Category Archives: Sailling

July Creative Challenge, day 31: RELAX — St. Michaels

[I’m taking this challenge seriously. First I’m RELAXing a bit on this last day of the July Creative Challenges by recycling and revising an article I did for an online travel magazine that has sadly gone away. Since the article is all about RELAXing and having fun in St. Michaels I thought it fit the challenge pretty well… Here goes…]

Take a walk on the relaxing streets of St. Michaels.

Take a walk on the relaxing streets of St. Michaels.

St. Michaels is a place of history, water, crabs, but above all St. Michael’s is a place to relax.

Finding a home on the river…

The little sea fairing town was built around St. Michaels Episcopal Church which was established in 1677. It was a trading post for farmers and trappers. James Braddock, an English land agent purchased 20 acres in 1778. An early real estate developer, Braddock carved 58 plots out of the land and arranged them around a town green. Along with the houses he included churches, a market and schools. Since the town is on the water fishing and shipbuilding became natural industries. By 1812 a half-dozen firms were building schooners to sail the Chesapeake.
It became the “Town That Fooled the British” in the War of 1812. The English fleet was barreling its way up the Chesapeake Bay headed to Baltimore. St. Michaels, with its shipping industry was a clear target for destruction. But in the wee hours of August 10, 1813 as the fleet approached the town’s residents hoisted lanterns into ship’s rigging and high into the tree tops, and the British cannons overshot the town. Only one house took a direct hit. A cannonball crashed through the roof, frightening, but not harming the inhabitants as it rolled down the stairs. That house still stands on Mulberry Street, it is aptly named the “Cannonball House.”
Over the next 150 years St. Michaels became one of the major seafood processing centers on the Bay. By 1930 a single processing plant was shipping more than a million pounds of crab meat annually, and 12,000 gallons of oysters a week! But, by the mid 20th century the seemingly boundless harvest of seafood began quickly, to dry up and St. Michaels long history as the “seafood basket” of the Chesapeake was coming to an end.
With the establishment of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in 1965 the city turned full-time to tourism as a way of life. St. Michaels beautiful colonial and Victorian homes refashioned themselves as bed and breakfasts, feed stores and tack shops were converted to boutiques and restaurants, and skipjack captains turned from dredging crustaceans to hosting sunset cruises.

Interior of one of the boat barns at the Maritime Museum

Interior of one of the boat barns at the Maritime Museum

Lots to see and do around town…

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum offers 12 buildings and sits on 18 acres at old Naval Point in St. Michaels Harbor.
The Hooper Strait Lighthouse is the iconic center piece of the museum.  Built in 1879 the hexagonal lighthouse guarded the wicked shoals near Deals Island. It was accessible only by rowboat then, and the keepers spent months alone on the water tending the 4th level Fresnel lense and keeping weather and vessel records at the “screw pile” lighthouse. But by 1954 the lighthouse was fully automated and the Coast Guard began dismantling the old style lighthouses.. The Hooper Straight house was on the list for demo! Luckily the fledgling Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum was able to purchase it for $1,000 and barge is North to St. Michaels. Today it sits safely on the tip of Naval Point, one of four screw pile designed lighthouses left on the Bay. Visitors can climb into the lighthouse and take a self paced tour of the interior, including the keeper’s quarters and the light, and get a birds eye view of the harbor from the catwalk.  The Museum offers a Lighthouse Overnight program for small groups of kids 8-12.
At the “Oystering on the Chesapeake” building visitors board the E.C. Collier and listen in as her long time crew brings in the harvest. Dozens of hands-on, kid friendly displays take you through the history and conflicts of the oystering industry and lets you see how Maryland’s favorite mollusk went from the Bay’s bottom to a restaurant’s table top.
At the museum’s boat yard you can watch as skipjacks and crab dredgers are restored to new life. If you are itching to get out on the water you can take a tour on the Mister Jim. If you want a more hands on approach, the Museum’s Apprentice For A Day program is a unique opportunity to help build traditional wooden skiffs. The museum is open daily year-round (except Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s day).


