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True Stories of Ships Lost at Sea
The wreckage of several ships lost at sea have now been found and their true stories have been brilliantly re-created so that now we know the rest of the story!
Three nonfiction books have been published that tell the true accounts of four shipwrecks.
- One tells the tale of the sinking of an Arab dhow that occurred in 9th century China.
- Another tells the story of two vessels that set sail from Australia and sank in 1864.
- The third book is an eyewitness account of two Spanish galleons that sank.
All 3 books answer the question everyone asks about any ship that sinks:
- Did the vessel carry a priceless treasure and how much of the treasure was recovered?
Should make for great reading, in the late hours on a rainy night.
Fact Versus Fiction: Which makes for a better story?
In the Walt Disney film "Shipwrecked" (1990), a young boy whose sailor-father is injured and can no longer work as a seaman. The 14-year old boy must take his father's place and work to earn money for his family.
On his first voyage, the ship sinks because of a hurricane and he ends up on a jungle island. The movie stars Gabriel Byrne as Lieutenant John Merrick; and Stian Smestad as the young boy, Haakon Haakonsen. It's a high-spirited adventure with pirates and prisoners. But it ends well.
Of course!. It's a Disney family movie!
Life of Pi, written by Yann Martel, is about Pi Patel, the teenaged son of a zookeeper, who survives a shipwreck. Pi is adrift at sea for seven and a half months and his only companion is a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Pi survives to tell his story but not before he experiences an exciting fantasy adventure. Award-winning filmmaker Ang Lee has adapted the story in a new movie released in 2012.
"Shipwrecked" and "Life of Pi" are both wonderful tales about shipwrecks.
BUT! They are entirely fiction.
* * * By Contrast:
Listed below are three books about very real events that happened to ships that set sale and never returned. You might find them much more fascinating reads. Plus, books about mysterious shipwrecks are a great addition to a private library! Whether or not it's the holiday season, one of these books might be the perfect gift for the swash-buckling seafaring adventurer / treasure hunter / survivalist on your list - who will finally get to know the rest of the story!
BOOK 1: Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds
The Tang Dynasty lasted from 618 A.D. to 907 A,D, and is noted in Chinese history as a wealthy dynasty celebrated for encouraging the arts, especially poetry and ceramics, and for developing printing. Tang Dynasty was established by Emperor Gaozu - Li Yuan, who made Chang'an (Xian today) the capital. The other two emperors in this dynasty were Li Shimin, and Sui Yangdi.
The tales of Sinbad the Sailor are pure fiction based on whimsical thoughts of what could have happened to certain Arab seafarers. But authors, John Guy and Regina Krahl, tell the true stories behind a real shipwreck in the ninth century, the sailors who sailed it and its remarkable cargo.
Priceless treasure? Yes.
In 1998, over 60,000 Tang Dynasty treasures were recovered from an Arab ship that sank in the 9th century.
This Arab dhow which was buried at sea for more than a thousand years, carried treasure and quite a bit of it was recovered.
As for it's historical significance:
- (07/29/2010) Per CNN: "The discovery of the old ship and its cargo verify the presence of trade between China and areas beyond the Persian Gulf before the Portuguese arrived in Asia."
- Displaying Tang dynasty treasures from a ninth-century shipwreck | CNN Travel
A ninth century shipwreck discovered in 1998 with 60,000 Tang dynasty objects is preparing for a global tour to exhibit the historic pieces.
BOOK 2: Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World
Speaking of Ms. Druett's book, Publisher's Weekly states: "She zeroes in on the salient details of their ordeals, identifying the plants that kept the castaways from contracting scurvy or sketching out an improvised recipe for soap with equal aplomb." [Release Date: 05/17/2007.]
Author, Joan Druett, retells the accounts of the survivors of two shipwrecked vessels in strict chronological order: the Grafton and the Invercauld. Both set sail from Australia. Both were shipwrecked on opposite ends of the same sub-Antarctic island. Druett used diaries and journals from men of both crews to recreate their stories.
The answer is: "TREASURE!!! SMEASURE!!!", said one of the survivors, with his Aussie accent. "I'm stuck on an island with a crew of bloody heathen mates who turn out to be cannibals!!! Honestly! You think you know a person and then you find out their true colors when you're in a pinch! Better keep a diary as long I got me fingers to write!! AAARRRRR ... AAARRRR!!!!"
(That wasn't his exact words. It's a paraphrase.)
[I'm not Australian. In fact, I probably could not tell an Aussie accent from a Cockney accent. But if you'd like to learn to speak "everyday Australian" here's A Guide to Aussie Slang.]
BOOK 3: Shipwreck: A Saga of Sea Tragedy and Sunken Treasure
This book is an eyewitness account of 17th century Spanish priest, Diego Rivadeneira, who saw La Capitana, sink off Ecuador; and later he actually survived the sinking of the Maravillas sank in The Bahamas. Dave Horner, a diver and maritime historian, discovered the priest's diary in the Archivo General de Indias, Seville.
The answer is: 2 words - Spanish galleons!
Two immense Spanish galleons that carried substantial treasures belonging to King Philip IV of Spain. The ships carried treasure and precious human cargo as well.
The first ship sank off Ecuador and the second ship sank in the shallow waters of Little Bahama Bank. Some say that the sinking of the Maravillas sank the whole of Spain as well. But that's another story.
* One galleon, La Capitana, full name "Jesus Maria de la Limpia Concepcion" (Jesus Maria of the Clean [or Immaculate] Conception), had as its primary cargo a 400-pound, solid-gold statue of the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus. King Philip IV of Spain recovered most of his cargo.
* The cargo from the first galleon was reloaded on a second galleon, the Maravillas. The ship's full name was "Nuestra Senora de las Maravillas"; in English, "Our Lady of the Wonders". Some translate it "Our Lady of Miracles". Parts of the cargo have been retrieved but the statue of the Madonna has not yet been recovered. [As of Sep 2011]
- The South Florida Dive Journal
Re-creation of an entry from the Log of the Spanish Galleon, Maravilla, 1600.
Edward Teach Commonly Known as Black Beard the Pirate
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