Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 03, 2018

Previous Week   January 15, 2018 - January 21, 2018  Next Week

First manned balloon flight in Ireland on January 19, 1785

First manned balloon flight in Ireland on January 19, 1785

First manned balloon flight in Ireland: Richard Crosbie organised three manned balloon flights in Dublin in 1785, and made a final flight from Limerick in 1786.

He is rightly celebrated as Ireland’s first aeronaut.

In February 1784 Crosbie announced his intention of making a balloon flight from Dublin to London, and he spent the year developing his ‘aerial chariot’.

He stressed that he had devised a way of controlling the balloon in flight so that it would not be subject to the wind. The device that he first displayed to the public had masts, sails, a sort of propeller or moulinet and a rudder.

His actual flights were made in what he called a ‘flying barge’, which was much simpler, with ballast as the only means of control.

After two failed attempts, Crosbie finally achieved his aim of being the first person to ascend in a balloon in Ireland on 19 January 1785. Newspapers recorded crowds of at least 20,000 in Ranelagh (the Freeman’s Journal made the exaggerated claim that there ‘could not be less than 150,000 spectators’).

From early morning, hydrogen was generated by combining sulphuric acid, water and iron filings or zinc. It took hours to inflate the balloon, testing the patience of the crowd, but lift-off was finally achieved at about 2.40pm, when ‘he mounted awfully majestic, while the air resounded with the shouts, the prayers, the admiration of the delighted multitude’. Ever the exhibitionist, Crosbie was dressed in a robe of oiled silk lined with white fur, his waistcoat and breeches were made of quilted satin, and he wore Moroccan boots and a Montero cap made from leopard skin.

After ten minutes or so, Crosbie released a valve to allow him to descend safely on the North Strand, because a sea crossing would have been too dangerous. An ecstatic crowd carried him shoulder high in his gondola, with the balloon floating over it, to the home of Lord Charlemont in Rutland Square (now the Hugh Lane Gallery in Parnell Square).

History Ireland / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica

“Tales of Legendary Ghost Ships - Legend of the Tarawera, Phantom War Canoe”

The Old Salt’s Corner

“Tales of Legendary Ghost Ships”

Legend of the Tarawera, Phantom War Canoe

On 31 May 1886, so the story runs, a phantom war canoe sped silently across the waters of Lake Tarawera in the shadow of Mt. Tarawera, the “Burnt Peak” of the Maoris, its outline ghostly in the morning mists that a wintry sun could not quite dispel. Eerie and uncanny though it all was, watchers had no difficulty in discerning the craft's double row of occupants, one row paddling and the other standing wrapped in flax robes, their heads bowed and, according to Maori eyewitnesses, their hair plumed as for death with the feathers of the huia and the white heron. To the terrified Maoris these were the souls of the departed being ferried to the mountain of the dead. But everyone knew there was no war canoe on the lake, which had borne no such craft in living memory.

James Cowan, in his Fairy Folk Tales of the Maori, says the spectre was clearly seen by the matakite, “those of the wise and understanding eye”; but confirmation is lent to the story that circulated through the whares and low-roofed thatched huts of Te Wairoa throughout the rest of the day by the testimony supplied by a mixed company of European tourists early abroad on the lake on a sightseeing trip. It may well be that, but for such evidence, the story of the phantom canoe would have remained just another of the innumerable legends that comprise Maori lore.

To the Maoris in the village and on the lake the occurrence had only one meaning. It was an omen of disaster, dire and inevitable, the certainty of which was rendered the more sure by the fact that earlier on the same morning the waters of the lake rose suddenly over its whole expanse, and as unexpectedly subsided again in a matter of minutes. Not that this incident produced any immediate panic. The whole countryside was all too familiar with the perennial menace of Tamaohoi, the fierce cannibal chief of the tangata-whenua, whom Ngatoro-i-rangi, the high priest of the Arawa war canoe, 500 hundred years before, had caused to be imprisoned forever in a waro, or chasm, deep down in the bowels of the slumbering fire mountain. Always in the back of the minds of the Maoris had lurked fears of Tamaohoi's vengeance, and when Tuhoto the Ariki, a violent quarrelsome old warlock placed a curse on Te Wairoa after his tribe disowned him, there were those who were quite certain that eventually he would invoke the spirit of the mountain to vindicate him.

