boston Harbor in 2010. Much of the USLM’s support has come from many volunteers and generous contributions from individuals, corporations, and private foundations. An additional $1.8 million is needed to fulfill Nantucket LV112’s next phase of restoration. A National Historic Landmark, the ship has been berthed along the East Boston waterfront where she serves the general public as a museum and floating learning center. (www.NantucketLightshipLV-112.org) … Thanks to a National Park Service Maritime Heritage Grant, the historic 1944 destroyer escort USS Slater recently completed a $700,000 overhaul at Caddell Dry Dock & Repair Company on Staten Island. The ship is now back at its home base in Albany, New York, where it serves as the centerpiece of the Destroyer Escort Historical Museum (DEHM). The grant covered the first $200,000, with the balance of the shipyard costs funded by donors. At Caddell, all post-WWII modifications to the mast were removed. It was then hydroblasted, and repainted with three coats of PSX-700 Epoxy. Parts researched and fabricated prior to the shipyard departure included the mast ladder, the vertical “fighting lights,” TBS radio antenna, IFF
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USS Slater in dry dock (BK & BN) antennas, the surface-search radar maintenance platform, and missing safety rails. All the navigational and signal light fixtures were restored, the air-search radar antenna was overhauled, old electrical cables on the mast were replaced, the waveguide for the surface-search radar antenna was replicated, and all the standing rigging and signal halyards were renewed. Once hauled out, the hull was pressure-washed and the paint and anodes were found to be in remarkably good shape, so the hull was given a light sweep blast and then repainted. When the ship was refloated, flooding was noted in the aft motor room. The ship was re-docked, and a quarter-sized hole was found under the generator, where damp debris had caused corrosion over a long period of time—a reminder that these ships rot from the inside out. It only took the shipyard a day to make the repair. During the time in shipyard, the relentless heat and humidity was particularly tough on the shipyard crew and the Slater’s volunteers. Shanna Schuster, the museum’s program manager, noted, “The fact that these senior citizens voluntarily endured these conditions speaks volumes about their character and dedication.” While the ship was away, the museum staff back in Albany completed a total overhaul of the museum’s website. USS Slater is sustained entirely by donations, souvenir sales, and admissions. With the exception of the 2018 Maritime Heritage Grant, the ship and museum receive no regular government funding for operations. (Check for hours of operation and view photos of the shipyard work at www. ussslater.org.) … Work continues on Maine’s First Ship. This just in! Historic ship project delayed due to pandemic! Okay, perhaps not such breaking news, with all SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
courtesy james nelson, maine’s first ship
the world trying to muddle through these chaotic days. But despite the present difficulties, Maine’s First Ship is proceeding apace with the construction of the replica ship Virginia in Bath, Maine. Launched in 1608 on the coast of Maine, the original Virginia was a “pretty Pynnace of about some thirty tonne.” The first European vessel built in Maine, she was constructed in the wilderness over the course of a particularly brutal winter in an impressive ten months. The replica has taken a bit longer. The original vessel was built by men with nothing else on their schedules, working through all the hours of daylight six days a week, while the current iteration is being built by volunteers, dedicated though they might be, working two days a week. The keel of the replica Virginia was laid on the banks of the Kennebec River in 2011, and construction, which has been ongoing since, is now nearing completion. Under the supervision of master shipwright Rob Stevens, the hull is planked up with only the whiskey plank left to fit. The deck is likewise planked and the lead ballast is currently being bolted to the keel. The engine has been purchased and is awaiting installation once tankage and wiring in the engine room is complete. The rigging gang
Virginia’s tanbark sails bent on to the yards has been at work in the historic freight shed alongside the boathouse where Virginia is under construction. Standing rigging is done and the yards, complete with tanbark sails from the Traditional Rigging Company, are being dressed and will soon be ready for sending up. Virginia is slated for launch in the summer of 2021, though no date has yet been set, and with the understanding that this, like anything scheduled in these uncertain times, is subject to change. —James Nelson, Lead Rigger and Board Member, MFS (www.MFShip.org) …
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CUSTOM SHIP MODELS, HALF HULLS. Free Catalog. Spencer, Box 1034, Quakertown, PA 18951. PIRATE PLAYING CARDS AND PRINTS by Signature ASMA Artist, Don Maitz, originator of the Captain Morgan Spiced Rum character. Full color card decks have separate watercolor images on each face. Prints include buccaneer history and humor. Order from: www.paravia.com/catalog—click Don Maitz, Maritime Heritage, playing cards listed in “Miscellaneous.” THE AUTHORITY TO SAIL by Commodore Robert Stanley Bates. The fully illustrated authoritative history of US Merchant Marine licenses and documents issued since 1852. Coffee-table size, 12” x 14.” Order direct: The Parcel Centre, Ph. 860 739-2492; www.theauthor itytosail.com. SHIP MODEL BROKER: I will help you BUY, SELL, REPAIR, APPRAISE or COMMISSION a model ship or boat. www.FiddlersGreenModelShips.com.
