Ravenger wins the 2021 superyacht race at Palma, Mallorca!

July 15, 2021
Photo by: Burgess, SuperYacht Times

The 43.31-metre Royal Huisman superyacht Ravenger was crowned the winner of the 2021 Palma Superyacht Cup on June 25, marking the 25th anniversary of the race. Ravenger is an aluminum-hulled boat with a 30-foot beam, built in 2015.

The Palma Superyacht Cup is Europe’s longest-running superyacht regatta.

Fast facts about superyachts and super yachting in Palma

An expensive hobby

First let’s talk about money. Only about 45 superyachts of the sailing type are built a year, and they appreciate in value quickly. While new ones run up to $25 million each, a used one can be had for the paltry sum of $7-9 million. Royal Huisman’s Ngoni, at 58.15 meters, is selling for $53 million.

It’s all about the wind

Why Palma? According to regular participant Bouwe Bekking, “The great thing about racing in Palma is the conditions. You can look at your watch and know that in a couple of hours you will have 12 or so knots of breeze, maybe even a little bit more.” Plus, after the serious race day is over, participants and spectators enjoy the ample nightlife.

Hiring a crew

Palma has several crew staffing services and a number of trained crews on hand, ready to treat your expensive yacht with kid gloves.

Yachts race by class

New this year at Parma was an event featuring a performance class of yacht. These Performance Yachts joined the original Superyacht Class and the non-spinnaker Corinthian Superyacht Class.

It’s all about the spectators

The Superyacht Club Palma regatta enjoys enthusiastic support from owners, crews and sponsors. Top national yachts show up because they can expect high-level competition and a huge crowd of spectators. 

Competitors are sleek and the world’s best

Here’s a look at some of the top competitors in 2021 in the 30- to 47-meter yacht race:

Magic Carpet3
Sailworld.com
Bequia (the 2019 winner)
Yachtsinternational.com

Mediterranean racing venues abound

Because of the reliable sea breezes, the Mediterranean is a popular location for sailing yacht races. Among the most popular in 2021, aside from the Palma Superyacht Cup, are the Rolex Capri Sailing Week, already held in May; the Ibiza Gold Cup, also held in May; The Nations Trophy Mediterranean League, held all summer; the Giraglia Rolex Cup in June; and the IRC European Championship in late June.


Why We Celebrate National Maritime Day

May 24, 2021
National Maritime Day

As it does every year, the United States just celebrated National Maritime Day on May 22nd

Created by Congress and signed into law in 1933 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the day was conceived to honor and celebrate the importance of the Merchant Marine. 

During World War II, more than 800 U.S. merchant ships were damaged or sunk. Of the more than 250,000 members of the Merchant Marine who served during World War II, more than 6,700 were killed and hundreds were detained as prisoners of war.

The holiday has since been expanded to include all members of the maritime industry and domestic waterborne commerce as well.

First celebrated on May 20th, Congress changed the date to May 22nd to commemorate the steamship SS Savannah, which set sail on the first trans-Atlantic voyage entirely conducted under steam power on May 22, 1819. 

Since 2006 the Maritime Administration has partnered with the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the American Association of Port Authorities, the Waterways Council Inc, and others in the maritime industry to promote National Maritime Day and raise awareness of the maritime industry.

The President is requested to issue a proclamation each year, calling on all government agencies and citizens to fly the flag at full staff. All vessels registered under the American flag should dress ship to commemorate the day.

National Maritime Day is marked by many organizations in many communities. Since the onset of the pandemic, many of these observations have become virtual or have been canceled. Pre-pandemic, there were memorial observances at Merchant Marine memorials, and many seaports hosted open houses. One event marking National Maritime Day took place at the Port of Baltimore, where the retired NS Savannah, the first nuclear-powered merchant ship, has been docked since 2008.

To find out about observations and celebrations, contact your local port or chamber of commerce.


