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.

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 »

Last October, the documentary Blackfish aired on CNN. The documentary looked at the almost 40 year history of orcas in captivity, leading up to the killing of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau  in 2010 by the 12,000-pound orca, Tilikum, a whale previously associated with the death of two oth… Read full post »

USS Houston

USS Houston

This week, US Navy divers confirmed the location of the wreck of the USS Houston in Banten Bay off the Java Sea.   The heavy cruiser was nicknamed the “The Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast,†and sank along with the Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth in the Battle of the SRead full post »

Photo:  jv.dk

Photo: jv.dk

The Russian four-masted barque Kruzenshtern has been forced to withdraw from the Falmouth Tall Ships Regatta, after it was involved in the sinking of a tug in the Danish port of Esbjerg last week. The Kruzenshtern, ex-Padua, was built in 1926 and is one of the largest tall shi/… Read full post »

crocA 57 year old fisherman, wading in the Adelaide River, south of Darwin, was attacked and killed by a 15 foot long (4.5 metre) crocodile.  The fisherman was attempting to unsnag his line when attacked.  As reported by the BBC:  The attack took place in a stretch of the river close toRead full post »

Benson Ford

Benson Ford

Great Lakes freighters are known for their longevity. Compared to their salt water sisters, lakes boats, as they are called, rust slowly and tend to be around for a long time. Here are two lakes freighters, Benson Ford and John W. Boardman, which may be around even longer than usu/… Read full post »

A wonderful suitable video for a summer Sunday. From the video description – “Slow” marine animals show their secret life under high magnification. Corals and sponges are very mobile creatures, but their motion is only detectable at different time scales compared to ours and requiRead full post »

AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari

AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari

Last Saturday, I was helping my son move to a new job in Wisconsin. We spent the night in a motel just outside Toledo and woke to find that we couldn’t take showers, brush our teeth or have a cup of coffee. We were hardly alone. Roughly 500,000 peopleRead full post »

Photo:  Ian Leask

Photo: Ian Leask

In early July, the 114-foot long  Draken Harald HÃ¥rfagre, the largest Viking replica ever built, was sailing across the North Sea,  from Haugesund in Norway.  Three days out, in high seas, the ship’s mast failed and went over the side.  No one was injured. The shi/… Read full post »

AUGUST 2, 2014 7:26AM

Vacuuming New York’s Blue Whale

My favorite place in New York’s American Museum of Natural History is the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, where a 94 foot long blue whale appears to be swimming through space.  The whale is a 21,000-pound fiberglass model of a female blue whale found in 1925 off the southern tip of South Ameri… Read full post »

Four years ago, workers excavating at the new World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan uncovered the remains of an 18th century wooden merchant ship. The ship was found 20 feet below street level,  is roughly 30 feet in length and was probably buried intentionally as land fill.  It… Read full post »

Vibrio vulnificus (CDC/James Gathany)

Vibrio vulnificus (CDC/James Gathany)

Is it safe to go into the water? Officials with the Florida Department of Health are warning that vibro vulnificus, a flesh eating bacteria, poses a threat to those who eat uncooked seafood or go into the state ocean water with cuts or open wounds. Thos/… Read full post »

072714kayakThe Port Authority of New York and New Jersey reportedly spent more than $100 million on a Perimeter Intrusion Detection System, which was intended to protect the local airports from terrorist attack. (Some sources put the cost at $300 million.) How well is it working? Not so well.  Lost kay… Read full post »

ernestina1Great news, for a change.  The historic schooner Ernestina, ex-Effie M. Morrissey  will sail again. Private donors, Bob Hildreth and Gerry Lenfest, have committed to contribute $2.8 million to the restoration of the historic schooner.   The new donations more than match the State of Mas… Read full post »

Dazzle Ships

Dazzle Ships

Dazzle Faces

Dazzle Faces

We recently posted “The Dazzle Ships, Then and Now,” about the use of wild geometric patterns painted on ships, which do nothing to hide the ship, but are/were meant to confuse enemy weapons targeting.  Recently, the artist, designer, and entrepre/… Read full post »

10065561_H13332127-250x250Ocean Classroom Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Maine, has run educational programs for students aboard schooners for almost 20 years.  Sadly, it will be closing down at the end of the summer; it’s three schooners will be put up for sale at auction. As reported by The BRead full post »

CGI reconstruction of the 'London' wreck © Touch Productions

CGI reconstruction of the ‘London’ wreck
© Touch Productions

In 1665, HMS London, a 64-gun second-rate ship of the line of the English Royal Navy, exploded in the Thames Estuary off Southend.  Recent dives on the wreck have recovered a wide range of artifacts and remains.  As re/… Read full post »

Schooner23The bad news just keeps coming.  The Virginia Maritime Heritage Foundation has announced that the schooner Virginia will be suspending the remainder of her 2014 season and will be returned to Hampton Roads in August, where she will be put up for sale.  The Virginia has gone in and out of laRead full post »

Harvey Gamage

Harvey Gamage

The rumors had been dire for some time and now they appear to be confirmed.  Marlinspike Magazine is reporting that  the Ocean Classroom Foundation‘s three vessels, the schooners Spirit of Massachusetts, Harvey Gamage, & Westward will be auctioned.  As reported by /… Read full post »

JULY 24, 2014 10:05AM

New Dory for Tall Ship Gazela

dorygazela1Tall ship Gazela Primeiro, the official tall ship of Philadelphia, carried 30 dories when it fished the Grand Banks of the Atlantic Ocean. A dory is a small wooden boat used by a solo fisherman who tended a long line with many hooks in the quest for cod. When Gazela came… Read full post »

In 2009, we posted about the “bloop.”   What is the “bloop,” you well may ask?  The “bloop†was an mysterious ultra-low frequency underwater sound detected by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) several times during the summer of 199… Read full post »