Niagara River

Oct 27
Posted by leafworks Filed in Rivers


Niagara River

A massive river that flows between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie for approximately 35 miles in length. It is home to the famous "Niagara Falls" both on the U.S. and Canadian sides. It is dotted with falls, whirlpools, and rapids along its course. There are also several islands along the run of the river: The two largest and most popular are the Navy Island and the Grand Island. Other popular ones include Goat Island, Luna Island, and Squaw Island. The river forms the border between Ontario, Canada and New York, USA. Many legends amiss around the river, as does its name origin. An Iroquois belief is it was named after a branch of the Neutral Confederacy called the "Niagagarega" in the late 17th century. Others state it was named after the Iroquois village "Ongniaahra" or "point of land cut in two". Today the river is dotted with, especially within the Falls area, hydroelectric power stations. The two most famous of which is the Sir Adam Beck Hydro-electric Power Station in Canada and the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant in the U.S.A. It was America's first waterway to harness large scale hydro-electricity. Ships coming down the Niagara River use the Welland Canal of the Saint Lawrence Seaway to bypass the Falls. The Falls drop over 325 feet along its gorge fallway. It has two tributaries - the Welland River and Tonawanda Creek which were adapted into Canals for ship traffic such as the Erie Canal and the Welland Canal. The first European exploits of the area begin in the 17th century with French explorer Father Louis Hennepin published in the 1698 "A New Discovery of a Vast Country in America". Some of the first railways built in America were built along this river, including the inclined wooden tramway built by John Montresor in 1764 called "The Cradles" and "The Old Lewiston Incline". The River has seen its share of battles and wars, including ones between Fort Niagara (U.S.) and Ft. George (Canada) during the French and Indian War, American Revolution, Battle of Queenston Heights, and War of 1812. It was also very important during the American Civil War as a point where slaves crossed via the Underground Railway to Canada.


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Bronze Age Boat to be Launched into the Unknown

Mar 10
Posted by leafworks Filed in Experimental Archaeology, Parts of the Ship, Projects, Ships
cross posted from  

Press Call: A First for Experimental Archaeology -

Bronze Age Boat to be Launched into the Unknown PRWeb – Thu, Feb 28, 2013

   A unique project to recreate a 4000 year old boat will reach its dramatic conclusion on Wednesday 6 March as she is launched into the waters of Falmouth Harbour.

Falmouth, Cornwall (PRWEB UK) 25 February 2013 A first for experimental archaeology and a first for the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, the 50ft long 5 tonne prehistoric boat has been reconstructed as part of a collaborative project with the University of Exeter. A team of volunteers, led by shipwright Brian Cumby, have spent the last year building this one of a kind craft out of two massive oak logs using replica methods and tools, such as bronze headed axes.

Project director Prof Robert Van de Noort from the University of Exeter says: “The launch really is the moment of truth for this project. The very nature of an experiment means that we can’t know for sure what will happen. The boat has already given us a few surprises along the way, so the launch really is a leap into the unknown.”

Where:    The slipway between Falmouth Watersports Centre and the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth When:    Wednesday 6 March, 12 noon Contact:    Michael Sweeney michaelsweeney(at)nmmc(dot) 01326 214558 or Tamsin Loveless tamsinloveless(at)nmmc(dot) 01326 214536 NB: The launch really is in the lap of the gods. High winds or torrential rain may force the launch to be delayed but if the gods are smiling on us it will be a sight to behold! Note to Editor: Find out more about this project on its dedicated Facebook page And view time lapse footage of the entire project at Michael Sweeney National Maritime Museum Cornwall 01326 214558 Email Information

Traverse Board

Feb 23
Posted by leafworks Filed in Navigation and Measure


Traverse board:

"Traverse board: The ship's crew used a traverse board to plot the ship's speed and course over four hours, which was the length of time of one watch shift. The speed and compass direction were plotted on the board at thirty-minute intervals. At the end of the watch, the information plotted on the traverse board was charted on paper. The information helped pilots with estimating the ship's location" ~ Diorama/display in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo 091712-52.jpg) Traverse board:


Maritime Navigation:

Feb 23
Posted by leafworks Filed in Life on the Sea, Navigation and Measure



" Navigation: Ship pilots of the 1500s had few tools to help them navigate unfamiliar waters. Pilots had to be familiar with astronomy, maps, math, physics, and seamanship to direct the ship successfully. Shifting winds and currents, and sometimes hurricanes made navigation difficult.