Come Along on the First Atlantic Steamship Crossing

May 12, 2021

On May 22, we will celebrate National Maritime Day, marking 202 years since the first steamboat crossed the Atlantic between Savannah, Georgia, and Liverpool, England. 

The ship was the SS Savannah, built in 1818, the year before it crossed the Atlantic. The crossing was a first, but nothing went according to plan. 

What it was like on the SS Savannah

Since steam power was new, and a trans-Atlantic crossing had never been done, you would have signed up to work on vessel as new and untested as a rocket ship to Mars is today. The tension of the unknown had dire consequences on the crew: Savannah‘s departure was delayed for two days after one of her crew returned to the vessel in a highly inebriated state, fell off the gangplank and drowned. 

SS Savannah, 1819 via Wikipedia

The voyage itself was a bit of a false story.

The steam engine powered two paddlewheels (one on each side of the beam). Weather and cargo determined the wheel’s depth. On this maiden voyage, the Savanna carried neither cargo nor passengers, so the wheels barely reached the water, making them highly inefficient. Passage took 29 days, mostly by sail, relying on steam for only 90 hours. During those 90 hours, other ships reported seeing “a ship on fire,” so unused were they to smoke coming from a vessel. The owners were disgusted with the steam’s inefficiency during the voyage. After the maiden cross-Atlantic crossing, they converted the SS Savannah into a sailing packet. Three years later, the SS Savannah plowed into Long Island, a total wreck. Such is history.

Regular steaming would take another 60 years

It wasn’t until nearly 20 years later that two fully-powered steamships, the SS Great Western and the SS Sirius, both paddlewheels, crossed from England to the U.S. completely on steam power. Only the SS Sirius carried passengers. Another 40 years would pass before a steamer was built of steel, not wood, and steaming became popular.

Most of your crew time on the SS Savannah would have been spent hoisting and trimming sails, not shoveling coal into steam engine boilers. However, if you were bent on crewing a steamer, by 1866, you signed up for a backbreaking job stoking boilers with coal on a steamer coursing from England down the African coast and across the Indian Ocean. These steamers needed a cargo of coal so huge, they couldn’t carry commercial cargo or passengers.

By the way, the term “Blue Ribbon” originated with the “Blue Ribband,” an award given to any passenger steamer regularly crossing the Atlantic. The first winner: the SS Sirius.

Trace part of the SS Savannah voyage yourself

Our popular nautical chart options cover Tybee Island all the way to Savannah Port. Each map is shown as a square.

NOAA Nautical Charts from OceanGrafix in the Savannah area

NOAA Nautical Chart 11505, Savannah River Approach

NOAA Nautical Chart 11507, Intracoastal Waterway Beaufort River to St. Simons Sound

NOAA Nautical Chart 11514, Savannah River to Brier Creek

The map of the actual Savannah port looks like this:

NOAA Nautical Chart 11514 detail: Savannah Harbor 


This May, Say “Thanks” to Our Men and Women in Uniform

May 3, 2021

May is Military Appreciation Month. 

This month of celebrating our active troops and veterans was dedicated by Congress starting in 1999, based on legislation introduced by the late Senator John McCain. 

Why May? May was a logical choice because the month includes many historic veteran celebrations: Memorial DayMilitary Spouse Appreciation Day and Armed Forces Day. May also includes Victory in Europe (VE) Day, which commemorates the end of WWII in Europe. And, who can forget the dramatic raid and death of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011?

With summer finally here, everyone looks for ways to get outside and celebrate our troops. Look for flyovers during baseball games, flag-raisings and lots of community events. During the month, our heroes—all our military active duty and veterans—are treated to discounts and special events. Among them:

To help celebrate Military Appreciation Month, OceanGrafix offers current and historic nautical charts of coastlines, where we look back and celebrate key military victories. Charts are suitable for framing. Here’s a sampling:

Battles of Lexington And Concord (April of 1775) 

The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the first battles of the Revolutionary War, beginning on the night of April 19th, 1775. The battles were fought between British colonists and angry resident militia. The lead up to the war was accelerated by tension building up between the British colonists and the residents of the 13 American colonies. On the night of the first American Revolutionary War, 700 British troops marched off ships in Boston Harbor to Concord in order to seize an arms cache. 

