Panama Canal

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The Panama Canal, as sketched by CLinton Havill in July, 1915

Lloyd’s Casualty Week for December 10 just arrived this morning at the library.  Along with the usual information about vessels grounded, stranded, disabled, sunk, captured by pirates, or embroiled in civil unrest or labor disputes, there was an interesting note about the Panama Canal.  Lloyd’s reports that for the first time in 20 years, the Canal has been closed down.  Heavy rains filled up the Gatun and Alhajuela lakes, making the transit through them unsafe and forcing traffic to a halt.  They are expecting a backlog of 60 ships by Friday, and as much as a two-day wait for vessels arriving without a booking. 

This is a bit more than a blip in worldwide sea traffic.  The Canal handles up to 5% of the world’s seaborne commerce, according to Lloyd’s.  The Panama Canal Authority (ACP), through its vice-president Manuel Benitez, says they are “planning to open flood gates to relieve one of the lakes.”   Read more

What to do with the USS Olympia?

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Protected Cruiser Olympia (C-6), circa 1901

We have been following with interest the story about the USS Olympia (C6), the famed protected cruiser that served as Admiral Dewey’s flagship at Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War. The cruiser is the only survivor of that war, and the oldest American steel warship afloat. She fired the opening shot in the action that destroyed the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay, and she brought home the body of the Unknown Soldier from World War I in 1921.

USS Olympia has been a museum ship since 1957 at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. The ship has not been drydocked in 45 years and corrosion at the waterline is severe. The Museum had announced that, because she could sink at her moorings, they were discontinuing tours beginning Nov. 22. Since then, the museum’s Board announced that they were putting that decision on hold, given the new availability of funds to make emergency repairs (Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 18, http://www.philly.com/inquirer/home_region/20101118_Spanish-American_warship_spared__at_least_for_now.html).  However, if significant funding isn’t found, to the tune of $19 million, for drydocking and restoration, the ship could still sink at her berth or could be disposed of through scrapping or sinking off Cape May as an artificial reef.   Read more

Secrets in the Stacks for 2011

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Join us at the Library for these upcoming Secrets in the Stacks!

  • January 5, 2011 – Notes on Knots: the Bushby Manuscript – Bill Edwards-Bodmer, Assistant Archivist
  • February 2, 2011 – The Mariners’ Museum Library’s Unique Clippings Collection – Jennifer Anielski, Librarian, Technical Services
  • March 2, 2011 – A. Aubrey Bodine’s Photographs – Tom Moore, Senior Curator of Photography/Photo Archivist

 Secrets in the Stacks are a chance for you to see rare or seldom-seen items from the Library’s collections.  These talks are held at 12:00 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month.  See you at the Library!

"Notes on Knots" Online Exhibit Coming Soon

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From the rigging of the Niña, Pinta,and Santa Maria to the humble fisherman’s line, knots have been at the foundation of many of the most important, and everyday, events in maritime history.  Without knots, much of the maritime world would literally fall apart.

Library staff recently unearthed what many in the knot-tying community consider to be the “Holy Grail on knots,” Henry North Grant Bushby’s manuscript “Notes on Knots.”  Composed of eight volumes with over 1,900 hand-written pages and beautifully drawn pen and ink diagrams,  Bushby’s manuscript represents an in depth study of knotting and ropework, as well as knot theory.  Written between 1902 and his death in 1926, Bushby’s work was never published.  Bushby’s daughter, Dorothy, donated her father’s writings to The Mariners’ Museum Library in 1957.   Read more

The Unveiling of the Trireme

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On Tuesday December 7, 2010 the Library welcomed The Mariners’ Museum’s Bronze Door Society and Friends of the Library for “The Unveiling of the Trireme.”  The event showcased the Library’s newest addition, a scale model of a Greek trireme built by model maker Mark Wilkins.  The highlight of the evening was Dr. John Hyland’s talk on the history of the trireme.  Dr. Hyland is Assistant Professor of history at Christopher Newport University.In other trireme-related news, mark your calendars for March 17-18, 2011 when Friends of Trible Library at CNU and Friends of The Mariners’ Museum Library host the “Celebration of the Trireme.” The two day event will include a panel discussion on “The Triremes and Athenian Democracy” and a presentation on “Rowing the Olympias.”  Stay tuned for more details!