How the north ended up on top of the map is an article by Nick Danforth, author/curator of (The/Mid) Afternoon Map blog, detailing how the north-up orientation came to be the default orientation, looking beyond Eurocentrism to Byzantine monks and Majorcan Jews who set the path for modern cartography. If you want more information, you might enjoy the Wikipedia article on the history of cartography, or you can really dig deep with the three-volume text, The History of Cartography, which is available in full from the University of Chicago Press online, split into individual PDFs for each chapter. [more inside]
You know what they say… When in Africa, create a mimed rendition music video of the 1983 smash hit “Africa” by Toto and post it on Youtube? I actually don’t know anyone who says that, but that’s just what the crew of a Subsea 7 contracted OSV did and their video is making the rounds this week on the internets. (slytp via gCaptain) [more inside]
The cruise liner Costa Concordia is finally being raised (live footage) at a cost of more than $500m, in a delicate refloating procedure. Grounded since the 13th January 2012, when it ran aground at the Island of Giglio at the cost of 32 lives, the Costa Concordia will take 10-12 hours to be refloated, several more months to be prepared for towing and then taken off for scrap. [more inside]
Semi-submersible ships are the only vessels capable of loading, transporting and off-loading extremely heavy equipment. These mighty ships are used to carry entire gas refineries, huge oil drilling rigs, and even warships and submarines, on lengthy journeys across the globe.
Maritime Monday. (No NSFW images in this link, but some weeks there will be a random picture or two of a topless mer-person or sailor.)
Cruise Captain says he 'tripped' into lifeboat and couldn't get out. Audio recording of an Italian Coast Guard Captain telling him to get back on board [Transcript]
In 1782, a French colony in the Indian Ocean prepared for a rumored assault by British ships. Before the governor's reconnaissance ship could report back on the flotilla, however, a member of the local engineering corps reported that the group of ships had changed course. Etienne Bottineau claimed to be the inventor of a whole new “science” that he called nauscopy: “The art of discovering ships and land at a great distance.” [more inside]
William Langewiesche writes an enthralling account of the hijacking of a French cruise ship in the Gulf of Aden by Somali pirates.
Long before Chelsea Piers was a sporting complex and the South Street Seaport a mall, the city was lined with active piers. The city's residents were amply employed by the shipping trade, but containerization needed more land than would ever be available in the city: Massive ports sprouted in Elizabeth and Newark, and ships disappeared from the city. Efficient cranes replaced longshoremen, and the time in port for ships shrank from about a week to about a day. "The technology changed the geography," says William Fensterer, a chaplain who has been with SIH almost since its new building opened in 1964. "It doesn't look like On the Waterfront anymore," he adds. When he started out, he says, he would wander on foot from pier to pier in Manhattan and Brooklyn and board ships, with nary a guard in site. But those piers have largely vanished. And along with them, the seafarer, once ubiquitous in New York, has become invisible.
Skin & Bones is a new exhibit about sailor tattoos and their symbolism and history, developed at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. NYTimes story with neat art slideshow.
The Lighthouse Directory. An information portal for over 9000 lighthouses, and sites of former lighthouses, all around the world. Photos, histories, technical specifications, etc. Most of the links are very thorough, with some including excerpts from keepers' logs. The site also includes links to current news stories and general historical articles related to lighthouses.
Where, exactly, were commercial vessels in the San Francisco Bay in the past hour? Here, for one. Behold the power of AIS! Previously
Wade in the Water In 2004, Smithsonian Folklife Festival featured the maritime cultures of the Mid-Atlantic region, from Long Island to North Carolina. Now, this site gives a home on the web to the cultural documentation gathered for the festival -- music, recipes, stories and oral history, an interactive map, the occupational folklore and natural history of regional fisheries, photos, video, and more. The material, ably compiled by folklorists and educators, creates a lasting and very accessible archive of festival highlights as well as an excellent overview of the distinct coastal culture of the Mid-Atlantic. Don't miss the great menhaden net-hauling chantey Help Me to Raise 'Em (links to mp3).
On January 30, 1945, the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German cruise ship packed full with refugees fleeing the Russian advance into Poland was sunk by a Russian submariane. Nearly 10,000 people died and it remains the world's worst single maritime disaster. Radio National's Late Night Live recently devoted a programme to this little-known tragedy. Well worth listening to (mp3).
The Mother of All Maritime Links. Feeling a little landlocked? From "Pirates" (over twenty links) to "Weather & Tides," from plain old "History" to "Music" and beyond, this site is one of the more comprehensive available.