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OUT-OF-PRINT NAUTICAL BOOKS. SEA FEVER BOOKS. Thousands of titles. E-mail: email@example.com; Ph. 860-663-1888 (EST); www.seafever bookstore.com. KEEPING THE TRADITION ALIVE by Capt. Ray Williamson. The remarkable story of Maine Windjammer Cruises,TM founder of the windjammer industry. 172 page, 11 x 14 hardcover book with over 100 full-page images from the days of cargo to the present. Price–$48. Call 800 736-7981; email sail@mainewind jammercruises.com. PRESIDENTS PLAYING CARDS. All 45 US presidents are represented on these playing cards with interesting facts and quotes. www.presidentsplayingcards.com. THE LOST HERO OF CAPE COD by Vincent Miles. The story of an elite mariner, Captain Asa Eldridge, and the 19th century battle for commercial supremacy on the Atlantic. Reviews, availability at www.lostherocapedcod.com and Amazon.com.
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courtesy schooner ernestina-morrissey association
Events Include: lighthouse Boat Tours Maritime Lectures children’s maritime adventure programs Lightkeeper’s Gala Golf Outing Lighthouse Point Fest and much more...
Phase II of the restoration of the 1894 schooner Ernestina-Morrissey is underway. Work continues at Bristol Marine Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, where the ship’s interior spaces are being fitted out with mechanical systems, safety equipment, and furnishings to accommodate a full complement of passengers and crew. Now that the hull restoration is complete (Phase I), existing components are being restored or retuned so they can return to service onboard, and adjustments are
A new windlass barrel for Ernestina-Morrissey. being made to adhere to US Coast Guard regulations that will allow the schooner to get underway with passengers and crew. When Phase II is done, Ernestina-Morrissey will go to her new home at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA), in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, where she will serve as a training ship for cadets. The schooner will also spend time each summer in her traditional homeport in New Bedford. MMA is conducting a formal search for a new captain; the position will be through MMA, a publicly supported state university. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill in July that authorizes the transfer of her stewardship from the Commonwealth’s Department of Conservation and Recreation to MMA. (Updates and photos on the restoration can be found at www.ernestina.org; MMA, www. maritime.edu) … Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Kenneth J. Braithwaite announced in mid-October that the US SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
Navy intends to build a new National Museum of the US Navy (NMUSN). The proposed $450 million flagship museum would replace the current museum, located in Building 76 of the Navy Yard in
Washington, DC (currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic). The Navy is currently working to acquire six acres of land outside the Navy Yard; it must work through negotiations, environmental studies, and legislative actions before the land deal can be finalized. The proposed campus-style museum would be outside the security perimeter of the Navy Yard, sparing visitors the security measures currently required at the museum’s present location. The Naval History and Heritage Command states that the new site would “provid[e] the public with unfettered access to US Navy history.” The goal of the planned museum will be to celebrate 250 years of US Navy history and to foster public understanding of the Navy’s rich history and proud heritage via new exhibits, but also to serve as an educational, inspirational, cultural, and ceremonial center for former and current naval service members. (www.history.navy.mil) … The UK’s Sunderland Maritime Heritage Centre (SMHC) is raising funds to keep the trawler Willdora afloat. The Dunkirk “little ship,” a veteran of Operation Dynamo, was credited with saving over 200 soldiers; in recent years she has been in the care of the SMHC. Unfortunately, she suffered a failure of the drive coupling between the gearbox and the prop shaft and damage to the gearbox flange while on a test sail on the River Tyne early this fall and had to be towed back. As of press time, the group plans to haul out Willdora and clean off her hull below the waterline, as well as carrying out repairs. Built in 1901 in Scotland along with sister vessels Willanne and Willmarie, Willdora was among the first to arrive when called to take part in Operation
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the Battleship New Jersey, located across the river in Camden, NJ. Local speakers will give presentations on regional maritime heritage programs. Look for details on our website and in the spring issue of Sea History. Block off the dates on your calendar now and we’ll see you in Philly! (www.seahistory.org/annualmeeting2021)
Save the Date! • 14–16 May 2021 • NMHS Annual Meeting in Philly! The National Maritime Historical Society will hold its 58th Annual Meeting this spring at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. We had to reschedule the meeting from this past May due to Covid-19. Attractions you can enjoy in the area include tours of USS Olympia, the Museum of the American Revolution, and
Dynamo. She was badly damaged by shellfire, but returned to fishing after the war, and later served as a pleasure craft. She later lay sunk for three years in Sunderland’s South Dock; she was eventually raised and was donated to the Dunkirk Little Ships Restoration Trust. Her hull and deck were replanked and a new wheelhouse and saloon were built to improve accessibility for disabled persons. In 1993 she was accorded the honor of leading the fleet out of the Tyne to begin the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race. Willdora is a member of the British National Historic Fleet. The non-profit SMHC, an all-volunteer organization, promotes the area’s maritime history via its interactive visitor center and workshop. (www.sunder landmaritimeheritage.org.uk)
SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® 2021 • Atlantic Coast
n 2001, Tall Ships America (then the American Sail Training Association) hosted the first TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® race series in the Great Lakes. Kingston, Ontario, was the first port and 30 vessels participated, coming from as far away as Russia, France, and the Caribbean. Since then, 60 communities have hosted the international fleet of sailing ships at over 100 events. More than 23 million people have visited the docks to view these vessels, with an estimated economic impact exceeding two billion dollars. TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® events are highly visible opportunities to promote youth development through sail training and introduce young people to maritime careers through apprenticeship in the fleet. While the pandemic put a stop to festivals and kept most of the ships either at the dock or close to home waters, this pause has given us a chance to take stock of our events and how they serve the needs of our member vessels, our port partners, and the visiting public. During this time, Tall Ships America has been working with its members to bring the focus of the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Race Series back to its core mission of sail training and education. This includes preparing curriculum that connects with national standards for maritime history and creates an experiential modern apprenticeship program for young
