The Florida Maritime Chronicle

The Tampa Bay Estuary: An oral history exhibit from USF

From the Pages of Modern Mechanix | June 1933

The June , 1933 edition of Modern Mechanix offered a four page spread on how to make an open circuit dive helmet. A do-it-yourself project from the good old days when people read how to make dangerous and bizarre DIY contraptions with common items found around the house.  Today we  just record ourselves using common […]

Stu Smith: Ellies Sailing Shop

Originally published on Apr 18, 2014 Stu Smith owned and operated Elle’s Sailing Shop in north Clearwater, FL for over 35 years. He tells his story in his own words. From the “Pioneer Boat Builders of Pinellas County” by Michael Ramsey

The Word on Old John Gomez from August, 1900

I knew this article existed but never could find a legible copy. The melancholy announcement and a primary recollection of “Panther Key” John Gomez upon his death in 1900. The second page has a picture of Old John and a quote. “Pioneer, hunter, sailor,  fisherman all in one, the school is closed that made them. […]

Rube Allyn and Great Outdoors Publishing

  Great Outdoors is a business with Florida publishing roots that go back four generations. Way back in 1913, Rube Allyn Sr., eccentric newspaperman and vaudevillian, produced the short-lived Sarasota Sun newspaper. Later in his career, he published a small, bimonthly magazine called “The Florida Fisherman”. Rube Senior was not so much noted as notorious. […]

A Reference to Jose Gaspar in the Historical Record

“Corsairs of the Gulf” (New York: Harcourt, 2005. xiv, 706 pp), William C. Davis provides a reference to some correspondence between two Naval Officers which provides insight on the existence and the fate of Jose Gaspar, the infamous privateer of the early 1800’s. Would-be privateers could find virtually no home port or agreeable junta to […]

Why the ball drops at midnight on New Year’s Eve

Originally published in the Cape Cod Times from December 31, 2007 “Why the ball drops at midnight” by Jim Coogan New Year’s Eve will see thousands of people in New York City’s Times Square eagerly waiting for the ball to drop. Millions more will watch it on television. At 11:59 the ball — actually now an apple […]

Christmas at Sea

Image: “Jack’s Mess”, 1855 A poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850 – 1894 The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand; The decks were like a slide, where a seaman scarce could stand; The wind was a nor’wester, blowing squally off the sea; And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things […]

A Brief History of Diving in Florida

1600-1700’s After discovering pearl oyster beds in the Caribbean area of the Atlantic Ocean, Spanish explorers routinely enslaved native divers and make them retrieve pearls from the ocean floor. The Spaniards also forced many of their African slaves to learn to dive in the pearl fisheries.  The 1622, 1715 and 1733 Spanish fleets were lost in hurricanes […]

Florida Plunder and Loot

REMEMBERING THE SECOND GOLDEN AGE OF PIRACY IN THE FLORIDA KEYS SUBJECT:  Capt. Chuck Mitchell (1938-2006) VESSEL:  “Shaggy Cannon” VOCATION:  Treasure Hunter/Diver Chuck Mitchell (he is the one on the right) was early on the California diving scene through his acquaintances at Mel’s  (that is Mel Fisher’s) Aqua Shop in Redondo Beach.  He spent a majority […]

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