Rick Spilman

Rick Spilman
Jersey City, New Jersey, USA
March 25
I am the author of a nautical thriller set in the last days of sail, Hell Around the Horn. I also the host of the Old Salt Blog. I have a background in ship operations, banking and corporate communications. I am an avid sailor and kayaker.

140416_2p03_sewolAre passenger ro-ro ferries inherently unsafe?

No one knows why the passenger ro-ro ferry Sewol capsized last Wednesday off the south-west coast of Korea. There are indications that poor crew training and inadequate safety and evacuation procedures may have contributed to the deaths of more t… Read full post »

peep_chick-with-r-1-authorized-for-publicationRecently the folks at Sailing Scuttlebutt commented that it looked as if the boats in the Stark Raving Mad 2014 Heineken Regatta were being sailed by “peeps,” the ubiquitous, if largely inedible, marshmallow candies, sold in the United States and Canada, that make their appearanceRead full post »


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If you are in the New York area on Saturday, April 26th, be sure to stop by the South Street Seaport to celebrate a Spring revival with the grand reopening of Pier 16 and the Street of Ships.

Capt. Jonathan Boulware, Interim President of the South Street/… Read full post »

The gillnetter Phyllis A., built in 1925, is the oldest fishing vessel in Gloucester, Massachusetts, which calls itself, America’s oldest seaport.  The Phyllis A. Marine Association, Inc.is raising money to promote the history of gillnetting in Gloucester, Massachusetts, through the display an… Read full post »

dead-whale-njWhale sightings in and around New York harbor are getting less and less unusual. Unfortunately, the most recent sighting was of a dead fin whale caught on the bow of a container ship near Port Elizabeth. A necropsy is being performed to determine if the 60 ton whale was dead or… Read full post »

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

What was intended as a four-day field trip to the Korean resort island of Jeju for high school students and their teachers ended in tragedy when the ferry sank off several miles north of Byeongpung Island, on the west coast of Korea. There are reports of 4 known dead and/… Read full post »

APRIL 15, 2014 8:14AM

Blood Moon Eclipse Lights the Sky

We posted recently about a rare lunar eclipse tetrad, a sequence of four total lunar eclipses, each six months apart.  The first of these total lunar eclipses was last night around 2:30 AM EST. I confess. I didn’t stay up. Fortunately others did and here is a wonderful selection of photos of… Read full post »

Photo: R. Spilman

Photo: R. Spilman

In March, we posted about “The Captain Rose House of 1773 & Kit Burns Rat Pit of 1870,” at 273 Water Street in Lower Manhattan. In addition to being the third oldest building in Manhattan, the building has a rich history as both the home of a prosperous/… Read full post »

Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) clearly has a sense of humor. Their new advertising campaign harkens back to the glory days of 1980s cop shows to remind us that, like bulletproof vests, lifejackets don’t save people’s lives unless they’re worn.

Lifejackets for life — MNZ’s laRead full post »

Sail maker Don Lucas at the South Australian Maritime Museum

Sail maker Don Lucas at the South Australian Maritime Museum

As part of a new exhibit, Rough Medicine: Life and Death in the Age of Sail, at the South Australia Maritime Museum, sail maker Don Lucas was asked to sew a shroud for a child, actually a child-sized manikin, fortunately, to represe/… Read full post »

The Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) USS Freedom, the first of her namesake class and one of two different LCS designs, was recently deployed to Singapore for ten months in order to demonstrate the capabilities of the ship described by the Navy as a “networked, agile, stealthy sur… Read full post »

On January 9, 2013, we posted about the Seastreak Wall Street catamaran ferry, which slammed into a loading barge at Pier 11 in New York City’s East River in Lower Manhattan at 12 knots, injuring 80 of the 331 passengers and crew.  The 140 feet long and 30 feet wide ferry was operating… Read full post »



I will admit to having distinctly mixed feelings related to the rescue of the Kaufman family on their yacht ‘Rebel Heart.‘ I am obviously pleased that Lyra received medical attention. I am saddened that the boat that was their home was lost. I am impressed by the skill, ex/… Read full post »

Photo: Will Van Dorp

Photo: Will Van Dorp

Yesterday, we posted about the arrival of the World War II Destroyer Escort USS Slater at Caddell Dry Dock. The day before, the historic fireboat, John J. Harvey, left Caddell to return to her Hudson River dock after a month of refurbishment.  The fireboat built in 1931,/… Read full post »

Photo: Michael Sheehan

Photo: Michael Sheehan

Could the arrival of the the USS Slater, the last World War II destroyer escort still afloat in the United States, be a sign of spring in New York harbor?  We can only hope, although as the sky today remains about as gray as her paint, perhaps that/… Read full post »

Photo: Andrew Vaughan

Photo: Andrew Vaughan

The new construction/restoration of the Canadian schooner Bluenose II has not gone well.  Years behind schedule and millions over budget. Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil is calling it a “boondoggle” and is demanding an investigation into the project.  RRead full post »

Sailors watching the sky will see a total lunar eclipse on April 15th in the United States. This is the beginning of a rare tetrad, a sequence of four total lunar eclipses, each six months apart. While this will be one of nine tetrads occurring this century, in the three hundred… Read full post »

After a three year bidding process to attempt to find a new home for the historic cruiser Olympia, the Independence Seaport Museum has announced that it will keep the ship after all.

Four groups originally bid on taking over the ship but none were considered to be viable.  The museum also n… Read full post »

The illusive manaphin

The illusive manaphin

Yesterday was April 1st, often known as April Fool’s Day. (Our post on a dramatic man overboard rescue was definitively not a spoof.) Yesterday “Visit St Pete-Clearwater” issued a press release about a recent sighting of the legendary “ManaphinR/… Read full post »

Andrew Taylor, 46, from London, a crew member on Derry~Londonderry~Doire yacht, racing in the Clipper Round the World Race, went overboard in the Pacific at 23.43 UTC Sunday night in rough weather. He was sighted again at 00.55 UTC before being recovered at approx. 01.13 UTC (13.13 local time, 30 Mar… Read full post »

japan-whaling-1aGreat news. The UN’s highest court has ruled against Japanese Antarctic whaling. The Japanese have notionally supported the commercial whaling moratorium adopted in 1982 but have exploited a loophole which allows for whaling for “scientific research.”  As we posted last JuRead full post »


Image: Hobie.com

Hobart “Hobie” Alter died of cancer in Palm Desert, California on March 29th, 2014 at the age of 80.  In 1958, he revolutionized surfboard design by developing the foam-and-fiberglass surfboard. In the 1960s, he introduced multi-hull sailing to the mass market wi… Read full post »

MARCH 30, 2014 3:36PM

Sponges — Mother of Us All?

1spongeAll terrestrial life came from the sea, but how did life develop in the ocean? Professor Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter, who led a new study, said: “There had been enough oxygen in ocean surface waters for over 1.5 billion years before the first animals evolved, but the dark depthsRead full post »

article-2541485-1ABF52EB00000578-692_634x348Sarah Kirby went on a five night Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Destiny to celebrate her 30th birthday in October of 2012.  Partying with friends, she became very intoxicated.  Just after midnight, she went back to her stateroom and stepped out on to her cabin balcony to get some air. Â… Read full post »