people to gain skills, certifications, and confidence relevant to a maritime-based career. It also includes creating more support for getting young people on board through scholarships and sponsorships. Nicolas Hardisty, Tall Ships America’s program coordinator, will be instrumental in bringing these new and redesigned initiatives to fruition. The TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Series has continued to grow and is an eagerly anticipated event in the seaside communities that host the vessels. With new perspectives and fresh alignment with core mission, Tall Ships America sees a very bright future for the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® and even more options for young people to experience the profound significance of the historic tall ship in their modern world. The tall ships contribute experiences that are transformative for individuals and invaluable to the maritime industry. We want to make sure those messages are highlighted at the docks when our ships come to port, and the opportunity to participate is widely available to young people from across all of North America. (www.tallshipsamerica.org) —Kris Von Wald, Executive Director, Tall Ships America
SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21 47
Mastering the Inland Seas: How Lighthouses, Navigational Aids, and Harbors Transformed the Great Lakes and America by Theodore J. Karamanski (University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 2020, 368pp, illus, notes, biblio, index, isbn 9780-299-32630-2; $36.95hc) Mastering the Inland Seas is the latest contribution to midwestern regional history by the pioneering public historian Theodore Karamanski. Known by maritime historians for his 2001 volume, Schooner Passage: Sailing Ships and the Lake Michigan Frontier, Karamanski has written and cowritten many books on midwestern topics, such as the fur trade, logging, and the Civil War, as well as dozens of scholarly articles and technical historic preservation documents. No midwestern historian has done more to break down the barriers between scholarly and public history than Karamanski. His latest volume is the outgrowth of a contract research project on navigational aids commissioned by the Midwestern Regional Office of the National Park Service. It provides a useful new reference for historic preservationists needing historical context for coastal and maritime properties such as lighthouses, harbors, and coastal industrial sites. The book covers a vast sweep of Great Lakes history from indigenous maritime activities through the contemporary challenges of natural and historic preservation.
The book’s chief contribution is its focus on maritime infrastructure and the federal government’s role in shaping and reshaping the Great Lakes during the 19th and 20th centuries. In recent decades, scholars have transformed our understanding of the federal government’s reach and processes in antebellum America. Through activities such as delivering mail, seizing and distributing indigenous lands, military campaigns, subsidizing or constructing public and private infrastructure, the federal government directly shaped the American nation and organization of daily life. The US government’s involvement in developing local maritime infrastructure began when Congress passed, after contentious debate, the Lighthouse Act of 1789. Because maritime activities moved between state and national boundaries and beyond, navigation-related infrastructure and regulation fell within the area of federal responsibilities. Building and maintaining lighthouses, charting coastal waters, and steamboat safety became widely, but not universally, recognized as legitimate duties of the federal government. The politics of federal involvement in maritime infrastructure grew more acrimonious and increasingly sectional in the decades leading up to the Civil War, a period Karamanski covers in chapter three, “The Era of Bad Feelings.” These “bad feelings” became incendiary by the time of
President Polk’s surprise veto of the muchanticipated Rivers and Harbors Bill of 1846, a move strongly supported by Southern congressmen. The vote, Karamanski writes, “awoke the nascent political consciousness of the Old Northwest region, solidified the region’s political-economic relationship with the Northeast, and sundered much of the goodwill and cooperation that had existed between the West and South.” The continuing political controversies over navigation became a principal catalyst for the rise of the Republican Party. While much of the history included in Mastering the Inland Seas is well known to Great Lakes scholars, its inclusion is essential for the non-specialists seeking to gain a broader understanding of the region or engage in lakes-related historic preservation. For general readers interested in lighthouses and other aids to navigation, the book provides a useful introduction to the history of aids to navigation technology, including lighthouses, charts, and coastal pilot books. Later chapters describe the development of improved buoys, the adoption of electronic navigation technologies on the Great Lakes, and modern weather forecasting. Karamanski understands the broad sweep of Great Lakes regional history as well as anyone writing today. Throughout the book, Karamanski argues that the larger transformation of the Great Lakes from a maritime frontier to North SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