The Cross Staff: was used to measure the angle between the horizon and the sun or North Star. Combining this information with data from astronomical tables provided the latitude.

The Hourglass: A sand clock or hourglass was used to measure time. It took thirty minutes for the sand to empty from the upper to the lower chamber. The clock was turned upside down to repeat the process." ~ Diorama/display in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo 091712-53.jpg) Navigation:



Florida Coast: Ship wreck Artifacts

Feb 23
Posted by leafworks Filed in artifacts, Shipwrecks

Ship Wreck artifacts:

Welcome to our collection of Shipwreck Artifacts. We will be adding pictures from various shipwrecks and their artifacts on this archive from our travel tales and explorations around the world so visit back frequently for new additions.

Shipwreck artifacts are cultural items, once belonging to humans in maritime history that has been recovered after a shipwreck, maritime tragedy, or loss. Underwater archaeologists recover most of these finds, but sometimes these are found washed ashore or even inland as topical geology changes on the planet.

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Date with disaster: Adventurers sail through wave of tsunami debris

Aug 7
Posted by leafworks Filed in Cultural Issues, Environmentalism, Life on the Sea
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By Jim Meyer
Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen The Pacific Ocean is a pretty darned big place. The hull of the 72’ former racing yacht, Sea Dragon, not so much, especially when crammed full of research equipment and 14 full-sized human-type people not necessarily accustomed to the rigors of the open ocean. But that’s just what the intrepid team of oceanic avengers from the 5Gyres Institute are up against as they race across the Pacific on a collision course with the great field of debris washed away from Japan by last year’s devastating Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Imagine cramming into an RV and driving from Nome, Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego with the cast of Road Rules Season 9. (That would be the Maximum Velocity Tour, but I’m sure you knew that, gentle reader.) Now try to imagine that the I-5 is heaving 30 to 40 feet into the air, is full of sharks, and generally wants you dead. Add to that, Theo won’t stop spraying you with the super soaker he brought for some reason, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of the potential horror involved here. Scientist, adventurer, and Gulf War veteran Marcus Eriksen previously floated the length of the Mississippi on a raft made of plastic bottles and sailed from California to Hawaii on a boat made of trash to raise awareness of the pollution problem facing us all. What he saw changed his life. “I couldn’t believe how much waste was littering our coast lines,” he says. Eriksen and his wife, Anna Cummins, co-founded the 5Gyres Institute in 2009 to study the Earth’s 5 great subtropical gyres – enormous, slow-moving whirlpools on the ocean’s surface – and raise awareness of the horrifying levels of garbage floating within. These great pelagic depressions (I think I just named Jimmy Buffet’s next album) serve as the Earth’s mighty bellybuttons, collecting all sorts of unwanted refuse, the vast bulk of it, plastic. The most infamous of these gyres holds The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and while the notion of an island of garbage a thousand miles across is an exaggeration, what is actually out there might be far more insidious. “Those 5 gyres make up about 21 percent of the planet’s surface, and they are covered in this thin confetti of plastic,” says Eriksen, who has trolled for trash across the high seas. This confetti, made of particles the size of fish-food, is often coated with a thin layer of industrial chemicals and petroleum, creating little poison pills that fish in turn eat and absorb. But very little is known about how this stuff travels, and that’s where the tsunami debris comes in. Some of the debris has already made landfall in North America, most notably a Harley Davidson discovered on a Canadian beach earlier this year (perhaps the first time a Harley has made it over 4,000 miles without breaking down) and shockingly, a 66 foot-long concrete dock covered in millions of invasive organisms that washed up on the Oregon coast. But according to Eriksen, this debris is only the vanguard. “The stuff washing up in British Columbia right now, that is the stuff affected by wind,” he says, speaking via satellite phone, noting that anything peeking above the surface of the Ocean acts as a sail, speeding its journey east. “But what’s subsurface, what’s beneath the waves, hasn’t made its way across yet.” For an organization dedicated to studying the effects of plastic pollution in the sea, last year’s catastrophe provided a unique opportunity. “You don’t often get a chance to take an entire city, put it in the ocean, and see what happens to all the stuff,” Eriksen says. “That’s what happened here.” Eriksen and his team of scientists, journalists, and environmentalists sailed from Yokahama Japan on June 10. They sailed half way across the ocean until finding their first piece of tsunami debris on June 17, then turned south to travel the length of the debris field. “What’s left behind is going to be plastics and anything that’s trapping air, say lightbulbs, car tires still on the rim, insulated refrigerators, boat hulls,” Eriksen says. Eriksen says the stuff should help answer some questions: “What’s the impact on marine life? How much is out there, and what kind of pollutants are sticking to the materials that are left behind? Are there going to be mountains of trash washing up along the Hawaiian beaches a year from now?” In the meantime, Dr. Eriksen and his shipmates are bunking a foot from their boat-mates, spending a goodly portion of their days heaving along with their storm-tossed decks, and all in the name of a cleaner, plastic-free sea. Follow the adventures of these ocean adventurers at the fantastic 5Gyres blog.
Jim Meyer is a Baltimore-based stand-up comedian, actor, retired roller derby announcer, and freelance writer. Follow his exploits here.

