“Cap’n Don” they called him, the brash, bombastic and beguiling Bonaire legend who passed over the bar May 28, 2014. Captain Donald Stewart, the remarkable leader on the island and throughout the diving world, was 88 years old.
When author/adventurer Clive Cussler found the remains of the Mary Celeste, he closed a chapter in the mystery of a “ghost ship” left floundering aimlessly in the mid-Atlantic more than a century ago. The second chapter, revealing what happened to the captain, his family and crew, has yet to be written. Cussler found the wreckage, but the unsolved mystery of the 282-ton seaworthy brigantine still whets the appetites of maritime sleuths throughout the world.
History unveils a plethora of government boondoggles in decision making and expenditures. In most instances, the facts remain in place and the evidence fades away. Such is not the case in Mallows Bay, Charles County, Maryland, where a decision made during WWI leaves to this day a vast graveyard of decomposing vessels that never saw a bit of service. Hailed as the “largest maritime graveyard in the Western Hemisphere,” it goes down in history as one of the government’s biggest blunders.
She was projected to become a floating restaurant, hotel and nightclub on a sunny Caribbean island, but Hurricane Hilda sank all the plans…including the ship. The City of Richmond, a beauty in her day, sailed the Baltimore, Maryland, to Norfolk and York River, Virginia, route for 49 years.
Ship historian and author John Maxtone-Graham wrote in his book, The Only Way to Cross: “Disaster at sea is never predictable and seldom consistent.” Such was the case in the demise of the Italia Line’s SS Andrea Doria when it was struck by the Swedish-American Line’s MS Stockholm, July 25, 1956. Radar was in vogue and used successfully for years. Both captains were experienced mariners with excellent records and past voyages of both ships were accident free. So what went wrong?
John Moyer looks back with fond memories on his extraordinary recovery of the Gambone sculptures. He knows he’ll never enter the Wintergarden Lounge again, nor will anyone else. The lounge, like the rest of the Andrea Doria, is buried beneath crumbled partitions, fallen bulkheads and twisted stairwells.
A golden Buddha, fine bone china, jade figurines, gems and other Oriental treasures were rumored to be hidden aboard the SV Sindia, a majestic windjammer that ran aground off Ocean City, New Jersey, in 1901. Still another conjecture had the lower cargo hold of the three-deck, four-masts bark filled with treasure looted from Buddha temples during China’s 1900 Boxer Rebellion. (An uprising by militia known as the “Boxers,” practitioners of Chinese martial arts.).
The recent discovery of the long lost U.S. Navy tugboat USS Conestoga (see Numa.net, Jan., 2018) fueled the hopes of Marvin Barrash, Kent Island, Maryland. The tugboat had been lost without a trace for over 100 years—just like Marvin’s mystery ship USS Cyclops.
Shipwrecks usually bring misfortune and despair, but in the annals of the clipper ship Frolic, good fortune blossomed from a frivolous mishap. Edward Faucon, an experienced captain who piloted his ship on the Canton, China, to Bombay, India, route for years, simply misjudged the distance between his vessel and shore.
The “Pitcher Wreck!” What a fitting description of diver Don Shomette’s 1975 discovery of the steamship SS New Jersey sunk in the Upper Chesapeake Bay, Talbot County, Maryland. That’s how Don christened the site after discovering crates of milk-glass molasses and hobnail syrup pitchers in the cargo hold.