America’s industrial heartland is not a story of individual enterprise, but the work of corporations, government agencies, political parties, and industry institutions, such as the Lake Carriers Association. That said, the book’s connections to Atlantic maritime history are less nuanced. His assertion that, “a thread that runs through the entire history of the Great Lakes navigation is the reluctance of saltwater sailors to take seriously the power of the inland seas,” remains open to debate. In practice, before the full industrialization of Great Lakes shipping in the 20th century, the Great Lakes remained a regional manifestation of the globalizing Atlantic maritime system and culture. By contrast, Karamanski’s coverage of the important differences and conflicts between fresh and saltwater maritime systems and cultures during the 20th century is engaging and historically well-grounded. Crucial for understanding the modern Great Lakes, later salt/freshwater conflicts underscore Karamanski’s lessons about the unintended negative results of transformative infrastructure, particularly the St. Lawrence Seaway. The realization of the dreams of nearly a century of maritime industrialists, the Seaway brought not universal regional prosperity, but local economic dislocation and tremendous ecological damage through the introduction of non-native species in the ballast water of ocean vessels. In summary, Mastering the Inland Seas is a valuable contribution to the growing body of Great Lakes maritime historiography by a master public historian. The book provides a valuable introduction into longterm institutional and political forces that shaped the world’s most important freshwater system and influenced the direction of North American history. It provides a useful example for new public historians who, to make a living, must produce useful, professionally vetted scholarship under a tight budget and time constraints. It is a welcome addition to any student of Great Lakes history. John O. Jensen, PhD Pensacola, Florida
Chasing the Bounty: The Voyages of the neither a willing participant in Christian’s Pandora and Matavy, edited by Donald plot nor a supporter of his captain). He, in A. Maxton (McFarland, Jefferson, NC, spite of several midshipmen—technically 2020, 200pp, illus, notes, biblio, index, officers—became the tacit leader of the 15 isbn 978-1-476-67938-9; $39.95pb) men who remained in Tahiti when Almost everyone knows the story of Christian sailed off in Bounty to parts the mutiny on the Bounty: Captain Bligh unknown (Pitcairn Island). He describes along with 18 of his loyal men and officers in some detail the efforts made to cohabitate are put into a ship’s launch with the natives, keep peace with the chiefs, and cast adrift while the and secure their aid in the construction of ringleader, Fletcher Chris- the ship, including sourcing timber, cutting tian, and 25 of his followers it, making rope (from palm leaves and sail the ship back to Tahiti vines), and ultimately moving the 30-ton to be reunited with their vessel 600 feet to the water from the site island “wives” and sweet- where she was built. hearts. Fewer people know Representing the “other side” of the about the story of what story, we have Dr. George Hamilton, surhappened afterwards. The geon in HMS Pandora, whose own journal Bounty Trilogy, written in was published contemporaneously with the The Glencannon Press the 1930s by Nordoff and return of the survivors to England, titled 4 col. inches (2.25 x 4.5 inches) Hall, covers a fictionalized A Voyage Round the World in his Majesty’s Prefer right hand page, bottom right.His remarkably complete account of the plight of Frigate Pandora. both Bligh and his men, as well as the fate observations and commentary, from the of the mutineers. Others have offered sim- Pandora’s departure from England to the ilar treatment of the subject, including this wrecking of the ship off Australia and the reviewer, with some more closely following ultimate return to England, provide further the history than others. Multiple films have insight and detail missing from some of been made, of course, but little mention the other scribes. was made in them regarding the final outcome. Mr. Maxton, seeing a void that THE GLENCANNON needed filling, has produced the quintesPRESS sential NON-fiction volume filled with the words of five of the eyewitness participants Maritime Books in this heinous crime. Direct excerpts from Midshipman Peter Heywood’s correspondence with his NEW! mother and sister offer telling detail and The Ferryboat Berkeley surely a mindset of one of the reluctant by participants (he was kind of “stuck,” remaining in Bounty as there was no more Patricia Shannon Anderson room in Bligh’s boat). He accepted his predicament with a fatalistic attitude after The complete history of this providing a factual and succinct account historic craft now located at of the mutiny itself. Reproductions of parts the Maritime Museum of San of his letters are offered within the text. Diego. More than 200 pages, A segment from bosun James Morrison’s lengthy journal describes the 29 in full color. construction of the mutineers’ 30-ton Available May 1, 2020. vessel, which they named Resolution and which Captain Edward Edwards renamed FREE Catalog 1-510-455-9027 Matavy, in recognition of Matavai Bay Online at where the mutineers were captured. His www.glencannon.com insight into the habits of the natives and the way he handled his fellow mutineers (his role appeared to be quite neutral—
SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21 49
Excerpts from the correspondence between Captain Edwards of Pandora with the Admiralty and his carefully maintained log offer the story of capturing the mutineers and then sailing off in an effort to find Fletcher Christian and Bounty. They were unsuccessful in that endeavor. Taking possession of the mutineers’ schooner, Matavy née Resolution, to use as Pandora’s tender, he dispatched part of his crew under the command of one of his midshipmen and assisted by another, David Renouard, to man the vessel. Renouard later wrote the epic story of that ship’s journey to Indonesia after becoming separated from Pandora. Parts of that treatise are also included. Using these excerpts, along with a limited amount of author input, Mr. Maxton provides a surprisingly complete view of the second half of the mutiny on the Bounty story. Contemporary maps provide further enhancements, as do many contemporary sketches, drawings, and paintings of various events surrounding the cruise, capture, and wrecking, as well as the events surrounding the fate of Matavy. This is a scholarly book, which should be of interest to any who want the “real” story of the follow-on to the infamous mutiny on the Bounty. It is properly annotated and a comprehensive bibliography rounds out the volume. A glossary of naval terms is included, which will be a plus for readers who have limited knowledge of nautical language. My only complaint would be that the type is, in many places (mostly in direct excerpts), impossibly small. William H. White Rumson, New Jersey To My Dearest Wife, Lide: Letters from George B. Gideon Jr. During Commodore Perry’s Expedition to Japan, 1853–1855, edited by M. Patrick Sauer and David A. Ranan (University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, 2019, 272pp, illus, notes, biblio, index, isbn 978-0-8173-9237-6; $49.95hc) The 1850s were a particularly exciting period in global maritime history. Expansion in all directions was the watchword, and by mid-decade, the United States enjoyed a prodigious shipbuilding industry to support oceanic trade. While the following decade was dominated by the 50
Civil War, the 1850s played an important role in the rise of American sea power and foreign policy. The Treaty of Kanagawa, signed between the Tokugawa shogunate and the United States in March of 1854, is perhaps the single most illustrative point in early American gunboat diplomacy.
