The RMS Queen Mary

Starting it’s career about the same time as the Normandie, Cunard’s entry into the super liner competition had a much longer more illustrious career before ending up as a museum/hotel in Long Beach CA.  That, in spite of a rather rocky construction and some thinking  for a time that the ship would   end up being scrapped in the slip before  ever touching the water.

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The Viking Ship

Recently I ran into an old book about Viking ships dug up from burial mounds.  It was a small book from the Viking Ship Museum. I don’t know how I got it.  It may have come from one of my grandparents or from a book sale. Anyway I scanned a few pages.

These were remarkable finds back in the early 20th Century and greatly increased the knowledge of how the dragon ships went together.

Of course, since then, replica ships have been built using the old techniques and sailed.  Sailing a vessel is the only way to understand how it functions and how well it does.  You can’t sail an ancient artifact and having a real ship to replicate makes the whole thing possible.  Here’s a stack of videos to watch.



The MacKay Clipper Ship

For a brief time in the mid 19th Century a small group of ships changed how ocean trade was done.  These ships were the clipper ships, large sailing vessels that were faster than most sailing vessels of the time, delivering cargoes around the world. Before the clippers a cargo of tea from China would take seven to eight months to reach Britain.  After the  clippers that time was reduced to four to six months.

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A Couple Of Blog Posts About Working On Boats

11 Badass Fact About Girls Who Work On Boats.

It’s not just hanging around being eye candy in bikinis. Working on a boat is hard and unending work doing very difficult and sometimes very dirty jobs.  Out on the water there’s only your own resources to rely on, so you learn a great deal of self reliance.

Taking Down The Topmast On The Mary Day.

Taking down the topmast means that you are putting the boat away after the season, cruise or voyage is done.  It’s when it’s time to make sure that everything is battened down, closed up and put away, ready for the next voyage.

Uss Monitor’s Turret Comes Out Of It’s Bath For A Short While

They need to clean the tank.  The turret is in amazing condition.

Some pics from the Maritime Museum of the Monitor.  Considering that the ship was fabricated in 100 days, it’s amazing how well built and engineered she was.  The maritme museum has an amazing gallery of conserved Monitor parts, replicas, artifacts and drawing sheets along with a full scale model outside.  It’s defiantly worth going to see this important little ship in Newport news VA.

The Monitor gallery


A replica of the turret showing what it looked like when it was recovered.


A replica showing what the turret looked like when the ship was active in the Civil War.


The lower floor of the gallery


The turret rotating gear


The Monitor’s propeller


Monitor hardware


And plumbing


A model of the Monitor’s engine.


The engine is in conservation. It’s a very unusual opposed cylinder design. They should get somebody to make a running copy.

The full size replica outside.  You can walk on it.


On the replica, looking aft.  That’s the pilot house in front.


Closeup of the turret


Aft, looking forward


The conservation lab


The turret tank


One of Monitor’s two guns in it’s tank


A gun carriage in it’s tank


Parts that have been under water for long periods have to have the salt leached out or they disintegrate when exposed to air.  this has been learned the hard way.

Some other Monitor stuff.

The Monitor’s half model.  The half model was a way to show the hull form of a ship and take it’s lines for the loft.  What they thought of the Monitor’s must have been strange.


A Monitor drawing sheet. The Monitor has a complete engineering drawing set, unusual for a ship in those days.  Probably because the ship was designed by engineers rather than shipbuilders.


A scale model of the Monitor


The Monitor’s wheel


You see the Monitor at the Mariners Museum in Newport News VA.  Even without the Monitor, the museum had an important collection of artifacts and models of ships and the people who sailed in them.  It’s worth a visit, especially if you like boats.

What Sank The Mary Rose

The Sea is not a easy environment.  Even to this day brand new ships sink right outside the harbor as designer push the limits and the unkind sea proves the designer wrong.  The Mary Rose sank because the limits were pushed and changing technology made the ship unstable.  Add a gust of wind and it was over.

Where Ships Go To Die

In South Asia there are beaches where crazy men striving to scratch out a living cut the largest moving objects built into little chunks of steel with torches and simple tools. It’s a dramatic an heroic scene:

It’s a dirty job, but in these countries, without internal steel industries or developed markets, it’s the best and cheapest way to buy steel.