Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Away for a While....

I will be away for a couple of months while I am going to camps and taking a family vacation. I hope to see you all in the fall with more great ship stories!!


Monday, May 17, 2010

FREEDOM SHIP (part ll)

Freedom Ship (Continued)
It was now the Fourteenth of April. The voyage aboard the Titanic had gone very well. George had lost his insecurity of being on the great ship. Now he walked along the forward well deck. Flakes of ice that sprayed up from the ocean ran along the beautiful and brightly lit first class public section of the ship. He thought of everything he would do in their new life in America.
Far below him on F-deck, Margret was washing her face and getting ready for bed along with most other third class passengers. However, in second and first class most of the men were still up in the public lounges and smoke rooms playing cards and sipping brandy.

The hands on the clock that hung in the forward Grand staircase struck 11:40pm. In the crows nest, Fredrick Fleet saw a dark object that loomed out of the icy black water towards the ship. Frantically, he rang the bell three times then phoned the bridge to report “Ice berg, dead ahead!”
First Officer Murdoch gave the command for hard to starboard and full speed astern. An estimated thirty seconds went by before the ship's bow slowly turned away from the coming calamity. But an underwater ledge hit Titanic’s steal hull with a glancing blow. George saw the berg slide past the ship and dump ice onto the well deck. The well dressed first class passengers come out onto the promenade deck to see the mountain of ice pass by.
Margret was jarred from her slumber with the sound of metal twisting and glass splintering. A chunk of the ice berg had cracked the port whole in their cabin. She leaped out of the cabin and into the white corridor. Other curious faces peeked around their cabin doors. The hissing sound of furnaces being put out could faintly be heard. George, not thinking any thing of the coming catastrophe, walked casually to the staircase that led to third class. Suddenly, there was a peculiar noise. He looked down to see green sea water inching its way up the staircase. It was then that he realized the ship was slightly leaning forward. He began to walk very briskly down the hall. He spotted Margret looking down the corridor. At first he thought she was looking at him but her eyes were wide with fright and looking slightly past him. He turned and saw water poring over the stairs and onto F-deck. Margret ran back to the cabin and, to George’s surprise, Washing her face and putting on her best dress. She turned and said
“If I am going to be on the upper decks, I don’t want to look my class.”

George ignored this remark and pulled her out of the cabin. In the corridor, crew men were unlocking gates too the upper decks and shouting orders for everyone to get up and get there lifebelts on. The floors were now really beginning to list. Margret had to grope the railing to keep from falling down the stairs. Water was now flowing through the F-deck passenger corridor. The E-deck service hallway was littered with tray tables mainly from the second class dining room. George and Margret ran aimlessly through the maze of corridors until at last they found a flight of service stairs for the first class dining room.

Margret was awed by the lush carpets and fine china. The only thing that kept her from thinking that the ship was sinking was the water that climbed a beautiful oak staircase just out side the dining room. The lights in the reception room were turning a dim blue color as water seeped through the interior and soaked the wiring. Deafening moans echoed down the first class corridor that quickly slipping under water. At last they reached the staircase. George looked above and saw that it went up five or six decks.

In the foyer of the Grand Staircase, chairs and luggage that had been left behind littered the floors. A few pieces of furniture had slid toward the staircase and now lay at its foot. Margret and George walked quickly to the starboard vestibule. They had expected to see a bunch of wealthy celebrities walking proudly around public rooms smoking cigars. Instead they found a mixture of people in pajamas and diner cloths running to the stern for safety. George could easily see why. The bow was completely submerged and water was pouring into the B-deck windows. George clutched Margret’s hand as they headed toward the stern.
Inside the ship, the water had risen from D-deck all the way to B-deck in a matter of minutes. Bedding, luggage and furniture floated aimlessly about in the B-deck landing of the Grand Staircase. In the first class smoking room, the clock above the fire place chimed 1:30.
On the boat deck, George walked Margret over to the last lifeboat. With some persuasion she finally got in. She held onto her seat as the boat creaked to the ocean surface. The water was now spilling onto the first class promenade deck.
With no place of refuge, George held onto a lifeboat crane.