At the behest of President Fillmore, Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry led a fleet to open trade with Japan, but within every great sea story lie a hundred more tales that unravel a complex and oftensordid scene. Editors Patrick Sauer and David Ranzan bring us a refreshing perspective on the famous expedition from within the ranks. George Gideon served aboard USS Powhatan as second assistant engineer from 1852–1856 and wrote letters, almost daily, to his wife that form one of the most comprehensive firsthand accounts of life in the US Navy during the 1850s and a fascinating fly-on-the-wall perspective of expansionist American foreign policy. Gideon’s accounts of everyday life aboard Powhatan and ashore among the exotic ports of China and Japan are thorough, if not sometimes jarringly critical. No topic is left bare, from the unpopular status of Commodore Perry (“Old Humbug,” the “Old Fogie,” “His Highness”), to departmental infighting onboard the ship, to nearly anthropological assays of Chinese and Japanese cultures. In each letter is found a comfort of expression far removed from strictured diplomatic communique— clearly these letters were never meant to see the light of day. Parsing Gideon’s
correspondence, albeit one-sided, offers the reader an unusually plebian glimpse into a dynamic period of history traditionally painted with a pastiche of fierce nationalism. From Russian naval counterparts to rebels of the Taiping Rebellion, Gideon was witness to an incredible cast of actors within the Asian political sphere and his detailed relations leave no one out or uninsulted. No major event, or series of events, may be truly understood solely via the official record; it is the daily correspondent who relates feelings of the moment. To My Dearest Wife, Lide offers us unique perspective of a mid-grade officer. Given the magnitude of the events these letters describe, such a narrator arguably provides the most reliable common pen with the most common touch. No grace or blemish is left behind, and to scholars of this era or to those seeking a sailor’s story “in his own words,” I highly recommend this book. Brendan Burke Richmond, Virginia The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World—and Globalization Began by Valerie Hansen (Simon & Schuster, New York, 2020, 320pp, illus, notes, index, isbn 978-1-50119-410-8; $30hc) The Year 1000 is a remarkable synthesis of written records and physical evidence drawn together in support of a case for a globally connected past that does not place Europeans center stage. In a relatively short space, 235 of the book’s 320 pages are devoted to actual text; Hansen delivers a compelling argument to consider her subject year as the beginning of a new era in history. Furthermore, with its emphasis on global interactions that begin and end with seafaring, it is bound to be of as much interest to students of maritime history as it is to those concerned with world history. As Hansen states, “True, globalization didn’t benefit everyone who experienced it. But those who remained open to the unfamiliar did much better than those who rejected anything new.” On the way to this conclusion, she divides her study into eight chapters, a prologue, and an epilogue. Moving from a synopsis of the world in the year 1000 to a discussion of Viking exploration in North America, Hansen sets a pattern SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
for her rhetorical globe-trotting by first explaining the sojourners’ motives in leaving home before illuminating the consequences of their travels and interactions with distant populations. The subjects of individual chapters connect cultures across all the habitable continents, except Australia. The story unfolds as Hansen bounds from the Americas to Europe, on to Africa, and then throughout Asia and the Pacific, before ultimately arriving in China with a chapter titled, “The Most Globalized Place on Earth.”
