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.

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 »

AMMO1_19079A team of US Navy divers recovered five crates of live munitions from the bottom of Lake George, NY, in about 60′ of water. The munitions were found by recreational divers over the Labor Day weekend. The Navy divers are reported to have recovered 37mm shells, believed to be from an 18Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 5, 2014 9:15AM

A New Owner for HMS Pickle

HMSPicklereplica2We have been following the 1995 built replica of the topsail schooner HMS Pickle for some time. In 2008, she was offered for sale for £350,000.00 (US$626,640). In July, she reappeared on the market on E-Bay where the winning bid was £69,500.00. The Seller’s Notes of Ebay read: “PickleRead full post »

SEPTEMBER 4, 2014 10:21AM

Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival 2014

thamsetallshipAnother great event that I wish I was attending.  Starting tomorrow September 5th and lasting through the 9th, the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival will take place at three sites across Royal Greenwich and one in neighboring Canary Wharf.  The tall ships will start arriving on the Thame… Read full post »

Tuvalu_-_Funafuti_-_ApproachTuvalu is a tiny Polynesian island nation in roughly the geometric center of the Pacific Ocean.  The CIA World Factbook describes the nation’s economy as follows: Tuvalu consists of a densely populated, scattered group of nine coral atolls with poor soil. Only eight of the atolls are iRead full post »

boat-carrying-african-immigrants-sinks-off-libya-coastYesterday, we posted about Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), a privately funded operation to assist refugees in trouble attempting to cross the Mediterranean. While we obviously wish them well, a recent report reminded us again of the scope of the refugee crisis. The Italian Navy’s ORead full post »

Chris and Regina Catrambone and their daughter Maria Luisa have launched what they say is the world’s first privately funded vessel to help migrants in trouble at sea. Specifically, they hope to assist refugees in distress attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. The UN Refugee Agency… Read full post »

Photo: Associated Press

Photo: Associated Press

Recently, Meghan LaPlante, 14, and her father Jay, caught a blue lobster in one of their traps. Not a blueish lobster or blue tinted lobster but a extremely bright blue, cerulean lobster.  Said to be a 1 in 2 million catch, the lobster, nicknamed Skylar, has been spa/… Read full post »

The Charles W. Morgan has returned to the Mystic Seaport Museum from her 38th voyage.  Her previous voyages, between 1841 and 1921, took her around the globe hunting whales, whereas the 38th voyage took the wooden whaling ship to ports in New England, including New Bedford, where the ship was bui… Read full post »

A still image from video taken by a U.S. Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft shows the oil tanker United Kalavyrta carrying a cargo of Kurdish crude oil, approaching Galveston, Texas last month. (Reuters)

A still image from video taken by a U.S. Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft shows the oil tanker United Kalavyrta carrying a cargo of Kurdish crude oil, approaching Galveston, Texas last month. (Reuters)

The Suezmax oil tanker United Kalavrvta has been motoring in large circles in the GRead full post »

wbI recently learned about Rocking the Boat, a wonderful organization in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, one of the five boroughs of the City of New York.  Since 1998, the after-school program has been teaching neighborhood kids to build wooden boats. In the last 15 years, students ha… Read full post »