Myth it may all have been, but for the scoffers there is the incontrovertible fact that 11 days after the lake's upheaval and the swift passage of the phantom war canoe, on 10 June 1886, Mt. Tarawera exploded to an accompaniment of earthquake, fire, and flood, and Te Wairoa was one of three villages completely obliterated. The meaning of the spectral canoe was plain. The mountain had taken its vengeance.

So much for the story which might readily be dismissed as just another myth. But in the case of the phantom canoe, there were independent eyewitnesses, disinterested persons uninfluenced by superstition and probably wholly unaware of the particular legend relating to these occurrences.

The sighting of the phantom canoe is best described in Mrs Sise's own words: “After sailing for some time we saw in the distance a large boat, looking glorious in the mist and the sunlight. It was full of Maoris, some standing up, and it was near enough for me to see the sun glittering on the paddles. The boat was hailed but returned no answer. We thought so little of it at the time that Dr. Ralph did not even turn to look at the canoe, and until our return to Te Wairoa in the evening we never gave it another thought.”

“Then to our surprise we found the Maoris in great excitement, and heard from McCrae [a permanent resident] and other Europeans that no such boat had ever been on the lake.”

A second tourist boat on the lake that morning also reported having sighted the ghost canoe, and one of the passengers on board, Josiah Martin, actually sketched his impression of the spectacle. Unfortunately, it is not known what became of this drawing, or whether it is still in existence.

Encyclopedia of New ZealandTeWairoa Buried Village

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

“Be more concerned with your character

than with your reputation.

Your character is what you really are

while your reputation is merely

what others think you are.”

~ Dale Carnegie.

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“In every single thing you do,

you are choosing a direction.

Your life is a product of choices.”

~ Kathleen Hall

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“You have three choices:

give up,

give in,

give it all you’ve got.”

~ Anonymous

Bizarre News (we couldn’t make up stuff this good – real news story)

Bizarre News (we couldn’t make up stuff this good – real news story)

Kim Jong-un beams as he visits potato factory... while North Korea's food shortages are blamed for increase in 'ghost ships' washing up in Japan

Kim Jong-un beams as he visits potato factory... while North Korea's food shortages are blamed for increase in 'ghost ships' washing up in Japan

With his plump hands in the pockets of his double-breasted winter coat, Kim Jong Un beams as he visits a brand new potato factory in North Korea.

The carefully staged photos, shared with the world by North Korea's state news agency, give the impression the communist state is thriving and sparkling new factories produce an abundance of food.

But the reality is far different, as everyday North Koreans are ravaged by food shortages and are rationed just 300g of food a day - equivalent to a packet of Hobnob biscuits.

It is said that the severe food shortage is forcing desperate fisherman go further and further out to sea to find more food - resulting in many dying and their ships being washed up abroad.

Kim Jong-Un ordered an increase in fishing when he took power in 2013, analysts say.

North Korea last year sold part of its fishing rights in the Yellow Sea to China to get foreign currency, so their fishermen have been kicked out of the western part of their waters', Pyon Jinil, a leading North Korea watcher and writer based in Japan.

Yang Moo-Jin, professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, concurred, adding: 'Because they can't fish in their own waters, they have to go farther out.'

'North Korea's fishing boats are quite old and they don't have much fuel... so they naturally end up adrift and float into Japan', said Yang.

Daily Mail (12/06/2017) video

What is Wassailing?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: What is Wassailing?