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While trade and the pursuit of profit battleship, touch a powerful torpedo on a are central to the story of globalization, it submarine, or walk the deck of an aircraft carrier and stand where naval aviators is not the only area of human endeavor have ﬂown oﬀ into history. It’s all waiting with which Hansen is concerned. Complex for you when you visit one of and diverse motives drove globalism, and the 175 ships of the the author is committed to discussing Historic Naval Ships Association ﬂeet. military conquest and religious assimilation 50,000+ ships, battles & military photos as causes and components of cross-culturRequest a FREE catalog. For information on all 50% Veterans Discount! our ships and museums, al contact. So, in addition to detailing P.O. Box 414, Somerset Ctr, MI 49282 see the HNSA website or worldwide demand for commodities such 734-327-9696 www.realwarphotos.com www.HNSA.org visit us on Facebook. as slaves and aromatics, The Year 1000 also addresses the spread of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. In some in4/10/2018 08:08:10 stances, the spread of religions is tied Real to War Photos Ad.indd 1 conquest, and in others, it is linked to the quest for economic advantages. Ships and sailors feature prominently This list is mostly compiled from the “List of Merchant Vessels of the in Hansen’s study, and she expends adeUnited States” for the years 1867 to 1885+ and several other annuals. quate space to discussing the peculiarities Several other sources have been used to expand the data. There are over of ship construction and navigational tech100 fields per vessel, but only the ones with a value will show up. niques. From the construction of Viking Every three months a new version will be put up. longboats to the way-finding expertise of Polynesian voyagers, Hansen makes oceanic travel as much a part of the story as the people and products involved in CMY
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SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21 51
globalization’s terrestrial exchanges. Her seventh chapter, “Surprising Journeys,” places seafaring in an exalted place as a segue into her culminating chapter. Indeed, the final chapter ends by calling attention to China’s role, since the year 1000, in the long history of trans-oceanic trade occurring in what is termed the Persian GulfChina sea corridor—a corridor that was open for nearly half a millennium before Europe’s Age of Discovery began. Usually, this is the place in a review where one expects to find a description of the book’s shortcomings. In this instance, however, such an effort is generally unwarranted. It is true that in some areas, the evidence of cross-cultural contact is more robust than others. For example, using hieroglyphs from murals in Chichén Itzá as a source on the possibility of contact between Vikings and the Maya is somewhat less satisfying than having written records detailing inter-regional trade exchanges from Muslim and Chinese chroniclers. Nonetheless, the variety and volume of evidence is fascinating and, on the whole, inspires appreciation for a job well done. Chuck Steele, PhD Colorado Springs, Colorado Whaling Captains of Color: America’s First Meritocracy by Skip Finley. (Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 2020, 304pp, illus, notes, biblio, appen, index, isbn 978-1-6824-7509-6; $42hc) Between the 18th and 20th centuries, the American whaling industry was a place of incredibly dangerous work, and an occupation that required increasingly prolonged stretches of isolation from family and home community. Those who worked the floating blubber-rendering plants found themselves enclosed in a cramped world of violence, oily blood, and continual discomfort, the main enticement into which was the chance of a high payout at the journey’s end. This promise of great profit rarely proved to be true for most men involved in the industry, and thus for many a single voyage was more than enough for them to decide to never go a-whaling again. For those who did opt to make whaling a true career, such a choice was often driven by either a sense of familial duty or heritage, or the knowledge that the industry offered 52
them the greatest opportunities that they were likely to find. In Whaling Captains of Color: America’s First Meritocracy, Skip Finley delves into the lives of 52 men who entered the whaling industry due to the unique opportunities that it offered them and who managed to achieve the highest rank possible. These men came from diverse communities: a mixture of escaped slaves, free blacks, Native Americans, and Cape Verdeans. What unites their experiences for Finley is the fact that, while onshore, their skin color would have targeted them for ill treatment and little, if any, advancement in most industries. In the whaling industry, skill was valued above all else.
Finley traces the story of the whaling industry from the 1750s to the 1930s, showing how it developed, grew, and changed over the centuries. He also devotes individual chapters to more focused studies of such topics of interest as innovations within the industry, how a career in whaling stacked up against being enslaved, and the trials and tribulations faced by the whalers themselves. Here, he craftily and expertly weaves the stories of these whaling captains of color, allowing their stories to enhance the points that he seeks to make with every chapter, while also not allowing their individuality to be subsumed by the larger narrative. The most striking of these combinations very well might be the first chapter “Dynasty: 1778–1842,” in which he tells the story of Paul Cuffe—arguably the most well known and most influential whaling captain of color—and the whaling dynasty that he helped to create. Through tracing the story of the Cuffe and Wainer families, as well as whalers of color they SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
employed, Finley lays a strong foundation for the significance of whalers of color in the industry. A resource that will appeal primarily to those with an interest in whaling research is the collection of eleven appendices at the back of the book filled with data relating largely to whaling captains of color. Of particular interest will certainly be the list of “(Known) All-Black Whaling Voyages” and the list of “Ships Built and/or Designed by John Mashow.” For those not familiar with the American whaling industry, another appendix offers a fairly comprehensive listing of “American Whaling Ports, 1784– 1928,” including their years of operation. There is much to be said for the idea that race necessarily took a back seat to the more immediate concerns of survival and completion of the voyage. This is particularly true when, as Finley shows, men of color were often the ones most likely to be willing to make repeated voyages to sea, seeing the industry as a means of achieving social standing. While the whaling captains of color represented the pinnacle of achievement, each of them also represented in-
numerable whalers of color who filled every rank from green hand to first mate across the American whaling fleet. Because of this, Finley’s book serves a deeper purpose than just highlighting these 52 captains; it opens up the floor for a deeper discussion of what it meant to be an American whaler, what it meant to be an American—and how that often could shift, depending on one’s locale and profession. Michael Toth Fort Worth, Texas Anaconda’s Tail: The Civil War on the Potomac Frontier, 1861–1865 by Donald G. Shomette (Millstone Publishing, Dunkirk, MD, 767pp, illus, notes, biblio, index, isbn 978-0-578-61322-2; $43.95pb) Donald Shomette’s latest book, Anaconda’s Tail, begins at 400 acres of land at Point Lookout (by Piney Point, Maryland, at the entrance to the Potomac River) and 600 pages later ends at the same place. In between, he explores the military, economic, social, and cultural clashes that occurred during this period, all within the squeezing coil of the “constrictor-like” cor-
don—in a way, a tale of the tail. Wellwritten, thoroughly researched and organized, this fascinating story is narrated with attention to detail. This thought-provoking tome reverberates with the sounds of voices on both sides of the bloody conflict. Because of the book’s length and breadth, writing a review in a limited number of words necessitates selecting a few trees to represent some of this verdant forest of historical episodes. A recurring theme is the Union garrison at Point Lookout, and in particular, its prison. It was heavily populated with
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“O’er the Wide and Tractless Sea”
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k original art of the yankee whale hunt By Michael P. Dyer
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SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21 53
by Kurt D. Voss All proceeds from this pictorial history benefit the ELISSA preservation fund.