Canon at St. Mary’s Square

St. Mary’s Square lies just to the south of St. Michaels Harbor. See cannons, one of which defended the city in during the War of 1812, and the Mechanic’s Bell that ruled the shipbuilder’s day by ringing at 7am, noon and 5 pm. St. Mary’s Square Museum host historic exhibits centered on the town of St. Michaels. The Museum is open weekends from May to October, Guided walking tours are available at the corner of Chestnut street and St. Mary’s Square on Saturdays beginning at 10:30 am. The tours alternate between “Young Frederick Douglas in St. Michaels” and “Historic St. Michaels Waterfront”. Reservations are required for a docent tour, call 410-745-0530. A Self-Guided walking tour map is also available at the St. Mary’s Museum.

Get out on the water! Go down to St. Michaels’ dock or drive over to nearby Tilghman Island for some water action.  Get up close and personal with some wild life, including osprey and bald eagles, with Peake Paddle Tours. Tours range from freshwater streams, to tidal rivers, to salt marshes all over the Eastern Shore, and skill levels start at beginner. Chesapeake Lights offers a variety of Lighthouse tours on the Bay.  Captain Mike Richards sales the motorized M/V Sharps Island out of Tilghman Island. A 10 hour, 10 lighthouse tour is scheduled for July 24th. The skipjack Rebecca T. Ruark, a National Historic Landmark, also sales out of Tilghman’s.  Captain Wade Murphy, Jr. is a 5th generation Chesapeake Bay waterman, and along with a beautiful ride you’ll get a history and science lesson on the Bay. The beautiful canoe-sterned ketch the Lady Patty is berthed in front of the Bay Hundred Restaurant in Tilghman Island and sets sail three times a day for 2 hour cruises including a romantic Champagne Sunset Cruise at 6:30.  The Salina II, a vintage catboat hosts private sailing lessons and 2 hr cruises for six. You can also take a Wine or Beer Tasting cruise or even an Overnight Excursion on the Selina II which docks at St. Michaels.

Sailing on the Bay

Sailing on the Bay. We took a twi-light cruise on the Rebecca T. Ruark which I found both educational and relaxing. This shot if of another vessel as the sun set to the left.

Spending the night…

There are over 25 Bed and Breakfast establishments in the St. Michaels area, so there’s plenty of variety in cost, location and luxury.

Dr. Dodson’s House at 200 Cherry Street began life as a tavern and the town’s first post office in 1799. Fredrick Douglas visited the house after the Civil War to meet with his former master, Captain Thomas Auld. Much of the house still maintains a historic flavor with original fireplaces, woodwork and glass. The house, which is on the St. Mary’s Square Museum walking tour, remains one of the finest examples of Federal architecture in town. It was brought to new life as a Bed and Breakfast after a bit of modernization (read: Air Conditioning and WiFi). The full breakfast is an “Event” from the eggs benedict, to the fresh tomato tarts, to the banana pecan waffles. You won’t leave the table hungry.

For Victorian charm try the Cherry Street Inn. This 1880’s house built by a steamboat captain has been lovingly maintained. The Inn is an easy walk to the harbor, The Chesapeake Maritime Museum and the shops and eateries on Main Street (Talbot Street).

Five Gables Inn and Spa offers a number of packages for the ultimate escape to the Bay. The signature Spa and Sail package includes two nights at one of their charming Main Street locations, two massages at the on site Aveda Spa, crab dinner for two at the Crab Claw Restaurant, and a two-hour cruise on the Rebecca T. Ruark. Other packages range from a one night champagne and chocolate get away to a four night “Learn to Sail” program that includes three private sailing lessons followed by massages. Five Gables is in the heart of St. Michaels, it is nestled among the Main Street Antique shops and is an easy walk to the harbor and the Maritime Museum. The Five Gables offers 12 rooms and 8 suites and an extended continental breakfast.

The iconic Hooper Light House at St. Michaels.

The iconic Hooper Light House at St. Michaels.

  • re-enactments,
  • boat rides,
  • cannon firings,
  • a Talbot Street parade,
  • horse-drawn carriage rides,
  • an Art show
  • and more.

