The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Tag: hms friday

HMS Friday: The First Time Seeing the Ocean

Do you remember the first time you saw the ocean?


On Tuesday, December 11, 1951, The Sydney Morning Herald printed a front-page picture of aboriginal boys seeing the ocean for the first time. It has become one of my favorite photographs.


Just in case you can’t read the caption that accompanies the picture, it says, With leaps of excitement these aboriginal children rush down the beach at Collaroy for their first swim in an ocean yesterday. They are some of the 90 native children from the far west of the State who are holidaying at the Salvation Army camp, Collaroy, under the care of the Aborigines Welfare Board. They had never seen a boat, train or sea before they came to Sydney.

I first saw this picture about a month ago, and I have been obsessed with it ever since. The unbridled joy. The anonymity of the boys, many of whose faces you can’t see. The idea of it: seeing the ocean for the first time.

But it’s the context that makes this photo all the more powerful. This uplifting photograph, one of the best I have ever seen, is set against a backdrop of slow, pervasive, and systematic heartbreak.

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HMS Friday: The Scuttling of Mickey Mantle’s Baseball Cards

Would you pay $275,000 for a single baseball card?


 What about $50,000 for an empty cardboard box?


It’s October, the greatest time of year for baseball fans like myself, and so I couldn’t help but to look for an ocean story that might be related to baseball.

It seemed a stretch, but as it turns out, the Holy Grail of the baseball card collecting world, the Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps card, one of which sold for $275,000 in 2011, owes all of its value to the ocean. Because almost all of the Mantle cards that Topps printed in 1952 were dumped into the Atlantic.

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HMS Friday: Remembering the Honda Point Disaster

As this week draws to a close, be sure to remember 9/11, but take a little time to remember the September disaster at Honda Point, California as well.

On September 8, 1923, seven US destroyers smashed into the rocky shore off the coast of Honda Point, California. The boats were bearing down on the coast in a dense fog at 20 knots as part of a military exercise. The seven were part of a 13-boat fleet called  Destroyer Squadron 11, and all seven that crashed were destroyed. Twenty-three men died, twenty of them on a single boat. It was at the time, and continues to be, the largest peace-time loss suffered by the US Navy in its history.

And you’ve almost certainly never heard of it.



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HMS Friday: The USS Cyane. Don’t Call It A Comeback

The American flag first flew over California on October 13, 1842. But that only lasted two weeks. flagmonterey

Commodore Thomas Catesby Jones, commander of the Pacific Squadron of the United States Navy, heard a rumor that the United States and Mexico had gone to war, and he seized the opportunity to claim California as part of the United States. Jones sailed into Monterey Bay with two ships, the USS Cyane and the USS United States. The third member of his squadron, the USS Dale had been sent to Panama with an urgent dispatch stating his intent to capture several Mexican coastal towns. The Mexicans in Monterey surrendered immediately. Jones’ force vastly outgunned them, and many of the locals were pro-America anyway. Not a single shot was fired.

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HMS Friday – A Clean Sweep

a broom on the USS Wahoo

Some time during 1942, American submarines started to tie brooms to their periscope when they came home from a mission after having sank every enemy ship they encountered. The common term for a perfect record like this is a “clean sweep,” hence the broom.

It became an extremely popular practice during the war, and a proud moment in a submarine captain’s career would be to request a broom for display upon returning to base.

The tradition is said to stem back to a Dutch captain from the 1650s, Admiral Maarten Tromp, who hung a broom from his mast after a battle with the British at Dungeness, claiming to have swept the British from the seas.

But wouldn’t you know it. Just like any good legend, it’s entirely up for debate as to whether the story of Tromp is true or not.

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HMS Friday – The Most Valuable Ballast

A quick lesson to start things off: boats are made to be buoyant, but have had to deal with the problem of stability. The shape of seacrafts tends to a very dispersed center of gravity, which makes them susceptible to capsizing due to wind, waves, or even just people moving about.

The solution that mankind has come up with is known as ballast. Ballast is basically very dense weight, centralized in the center of the hull of the boat, to provide a stable center of gravity. Ballast comes in many forms, and is most typically the ship’s cargo stashed in the bottom of the boat. In worst case scenarios, rocks or sand bags might be used.

In 1942, the USS Trout, an American submarine, took on the strangest and most valuable ballast ever recorded in naval history: 20 tons worth of golden bars, valued at almost $10 million.

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HMS Friday – Rowing the Atlantic

In 1896, Frank Samuelsen and George Harbo, two Norwegian-Americans, rowed across the Atlantic Ocean. They were the first to accomplish an open ocean crossing in a boat that wasn’t powered by a sail or an engine.

Their story is ridiculously bad-ass. They were apathetic New Jersey fishermen, and responded to a challenge published in a local newspaper by publisher tycoon Richard Fox, who offered $10,000 to anyone who could successfully row from New York City to England. Bored with their working class life, the pair consolidated their savings and bought an 18ft oak rowboat, which they named the Richard Fox, and set off on their journey.

Armed with a compass, a map, a bunch of surplus supplies, and a few extra sets of oars, Samuelsen and Harbo rowed across the Atlantic Ocean in 55 days. No GPS. No radio support. Just two men, a rowboat, and a crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.

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HMS Friday: Repulse Bay, Hong Kong

Repulse Bay is a swank area of Hong Kong. The beaches are popular during the hot summer, and the coastline is dotted with luxury apartments.

One of those apartments has a giant hole built into it.

The hole is 8 apartments tall, and 4 apartments wide. It is obviously no accident.

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