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.

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 »

Sinking_Cap_TrafalgarOn September 14th, 1914, one hundred years ago today, off the Brazilian island of Trindale, one of the stranger naval battles of World War I was fought between two converted passenger liners, one of which was disguised to look like the other. In a battle of doppelgängers, the German liner los… Read full post »

The Star Spangled Banner over Fort McHenry

The Star Spangled Banner over Fort McHenry

At around 6AM, 200 years ago today, the British Royal Navy began a fearsome bombardment of Fort McHenry at the mouth of Baltimore harbor. The British had attempted to take Baltimore by both land and sea. The British army attack stalled the day before,/… Read full post »

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is increasing the size of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron from 448 square miles to 4,300 square miles, doubling the number the number of shipwrecks protected to 200. Located in northwestern Lake Huron, Thunder Bay is… Read full post »

Battle of Plattsburgh

We may always associate September 11th with the tragic attacks of 2001. September 11th of 1814, however, 200 years ago today, saw a significant naval victory by the young American Navy at the Battle of Plattsburgh that may have changed the outcome of the War of 1812.

On… Read full post »

On the thirteenth anniversary of the attacks 9/11, it seems worthwhile to revisit the amazing story of the spontaneous maritime evacuation of somewhere between 300,000 and one million people who were trapped in lower Manhattan on the afternoon of September 11, 2001. It truly was an American Dunkirk.… Read full post »

exosuit-main1An international team of archaeologists and divers wearing an Exosuit will be diving on the Antikythera shipwreck this month. The suit is described as a part robot and part submarine, and evocative of the suit from the “Iron Man†movies and their hero, Tony Stark. With the Exosuit, diverRead full post »

HMS Terror in ice

HMS Terror in ice

The wreckage of one of two missing ships from Franklin’s lost expedition of 1845 is believed to have been found. It is not known yet if the wreck is of HMS Terror or HMS Erebus. The Franklin expedition was an attempt to traverse the last unnavigated section of/… Read full post »

bluewhale1Despite being hunted from 1905–1971, the California blue whale has rebounded so that today it is approximately 97% of pre-whaling levels.  The journal Marine Mammal Science recently published a study, “Do ship strikes threaten the recovery of endangered eastern North Pacific blue whRead full post »

shkval2The headline in the South China Morning Post was, at the very least, eye catching — Shanghai to San Francisco in 100 minutes by Chinese supersonic submarine.   The article makes it clear that while the Chinese may be researching such a submarine, they are no where close to actually bui… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 6, 2014 10:53AM

Floating Library Launches on the Lilac

floatinglibrarylilacStarting today and running through October 3rd, the 1933 lighthouse tender Lilac, on the Hudson River at Pier 25 in New York, is being transformed into the Floating Library, a mobile device-free salon for reading, writing, research, debate, and fearless dreaming. Created and organized by ar… Read full post »