If you stay an extra day you can enjoy the 4 th Annual Watermen’s Appreciation Day and Crab Feast.


Ernest Shackleton 2.15.13 Thought of the Day



“Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all.” — Ernest Shackleton






Sir Ernest Shackleton

Sir Ernest Shackleton (Photo credit: Marxchivist)

Gentleman and adventurer…


Captain, March 1917, Cover of the popular Engl...

Captain, March 1917, Cover of the popular English magazine with Ernest Shackleton back from his epic expedition South This picture is the copyright of the Lordprice Collection and is reproduced on Wikipedia with their permission Source URL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)






Ernest Henry Shackleton was born on this day in Kilkea, County Kildare, Ireland in 1874. Today is the 139th anniversary of his birth.






Ernest was the second of ten children born to Henry and Henrietta Shackleton. His father was a land owner, but he gave up farming for medicine shortly after Ernest’s birth. When the boy was six the family moved to Sydenham, London, England. He joined the merchant navy at 16.






Shackleton went on his first polar journey in 1901. He was chosen to join Robert Scott on an expedition to the South Pole. He, Scott and one other companion “trekked towards the South Pole in extremely difficult conditions, getting closer to the Pole than anyone had come” [BBC History] before turning back.






He returned to Antarctica as the head of expedition in 1908 aboard the Nimrod. “He was knighted on his return to Britain.” [Ibid] But it was his third journey to the South Pole that is one of legend.






Endurance final sinking in Antarctica

Endurance final sinking in Antarctica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In 1914 Shackleton and the crew of the Endurance headed south determined to cross the Antarctic continent via the South Pole. The ship was trapped in the ice of the Weddell Sea in 1915 and was crushed in October.






Shackleton’s crew had already abandoned the ship to live on the floating ice. In April 1916, they set off in three small boats, eventually reaching Elephant Island. Taking five crew members, Shackleton went to find help. In a small boat, the six men spent 16 days crossing 1,300 km of ocean to reach South Georgia and then trekked across the island to a whaling station. [Ibid]


The men on Elephant Island were rescued in August, and, amazingly, no one in the crew died.






Launch of the James Caird from the shore of El...

Launch of the James Caird from the shore of Elephant Island. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


His memoir of the journey was published in “Endurance”  in 1919. (If he had any luck on the journey it was in taking along Photographer Frank Hurley who took stunning still and motion pictures of the Endurance and her crew.)






Shackleton made a finale trip south in 1922, this time bent on circumnavigating Antarctic. He made it to South Georgia Island. On January 5, he had a heart attack and died.




Glimpse of the Ship ['Endurance'] through Humm...

Glimpse of the Ship [‘Endurance’] through Hummocks, 1915 / photographed by Frank Hurley (Photo credit: State Library of New South Wales collection)

More reading:

South: The Story of Shackleton’s Last Expedition (1914-1917) by Sir Ernest Shackleton

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

And watch:

Shackleton – The Greatest Survival Story of All Time (3-Disc Collector’s Edition) Starring Kenneth Branagh

South Starring Ernest Shackleton, Frank Worsley, J. Stenhouse, et al. (The original silent movie by Frank Hurley)



Thought of the Day 9.21.12 Henry Tingle Wilde

“I still don’t like this ship . . . I have a queer feeling about it.”

–Henry Tingle Wilde

Henry Tingle Wilde, Jr was the Chief Officer of the Titanic. [Image courtesy: Wikipedia]

Henry Tingle Wilde was born on this day in Walton, Liverpool, England in 1872. Today is the 140th anniversary of his birth.

Wilde was drawn to the sea at an early age. At 17 he left his home for an apprenticeship on the iron sailing ship the Greystoke Castle — a three mast, square sail vessel– as a third mate. He served on the Greystoke’s sister ship the Hornby Castle, also as third mate. He was posted to the steamships the S.S. Brunswick and the S.S. Europa before joining the White Star Line in 1897. He was a Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve, and held ordinary and extra masters certificates.

