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A Look Back Into the History of Boatbuilding | Soundings Online

Just Yesterday: The icemen cometh

jy_icebreakerThis tranquil scene of an icebreaker leaving harbor belies the fact that from December until spring, ice owns the Great Lakes. In 2015, more than 80 percent of the surface water was frozen; Lake Erie was 94 percent covered in March. In 2013-14, there was ice on Lake Superior into June.

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A ‘hurricane of fire’

jy_hurricaneIt started like a biblical plague. Insects and snakes came down the trembling, smoking flanks of Martinique’s volcanic Mount Pelée in the spring of 1902, sweeping over farmers’ fields, infesting villages, attacking livestock. Deadly pit vipers wriggled in the streets of Saint-Pierre, known as the “Paris of the West Indies,” a glittering island city of 30,000 people. Soldiers were assigned to shoot the snakes on sight.

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Record-setting run

justyesterday_1216Imagine driving the runabout pictured here from New York to Florida. In 1930. That’s exactly what Frank Morley did. The adventurous college student from Mount Dora, Florida, took just over 14 days to complete the passage. And he set a speed record — yes, a speed record — in doing so.

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19th century text messaging

Just Yesterday_SteamerThe Great Eastern. There was nothing like her in the world. Launched in 1858, she was 692 feet and had a gross tonnage of 18,915 — the largest vessel of her day. Five engines generated 8,000 horses, driving her at 14 knots. Propulsion was by side paddles (56 feet in diameter), a single propeller (24 feet in diameter) and six masts — said to be named Monday through Saturday — that carried 18,150 square feet of sail.

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When Havana beckoned

just_yesterdayA U.S.-registered steamer heads out of Havana, Cuba, passing the famous El Morro castle, known formally as Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro. The massive fortress has loomed over the entrance to Havana harbor since 1589, when the Spanish built it to defend the city. Originally a chain was strung across the water from El Morro to the fort at La Punta. In later years, El Morro was used as a navigational aid; a lighthouse was added in the 19th century, as well as a school for light keepers.

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