Famous Shipwrecks You Might Not Have Heard Of

Whether you are a diving enthusiast, trying to figure the next wreck to explore or you are a history buff, looking for the next seaside destination with some special wrecks to visit, or have a special interest in Great Lakes art, here are some famous wrecks that might not be so widely advertised as others, but are not less exciting either:

-        The MS World Discoverer at Solomon Islands – the Danish cruise ship hit a rock in 2000. The passengers and the crew were rescued, but the ship is still in the warm, crystal waters of Roderick Bay;

-        The Queen Anne’s Revenge – the 18th century warship was the property of Blackbeard, who grounded the ship in 1718 and abandoned it after having used it only for a year. The wreck is located at the shore of North Carolina, at Atlantic Beach and it is included in the list of heritage places as well;

-        The Yongala – the wreck at the shores of Australia is considered to be among the world’s best diving sites, with frequent sightings of manta rays, sharks, colorful corals, turtles, octopuses and sea snakes;

-        The Zenobia at Cyprus – the ferry sunk in 1979 and now she is laying on her side in Lanarka. Fortunately, nobody was killed in the accident.

Why Maritime Prints Make Great Gifts

Maritime prints, whether they depict calming, crystal waters, stormy seascapes, mighty ships or wrecks, make excellent gifts for anyone, not only for boating and diving enthusiasts, for history buffs passionate about pirate ships and battle cruisers or for avid fishermen. Here are some tips for you about getting the most suitable piece:

-        Digital versions or prints on heavy paper for a few dollars – there are many great maritime art websites that offer digital copies of amazing marine artwork created by the world’s most famous artists. You can download the print in digital format or you can order your prints on special paper to be hung on a wall;

-        A calming effect on stressed nerves – seascapes have a calming effect on the nerves. It is surely better to take in the scenery from a shore covered in white powder sand, but having a large marine poster on your wall can also create the illusion of actually being there;

-        Staying focused on goals – if the person you want to offer the gift to is dreaming of owning a private yacht or of buying a small bungalow by the sea, a marine print is an excellent reminder of the goal and a beautiful piece for the wall, too.

A Story Behind A Story

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Dad was well known for the lengths he’d go to for a painting. Aircraft carrier landings, trips aboard Great Lakes freighters, drives in the middle of the night to a shipyard to scrounge for discarded props (my brothers and I thought he was out of his mind, but who can argue with the grin he wore driving all the way there?); dozens and dozens of interviews with survivors of shipwrecks, re-enacting a deck fighting scene (the USS Constitution in Boston, if memory serves), and on and on and on. There are dozens more, believe me. And though I could spend a few hours chatting with one of my siblings or mom to jog our memories, it’d be an exercise in what was, to us, hardly remarkable. Because he was always doing something like this. Always off on some adventure, excursion, expedition, or wild goose chase. And it wasn’t the frequency with which they happened that I recall the most. It was the normalcy.

Still, for all the regularity, the story I remember the best was a trip to the University of Michigan’s planetarium. I’ll have to ask my friend Pete the exact month and year (he never forgets these details from our high school days) because I don’t remember and because it blurs into all the other experiences. What I do remember, though, is the heat. The suffocating temperature inside the darkened building under the dome-shaped screen. It was onto that bowl of fabric the astronomer dad was collaborating with projected a calculated expanse of stars. And while the mercury rose every minute, dad sat on the ground holding up a canvas with one hand and with the other, painted each star. One by one.

Literally, one...by...one. 

I’ll never forget the focused thrill on his face. I’ll never forget Pete and I ready to sell our souls to get out of what was, to us, abject boredom and stifling furnace. And I’ll never get over smiling now at what I didn’t care about then: that he was painting each and every visible star holding vigil in the sky the night the Titanic met her doom and sank to the bottom of the ocean where she would descend into legend and remain hidden forever. That is, until one day over seventy years later — precisely because of his rabid pursuit of details — he’d be among a crew of scientists and engineers searching for her final resting place.

Which, incidentally, they would finally discover because dad just so happened to remember a story everyone else dismissed as inconsequential. 

The History of Nautical Artwork

Nautical artwork, also known as marine or maritime art, refers to any piece of figurative art, including drawings, pictures, paintings and sculptures, that is inspired by the sea. The pieces can feature seascapes, coastlines, vessels or sea animals.

The sea has always been a powerful source of inspiration for marine art – the calm blue of the waters, the high waves of the angry sea, ships and boats have been included into artwork since the earliest times, the earliest recorded works dating back to 12000 BCE. The theme became especially popular in the early days of marine explorations and of marine trade and in the period when the first marine powers delimited their territories, during the late Middle Ages and in the Renaissance. Ship depictions were popular during the Golden Age of Dutch painting – vessels and waves were a major source of inspiration for many painters, including Rembrandt.

Marine themes continued to be popular in Romantic art as well and many modern artists, including Maurice de Vlaminck, Paul Signac, Camille Pissarro and George Bellows also painted ships and water. Today, nautical scenes continue to inspire the creative mind and they are featured in realistic and modern paintings, in art photos and sculptures as well as in photos.

On Beginnings

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Dark wood paneling. That’s what I remember first. The staple ornament of a million homes in the early 70’s, behind a green couch of some industrial-grade fabric, next to a bulbous and gaudy lamp.

I was just a child when the curtain raised on the artistic stage of my life — a full three decades after dad’s. A canvas curtain, that is, placed there in front of me by him after months of work in his studio downstairs. And raising in front of me, I felt the stirring of a seed turning over under six young years of soil, introducing me to artistic intrigue and frustration all in the same moment.

He placed the painting on the couch and turned his attention to conversation with the grownups. They arrived with their congratulations to share in the unveiling of his first painting. Their voices faded into white noise while I silently mouthed the big red words painted on her starboard side.

“…Tashmoo.” What a weird word to my barely-reading mind.

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My eyes moved over the painting until they fell over something that wouldn’t release them: the shadows from her funnels. Or, rather, how they rested on her smoke stacks (intrigue). “…how did he do that?” (frustration).

As I remember it now, this was the first time in my life I parlayed with Creativity. It would leave its indelible mark and increase its iron grip, establishing itself as a thing forever just out of reach. I’ll never forget that moment because I feel it every single time I wrestle with an illustration, a sentence, or a design. It’s not critical — not in the negative sense anyway. It’s evasive. It’s a cat-and-mouse game to this day, and has the unmistakable energy of something that wants me to succeed.

That was the beginning of his professional career as a Great Lakes historian and maritime artist. It was my beginning too.

All that from shadows.