The Hornby Castle, a sailing ship that Wilde trained on. He worked on both sail and steam vessels.  [Image Courtesy Wreck Site]

Starting in 1905 he transferred to the White Star passenger line, working mostly on the Liverpool to New York, and Australian routes. He rose in the ranks aboard The Arabic, The Covic, The Cufic, The Tauric, the Celtic, the Medic, The Delphic, the Cymric and The Olympic until he reached the rank of Chief Officer under Captain Edward John Smith on The Olympic.

The Titanic [Image courtesy: Mail Online]

Smith transferred to the White Star’s newest vessel, The Titanic as her Captain. Wilde was due to ship out with The Olympicbut White Star officials sent word for him to stay in Southampton and await further orders. At 39 and with years of experience he was certainly seasoned enough to get his own ship. But Captain Smith wanted to add experience to his senior staff and he requested that Wilde join the crew as Chief Officer. Wilde debated the move. His family urged him to take the position, but, as he wrote in a letter to his sister…

“I still don’t like this ship…I have a queer feeling about it…” [Henry Tingle Wilde, Chief Officer by Christine Ehren,]

He officially joined The Titanic crew on April 9th, the day before she sailed. The post was for the great ship’s maiden voyage only. And it meant that the other senior officers would be shifted down in rank. William Murdoch became first officer, Charles Lightoller became second officer. The man originally slated to be second officer, David Blair, did not make the journey. The junior officers retained their positions.

Henry Tingle Wilde in his summer white uniform, that he wore on the Olympia. [Image courtesy: Encyclopedia Titanica]

Publicity still from the Movie Titanic. Mark Lindsay Chapman, third from the left, plays Chief Officer Henry Tingle. He stands just to the left of Bernard Hill who is playing Captain Smith. [Image courtesy: William]


The Titanicleft Southampton, England on April 10th, 1912 with stops at Cherbourg, France and Queenstown, Ireland before heading west across the Atlantic toward New York. Wilde had the 2-6 AM and the 2-6 PM shifts as “Officer of the Watch.” So he was not on the bridge when the ship hit an iceberg at 11:40 PM on April 14th.

Wilde was in charge of the loading the even-numbered lifeboats on the port side of the ship. (He also distributed firearms to the senior officers.) He adhered strictly to Captain Smith’s order to “put women and children in and lower away…” so the boats from that side of the ship only contained women, children and two crew members (to work the boats). When all the boats on his side of the ship were launched he went to starboard side of the ship. Some survivors recall seeing him attempting to release Boat A or B from the roof the Officers’ Quarters when the Titanic’s deck flooded.

Schematic of Titanic. [Image courtesy: Mail Online]

Survivor George Rheims wrote in a letter dated just days after the sinking:

“While the last boat was leaving, I saw an officer with a revolver fire a shot and kill a man who was trying to climb into it. As there remained nothing else for him to, the officer told us, “Gentlemen, each man for himself. Good bye.” He gave a military salute and then fired a bullet into his head. That’s what I call a man!” [Henry Tingle Wilde, Chief Officer by Christine Ehren,]

But it isn’t known if that officer was Wilde or First Officer Murdoch. It doesn’t matter. If he didn’t die of a self-inflicted gunshot wound he died a few minutes later in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. His body was never found. He was 39 years old.

In 1998 the newspaper Liverpool Echo wrote about Wilde’s role on the Titanic as follows:

Liverpool’s forgotten hero, Chief Officer Henry Wilde… from Walton, flits through the enquiry evidence but witnesses have described how Wilde supervised the loading of the lifeboats and stopped 100 people rushing them by the sheer force of his personality….He is believed to have prevented a panic which would have led to even greater losses. [Henry Tingle Wilde, Chief Officer by Christine Ehren,]

 He was survived by four children (he had recently lost his wife and twin boys.)


Thanks to J.G.Burnette at for suggesting Henry Wilde as the Thought of the Day Birthday Bio for today. J.G. is a big Titanic fan and was able to give me both the name and birthdate so I could start my research.–I hope I found some new nugget for your Titanic files! — IF YOU have some one you’d like to see profiled on Thought of the Day please let me know. Cheers, Rita

Thought of the Day 9.15.12 Marco Polo

“I have not told half of what I saw.”

