In the April 2018 edition of Vanity Fair, there is an excellent article by William Langewiesche called “THE CLOCK IS TICKING”: INSIDE THE WORST U.S. MARITIME DISASTER IN DECADES. It is the best article I have yet read about the loss of the SS El Faro on October 1, 2015, after the ship sailed into Hurricane Joaquin. It was the worst American loss at sea since the 1983 sinking of the SS Marine Electric, which I wrote about here. Thirty-three people died, including 8 crew members from New England and five Polish shipyard workers.
A remarkably low tide has revealed the remnants of a ship in a river delta near Mobile Alabama. Historians believe that this may be the wreck of the Clotilda, a schooner used to bring some 110 slaves from West Africa to Alabama in 1860. The Clotilda is believed to be the last ship to bring slaves to the United States.
Ever since the big nor’easter we had earlier this month, there has been a new tourist attraction of sorts along the coastal road between Revere and Winthrop. A sailboat washed ashore, dragging its mooring line with it. The storm washed it almost all the way up onto the sea wall. I can’t imagine that the boat was not damaged in the process. What a shame.
Anyway, it seems as if at any given moment, someone has stopped to look at the erstwhile shipwreck and take pictures of it. The first day after the storm, there was a whole row of cars. And every single time I have driven along that coastal road, no matter what time of day, there was someone looking at the boat. Seriously, every single time, including today, when I finally stopped and got a picture or two myself.
I hope it is not too badly damaged.
It was April 27th, 1865 – 151 years ago today. And I bet that most people have never even heard of it, even though it killed more people than the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912 or the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915.
It was an American steamboat named the Sultana.
I found another good video on YouTube about rogue waves, and this one actually talks at length about the dangers to offshore platforms and people on shore from rogue waves, using actual recent historical examples.
Well. April 15th is another day that it seems like so many things happened throughout history. And for the most part, it seems like it has been a date on which a lot of truly tragic things happened. Honestly, I can only think of one really cool thing that happened on this date: it was the day that Jackie Robinson first debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. And as big a fan of baseball as I am, and as happy as I am about how far my favorite sport has come since that time, I can’t help but contrast that event with all the other terrible, tragic things that have happened on this day.
Of course, the most immediate thing for me is that this is the 3rd anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. Hard to believe it has already been three years. But I am glad that Boston had really come together and bounced back.
While searching for some videos on YouTube that might do a better job of explaining the phenomenon of rogue waves than I can, I actually found some really, really good material. First, one of my absolute favorite people on the Intertubes, Hank Green, who is also half of the awesome duo that is the vlog brothers. Here, Hank talks about rogue waves on his SciShow channel.
In what could prove to be a huge step forward in predicting how rogue waves are formed, and thus a tool for saving lives at sea, researchers at MIT have found a way to give 2 to 3 minutes warning of an incoming rogue wave.
I know it probably sounds stupid, but it’s hard for me to explain how excited I am about this research. So much so that I am tempted to go speak with the researchers sometime (living in Cambridge does have its advantages). But to understand why I am geeking out about this, it might help for me to go into some detail about what we know about rogue waves, and how they have affected ships at sea, as well as oil rigs, lighthouses, and coastlines. This is one of those times that my love of history (especially maritime history) and my love of science come together.
A shipwreck found near the coast of Oman is believed to be the oldest yet discovered from Europe’s Golden Age of Exploration. The wreck is believed to be the Esmerelda, a Portuguese vessel from Vasco de Gama‘s fleet that was lost near the island of al-Hallaniyah in a storm in May 1503.
Fortunately, the wreck’s relatively remote location seems to have prevented the site from being looted.
It seems that at least two of the whaling ships lost in the great Arctic whaling fleet disaster of 1871 have been found off the coast of Alaska. It is believed that their discovery may lead marine archaeologists to the sites of the other 30 odd ships lost that terrible autumn. The loss of these vessels, 22 of which were from New Bedford, Massachusetts, helped further the end of the whaling industry in the United States.