Monthly Archives: August 2009

This Day in History, 1601 – Dutch complete circumnavigation of the world

On this day in 1601, Olivier van Noort arrived back in Rotterdam, becoming the first Dutchman to circumnavigate the globe. He left in July 1598, with four ships, but arrived back home just over three years later with only one vessel – Mauritius. He also returned with just 45 of the 248 who left with him.

While he was the first Dutchman to circumnavigate the globe, a fair number of other explorers already had. Ferdinand Magellan’s voyage of 1519 to 1522, of course, was the first — though Magellan himself didn’t survive the voyage. Magellan sailed with five ships – Trinidad, San Antonio, Concepción, Victoria, and Santiago – and only Victoria survived, under the leadership of Juan Sebastian Elcano.

Between 1580 and 1589, Martín Ignacio de Loyola circumnavigated the globe in both directions, becoming the first person to do that.

Another (nearly) LI maritime festival this weekend

Wow. Just found another maritime festival near Long Island this weekend. It’s on Staten Island, at the Noble Maritime Collection, and is called the Atlantic Salt Maritime Festival. I can’t go to this festival, but I do want to go to the Noble Collection next time I’m near.

I understand that the reconstruction of Henry Hudson’s Half Moon (also known as Halve Maen) will be there, as this is the quadricentennial of Hudson’s exploration of his eponymous river.

LIMM Seafood, Craft, and Music Festival this weekend

The Long Island Maritime Museum‘s Seafood, Craft, and Music Festival (also some info here) takes place this coming weekend in West Sayville, NY. Check it out if you’re in the neighborhood. My wife and I, and her family, went in 2003, and enjoyed it lots. There was good food and good music.

I know it was 2003 because we brought along a bump in her belly, and we all went to the festival just after we’d told her family. One of her sisters bought a onesie there for the bump, and that was the first gift anyone got for him. So I remember the festival fondly.

Letters from Battle of Trafalgar, via Caird Library, National Maritime Museum

The Caird Library Blog, from the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England,  has a nice entry from earlier this month about the letters of young George Perceval, whose first action as an 11-year-old sailor was in the Battle of Trafalgar, on board HMS Orion. Later, as the blog author writes, “The next letter in the collection is written on Christmas Day, and George was PER-1-20Bound Book0105.jpgobviously greatly enjoying his wait for the new ship – the letter starts out in a fair hand, but the section in which he writes that he has ‘drunk all your healths’ shows that he certainly has – and it would appear that the affects are showing in 12 year old George’s handwriting!”

Images of several letters are included, and they’re very high quality. It’s a neat presentation of fascinating manuscript content.

Pocketwatch from shipwreck found and returned, finally…

This story from CNN Europe tells of a guy who found a pocketwatch on an old shipwreck, and spent several years trying to track down descendants of the proper owner. It turns out the watch was lost from the ship Barbara in 1881.

Of course, with a very random name like “Barbara,” the vessel that the watch’s owner sailed on might not be one of the “Barbaras” currently in the database. On the other hand, you never know what the mention might actually be — it might not be about a whaling vessel, even though the resource is about American whaling, for instance.

It can often be worth tracking down each of these citations, just to see if they might lead elsewhere.

Today in History: Constitution defeats Guerriere; 19 August 1812

Today, August 19, marks the 197th anniversary of the historic battle between USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere during the War of 1812. This was a critical battle for the early republic; it showed that the startup US Navy could take on, and more importantly defeat, the British Navy – unquestionably the most powerful naval force at the time.

Constitution defeated and burned Guerriere, and took her crew prisoner, in the battle. It was in this battle that Constitution gained the nickname “Old Ironsides”, when a sailor watched British cannonballs bounce off her sides, and exclaimed that she appeared to be made of iron. If you go below deck on Constitution, you can see why they bounced off: that is one SOLID hull.

The Naval Historical Center in Washington, DC, has some information about the battle, and the War of 1812 site has more about the specific battle, too.

I remember a great ballad about the battle, and found the lyrics online along with a really annoying MIDI file of the music, that doesn’t much do it justice. Oh, well. The ballad is still fun.

If you’re in Boston, you might want to attend a commemoration of the event, today. The USS Constitution Museum — next to, but not directly affiliated with, the ship — is having a celebration on Saturday, the 22nd, from 11am to 4pm, too.


Welcome to the new!

Welcome to the brand new! We’re excited to have the new site up, and over time I’ll share some information about where we’ve been, and where we’re headed. For the time being, it’s enough to know that the new site has much better functionality, and will allow us to do all kinds of new things. Over time, you’ll be able to limit searches to just those with illustrations, or limit by language (though right now every resource is in English – but that will change). We’ll have more and better links to help you more quickly find the resource you’re seeking.

On the blog, I plan to provide brief overviews of many of the resources in this collection. Already, there are some really incredible ones, such as Gordon Newell’s H. W. McCurdy’s Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, and many others. We’ll have more titles to add, from books to journals to online databases. If there’s a title you’d like to see added to the database, please drop me a line, either through the comments below, or via comments (at) shipindex (dot) org.

Again, welcome – and please do let us know what you think!

Spankin’ new site launched!

Yeah, I’m sure you loved our retro, 1993-core previous website, but we thought it was time to bling it up, so we did. Introducing our spanking new website with real live images and CSS and all that great modern 21st century web technology.

We had a bit of dust to shake off ourselves but now we’re at it with a vengence – look out, we’re changing our middle name from atrophy to … uh… I dunno, something less sad. Please suggest ideas in the comments, kthx.