–Marco Polo

Marco Polo was born on this day in Venice, Italy in 1254. It is the 758th anniversary of his birth.

Marco Polo followed in the footsteps of his explorer father, Niccolo, and uncle, Matteo and traveled with them from Europe to the East. Niccolo and Matteo were on their first trip East when Marco was born. The elder Polos made it as far east as Kkublai Khan’s capital Kaifeng in the Mongol Empire. When they returned to Italy they found out that Marco’s mother, Niccolo’s wife, had died. Marco, then 15,  joined the explorers and in 1271 they set off again.

14th-century print showing the Polos leaving Venice at the beginning of their journey [Image Courtesy Hutton Archive/Getty Image / How Stuff Works]

This time they met the Great Khan himself in his summer capital of Xanadu. Khan liked the Polos, and took a special interest in the lively,  20 year-old Marco who he

conscripted him into service for the Empire. Marco served in several high-level government positions, including as ambassador and as the governor of the city of Yangzhou. [Biography of Marco Polo by Matt Rosenberg, About.Com Guide]

The Polos stayed in the diplomatic service of the Khan,  exploring the Empire for 17 years. In 1292, charged by Khan to escort a 17-year-old princess to Persia to wed a King, the Polos led an armada of 14 ships and 600 passengers that departed Sumatra and travelled to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India through the Strait of Hormuz to Persia. The trip took 2 years.

Supposedly, only eighteen people survived from the original 600, including the Princess who could not wed her intended fiancée because he had died, so she married his son instead. [Biography of Marco Polo by Matt Rosenberg, About.Com Guide]

Polo would have been about 40 when he returned home from the East. [Image Courtesy: Hutton Archive/Getty Images; How Stuff Works]

The Polos went back to Venice. Marco became involved in the Italian wars between the city-states of Venice and Genoa, and was captured. While in prison he met Rustichello da Pisa . To pass the time he shared the stories of his far East travels with Rustichello who wrote them down. When they were released they worked together to publish The Travels of Marco Polo.

Polo told tales of fabulous Asian courts, black stones that would catch on fire (coal), and Chinese money made out of paper. [Biography of Marco Polo by Kallie Szczepanski, Guide]

The book was an exaggerated telling of Polo’s actual adventures. Perhaps Marco hyped up the adventure to make for a more interesting tale in the dark days of prison, or maybe Rustichel loaded  it with danger and cannibals to increase sales. Regardless of how it happened, the book was an enormous hit. It was translated into most of the European languages and sold thousands of copies during Polo’s life time.

Cover of The Travels of Marco Polo, the paperback edition. The book has been in continuous publication (in one for or another) for 712 years. [ Image courtesy:]

The accounts of his travels provide a fascinating glimpse of the different societies he encountered: their religions, customs, ceremonies and way of life; on the spices and silks of the East; on precious gems, exotic vegetation and wild beasts. He tells the story of the holy shoemaker, the wicked caliph and the three kings, among a great many others, evoking a remote and long-vanished world with colour and immediacy. []

The book heightened Europe’s desire to explore the world. Christopher Columbus owned a copy of it.

Marco lived out his days in Venice as a merchant. He married the daughter of another successful merchant and they had three daughters. He prefered to stay in Italy, letting others travel for the supplies that he sold.

As Polo neared death in 1324, he was asked to recant what he had written and simply said that he had not even told half of what he had witnessed. [Biography of Marco Polo by Matt Rosenberg, About.Com Guide]

The Polo’s route outlined in red [Image Courtesy: Tropical Stamps]

Thought of the Day 9.14.12 Sam Neill



“As much as possible, I try to encourage people to use stunt men because that is really their job.”


-Sam Neill


Nigel John Dermot “Sam”  Neill was born on this day in Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland in 1947. He is 65 years old today.

His father, a New Zealander, was stationed in Northern Ireland when Sam was born. The family lived there until Sam was six when they returned to Christ Church.