Chart: 337-00-1864 – MA, 1864, Boston Harbor

Paper size: 20” x 24”

Siege of Charleston (1780)

The Siege of Charleston was one of the major battles, which took place towards the end of the American Revolutionary War, after the British began to shift their strategic focus towards the Southern Colonies. As a defeat, it was the biggest loss of troops suffered by the Continental Army in the war.

Chart: 470-06-1959

Paper size: 20” x 24”

Battle of Yorktown (October 1781) 

The Battle of Yorktown took place from the 28th of September until the 19th of October of 1781 and was waged between Americans and their French allies against the British in Virginia. It was the last great battle of the American Revolutionary War. General George Washington was the commander of a force of 17,000 French and American troops against a contingent of 9,000 British troops under General Lord Charles Cornwallis. 

NOAA Nautical Chart 12241

Paper size: 36” x 50”

Order beautiful historic charts 

The historical charts are suitable for framing and make great gifts to commemorate battles won that saved our nation and our democracy. Some of the historic charts date as far back as 1747. These novelty charts (which are not intended for navigational purposes) are carefully colored and detailed to give them an antique look — and they’re printed on gallery-quality paper, ready for framing. 


6 Far Away International Destinations for Fall & Winter Boating

February 17, 2021

Looking for a warm fall or winter boating adventure far away from the U.S.? This article has you covered. International waters have so much to offer, but options in the fall and winter months are limited. We’ve cultivated our top six picks for international boating, spanning off the shores of Africa and Eastern Asia to distant islands in the Pacific. 

Pack your bags for these fall and winter sailing destinations, and don’t forget to include the charts you’ll need to navigate your trip. 

COVID Alert: Safety precautions and travel restrictions are changing daily. Be sure to check with local authorities before making any plans. 

1. Fiji

An archipelago of more than 300 islands in the South Pacific, Fiji’s winter months have highs in the 80s—perfect weather for year-round boating. A trip to Fiji boasts rugged landscapes, coral reefs, clear blue lagoons, and plenty of island hopping. You can scuba dive around the Great Astrolabe Reef, enjoy striking views of Yasawas’s volcanic peaks, or snorkel around Taveuni. A four-day journey can also take you to our next destination—the Tonga islands. 

Hurricane season in this area runs from November to March, so opt for this destination for an early fall boating trip. 

Charts you’ll need for sailing around Fiji: 

2. Tonga Islands

A Polynesian kingdom, Tonga is comprised of 170 islands in the South Pacific. With a warm and tropical climate, the wintertime average high is in the low 80s. Tonga islands offer white sand beaches, coral reefs, tropical rainforests, lagoons, and limestone cliffs. Adventurers have a wide variety of activities to enjoy in Tonga—diving, snorkeling, fishing, and kayaking. 

Again, the South Pacific’s hurricane season is November to March, so when cool fall temps are dragging you down, this is a perfect destination.  

Charts you’ll need for sailing around Tonga: 

3. French Polynesia

Another great spot when you’re not ready for that cool weather is French Polynesia. Made up of more than 100 islands in the South Pacific, French Polynesia is probably most well-known for the islands Bora Bora and Tahiti, which are three to four hours away from each other by boat. The three archipelagos of the area offer coral-fringed turquoise lagoons, white and black sand beaches, and waterfalls. Island guests often enjoy staying at resorts where the guest bungalows are on stilts over the water. To avoid hurricane season, plan your trip for early fall. 

A must-have nautical chart for island hopping in French Polynesia: 

4. Seychelles

Off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands. Offering year-round warm weather, it’s a great spot for travel in the colder seasons. For sailing, October and November is the perfect time to visit because it’s a transitional period when the waters and winds are calm. The islands offer sandy beaches, coral reefs, hiking, and interesting wildlife—including giant tortoises! 