Pirate’s Plunder

Aug 6
Posted by leafworks Filed in Events, Shoppes

August 6, 2012:

Please bear with us as we slowly add our gifts, treasures, and merchandise online. We have an assortment of treasures to bring you ... each day we'll be adding them so check in often. All purchases will assist Pirate Relief in getting established and sailing ...

As of August 5th, 2012 our Online gift shop is now open for business. We have some amazing adventures ahead, so keep stopping by. This month we'll be sailing from Ireland to Scotland, flying from Scotland to Iceland, then on to Denver, Colorado. Then Project Gypsy will make its way across the United States through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, and on to our port in Charleston, South Carolina - collecting various treasures along our path. You can keep up with the adventures of the travels at Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and on the Pirate's Plank.


MS Dana Sirena

Jul 16
Posted by leafworks Filed in Ships

MS Dana Sirena
* * * *

The Dana Sirena, named just like a ship out of folklore, appropriate since my first journey on her was embarking on a voyage from Jorvik to Norway for my first Viking festival. This brilliant RoPax ferry carries over 620 passengers and 435 cars. It is also a freight ferry. Its a pretty comfortable ferry, with all passengers having their own onboard cabins and/or reserved seating. Facilities such as free wifi, restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, and a children's area are located within. The beds were comfortable, showers were nice, rooms came with bedding, towels, and wardrobe space. As I was on a budget, I packed my own food for the journey, so can't comment on the restaurant or bar services. I've been told there is sufficient variety offered. I didn't partake of the shopping, and was able to catch some of the entertainment. The entertainment was mediocre, but some of the passengers seemed pleased. Apparently there was a featured "films on demand" service, of which I cannot comment on since I didn't use it. The ship sails from Harwich, England to Esbjerg, Denmark, and back. The Sirena is built of iron and steel in 2001 originally named the "MS Golfo Dei Delfini" owned by Lloyd Sardegna, acquired by the DFDS Tor Line then DFDS Seaways, then renamed the "Dana Sirena" after 2003. In 2001-2002 its port of registry was Olbia, Sardinia; then in 2002 registered in Esbjerg, Denmark. It was built by Stocznia Szczecinska in 2001. It is 22,382 GT tonnage, with a 654.2 ft length and a 78"3 height. It travels at 23 knots. I quite enjoyed the ferry trip, much better than most ferries I've been on. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.