Anglo-Saxon tradition dictated that at the beginning of each year, the lord of the manor would greet the assembled multitude with the toast waes hael, meaning “be well” or “be in good health”, to which his followers would reply drink hael, or “drink well”, and so the New Year celebrations would start with a glass or two, or perhaps even a drop more! It is likely that such celebrations were being enjoyed many years before Christianity began to spread throughout Britain from around 600 onwards.

Depending upon the area of the country where you lived, the wassail drink itself would generally consist of a warmed ale, wine or cider, blended with spices, honey and perhaps an egg or two, all served in one huge bowl and passed from one person to the next with the traditional “wassail” greeting.

The Wassailing celebrations generally take place on the Twelfth Night, 5th January, however the more traditional still insist in celebrating it on ‘Old Twelvey’, or the 17th January, the correct date; that is before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar messed things up in 1752.

There are two distinct variations of wassailing. One involves groups of merrymakers going from one house to another, wassail bowl in hand, singing traditional songs and generally spreading fun and good wishes. The other form of wassailing is generally practiced in the countryside, particularly in fruit growing regions, where it is the trees that are blessed.

The practice of house-wassailing continued in England throughout the Middle Ages, adapting as a way by which the feudal lord of the manor could demonstrate charitable seasonal goodwill to those who served him, by gifting money and food in exchange for the wassailers blessing and songs;

“Love and joy come to you,

and to you your wassail to;

and God bless you and send you

a happy New Year.”

The house-wassailing tradition has evolved into what we now recognise as carolling, where groups of people go from door-to-door singing Christmas carols. Some aspects of the original practise however can still be detected in the words of these carols; listen carefully as the wassailers demands begin, “now give us some figgy pudding”, and then as those demands turn to threats “and we won’t go until we’ve got some”.

The wassailing, or blessing of the fruit trees, involves drinking and singing to the health of the trees in the hope that they will provide a bountiful harvest in the autumn. This ancient custom is still practised across the country today, and is particularly popular in the cider-producing areas of England, such as Somerset, Devon, Herefordshire, Kent and Sussex.

The celebrations vary from region to region, but generally involve a wassail King and Queen leading the assembled group of revellers, comprising the farmers, farm workers and general villagers, in a noisy procession from one orchard to the next. In each orchard the wassailers gather round the biggest and best tree, and as a gift to the tree spirits, the Queen places a piece of wassail soaked toast into its branches, accompanied by songs such as;

“Apple tree, apple tree we all come to wassail thee,

Bear this year and next year to bloom and blow,

Hat fulls, cap fulls, three cornered sacks fills…”

The wassailers then move on to the next orchard; singing, shouting, banging pots and pans, and even firing shotguns, generally making as much noise as possible in order to both waken the sleeping tree spirits, and also to frighten off any evil demons that may be lurking in the branches.

As mentioned previously, the custom of apple tree wassailing is celebrated across the country, on either the new or old Twelfth Night. Other ancient wassailing traditions are also practiced each year in London, where the Bankside Mummers and the Holly Man will ‘bring in the green’ and waes hael the people and the River Thames. For more details of these, and other similar events, please visit our Living History Events Diary. Alternatively, check out the video below of the Twelfth Night celebrations held in London in 2013.

Historic UKIndependent UKQuaraWikipediaWhat is Wassailing? (YouTube Search) video

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang - U.S. Navy

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Rent-A-Crow: A sailor advanced to E-4 because they graduated top of their “A” school class. The Navy “rents” them for an extra year in return for promoting them. The term is also used of sailors who enlist in Advanced Electronics or Nuclear training tracks, as these also require a 6 year commitment.

Reveille: An announcement over the 1MC at 0600 local time, bugle call, trumpet call or pipes call, most often associated with the military; it is chiefly used to wake military personnel at sunrise. The name comes from “réveillé” (or “réveil”), the French word for “wake up.”

Just for MARINES - The Few. The Proud.

Just for you MARINE

Squid: Pejorative for sailor..

