Founded by Dr. Clive Cussler, the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA) is a non-profit, volunteer foundation dedicated to preserving our maritime heritage through the discovery, archaeological survey and conservation of shipwreck artifacts.
Ghost stories, spooky mansions and witchcraft hysterics are just a few of the paranoid presentations of Haunted Happenings in Salem, Massachusetts, at Halloween. There are tales of ruthless pirates, ocean demons and the woman in black whose spirit haunts the town where her child was accidentally killed. Anyone who sees her face will die, so they say.
But not to worry. For shipwreck buffs, Salem isn’t entirely characterized by ghosts, gremlins and gore. It’s also the home of the Peabody Essex Museum, a venerable institution that most of the Halloween revelers eschew. For 200 years, Salem was one of the richest and most renowned seaports in North America. Its ships’ captains, who founded the East India Marine Society in 1799, sailed the world in search of international trade. In addition to tea, spices, silks, ivory and jade, ships’ masters returned with extraordinary works of art and culture from exotic locales. A society entry practice required every master to contribute a rare work of art to the growing numbers. Competition became fierce and by the 19th century the society had a priceless collection on its hands. more »
Strange shipwreck discoveries are not unusual, but few rival the puzzling paddlewheel steamboat that Bob Hawley uncovered in 1988. It’s commonplace for the remains of sunken paddle wheelers to be found along the banks of the Missouri River, victims of storms, fires and founderings during the 19th century’s western frontier movement. But this one was rare. more »
An 1888 Gold Rush-era steamship was discovered recently by a National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sonar survey team that was scouring the bottom of San Francisco Bay.
The City of Chester, sailing in a dense fog from San Francisco to British Columbia, was struck on its port side by another Bay area steamship that was twice its size. The bow of the Oceanic—transporting immigrants from Asia to California—sliced deeply into the 200-foot vessel, but the captain continued a forward thrust to plug the hole in an attempt to save the passengers and crew. Sixteen people aboard the City of Chester died in the disaster. The Oceanic sent out a double whistle signal, indicating the vessels should pass on the starboard side and the Chesterconfirmed it with the same double blast. But somehow the doomed ship’s captain either misunderstood the alerts or the tides drove him off course. Somehow his ship crossed the path of the Oceanic and that was the end of the maneuvering. The vessels were only half a mile apart when the captains realized their positions…leaving no time to abort the collision. more »
Mike Burke, Blue Water Divers, smiled when he told me that our first dive would be the Constellation. He knew that I knew it was the backdrop for movie star Jacquelin Bisset’s wet t-shirt scene in The Deep. Taken from the late Peter Benchley’s novel written more than 25 years ago, the film starred the sexy Bisset, Nick Nolte and the late Robert Shaw in a tale of lost treasure, drugs and intrigue. The 200-foot, four-masted schooner went down near Western Blue Cut, Bermuda, in 1943 while sailing from New York to South America. Thousands of bottles and glass shards cover the wreck, sparkling like jewels as the sun penetrates the clear 15 to 30 foot depths. These medicine, whiskey and mineral water bottles were part of a cargo that also included opium ampules, slate and cement bound for the city of La Guira, Venezuela. more »