The Sirena Ferry, Harwich to Esbjerg

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swinging cot

Jul 13
Posted by leafworks Filed in Life on the Sea, Parts of the Ship
Aboard many of the tall sailing ships were portable "hammock" beds, similar to "camp beds" that were usually used for officers, captains, first and second mates, or militia on board. These were more comfortable that cloth hammocks, giving more stability with the "cot" construct. They were simple construct, temporary, and could be moved or relocated. These were generally consisting of a foldable lightweight wood or metal frame, covered with canvas, linen or nylon suspended from the roof which made it swing.

Human Traffickers: The Modern Day Barbary Pirates – Yahoo! News

Jun 24
Posted by leafworks Filed in Cultural Issues, Defense

COMMENTARY | This week the 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report revealed there were an estimated 27 million victims forced into human trafficking. It also revealed there are 17 countries doing nothing to comply with international standards to stop the practice.

Eleven are from the same neighborhood as a historical ancestor to the modern-day human traffickers: the Barbary Pirates. This group from North Africa and the Middle East raided Europe and other regions for centuries with impunity, and no one did anything about it until the U.S. came along.

The question is whether the U.S. is again willing to do something about a human trafficking problem that others seem unable or unwilling to tackle.

For hundreds of years, Barbary Pirates seemed to go wherever they pleased. There are even reports of these pirates snagging travelers sailing between Ireland and England. All were forced into the type of slavery that might have exceeded the Hollywood horrors shown on the big screen. Rowers chained to oars until death, harems, bastinados, drudgery or prison. Only a lucky few were ever ransomed or managed to escape. An estimated 850,000 might have fallen to this fate.

This persisted until the U.S. got into the commercial game, trading throughout the Mediterranean Sea. Morocco, Algeria, Tunis and Tripoli pounced, unleashing the human trafficking problem upon a new country, well-documented by Ian W. Toll's book "Six Frigates."

Americans were advised by Europeans to pay tribute to the Barbary Pirates, a bribe which would hopefully lead to fewer attacks. But a cash-strapped American government couldn't pay up. And these Barbary Pirates demanded the U.S. make them ships to include in the ransom payments for American kidnapped sailors. The Pasha declared war on the U.S. in 1801.

President Thomas Jefferson finally ordered the American Naval Squadron (built by John Adams, which Jefferson opposed creating) to deal with the Barbary Pirates. Initially, it was a disaster. America captured little and lost its frigate (the USS Philadelphia) and all aboard when it ran aground off of Tripoli. Now the pirates had more captives and a powerful ship.

But a daring raid by Lt. Stephen Decatur aboard a disguised Maltese merchantman destroyed the USS Philadelphia. America kept up a blockade in the harbor, and shelled the city. Marines were landed with the goal of installing an ex-Pasha, who would be more amenable to American interests.

The blockade didn't work. The Marines didn't overthrow Tripoli. But Tripoli did sign an agreementpromising not to capture more American ships. And when the Algerians made the mistake of declaring war on the U.S. after the War of 1812, they too were forced to cave in after several naval setbacks.

America did not overwhelm the Barbary Pirates but did earn some grudging respect by standing up to them. And that's what they need to do with human trafficking. Some large military demonstration of force won't achieve much, but perhaps some highly publicized law enforcement raids might do the trick.

Because after the Americans stood up to the Barbary Pirates, other Europeans followed. Within two decades of their wars with the Americans, these countries were conquered and became colonies themselves.

If Europeans see how serious Americans are about the problem, they're more likely to do their part. Maybe like the Barbary Pirates, the human trafficker scourge can finally be brought under, after America proved you can stop a problem that seemed to persist forever.