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.

Photo © NCG Operations Room – MRCC Mauritius

Photo © NCG Operations Room – MRCC Mauritius

How did a crew of highly skilled professionals, sailing the $6 million Team Vestas Wind in the current Volvo Ocean Race, succeed in hitting the Cargados Carajos shoals, in the Indian Ocean off Mauritius at 16 knots on the night of November 29,Read full post »

Joe Spooner. Photo: NZ Herald

Joe Spooner. Photo: NZ Herald

Last Friday, the US District Court in San Francisco issued a warrant to seize Oracle Team USA’s prototype America’s Cup foiling multihull sail boat, in response to a lien filed by New Zealand sailor Joe Spooner, whose contract was terminated in Januar/… Read full post »

Photo: REUTERS/Randall Hill

Photo: REUTERS/Randall Hill

Back in 2010, archaeologists found 30 bottles of champagne thought to pre-date the French Revolution in a shipwreck on the Baltic seabed.  Remarkably, when a bottle of champagne was opened it was found to be drinkable.  At the time, some commented that a shipwrec/… Read full post »

MARCH 7, 2015 4:25PM

The Supreme Court, Grouper and SOX

Does SOX apply to grouper?

Does SOX apply to grouper?

In 2007, Captain John L. Yates of the fishing vessel, Miss Katie, was caught with 72 undersized red grouper. After being ordered to bring the fish ashore by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officer, Captain Yates dumped the fish back into the Gulf of Mexic/… Read full post »

sleepingspermwhaleHow do whales sleep? And do they dream? Many years ago on a kayaking trip on Blackfish Sound off Vancouver Island, our group of paddlers came across a pod of “sleeping” orcas. The pod was swimming very slowly, each orca swimming close to the next, diving and surfacing in the same… Read full post »

Musashi under  attack 1944

Musashi under attack 1944

After eight years of searching, a team lead by Microsoft founder and billionaire, Paul Allen, has discovered the wreck of the Japanese battleship Musashi, over 70 years after she was sunk in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The wreck was located in the Sibuyan Sea off the/… Read full post »

quarterdeckAs we mentioned in Part 1 of this post, two excellent nautical newsletters came out within the past few days — Astrodene’s Historic Naval Fiction Log Book and McBook Press’ Quarterdeck. Both feature news and reviews of nautical fiction and non-fiction and each also feature reviews of ne… Read full post »

hnflog Two excellent nautical newsletters came out within the past few days — Astrodene’s Historic Naval Fiction Log Book and McBook Press’ Quarterdeck. Both feature news and reviews of nautical fiction and non-fiction and each also feature reviews of new books by Old Salt Press w… Read full post »

Laser scanning has been used to create a 3D map of HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship in his victory at Trafalgar. Using 850 separate scans, scientists have collected 90 billion measurements on the 230 foot long ship at her drydock in Portsmouth. The 3D model documents the ship’s condition an… Read full post »

seablue1Over the last week, the internet has been overwhelmed by an argument over the color of a dress. Some people see the image as gold and white, while others see it as blue and black.  Despite looking at a single image, it is obvious that we all are capable of perceiving… Read full post »

fireboatwhopdeedoWhat’s a Fireboat Whoop-Dee-Do? I am not entirely sure but it sounds like fun. It is a fundraiser for the historic fireboat John J Harvey  on Monday, Mar. 16th, 6:00-9:00 at Tribeca 360, 10 Desbrosses Street, just south of Canal Street in Mahnhattan. It is described as “not y… Read full post »

andersoniceThe US and Canadian Coast Guards have been working jointly to free the iconic Great Lakes bulk carrier, SS Arthur M. Anderson, stuck in the ice in Lake Erie near Conneaut Harbor.  The laker had been bound for Sturgeon Bay, WI when it became stuck in ice which can be six to ten feet… Read full post »

Photo: Jack Guez, AFP/GETTY

Photo: Jack Guez, AFP/GETTY

Six sport divers from a local club were scuba diving in the ancient Roman harbor of Caesarea in Israel, when one of them spotted a small tiny coin, which the diver thought looked like a toy coin from a game of some sort. On further examination, the coin turned o… Read full post »


Urethral syringe used to treat syphilis

Sometimes the way the media reports a story about nautical history can be almost as interesting as the story itself. Near the end of last month, archaeologists examining artifacts discovered on the wreck of the pirate Blackbeard’s flag ship, the QuRead full post »

vocA recent article in Atlantic Monthly pointed out that Apple, the technology company, not the fruit, is now, in economic terms, the size of a small country. The world’s largest company with a market capitalization of $700 billion, it is now issuing bonds in Switzerland. As noted in the ar… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 18, 2015 8:58AM

New Jersey Oyster Madness

In the east side of New York harbor, the New York State side, the lowly oyster is a hero.  Not only will restored oyster beds help filter and clean the water of the harbor, they could also play a critical role in limiting damage from hurricanes. After Hurricane Sandy, oysters have… Read full post »

The weather is bitterly cold here on the west bank of the Hudson River, so it seems like as good a time as any to look toward the warmer waters of the Antipodes. A video from the Spirit of Adventure Trust of New Zealand shot aboard the barquentine Spirit of New Zealand.Read full post »

Photo: Kin Cheung/Associated Press

In 2012, we posted about the collision between the passenger ferry Sea Smooth and the ferry Lamma IV off Hong Kong near Lama Island. The collision killed 39, all passengers on the Lamma IV .  The Lamma IV  was carrying staff and family members of the/… Read full post »

It is currently around 18 degrees F on the west bank of the Hudson River, but with the wind chill the figures are somewhere in the negative numbers. It seems appropriate, therefore, to post this wonderful video, shot by an X-Factor Aerial drone. The footage is from about 50 miles north… Read full post »

The Battle of Cape St Vincent, 14 February 1797 by Robert Cleveley

The Battle of Cape St Vincent, 14 February 1797
by Robert Cleveley

Happy Valentine’s Day! The day is named for one of several martyrs named Valentine.  Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni both have feast days on February 14th. The day is also associated with an old Roman fertility f/… Read full post »

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 »