Sam stuttered badly as a child, and shied away from talking to people. He would refrain from raising his hand because he was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to say anything if he was call on.

“My fear was nothing would come out at all … and I would just be left with a face that was going redder and redder and more purple. The upside of that was I probably learned to listen better than most of my contemporaries… I’m still fairly economic with words and I think that’s a good thing.” [ The British Stammering Association]

He says his stammer gradually became less pronounced. As he  became involved in debate and acting, at University of Canterbury, he gained  self-confidence. The more self-confidence he had, the less he stuttered. Occasionally you can still hear a snippet of it. Neill actively supports several stammering support associations like the British Stammering Association and the Australian Speak Easy Association.

After graduating from university he worked with the New Zealand National Film Unit directing, editing and writing documentaries. He also worked on stage with the New Zealand Players at that time.

His first real film role was in 1977’s Sleeping Dogs, a N.Z. based drama. He got a much wider audience as Harry, the romantic lead in the period drama My Brilliant Career opposite Judy Davis.

Neill in My Brilliant Career [Image Courtesy: HD-Sensei]

After a few television roles he landed quite a different kind of leading role in Omen III: The Final Conflict. Sure, Neill always had a bit of a devilish grin, but …. On a scale of 1 to 10, with My Brilliant Career as a strong 10… I’d give Omen III a weak 6.66.  The Omen brought Neill to the London film making scene under the mentorship of James Mason.

DVD cover for Omen III. Cute little devil, isn’t he? [Image Courtesy: IMBD Movie Database]

For a New Zealander, he played a lot of Soviets. Some were good Russians, like Vassili in Hunt for Red October. Other times he played “A strict Eastern European autocrat” [TalkTalk] as he did in Enigma and Amerika.

While in England he took on the title role in the BBC mini-series Reilly: Ace of Spies, ” The epic adventures of Britain’s greatest spy” [IMDB: Movie Database — Reilly: Ace of Spies]

He teamed up with Academy Award winner Merle Streep for the drama A Cry in the Dark (it was released originally as Evil Angels in Australia and New Zealand.)

Next he starred in the taunt (essentially) three person horror film Dead Calm with newcomer Nicole Kidman and Billy Zane…

“Here Neill played her distressed husband, desperately trying to save the day when nut-job Billy Zane kidnaps both Kidman AND Neill’s boat. It was a superb thriller, boosting its stars big-time…” [TalkTalk]

I don’t know that I’d go so far as to call it “superb”, but…the scene where Neill is stuck inside the quickly sinking second boat (the one Billy Zane was on)  is more than worth the price of a Netflix rental.

Still from Dead Calm. [Image Courtesy: Turner Classic Movies]

In 1993 he was the, angry, odd-man-out in a love triangle between mute Holly Hunter and Harvey Keitel the beautiful made The Piano.

So… if you’ve never heard of any of the movies I’ve written about so far in this blog, I’m betting your heard of this one…Neill played Dr. Alan Grant the Jurassic Park franchise. I thought J.P. the book was wonderful, the movie? Not so much. The dinosaurs were cool, REALLY cool, but the acting, script, and direction was flat — except for my boy Sam. I thought he pulled off the requisite wonder and reluctance needed for the role.

Still from Jurassic Park [Image Courtesy:]

Back on the small screen he’s played  Merlin, Komarovski in Doctor Zhivago, and Cardinal Wolsey in The Tudors.

One of my favorite Sam Neill movies is The Dish. In it “A remote Australian antenna, populated by quirky characters, plays a key role in the first Apollo moon landing.” [IMDB: Movie Data Base]

DVD Cover for The Dish. [Image Courtesy:]

Neill currently  he enjoys relaxing by making wine at his Two Paddocks Winery on New Zealand’s South Island. Here he shows a bit of his trademark deadpan humor in a promotional video for the vineyard.

Thought of the Day 8.1.12 Herman Melville

“To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee; For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee”

–Herman Melville


Photo of Herman Melville

Photo of Herman Melville (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Herman Melvill was born this day on 1819 in New York City. Today is the 193 Anniversary of his birth.