Charts you’ll need for sailing around Seychelles:

  • NGA 61300: Madagascar – North Coast and Seychelles
  • SHOM 6674: Du Golfe dAden aux Maldives et aux Seychelles

5. Madagascar

Perhaps now best known from the DreamWorks movie where a sneaky group of animals escape the zoo, Madagascar is an island country in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. And yes, if you visit, you will see the country’s famous lemurs. This island offers a wildlife paradise, including humpback whales from mid-June through October. The “winter months” are Madagascar’s warmest months with temperatures in the low 80s January through February. On shore, be sure to visit the rainforests of Atsinanana, Isalo National Park, Tsingy’s limestone formations, and Baobab Alley. The waters offer some of the best diving opportunities, including swimming with whale sharks.   

Charts you’ll need for sailing around Madagascar: 

6. Thailand

Head to Southeast Asia’s Thailand between November and March to enjoy stable winds, dry weather, and warm temperatures on the sea. Thailand offers limestone cliffs, rainforests, clear blue waters, and white sand beaches. Island hopping around the coast offers travelers the opportunity to explore some of the less trafficked areas of what has become a popular destination. You can also enjoy snorkeling and diving in clear waters. 

Charts you’ll need for sailing the Thailand coast: 

Looking for more? The Caribbean also offers great opportunities for winter boating. Check out these selected charts for five of our favorite locations for sailing in the Caribbean.



6 Best Winter Boating Destinations and Charts for U.S. Waters

February 9, 2021

Got those winter blues? Missing the peace, quiet, and adventure of sailing? Just because it’s wintertime doesn’t mean your boat has to stay docked. Of course, if your local waterways freeze solid, that option is out. But you can always head south for warmer waters. 

During the winter months, you’ll have fewer crowds, which can mean more enjoyable exploring for you in those typically crowded areas. Here are 6 top U.S. destinations (and their charts!) for winter boating. 

COVID Alert: Safety precautions and travel restrictions are changing daily. Be sure to check with local authorities before making any plans. 

1. Miami & Key West, Florida 

South Florida is a great spot for boating during the winter months. Bill fishing season begins December 1, and lobster season runs through March 31. Manatees are also migrating south during this time, so you have some great wildlife watching opportunities.  

Charts you’ll need for your Miami and Key West voyage: 

2. St. Andrew Bay & Panama City Beach, Florida

While the waters are a little chilly for swimming without a wetsuit, the average mid-60s temperatures are perfect for exploring without the heat. The clear waters of the Gulf make it easy to see the sea life, shipwrecks, and reefs right from your boat. Plus, fishing season is year-round off these shores. 

Charts you’ll need for your St. Andrew Bay and Panama City Beach trip: 

3. Biloxi, Mississippi

Known for its casinos, this gulf town sits midway between Pensacola to the east and New Orleans to the west, making for a great home base for exploring this area of the gulf. When on shore in Biloxi, be sure to check out the Maritime and Seafood Museum. Offshore you can explore Cat Island, Dog Keys Pass, and Dauphin Island. Sail further southwest through Chandeleur Sound to discover the coasts of Louisiana.  

Charts you’ll need for your Biloxi trip: 

  • NOAA 11006: Gulf Coast – Key West to Mississippi River
  • NOAA 11363: Chandeleur and Breton Sounds
  • NOAA 11371: Lake Borgne and Approaches to Cat Island to Point aux Herbes
  • NOAA 11372: Intracoastal Waterway Dog Keys Pass to Waveland
  • NOAA 11373: Mississippi Sound and Approaches to Dauphin Island to Cat Island
  • NOAA 11374: Intracoastal Waterway Dauphine Island to Dog Keys Pass
  • NOAA 11375: Pascagoula Harbor
  • NOAA 11376: Mobile Bay Ship Channel-Northern End
  • NOAA 11377: Mobile Bay Approaches and Lower Half
  • NOAA 11378: Intracoastal Waterway Santa Rosa Sound to Dauphin Island

4. Galveston Bay, Texas

An island city on the Gulf Coast of Texas, Galveston offers plenty of on- and offshore adventure for a winter boating trip. Nestled between two wildlife refuges, the bay provides great birdwatching. Mariners typically explore Offat’s Bayou, West Galveston Bay, Trinity Bay, and Clear Lake. On shore you can enjoy historical buildings, Moody Gardens, trails, sandy beaches, and the Historic Pleasure Pier.   

