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.

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 »

Photo: Doug Mangum

The schooners start arriving in Gloucester, MA tomorrow for the 30th Annual Gloucester Schooner Festival.  Twenty three schooners are participating this year. The US Coast Guard barque Eagle, while definitely not a schooner, will also be visiting. On Saturday, the schoon/… Read full post »

monitorrevOn December 31, 1862 while under tow in a gale off Cape Hatteras, USS Monitor sank. The Monitor had been in service for only ten months and yet in that brief time had revolutionized naval warfare. The wreck of the Monitor was finally located in August of 1973. In his book,… Read full post »

northrivertugraceThe 22nd annual running of the Great North River Tugboat Race and Competition is coming up on Labor Day off Pier 84, which is at West 44th Street and the Hudson River in Manhattan.  The race is sponsored by the Working Harbor Committee & Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises.  You can watch t… Read full post »

AUGUST 25, 2014 7:54PM

Choking the Oceans With Plastic

Yesterday, we posted about a beach where the ocean has worn down glass, which once had been discarded as trash. The “glass beach” is now beautiful and enjoyed by thousands.  If only all our trash was glass.

Another beach comes to mind on Palmyra Atoll, a tropical atoll in almost t… Read full post »

glass-beach-660x330Many years ago my wife and I kayaked with a group in Blackfish Sound off Vancouver. We paddled with orcas by day and by night camped on the many islands of the sound. On several nights, we camped at what had been summer campsites of the Kwakiutl tribe.  The one tell-tale sign that… Read full post »

AUGUST 23, 2014 7:24AM

2014 Race to Mackinac

A beautiful short video. “The 2014 Chicago to Mackinac Yacht Race aboard Chief was 289 non-stop nautical miles. For 106 years the race has been many things. It’s an annual ritual, a reunion, a test of skill, of boat handling and navigational judgement and once in a while, sanity. When itRead full post »