In the first class lounge, water pored in through the open doors and broken windows. The chandelier in the center flickered out. The stern rose higher and higher. George watched a scene of terror unfold before him. Passengers jumped off the deck and into the freezing water. Most of them didn’t survive the fall. And the ones that did were sucked into the rapidly sinking ship. In the CafĂ© Pereisenne, china spilled out of the cabinet and the furniture piled up at one end. The first funnel fell into the ocean with a deafening roar.

Margret was tantalized as the stern reached a terrifying fifty degree angle. Suddenly, the ship went dark. George felt the deck under him begin to sag. A window suddenly shattered and then another then another. Hundreds of rivets’ began to pop out of place and fall into the see. Steel beams began to rise up out of the wooden deck. Titanic was breaking apart.

The screams got louder as the stern fell into the see. George lost his balance and slipped over the edge. Luckily he was towards the front so he didn’t fall very far. When he surfaced, the front end had pulled the stern completely vertical. Now the great ship sat motion less. Passengers lost there grip on the rails and fell to there death that was waiting almost two hundred feet below.
After a few seconds, the Titanic slid gracefully beneath the waves. George began to swim the freezing cold water. It felt like a million pins sticking him all over. A man surfaced beside him and frantically asked “Where is she!”

George looked at him and said “Where is who?”

“The Titanic!”

“She’s gone sir, gone forever.” George said as he swam toward the lifeboat that held his beloved Margaret.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Freedom Ship

The story you are about to read is a historical fiction tale. Although this tale has played out many times through the course of history, this particular tale was written to allow a glimpse into the lives of many Europeans during the Victorian period.
The night stars gave way to the warmth of the morning sun. The rains from the night before left a sweet perfume of incense in the air. A little yellow cottage sat alone in the midst of a large meadow blossoming with pink and purple wild flowers. This was the home of George and Margaret Yoder.
When the first beams of sunlight to burst through the window, Margaret was awake. Quickly she dressed and was soon standing over the pot-belly stove heating the small breakfast she had prepared.
George weakly put on his long sleeve checkered shirt. His body was bent from years of hard work trying to grow a living from his exhausted farm. The pants he struggled to pull on were made from wool. Margaret had labored hard to finish them in time for a Christmas gift. His boots however, he had worn since their wedding day. They showed many years of patches, mending, and wear. “Titanic set to sail on April 8th. The world’s wealthiest people have booked tickets for the maiden crossing of the Atlantic!”
“Look at this!” she said. “This ship is unsinkable and nearly four city blocks long!”
With little admiration of the ship George replied,
“It’s a dangerous thing to say even God can’t do something.” George had heard all the talk of the new ship and how men believed that even God couldn’t sink the huge ship.
Margaret gazed at the picture of the steal leviathan. How she longed to see the beauty which lay inside the great ship, golden fixtures with silks and satins in every room.
Upon arriving in the village, the market was buzzing with the talk of war. Margaret was quick to get her things. The Kiser was, in her mind, a man not to be trusted. She had begun to hate living in Germany. She was now dreaming of going to America. If only she and George could escape before the Kiser brought war to their homeland. >