Published by Arcadia Publishing and Galveston Historical Foundation $21.99. 128 pages, 200 photographs Autographed copies available at (409) 763-1877, or online at:
w w w. t s m - e l i s s a . o r g Anne T. Converse Photography
Neith, 1996, Cover photograph
Wood, Wind and Water
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Confederate seafarer prisoners of war, who were a potential source of manpower if they could be persuaded to change their allegiance and enlist in the US Navy. The terrible hardships of prison life made fidelity fungible to many. The banks of the Potomac also demarcated the split state of Maryland—officially Union with many southern sympathizers—and rebel Virginia. The author takes his reader on a sojourn, an intimate and sometimes emotional look into the lives of slaves during this time, followed by “Blood Hounds,” a moving chapter about the disparate enforcement of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law to capture and return runaway slaves. Shomette includes an amusing side story that involved Colonel LaFayette C. Baker (Union), who early in the war was ordered to look after post office operations in southern Maryland. Because the area had a large population with sympathies for the insurgents’ cause, it was difficult to find reliable and loyal men to accept the position of local postmaster. Many people there described themselves as states’ rights proponents, but not secessionists. One postal worker in the area constructed a pine box for delivering mail to both sides. The container was partitioned through the center with a hole for letters in each side. Over one part was inscribed “southern letters,” and on the other, “northern letters.” The southern mail went to Richmond, and the other side went to Washington. The mail became a means of smuggling contraband in numerous guises between the North and the South. Shomette provides this and numerous other examples of cunning, bravery, and betrayal, and likely stories few have heard before. The most exhaustive narrative comes in the closing chapters, which examine the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators, their escapes, hiding capers, captures, and punishments. They are riveting in their detail and comprehensive, citing a vast array of people, both prominent and ordinary, who took part in or were touched by these events. In summary, Anaconda’s Tail: The Civil War on the Potomac Frontier is an epic journey through Civil War history on a grand scale, principally in Maryland’s Chesapeake region. The book displays the
author’s intellectual breadth as a historian and talents as a storyteller. An ambitious, deeply researched, and deftly told engrossing tale; it provides detail within a broad context of a momentous and tumultuous time. Quite deservedly, this work received the Maryland Historical Society’s prestigious Brewington Book Prize for 2020, the latest of several literary distinctions for which Don Shomette has been recognized over the years. Louis Arthur Norton, DMD West Simsbury, Connecticut All at Sea: Naval Support for the British Army During the American Revolutionary War by John Dillon (Helion & Co., Warwick, UK, 2019, 297pp, maps, notes, biblio; isbn 978-1-912866-67-0; $37.95pb) John Dillon’s All at Sea: Naval Support for the British Army During the American Revolutionary War is a study not of the battles of the American War for Independence but of the logistics of sustaining an 18th-century combat navy and army 3,000 miles from home. Everyone knows that an army marches on its stomach—but who cares? The outcome of a war is determined by the fighting, or is it? Dillon’s All at Sea is anything but a boring exegesis on a mundane topic. Reading it forces one to consider the consequences of failure to feed the troops. Take Tarleton’s army and its resounding defeat at Cowpens in 1781. We learned afterward that the troops had not eaten for a prolonged period, during which they were force-marched. Even the toughest soldier (or sailor or marine) must have fuel to function. Toughness evaporates as calories disappear. So, the fighting may decide the victor but the logistics determines if there is to be a battle and who will fight—the German army could not stop or even slow down General Patton’s Third Army as it surged across Europe, but a shortage of gasoline did. The achievement of the Allies in transporting millions of tons of supplies to France in support of Operation Overlord is, in many ways, matched by the achievement of the British in supplying its army and navy in the New World. The American naval icon John Paul Jones, in command of the Continental frigate Alfred, seized the British supply vessel Mellish on 13 November 1776. The loss for the British and gain SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
