Kelvin White and the maritime precincts of lower Manhattan

In the long summer of 1947, a few months shy of my 18th  birthday, I went to work in the historic shipping parish of New York’s lower Manhattan for a purveyor of charts, chronometers and nautical instruments. The company was called Kelvin and Wilfrid O. White, known familiarly in the trade as Kelvin White, on Water Street. I worked a five-and-a-half-day week and my salary was $25. I loved that job. On any given day, my duties included trotting over to two other nautical instrument shops—Negus Brothers and John Bliss & Co. — both on nearby Pearl Street, to complete,…
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Tornado: struck by a whirlwind

Tornado: struck by a whirlwind

Given the history of superstition surrounding ships and the sea, one wonders why anyone in their right mind would name their ship Tornado. And yet, a magnificent clipper ship was launched in 1852 bearing that name. The fact that the ship was struck by what was described as a “whirlwind,” at two in the morning, far from land and available assistance, makes the story even more mysterious.  Such was the case of the clipper Tornado, master Oliver R. Mumford, out from San Francisco and bound for New York via Cape Horn in August of 1852. Tornado was a clipper ship…
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Pacific Cup results

Pacific Cup results

The 21st running of the Pacific Cup (co-sponsored by Ocean Navigator) from San Francisco Bay to Kaneohe, Hawaii is in the books, with 56 boats finishing out of a fleet of 60 starters. Overall winner and first to finish was Roy P. Disney’s Pyewacket 70. It also recorded the fastest elapsed time, and first in Alaska Airlines Division A. Just behind Pyewacket was Stu Dahlgren’s Santa Cruz 70 Westerly, which claimed second place in the division and also second place overall. Westerly also won the Bill Lee award for the fastest of the Bill Lee-designed yachts. Amazingly, Westerly suffered keel…
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Wooden boats thrive in the Camden Classic Cup

Wooden boats thrive in the Camden Classic Cup

The 2022 Camden Classic Cup on July 28-30 was a reminder of why Maine is one of the most celebrated sailing coastlines in the world. During two days of racing, 92 boats, including some of the region’s most beautiful historic sailing yachts, navigated Western Penobscot Bay under sunny skies and mostly westerly 15-knot winds for the 6th successful iteration of this classic yacht regatta. “Yesterday was the kind of day that sailors live for, the chance to sail yachts of this caliber on Penobscot Bay in a good breeze mints the kind of memories that last long after the racing…
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AI ships could present challenge to voyagers

AI ships could present challenge to voyagers

In early June one ship crossed half the Pacific Ocean and one ship crossed the entire Atlantic Ocean while not under command of a human captain. The success of these two very different artificial intelligence (AI) voyages has the potential to change not only the future of global shipping, but also the playing field for ocean-going recreational boats. On June 5 after a 40-day passage from Plymouth, UK, Mayflower Autonomous Ship entered Halifax Harbor in Nova Scotia.  Named after the original Mayflower to commemorate the 1620 pilgrim crossing, the new ship is powered by twin 20 kilowatt permanent-magnet electric motors…
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Global Solo Challenge

The Global Solo Challenge is set to go a year from now, taking singlehanded boats around the world via the Southern Ocean. A half dozen circumnavigating races that go south of the three great capes are planned for the near future, but the Challenge takes a slightly different approach. The brainchild of Marco Nannini, an Italian sailor who gave up a banking career to sail in the Global Ocean Race of 2011-2012, the GSC is a Southern Ocean handicap race. Boats will head off from A Coruña, a port city on the northern Atlantic Coast of Spain, with slow boats…
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US Sailing convenes panel on Newport/Bermuda Race death

At the request of the Newport/Bermuda Race organizing committee, U.S. Sailing convened a panel in early July to investigate the death of Newport Bermuda racer Colin Golder of New Providence, New Jersey. Golder, who was skippering the boat Morgan of Marietta, a 42-foot sloop, died on June 19 when he fell overboard 325 miles from Bermuda in strong winds. Following an extensive search, the crew of Morgan of Marietta was able to recover Golder’s body.  According to a post on the Newport/Bermuda Race web site: “The panel looks to fact-find on contributing factors including, weather conditions, crew experience, safety regulations…
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Notable New Titles

Notable New Titles

The Five-Year Voyage: Exploring Latin American Coasts and Rivers by Stephen Ladd Seekers Press 241 pages; $16.95  This is not a book written in the tradition of the great classics of blue-water voyaging—tales of writer-adventurers battling heavy Atlantic seas or running free before the Pacific trades in their wood-or-steel schooners, yawls or ketches. The Five-Year Voyage is hardly a sea story at all. It is instead a riveting account by author Stephen Ladd of the pleasures and pain of international coasting and river cruising in the equivalent of an oversized fishing dory. Based on an old Herreshoff design, Ladd’s 1985…
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Diesel genset design choices

Diesel genset design choices

A key electrical system component for many voyaging vessels is a diesel generator, commonly known as a genset. While gensets may seem, at first glance, just like diesel propulsion engines, they actually have unique operating parameters that differentiate them from an engine designed to turn a prop. Have recent trends in diesel propulsion engines — high RPM operation, common rail fuel systems and integrated circuit electronic control — found their way into the more specialized needs of gensets?  A propulsion engine, of course, is called on to provide power across a range of throttle settings — because there are times, like…
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The critical role of bonding systems

The critical role of bonding systems

“It’s the result of a bad ground!” How many times have you heard this when someone is evaluating a corrosion or electrical problem? But what exactly does that mean, why is it important and can it really be the cause of so many of these issues? In my experience, while it can be the source of a problem, this is a fallback phrase, used when folks really aren’t sure what the problem is or how to evaluate it.  If it’s corrosion related, then whoever is making this pronouncement should be able to draw a diagram representing the scenario, and that’s…
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