George was calm and always slow about shopping for feed, until Margaret told him what she had over heard. He changed his mind about purchasing feed and supplies for the farm and instead kept the money in his pocket. The Yoder’s had been waiting and saving money for years to try and make it to America. Now the time had come to make that trip. Before leaving the village that day, George quickly filled out the documents he would need to leave Germany and mailed them to Berlin.
Margaret was excited and also filled with worried anxiety on the way home. Leaving Germany… it just wasn’t real to her; could it be possible that she and George would finally be packing for the trip to American after all these years? The next day George sold everything the couple had except for a few meager personal belongings. The farm, the house, all of the livestock and the small amount of furniture they had acquired over time was now a small roll of bills tucked neatly into George’s pocket.
The traveling day finally arrived. The clothes were packed into a large leather bound suitcase. Two precious items Margaret packed for the journey was a leather Bible and inside the Bible a tattered newspaper picture of an American flag. Her father had given her the Bible many years ago at their wedding and it had been the books which the couple had lived be all that time. The picture of the American flag was a dream which she carried in her heart.
By now, George had the wagon hooked up and the horses fed before loading the few items. The money was still securely in his pocket and he was filled with a nervous excitement. It was a grueling trip to France and here George sold the horses and wagon for a few francs. This money would pay for the ferry across the English Channel and the rest of their trip to Southampton.
It seemed like a dream when they finally arrived and saw all of the ships sitting in the harbor. One of them would be their passport to freedom. George purchased tickets on a ship called the New York which was leaving in two days. However on the day that they were supposed to leave, they were met by an officer at the boarding dock who told them that the coal strike had caused a shortage and only the Titanic could sail that day. All of the passengers from the New York were already being transported to the Titanic. Margaret was astonished. She was going to travel on that beautiful ship after all! The marvelous ship would take her to the land of freedom.
At this news about the New York, George however, was met with an eerie feeling about the great ship. But the two didn’t have any choice. It was, take it, or leave it. And leaving it meant leaving the dream of a free land full of promise and hope. They must take it and sail on the Titanic.
As the two climbed the long ramp inside the third class corridors the music from the extravagant first class public rooms could faintly be heard floating down as they boarded the ship. On the stern deck, third class passengers waved farewell to England as it shrank into the horizon of that great ocean.

To learn more of what’s happens to the Yoder’s and the rest of the third class passengers aboard the Titanic come back next week to read the continued page.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


August 4, 1991, four hundred vacationing people gathered on the decks on the Greek cruise liner, Oceanos to celebrate the start of their dream vacation. Little did they realize in just twelve hours, their dream vacation would turn in to a nightmare.

August 4, 1991, the Oceanos was struck by a tropical storm. However, the wind and waves were not the problem. In one of the forward water tight compartments a pipe burst allowing water to spray violently through the floor.

The captain knew of this. However, he did not warn the passengers. He and some of his crew abandoned the four hundred people who trusted him for their safety. They were left alone on the doomed ship. Just before a life boat was lowered, Julian Butler, and entertainer, arrived on deck. Angrily, he asked why no passengers were being put on the life boats. The captain turned and said, "Bring Ten!"

As the ship's bow nosed dangerously to the port side, guitarist, Moss Hills, rushed below deck to see how quickly the water was rising. He found water gushing through the main passenger areas.

Back on deck he gave the news to Julian. Quickly they began to fill the boats. However neither of them knew the precautions to take. And after lowering only a few boats the ship lurched over too far to lower anymore boats.

Quickly, Moss rushed to the bridge. He made contact with the coast guard giving their position and the time he thought they had left. A few hours later the helicopters arrived. Moss and Julian sent the passengers up as fast as they could to the safety of the waiting helicopters.

After everyone was rescued, it was time for Moss and Julian to go as well. Just as the others had been airlifted, Moss & Julian tied the ropes around themselves and were lifted to safety.

With everyone safe all eyes were on the Oceanos. Her huge hull lifted up out of the water until it was completely vertical. Everything movable inside the ship crashed towards the bow. Then with a final death moan. The Oceanos disappeared beneath the South African waves.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What's Your Favorite Maritime Story?

Here is your chance to tell everyone what your favorite maritime story is. Take your time write use as many words as you like and add your story on the comment page. Share your favorite adventure with us. My grandfather was at Omaha Beach during the Normandy invasion. He is my hero!

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Casualty of War

The Britannic was the Titanic's younger sister ship. She took her older sisters place as the biggest, the safest, and the most luxurious ship flying the British flag. Only the outbreak of World War 1 had prevented her from joining White Star Line's fleet of luxury liners. Her fancy fittings were put into storage, the promenade deck was crowded with hospital beds and the first class dinning room was made the intensive care ward.