for Washington’s army was a cache of 12,000 uniforms intended for Burgoyne’s troops in Quebec. Twelve-thousand uniforms may not attract attention in the 21st century, but in the 18th century there was no such thing as the sewing machine; every one of those suits of clothing and accompanying hats, gloves, shoes, etc. was made by hand. The tons of clothing and equipment, arms, ammunition, livestock and fodder, and potable food transported across thousands of miles of ocean in windpowered vessels testify to the productivity and prosperity of the United Kingdom in the 18th century, as well as to the catastrophic waste of war. How many schools, hospitals, parks, and children’s needs were sacrificed for that war—for any war? Dillon’s All at Sea is a worthy companion to Robert E. Smith’s Manufacturing Independence: Industrial Innovation in the American Revolution (2016), a study of the logistics of the war on the American side. Dillon delves into the complexities facing Crown agencies, the military, and private contractors who struggled to move what their troops in North America needed. Producing the volume and types of goods was an achievement in itself in pre-industrial Britain, but that was not enough. Somehow those products, some of which were subject to very short shelflife, had to be brought together, loaded aboard ships and sailed across the Atlantic. Shipping was never adequate and Crown agencies competed with one another for leases on private vessels. Once the ships arrived in America they were to be unloaded and returned to Europe immediately to be reloaded for another trip over the sea to North America. But there was a problem on the receiving end. Where were the goods to be stored until dispensed? The British Army was not stationary, and transportation overland was slow and expensive. Army officers held ships as floating warehouses, and in so doing, exacerbated the shipping problem. Officers complained that they were not getting what they needed to field the army,
while making it nearly impossible for the supporting agencies in Europe to supply them because the ships were being held up on the American side. Dillon describes a logistical nightmare that leaves the reader marveling that the British managed to field an army at all. Ships leaving Europe for America faced the natural hazards of an open ocean voyage, in addition to having to deal with American privateers coming after them. The Brits’ response to the threat of German U-boats during the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II was to group merchant ships in convoys and have them cross the Atlantic under the protection of warships, and they engaged in similar tactics in the American War for Independence. The difficulties of making a convoy work were complicated in the 1940s, but, as Dillon explains, complex beyond imagination in the Age of Sail. Dillon devotes a full chapter to the support the British army received from the Royal Navy. Not only did the Navy provide reinforcements in men, provisions, equipment and ammunition, it also stood by to support ground operations with gunfire and transportation. So essential was the Navy in what we now call combined operations that the Commander-in-Chief of land forces in America, General William Howe, swore that British operations had to be kept to within 15 miles of a navigable waterway. All at Sea offers a view of the American War for Independence unlike others. Rather than a focus on military combat, Dillon studies the logistics essential to keeping the army and navy in the field and on the briny. Rather than General Howe wondering about his next move, the reader might now see General Howe wondering where the next meal for his troops was coming from. The book will appeal to a wide range of readers with interests in maritime history, the military, American and British history, logistics, and those looking for an intriguing study. David O. Whitten, PhD Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina
new & noted
Islanders and Empire: Smuggling and Political Defiance in Hispaniola, 1580– 1690 by Juan José Ponce Vázquez (Cambridge University Press, New York, 2020, illus, gloss, biblio, index, isbn 978-110847765-9; $99.99hc) Leadership Is Language: The Hidden Power of What You Say—and What You Don’t by L. David Marquet (Portfolio/ Penguin, 2020, 352pp, gloss, notes, index, isbn 978-0-73521-753-9; $27hc) Maritime Communities of the Ancient Andes by Gabriel Prieto and Daniel H. Sandweiss (University Press of Florida, Gainesville, 2020, 462pp, illus, notes, index; isbn 978-0-81306-614-1; $125hc) The Multifarious Mr. Banks: From Botany Bay to Kew, The Natural Historian Who Shaped the World by Toby Musgrave (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2020, 386pp, illus, notes, biblio, index, isbn 9780-30022-383-5; $35hc) Mutiny on the Spanish Main: HMS Hermione and the Royal Navy’s Revenge by Angus Konstam (Osprey Publ., Oxford, UK, 320pp, illus, maps, notes, biblio, index, isbn 978-1-47283-379-2; $35hc) Shipwrecked: Coastal Disasters and the Making of the American Beach by Jamin Wells, PhD (University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2020, 258pp, maps, illus, notes, biblio, index, isbn 978-1-46966089-9; $95hc) Tales of the Sea Cloud: Luxury Yacht, Integrated Naval Vessel, Legendary Ship by Ken W. Sayers (Texas A & M University Press, College Station, 2021, illus, notes, biblio, isbn 978-1-62349-934-1; $35hc) Warship Builders: An Industrial History of US Naval Shipbuilding, 1922–1945, by Thomas Heinrich (Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 2020, illus, notes, biblio, index, isbn 978-1-68247-537-9; $39.95hc) Wales and the Sea: 10,000 Years of Welsh Maritime History, edited by Mark Redknap, Sian Rees, and Alan Aberg (Royal Commission, Y Lolfa, Wales, 2020, 348pp, isbn 978-1-78461-527-7 $37.99pb)
All past reviews published in Sea History can be found online via www.seahistory.org/bookreviews. SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21 55
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SEA HISTORY 173, WINTER 2020–21
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