He was the third of eight children. He grew up in Boston and Albany.  His father, Allan Melvill, was a successful merchant and the family lived comfortably for several years until an unsuccessful trading venture led to financial ruin. The elder Melvill sparked Herman’s love for adventure and the sea with stores of seafaring excitement and faraway places. Herman was 12 when his father died and the family moved to Lansingburg on the Hudson. It was then that his mother added the “e” to the end of the family name, and Melvill became Melville.

He got a job on a ship bound from New York to Liverpool as a cabin boy.  After several years as a teacher he heard the call of the sea again. In 1840 he signed on with the Acushnet from Fairhaven, Massachusetts. The ship left port for an 18 month journey in Pacific journey in January of 1841.  The Acushnet was a whaler and much of his material for Moby-Dick came from his time on board the ship. By the time they reached the Marquesas Islands in July of 1842 Melville had had enough of life on the Acushnet.

He deserted the ship and lived among the Typee tribe for three weeks. He then joined the crew of another whaler, this one, an  Australian ship called the Lucy Ann, was bound for Tahiti. Melville participated in a mutiny and landed in jail. Upon his release he signed up with yet another whaler and made it as far as Honolulu where he jumped ship again. He worked as a clerk until he was able to sign on with the USS United States which got him back to Boston in 1844. There Melville began to write about his adventures.

Cover of "Typee (Signet classics)"

Cover of Typee (Signet classics)

Typee is a quasi-autobiographical adventure novel about Tommo’s four month stay on a tropical paradise amidst the “nobel savages” (or cannibals) who may or may not be about to eat him,  and his relationship with the beautiful, and exotic, Faraway. He had trouble fining an American publisher, but the book was an overnight success when it was published in England. Omoo, continued the tale, again roughly following Melville’s adventures in the Pacific. Mardi, and a Voyage Thither showed a more sophisticated writing style. It was not a successful as the straight forward narratives of Typee and Omoo. In 1849 He published Redburn : His First Voyage, the fictionalized account of his first sea journey  as a cabin boy. In 1850 White-Jacket, based on his time as a seaman on the USS United States, was published. Because of its graphic depiction’s of flogging the U.S. Navy banned the punishment.

Sadly at this point the tides seem to have turned in his literary career. His popularity waned. Other books didn’t garner critical or popular acclaim in his lifetime. The Confidence-Man, Pierre, Billy Budd, and even Moby-Dick had to wait until a Melville revival, some 30 years after his death, to get their rightful praise.

Herman Melville: Moby-Dick

Herman Melville: Moby-Dick (Photo credit: wolfgraebel)

Melville went on the lecture circuit to supplement his writing income. He then moved his family to New York City and worked at the New York Custom House. He continued to write, working on both poetry and fiction, until his death.

Thought of the Day 7.6.12

“I have not yet begun to fight”

John Paul Jones

John Paul was born in Arbigland Scotland in 1747. Today is the 265 anniversary of his birth.

At 13 he started his seaman’s apprenticeship. After a brief stint on Slave Ships — which he quit calling it an “abominable trade” — and time as a Master Supercargo (the officer in charge of buying and selling the cargo of a ship), Paul became a captain at 21.  He worked the trans Atlantic routes to the Caribbean and Virginia and amassed a small fortune in the merchant marine business by 1773, but his hot temper got him into trouble more than once. And when he killed a mutineer in the West Indies he had to flee to Virginia. It was then that he changed his name to John Paul Jones.

War with England was brewing and John Paul Jones offered his services on the sea. With the endorsement of Richard Henry Lee, Jones was commissioned as a First Lieutenant into the vast Continental Navy (they only had six vessels) on December 7th, 1775. As his ship, the Alfred set sail from the Delaware River on its maiden cruise he hosted the Grand Union Flag, (the first national flag of the United States,) it was the first time a US ensign was flown over a naval vessel. He next took command of the sloop Providence. He captured 16 prizes along the coast of Nova Scotia. Although he argued with Naval authorities, his reputation grew, he was given command of the USS Ranger and set sail for France. There he befriended American diplomats in Paris John Adams, Arthur Lee, and especially Benjamin Franklin (he named one of his boat the Bonhomme Richard in honor of Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac.)  When the Bonhomme Richard was in dire straights in the Battle of Flamborough Head with the frigate Serapis he was offered the chance to surrender. Jones, of course answered that he had not yet begun to fight. He lost the Richard, but went on to capture the larger frigate.  Jones later earned the moniker  “Father of the American Navy.”