SRB: Service Record Book, an administrative record of an enlisted Marine's personal information, promotions, postings, deployments, punishments, and emergency data; much like an officer's OQR.

SSDD: Same Shit, Different Day, euphemism denoting frustration with an unchanging situation or boredom.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VFA-11 - “Red Rippers”
CVW-1 - Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia Beach, Virginia, U.S. - Established September 1, 1950

Where Did That Saying Come From

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Rule of Thumb”

Rule of Thumb”  Meaning: A common, ubiquitous benchmark. A means of estimation made according to a rough and ready practical rule, not based on science or exact measurement.

Origin: The 'rule of thumb' has been said to derive from the belief that English law allowed a man to beat his wife with a stick so long as it is was no thicker than his thumb. In 1782, Judge Sir Francis Buller is reported as having made this legal ruling and in the following year James Gillray published a satirical cartoon attacking Buller and caricaturing him as 'Judge Thumb'. The cartoon shows a man beating a fleeing woman and Buller carrying two bundles of sticks. The caption reads “thumbsticks - for family correction: warranted lawful!”

It seems that Buller was hard done by. He was notoriously harsh in his punishments and had a reputation for arrogance, but there's no evidence that he ever made the ruling that he is infamous for. Edward Foss, in his authoritative work The Judges of England, 1870, wrote that, despite a searching investigation, “no substantial evidence has been found that he ever expressed so ungallant an opinion”.

It's certainly the case that, although British common law once held that it was legal for a man to chastise his wife in moderation (whatever that meant), the 'rule of thumb' has never been the law in England.

Even if people mistakenly supposed the law to exist, there's no reason to believe that anyone ever called it the 'rule of thumb'. Despite the phrase being in common use since the 17th century and appearing many thousands of times in print, there are no printed records that associate it with domestic violence until the 1970s, when the notion was castigated by feminists. The responses that circulated then, which assumed the wife-beating law to be true, may have been influenced by Gillray's cartoon or were possibly a reaction to The Rolling Stones' song 'Under My Thumb', which was recorded in 1966.

The earliest such 'measurement' use that I can find referred to in print is in a journal of amusing tales with the comprehensive title of Witt's Recreations - Augmented with Ingenious Conceites for the Wittie and Merrie Medicines for the Melancholic. It was published in 1640 and contains this rhyme:

“If Hercules tall stature might be guess'd

But by his thumb, the index of the rest,

In due proportion, the best rule that I

Would chuse, to measure Venus beauty by,

Should be her leg and foot.”

The 'rule of leg' never caught on.

Phrases.org UK

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

A global north-to-south shift in wind power by end of centuryLong-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportationScientists engineer nanoscale pillars to act like memory foam, paving the way to new nanoelectromechanical devicesExperiments show Neolithic Thames beater could be used to kill a personAfter the fire, charcoal goes against the grain, with the flowBattery research could triple range of electric vehiclesHow to Build a City on the MoonHyperlens crystal capable of viewing living cells in unprecedented detail

Phys.org / MedicalXpress / TechXplore

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

11 stories from 2017 to remind us all that animals are getting smarter and committing more crimes

11 stories from 2017 to remind us all that animals are getting smarter and committing more crimes

1. Public Group Shitting: This flock of 70 turkeys in Oregon

2. Felony Reckless Evading: This bull in Brooklyn

3. Joyriding/Unlawful Pooping In A Car: This bear from Colorado

4. Arson: This tortoise named Bits

5. Loitering/Trespassing: This huge friggin' hog from Alabama

6. Illegal Tampering With Sewer: This raccoon

7. Disorderly Conduct/Indecent Exposure: This big iguana

8. Shoplifting: This bird

9. Breaking and Not Entering: This goat

10. Attempted Murder: This tiny dog with a knife named Charlie

11. Mail Tampering: This bastard crow Canuck

Mashable (12/08/2017) video

© CEASAR CHOPPY by cartoonist Marty Gavin - archives Ceasar Choppy's Navy! “© CEASAR CHOPPY” by Marty Gavin


“Tom Sawyer” - Rush 1981

“Tom Sawyer” - Rush
Album: Moving Pictures
Released 1981 video

The lyrics are loosely based on a character Mark Twain created in his first novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The book was published 1876.