Charts you’ll need for your trip to Galveston: 

5. Corpus Christi, Texas

South of Galveston, Corpus Christi provides another great locale for winter boating. The area offers kayaking, parasailing, birdwatching, deep sea fishing, and beaches. Sail around the coasts of Mustang, Padre, and Aransas Islands or venture further south to South Padre Island. 

Charts you’ll need for your Corpus Christi trip: 

6. San Diego, California 

Sunny San Diego provides a great spot for year-round boating. The winter months have highs in the mid-60s, so dress accordingly for the sea. San Diego Bay offers wintertime fishing and wildlife watching. On shore, you can visit the world-renowned San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park.  

Charts you’ll need for your San Diego voyage: 

You can trust OceanGrafix for all your charting needs, whether winter, spring, fall, or summer! If you’re looking for something further away, check out our article on top international fall and winter boating destinations.



What Should Be in My Boat Safety Kit?

February 2, 2021

Ben Franklin’s observation that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is good advice under any circumstances, but uniquely and immensely appropriate for the open waters and your boat safety kit.

When getting ready for a voyage, there is no such thing as being overly prepared. When an emergency occurs afloat, help is not near-at-hand. Keeping your vessel in good operating order through frequent maintenance checks and regular vessel safety inspections is essential. But in addition to preventative measures, you need to outfit your boat with a safety kit.  

Here are four key tips for making and keeping your boat safety kit:

1. Start with a Chart

Carry current nautical charts for the waters you will be navigating. Because charts are routinely updated, check to be sure that your charts are the most recent by visiting OceanGrafix

2. Be Prepared for Repair

Assemble a collection of tools and parts for boat repairs that you are able to perform. Get to know your vessel and understand how it works. 

3. Grade Your First Aid

Evaluate the first aid items you need onboard, and don’t forget that you’ll need to store them in waterproof containers. Here’s a checklist of items to include: 

  • Personal health care items for all on board, such as medications and devices, as well as directions for use and emergency phone numbers, including poison control.
  • Medical history and medical consent forms or all on board
  • First aid manual
  • Over the counter medications for adults and children
    • Activated charcoal tablets
    • Analgesics (aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen)
    • Antacid
    • Antibiotic cream or ointment
    • Anti-diarrhea medication
    • Antihistamine cream for allergic reaction
    • Antihistamine tablets for allergic reaction
    • Anti-itch treatment  
    • Antiseptic cream or ointment
    • Antiseptic wipes
    • Blister treatment
    • Cough medicine
    • Eye wash
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Hydrogen peroxide
    • Insect sting treatment
    • Laxative
    • Lubricating eye drops
    • Oral rehydration salt solution
    • Petroleum jelly
    • Rash cream
    • Sterile saline
    • Sugar for hypoglycemia
    • Sunburn treatment
    • Sun screen
    • Syrup of Ipecac
    • Throat lozenges
  • Emergency equipment
    • Cell phones and solar chargers in water proof containers
    • Heat reflecting blanket
    • Waterproof flashlights and head lamps with extra batteries
    • Waterproof matches
  • Medical equipment
    • Breathing barrier with one-way valve
    • Bulb syringe
    • Cotton balls and swabs
    • Dosing cups and syringes
    • Duct tape
    • Fine point tweezers
    • Instant cold compress
    • Irrigation syringe with 18-gauge catheter
    • Non-latex gloves
    • Note pad and pencil
    • Oral thermometer (non-glass and non-mercury)
    • Medical waste disposal containers, including bin for sharps
    • Multi-tool with knife
    • Plastic bags in assorted sizes
    • Safety pins
    • Scalpel
    • Scissors in various sizes, including sharp and blunt point
    • Super glue
  • Wound dressings and injury treatment
    • Absorbent compresses
    • Adhesive bandages in assorted shapes and sizes, including butterfly bandages
    • Adhesive cloth tape
    • Elastic wrap bandages
    • Gauze pads in assorted sizes
    • Gauze rolls in assorted widths
    • Liquid bandage
    • Self-adhesive bandage wrap
    • Sterile eye dressings
    • Triangular bandages

