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.

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 »

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 »