In Twain's book, Tom finds his way into different sorts of adventurous mishaps. Throughout the novel, Tom matures and experiences many rites of passage. Due to cultural and social changes, some public school copies have been edited, removing certain parts that were deemed offensive.

Pye Dubois, who is the lyricist for the band Max Webster, collaborated on this song as well as “Force Tenvideo and “Between Sun And Moonvideo. This song began life as a Max Webster song titled “Louis The Warrior”.

During the first instrumental section of this song, the time signature changes to 7/8. The unusual choice in time signature is consistent with other songs by Rush, such as “Limelightvideo, “The Treesvideo, “Distant Early Warningvideo, and “Freewillvideo, among others.

Some of the movies that have used this song include The Waterboy (1998), Halloween (2007), and I Love You, Man (2009). TV shows include Freaks and Geeks (2000), The Sopranos (2007), Chuck (2008), and Fringe (2010).

Artists to cover this song include The String Cheese Incident, Deadsy and Mindless Self Indulgence.

Rush official website / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Ultimate Classic Rock / Wikipedia

Image: “Moving Pictures (album)” by Rush



Riddles: I'm not an airplane, but I fly through the sky. I'm not a river, but I'm full of water. What am I? A Cloud.

What am I?

A Cloud.

A house has 4 walls. All of the walls are facing south, and a bear is circling the house.

What color is the bear?

The house is on the north pole, so the bear is white.

Mary’s father has 5 daughters – Nana, Nene, Nini, Nono.

What is the fifth daughters name?

It's Mary.

Take away my first letter, and I still sound the same.

Take away my last letter, I still sound the same.

Even take away my letter in the middle, I will still sound the same.

I am a five letter word. What am I?


A dad and his son were riding their bikes and crashed. Two ambulances came and took them to different hospitals.

The man’s son was in the operating room and the doctor said, “I can’t operate on you. You’re my son.”

How is that possible?

The doctor is his mom!


A Test for People Who Know Everything

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “SAILING JOBS” ($200):

“When a command went out for “all hands”, it was for these “hands”, the regular seamen on board.”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Career Planner

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “SAILING JOBS” ($1,000):

“General term for any noncommissioned officer aboard ship, chief.”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer America's NAVY

Answer to Last Week's Test

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “OUR GREAT COUNTRY” ($600):

“It was in this Philadelphia building that the Constitution was drafted in 1787.”

● Answer: Independence Hall. National Park Service

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “OUR GREAT COUNTRY” ($1,000):

“This 1886 Stevenson novel concerns a lawyer, Mr. Utterson, & his connection to a reclusive physician.”

● Answer: Waikiki. The Hawaiian Islands

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

A child asked his father.

A child asked his father, “How were people born?”

So his father said, “Adam and Eve made babies, then their babies became adults and made babies, and so on.”

The child then went to his mother, asked her the same question and she told him, “We were monkeys then we evolved to become like we are now.”

The child ran back to his father and said, “You lied to me!”

His father replied, “No, your mom was talking about her side of the family.”


A woman gets on a bus with her baby.

A woman gets on a bus with her baby. The bus driver says, “That's the ugliest baby that I've ever seen. Ugh!”

The woman goes to the rear of the bus and sits down, fuming. She says to a man next to her, “The driver just insulted me!”

The man says, “You go right up there and tell him off - go ahead, I'll hold your monkey for you.”


A boy asks his father.

A boy asks his father, “Dad, are bugs good to eat?”

“That's disgusting. Don't talk about things like that over dinner”, the dad replies.

After dinner the father asks, “Now, son, what did you want to ask me?”

“Oh, nothing”, the boy says. “There was a bug in your soup, but now it’s gone.”