4. Don’t Set It and Forget It

Check your safety kit regularly to be sure it is complete and up to date. Check expiration dates and replace expired supplies.  Replenish any used contents. 

Ben Franklin also advised “by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”  Take the time to prepare and maintain a comprehensive safety kit for your safe voyages and happy returns to port.


Great Lakes Day 2020

March 4, 2020

March 5th is Great Lakes Day, and the Great Lakes Commission is heading to Capitol Hill for the Great Lakes Day Congressional Breakfast. The annual event, which is open to the public, brings together Commission leaders with members of Congress for critical discussions that can help shape federal policy. Each year, the Commission establishes a clear set of priorities in its quest to “create economic opportunities, protect public health and revitalize communities across the Great Lakes Basin.”

Improving Navigation in the Great Lakes

This year, the Commission is focusing on seven priorities, one of which is to strengthen the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River navigation system. In particular, it is asking Congress and the Administration to:

  • Provide funding to ensure continued, efficient construction of a new Soo Lock, as well as critically needed maintenance and rehabilitation of the existing Poe and MacArthur locks. 
  • Fully appropriate funds from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund—including dedicated funding for the Great Lakes Navigation System—to support dredging and maintenance of Great Lakes harbors, channels, and navigation infrastructure. In addition, disperse previously collected but unspent trust funds to address the more than half-billion-dollar backlog in dredging and maintenance of navigation infrastructure in the Great Lakes maritime transportation system, including maintaining harbors and channels at their fully authorized dimensions, as appropriate to maintain commerce.
  • Reform the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to require that all revenues collected are appropriated annually for their intended purpose—maintaining our nation’s commercial navigation system.
  • Provide funding for construction of a new heavy icebreaker for the Great Lakes and maintenance of existing icebreaking vessels to ensure the U.S. Coast Guard can remove ice jams, minimize flood hazards, and maintain federal navigation channels in the Great Lakes Navigation System.
  • Provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with the resources needed to facilitate crossborder movement of cargo and passengers, including a growing cruise tourism economy in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence navigation system. Congress should direct CBP to establish flexible specifications for cargo and cruise facilities to fit the Great Lakes market, and to provide reasonable time to demonstrate market potential for specific activities.

A Wide Range of Priorities

The remaining six priorities under discussion at this year’s Congressional Breakfast are to: fully fund and reauthorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative; safeguard drinking water and modernize clean water infrastructure; protect against invasive species; promote agricultural conservation; build a resilient Great Lakes Basin environment and economy; and invest in a collaborative, data-driven approach to Basinwide decision making.

“Addressing current and future challenges including safe drinking water, invasive species, and harmful algae blooms requires close coordination across the Great Lakes Basin,” said Commission Chair Sharon Jackson. “Moving forward, the Commission looks forward to helping the Basin take real, concrete action on urgent issues of regional concern.”

In addition to the Congressional Breakfast, the Great Lakes Commission also invites the public to join its semiannual meeting May 19-21 in Wisconsin and its annual meeting September 15-17 in Pennsylvania.

