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.

NOVEMBER 12, 2014 1:05PM

Horizon Line Sold — the End of an Era

Horizon_LinesYesterday, Horizon Line, a US Flag Jones Act container ship operator, announced that it was ending operations. It had sold its Alaskan service to Matson, its Hawaiian operations to Pasha Group, and would be shutting down its operations to Puerto Rico. This was not a great surprise as the compa… Read full post »

Soldiers' council of the Prinzregent Luitpold.

Soldiers’ council of the Prinzregent Luitpold.

In the US, today is Veteran’s Day, when we honor those who have served in the military.  It coincides with Armistice Day, the anniversary of the signing of the armistice which ended World War I, on the 11th hour of the 11th day, of t/… Read full post »

liembaRecently, the BBC published an article titled WW1: The indestructible warship.  The article refers to the Graf Goetzen. Calling her the “indestructible warship” seems to be a bit of an exaggeration. As warships go, she was not very impressive and given that she was scuttled with… Read full post »

subpano1Thanks to Richard Pekelney for passing along the link to a wonderful panoramic and audio tour of the USS Pampanito, a World War II Balao class Fleet submarine museum and memorial that is open for visitors daily at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.  By clicking and dragging your… Read full post »

WEB-shipsbell06nw2In September, the wreck of one of the two ships in Franklin’s lost  expedition of 1845 was located near the the Victoria Strait in Canada. As both ships in the expedition were similar sized bomb vessels, modified for exploration, it was initially unclear whether the wreck was from t… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 7, 2014 11:50AM

Supermaxi Comanche on Sea Trials

I have mixed feeling about modern supermaxi monohulls. They are complicated, expensive sailing wedges — pointy in the bow and broad and flat on the stern.  But they are really fast, and watching Jim Clark‘s new 100′ carbon fiber speed-demon Comanche is impressive. Built by HodgdonRead full post »

In Lake Champlain this summer, on July 31, near Scotch Bonnet, cryptozoology enthusiasts Katy Elizabeth and Dennis Hall recorded underwater audio which sounds remarkably like echolocation of a marine mammal. They say that it sounds like a beluga whale. Beluga whales have been known to swim into brack… Read full post »

Loick Peyron sailing  Banque Populaire VII

Loick Peyron sailing Banque Populaire VII

An estimated quarter of a million people lined the docks and the shore at St. Malo in Brittany to watch the start of the Route du Rhum Race, the 4,500 mile trans-Atlantic singlehanded race to Guadeloupe, which is sailed every four years. This time, the/… Read full post »

Click for a larger image

Click for a larger image

I am fond of one photo I took of the Kalmar Nyckel  at the Sultana Downrigging Weekend in Charlestown, MD last weekend.  It shows two sailors, who appear to be starting to downrig the sprit topsail yard. They are standing on the distinctive round sprit mast/… Read full post »

Many of these “mind blowing facts” don’t seem that surprising, but they do get the bottom line right — “For an industry that basically runs the world economy most people know very little about the enormous complex that touches almost every single thing you use.”

25Read full post »

703_LILAC_0770_001If you are in the neighborhood, this is a most worthwhile event.  There is also exiting news. At the fundraiser, the Lilac Preservation Project will announce the launching of a campaign to restore steam to the Lilac, a 1933 lighthouse tender that once carried supplies to lighthouses and m… Read full post »

And now for something completely different — what happens when you crack an egg underwater?  I will admit this hasn’t been a question that has been keeping me awake at nights, but it is interesting, nevertheless. Here is what happens when you crack open an egg when 60′ below the su… Read full post »

CNS Liaoning

CNS Liaoning

The Russians and the Chinese each have only one aircraft carrier in service. They happen to be sister ships and both have major problems in staying afloat and keeping the propellers turning.  Both ships were built in the Black Sea Shipyard in Mykolaiv, Ukraine.

Russia’s on… Read full post »

easterisland1Easter Island, called Rapa Nui by its inhabitants, famous for its massive stone statues, is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world.  It is almost 2,000 nautical miles from the coast of South America and over 1,000 nautical miles to Pitcairn, the closest inhabited island.

De… Read full post »

Ceres as seen by Hubble Space Telescope

Ceres as seen by Hubble Space Telescope

In September, we posted about a recent study that concluded that up to half the water on our planet is older than the sun.  Scientists now speculate that the existence of water may be far more common in the universe than previously thought.  Some/… Read full post »

Swedish Corvette Visby, one of the ships searching for the mystery sub

Swedish Corvette Visby, one of the ships searching for the mystery sub

Last Friday, there were reports of unexplained underwater movements near the Stockholm archipelago. There were also reports of an encrypted distress call of the sort used by the Russian Navy, leading to speculation that a R/… Read full post »

On Trafalgar Day, the anniversary of Admiral Horatio Nelson‘s victory and death at the Battle of Trafalgar, a ballad describing the battle, “On board a Man o’ War,” sung by Ian Page. Feel free to grab a mug of porter, or coffee or tea, and to sing along.

Song: “On boardRead full post »

Updates on two stories from the weekend:

Carnival Magic Back in Galveston —  (See our previous post.) After being refused entry into both Belize and Mexico, the Carnival Magic is back in its home port of Galveston. One passenger aboard the ship was a nurse who had handled lab specime… Read full post »

OCTOBER 19, 2014 9:58AM

Fire on the Cutty Sark! Again?

There are reports of a “small fire” aboard the 19th-century composite clipper ship, Cutty Sark, in Greenwich, UK.  Firefighters managed to contain the blaze which is said to have damaged a small part of deck three and associated timbers.  The Cutty Sark Crew, who runs the ship,… Read full post »

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

Last Friday, at Newcastle, the world’s largest coal handling facility, it was a contest of canoes against the colliers. Calling themselves Pacific Climate Warriors, a group of protesters from a dozen Pacific island nations took to traditional outrigger canoes, kayaks and other/… Read full post »

jack-en-piratas-del-caribeOn this the official “Talk Like A Pirate Day,” all I can say is, “No, thank you. I would rather not.”  The problem is that there are still real pirates plying their trade around the globe, abusing and and too often killing merchant seamen.  So, pretending to speak in… Read full post »

TTbillboardOdyssey Marine Exploration Inc. recently wrapped up recovery efforts on the wreck of the SS Central America for the year. In last five months, they have recovered more than 15,500 gold and silver coins, 45 gold bars and hundreds of nuggets, jewelry and other artifacts from the wreck, which li… Read full post »

Katharine, Celebrity Great White Shark

Katharine, Celebrity Great White Shark

In 1971, Blue Water, White Death,  a documentary about great white sharks hit the big screens. I recall the documentary as thrilling and absolutely terrifying.  White sharks were portrayed as monstrous killing machines, swimming in every ocean, ready t/… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 16, 2014 5:16PM

The Schooners Columbia — 1923 & 2014

Columbia  1923 launch (left) Columbia 2014 launch (right)

Columbia 1923 launch (left) Columbia 2014 launch (right)

The Columbia of 1923 was a fishing schooner built at the Arthur Dana Story shipyard in Essex, MA, from a design by Starling Burgess. She was famous for her speed and seaworthiness and for winning international schooner races, including/… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 15, 2014 5:32PM

Frigate Hermione is Under Sail!

accueil__066374100_1654_28062007After close to two decades of construction, the frigate Hermione  is finally under sail. In 1997, a group of historical and tall ship enthusiasts formed the Association Hermione-La Fayette and set about building a replica of the French frigate, Hermione, which carried Gilbert du Motier, MaRead full post »