Nurse Sheila Macbeth stayed in an unfinished first class cabin. This next voyage was to be her sixteenth. Hospital ship or passenger liner her wanderings must have been fascinating this being Titanic's younger sister.With every bed full, the Britannic could carry 3,309 patients. Only the Aquatania could carry more, almost 4,200 more. The Britannic would remain empty until she reached the Mediterranean theaters. The nurses and doctors had nothing to do but make sure the hospital was ready for its patients. Nurse Macbeth spent the first part of the voyage making beds but still found time for a morning gymnastics class and an afternoon swim in the first class pool. On the Britannic’s previous voyage she returned with every bed full and it took fifteen hospital trains to transport the casualties from Southampton.

In theory, the Britannic was safe from attack under the Geneva Convention. But the Germans suspected hospital ships of secretly transporting troops, a charge that would be laid against the Britannic after she sank.

Tuesday morning dawned as perfect a day as November in the Mediterranean could offer. Reverend Fleming rose early to admire the sunrise. The water was as glass and the sun shone on it with a dazzling brilliance. At around 8:00 a.m., the Army Medical Corps had finished breakfast in their mess hall. But the nurses, doctors, and officers were still eating in the dinning room which was meant for the third class passengers. On the bridge, a watch change was under way. Most of the water tight doors were left open to allow the crew to transfer.

Nurse Macbeth had slept in late. As she seated her self for breakfast, there was a loud bang and the ship shuttered from one end to the other! The Britannic had just struck a German mine.

The seriousness’ of the situation was not clear to the people in the middle or stern of the ship, but for those in the bow it was obvious the ship was in deep trouble. The water gushed from G deck to E deck in a matter of minutes. Already the forward part of the ship was in ruins. Captain Bartlett nosed the ships bow to the island of Kea. As the ships engines started the, the Britannic began to sink even faster. Quickly he ordered an all stop. In the dinning room everyone was ordered to remain in their seats. According to nurse Sheila "there was only a most unnatural silence."

Once the alarm was sounded they were aloud to leave, but the evacuation was quiet and orderly. Sheila headed strait for her cabin. Quickly she grabbed a coat, pillow, and lifebelt. Before she left she took one last glance at her homely cabin. As she headed down the hall, the chatter of other nurses and doctors was the only thing the that kept her from noticing how bad the ship was leaning. In the time Sheila took to get up to the Boat deck, the Britannic's condition grew from serious to grave. The mine had blown up the bulk head, sealing off the forepeak and wrecked the water tight doors in the fireman’s passage that led aft to boiler room No. 6, the maximum amount before a ship sinks. ( The Germans were evil in both World Wars. They were like the Devil a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. If every German were like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the world would never have gone to war).
Since boiler room No. 5 was well aft of the explosion, the water tight doors should have worked properly, but they failed to close. Soon boiler room No. 6 was flooded and inoperable. On the Boat deck two life boats were lowered without permission. They were caught in the propellers that were just breaking surface. Seventy people were either killed or wounded.
The Britannic was now severely listing, her bow was almost under water. The nurses and army medical corps were assembled on the Promenade deck, quietly waiting their turn. Major Priestly took charge of the orderlies. He kept his troops in line only allowing five men out on deck at a time.
A group of firemen took over a lifeboat on the poop deck and rowed it away half empty. they were persuaded to pick up swimmers after the ship went down. A lot of boats were launched without seamen on board. In Sheila's boat most of the nurses took the oars. However, the ship was soon empty. Her bow completely under water, her starboard list increasing, and her propellers slowly turning in thin air. Captain Barlett stayed on the bridge to the last, directing the evacuation with a megaphone. He sounded the abandon ship alert, and one long blow on the ships whistle, then stepped off the starboard bridge wing into the water. As he pulled himself into a collapsible boat, he turned to watch his command disappear.

Slowly the water drowned the deck. Each of her four funnels crashed into the water. The boilers let out death defying explosions. Then, like a giant leviathan, the Britannic reared up until she was somewhat vertical, then disappeared beneath the Mediterranean waves at a 395 ft depth.
The time was 9:07 am. roughly 55 minutes after the single deadly explosion had interrupted a routine morning. In less than an hour, the largest British built ship afloat had vanished, leaving behind 35 lifeboats on an empty sea

Thursday, March 12, 2009