 

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Get to Know Chesapeake Bay

January 24, 2020

The Chesapeake Bay stretches 200 miles in Virginia and Maryland. More than 100,000 streams, creeks, and rivers feed or thread through this watershed, an area of land that drains into a particular body of water. The entire watershed covers 64,000 square miles and includes parts of six states—Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia—and the whole of the District of Columbia. Here’s what else you should know about Chesapeake Bay.

The Newest National Marine Sanctuary

Mallows Bay, an 18-square-mile stretch in the Potomac River, which empties into the Bay, was recently designated a national marine sanctuary—the first since 2000. Home to the Ghost Fleet, this bay holds the skeletons of more than 100 World War I steamships whose husks now house eagle nests and sprout lush vegetation.

First National Water Trail

In 2006, on the 400th anniversary of John Smith’s voyage to map the Chesapeake Bay, the Captain John Smith Chesapeake Trail became the nation’s first water-based trail. Based on Captain Smith’s astonishingly accurate maps and written accounts, the trail connects 16 national wildlife refuges, 12 national parks, and three other national trails across 3,000 miles. Take a virtual tour or chart your voyage with this boater’s guide.

Winter is Primetime Birding

The Bay is a popular rest stop for nearly one million waterfowl during their annual migration along the Atlantic Flyway. All manner of ducks and geese take winter residence in the Bay in addition to finches, robins, and the great horned owl. Head to the Great Dismal Swamp to witness large migrations of blackbirds and American Robins in winter where you can take part in The Great Backyard Bird Count that occurs each February to create a real-time snapshot of the shifting bird populations.

The Bay Oyster Makes a Come Back

In the 1600s, oysters were so plentiful in Chesapeake Bay they posed navigational hazards in the Bay’s shallow waters. Watermen pulled 17 million bushels of oysters each year. Now, oyster levels in the Bay are less than one percent of their historic levels; however, Bay oysters are making a comeback with the help of restored oyster reefs and innovative aquaculture.

Explore more about Chesapeake Bay here and be sure to commemorate your Chesapeake Bay experiences with a nautical chart.

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The Second Life of a Sunken Ship

August 30, 2019

The Second Life of a Sunken Ship

UNESCO estimates there are over three million shipwrecks in the world’s oceans. So what happens to all those shipwrecks? A recent deep-sea dive, the first in 14 years, shows how the wreckage of the Titanic is now rapidly disintegrating thanks to metal-eating bacteria, salt corrosion, and shifting ocean currents. But even if the Titanic disappears, as it’s predicted to do by 2030, it’s had a much longer—and more productive—second life underwater.

Wreck or Artificial Reef?

While many associate shipwrecks like the Titanic with catastrophe or perhaps sunken treasure, the reality is that shipwrecks often serve as new habitats or artificial reefs for algae, coral, fish, and other sea life. Whether you see a shipwreck or an artificial reef is all about how you perceive things.

How Does an Artificial Reef Grow?

The first stage of an artificial reef begins with a surge of plankton, those generally microscopic organisms like bacteria and algae, floating on the ocean current. The plankton then attracts small fish like sardines and minnows who in turn attract larger fish like tuna and sharks. Creatures seeking shelter in holes and crevices like snapper, eels, and grouper come, attracting predatory fish like barracudas. Over time, the shipwreck becomes encrusted with living organisms like algae, coral, barnacles, and sponges as well as rusticles, formations of oxidized iron similar to icicles.

See A Shipwreck for Yourself

First, you’ll have to get your wreck diver’s certification, but once you do, you’ll be able to make like Jacques Cousteau and explore a shipwreck/artificial reef on your own. You can swim through rooms on all five levels of the U.S.S. Kittiwake near the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean or see the world’s largest wreck, the S.S. President Coolidge, off the island of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu in the South Pacific (complete with World War II weapons and remnants of the ship’s pre-war past as a luxury liner). For something closer to home, check out the Shipwreck Trail in the Florida Keys. You’ll explore ships as old as the San Pedro, a 1733 Spanish treasure fleet sunk by a hurricane, or the remains of the oldest active U.S. military vessel, The Duane.

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