After the American Revolutionary War  Thomas Jefferson (who was then the American Ambassador to France) recommended him for service in Catherine II’s  Russian Navy. John Paul Jones then became Kontradmiral check Pavel Ivanovich Jones and served with Potemkin in the Black Sea campaign.

John Paul Jones, line drawing

John Paul Jones, line drawing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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A replica of the Grand Union Flag, the first flag of the United States of America.
(This image has been released into public domain by its author, Makaristos, and is courtesy Wikipedia.)


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Sailabration Celebration

The Battle of Baltimore and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry was a turning point in the War of 1812. As the country celebrates the bicentennial of the war Baltimore threw a Sailabration with tall ships, naval vessels, an air show by the Blue Angels, and festivities galore.

The ships began to arrive on Wednesday June 13th. Past met present as 1812 living history reenactors gave tours of important sites in the Battle of Baltimore (like the battles of North Point and Hampstead Hill)  while the 2012 Navy parachutist team, the “Leap Frogs,” put on shows at Clifton Park and Patterson Park.

Thursday was Flag Day, and as any good Baltimorean knows, the US Flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the bombardment was not made by Betsy Ross,  but was sewn by local widow Mary Pickersgill. When Francis Scott Key penned the Star Spangled Banner it was Pickersgill’s flag he saw waving at dawn’s early light.  During a special Flag Day ceremony at the Flag House three strands from the original Star-Spangled Banner were sewn into the National 9/11 flag.  Later that day the 33rd Annual Pause for the Pledge took place at Fort McHenry.

Looking at some of the smaller ships at the the marina near Rash Field. The Baltimore Aquarium is the background.

Free tours began on the ships at the Inner Harbor, Fells Point and Locust Point. And there was a concert and the Sailabration Festival Villages at Rash Field and Broadway Pier opened their stalls.

Friday boasted another beautiful day for touring the ships and enjoying the festivities.

Martin State Airport allowed visitors to get up close and personal with their military aircraft on Saturday and Sunday. Adventurous souls could even take a ride in the Navy Flight Simulator!

Four of the Blue Angels perform one of many jaw dropping maneuvers.

In the waters in front of Fort McHenry the Navy demonstrated its latest Special Warfare Combat Craft on Saturday & Sunday, while overhead the Blue Angels performed superhuman aviation tricks.  The Saturday night capped off with a concert and Fireworks at Fort McHenry.

Rigging of the B.E. Cuauhtemoc, a Mexican tall ship.

Today, Sunday, will bring much of the same beautiful weather, ship tours, (crowds) and Blue Angels. Tonight you can catch  a Star-Spangled Symphony  at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The musical event includes the premiere of Philip Glass’ “Overture for 2012”.

Brazil’s NVe Cisne Branco was docked at the Inner Harbor

On Monday representatives from the US, Great Britain and Canada will commemorate the anniversary of the Declaration of War on Great Britain with “From Enemies to Allies” at Fort McHenry at 10:30. Ship tours continue.

The USS Constellation, a Sloop-of-War ship launched in 1854.

The Sailabration ends on Tuesday as the ships leave the Baltimore area.

Warships, like the Canadian Iroquois docked at Fells Point, debark from 7:00 to 11:00 am on June 19th.

The tall ships debark from 11:00 to 1:00 on Tuesday. (photo courtesy of notesoftheladyupstairs)

Although The Battle of Baltimore and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry didn’t take place until September of 1814, Baltimore has gotten a wonderful start to celebrating the bicentennial of the War of 1912 with this Sailabration.

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?


All content is original. Photos by ritaLOVEStoWRITE and her daughter notesoftheladyupstairs.

All rights reserved.

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