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Mystic Seafarer's Trail is available in the following Connecticut and Rhode Island shops and: Online as e-book or paperback: ( Amazon ...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Captain Sisson: Is he reaching beyond the grave to tell where he hid his gold?

I first became intrigued by Mystic’s dead while researching the “back stories” for my article, "The 7 Wonders of Mystic.” Deciding that the Memorial Arch of Elm Grove Cemetery was a “Wonder,” I drove past the markers of the 13,000 souls buried there, many on the “Who’s Who” list of 19th century ship builders and sea captains, and looked for one to highlight. I became intrigued by a tall obelisk along the Mystic River depicting the steamship, City of Waco. The grave marker tells how Captain Thomas E. Wolfe died piloting her when it caught fire off the port of Galveston in 1875. Articles in the New York Times gave an account of Wolfe’s command of a vessel during the Civil War that transported supplies from New York to New Orleans until his capture by the Confederate navy. His boat burned, he was taken prisoner, but made a daring escape with some companions over a year later. After the war, he became a pilot for the State of Texas until his steamship exploded in flames and sank, killing all on board. His body was recovered and shipped back to Mystic.


With “The 7 Wonders” article finished, and a vote for the 8th Wonder conducted, I was curious to learn about other potential “wonders” suggested by the public. I began by purchasing a copy of the Mystic River Historical Society’s walking tour booklet, Curbstones, Clapboards and Cupolas. Reading about the historic homes and former residents of West Mystic Avenue, which now extends to Allyn St. where I live, I was intrigued when I read, "Contractor Allyn built #12 for his brother-in-law (who could not make payments). Captain Charles Sisson bought the house in 1858 after an unsuccessful search for gold in California.” Could that Sisson be a long-ago relative of mine? And, did he really fail to find gold given that this house was one of the largest on the block?

I contacted David Sisson, my cousin who has done extensive research on the Sisson line. Yes, Captain Charles Sisson was my cousin--and he had lived only 10 houses down from me. (Captain Charles Sisson and I are fourth cousins five times removed, both descending from Thomas and Jane Sisson of Rhode Island--see end for next Sisson conference in R.I.)*


Not only were we cousins, which was enough to thrill me, but after his wife Ann died at sea in 1876, he married the widow of Captain Thomas E. Wolfe—the Civil War hero in my "Wonders” article! It turns out that Charles and Captain Wolfe were boyhood friends who searched for the California gold together—and married sisters! I couldn’t wait to visit the graves of Captain Charles Sisson and his first wife Ann at nearby Lower Mystic Cemetery, because I wouldn’t just be visiting interesting people, I’d be visiting family.


Their grave markers were not difficult to find in this small cemetery on Route 1. Charles’s tall stone, engraved with a sailing ship, declares that his "voyage is ended.” Ann’s marker is similar, but states she died on the ship, Jeremiah Johnson, and gave coordinates in the Atlantic Ocean. When I saw a small grave marker nearby, I felt this must be the reason my research led here. On it was the name of their 10-month-old daughter. Engraved with “Our Little Ida,” I felt I was finally given a place to grieve for my own daughter, whose marker is engraved, “Our Little Girl.” We had to leave her grave behind in New York when we moved to Mystic in the summer of 2010.


Taking my husband Jim there the following weekend, I thought I was going to show him where I had some dead relatives. Standing in front of their markers, we saw another couple walking around looking at stones. “Excuse me,” the man yelled over to us, “Would you happen to know if there are any Sissons buried here?”


Stunned, I yelled back, “Yes, there are—and we're standing in front of them! I’m related to them!”


The man replied, “My name is Matthew Sisson.” A captain in the Coast Guard, Matthew and I were related too as distant cousins. He just happened to stop at this little cemetery on the off-chance he would find some Sissons there.


I went to Matthew’s Change of Command Ceremony at Fort Trumbull State Park in New London a few months later—and met a lot more cousins!


End Note:
I have since done a lot more digging to find out if Captain Charles Sisson was still working from beyond the grave to reveal Mystic's secrets to me--such as that he buried his gold somewhere in Mystic (maybe even on my property since my property was so close to his). I researched  his gold-seeking friend Captain Wolfe looked for clues as to why Sisson's first wife, Ann, died at sea at the age of 45. I looked further into the circumstances of Captain Wolfe's death in the steamship explosion because the inquest included some disturbing eye-witness accounts.

If you would like to know what I uncovered through reading Captain Sisson's logs and eye-witness accounts of Captain Wolfe's daring escape from a Confederate prison during the Civil War, read my book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail, which is available online and Mystic area shops.

Captain Charles Sisson’s home on 12 West Mystic Ave, Mystic, which looks very much the same today, can be seen at: http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~dasisson/richard/images/7dda06.jpg

*If you are interested in Sisson genealogy and the lives of the Sissons in this country, I will be speaking about Captain Charles Sisson and what his logs revealed at the following conference:

June 19-21, 2014! (Registration deadline is May 31)
SISSON GATHERING
The 11th Biennial Sisson Gathering of those researching the Sisson surname will be held at the Hampton Inn, T.F. Green Airport, Providence, June 19-21, 2014.  Featured will be displays of Sisson-related artifacts, short trips to Sisson-related sites in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts, presentations on results of recent Sisson-related research, and more. To get more information and a registration form, contact David Martin at davidchina_2000@yahoo.com or call 508-527-0460. Registration deadline is May 31. If you only want to go for Saturday, June 21, the cost is $75 for the day, including two meals. The cost of overnight at Hampton Inn is $99 special rate for the Gathering, per room, if people register by mid-May.

Seal Watching in March! See film & read excerpt

Winter is the time for seal watching if you come to the Mystic area. Book your trip with Project Oceanolgy. A reporter filmed our excursion, which you can click on within the following excerpt from my book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail, which includes where you can warm up afterwards:


Unlike sea lions, seals are shaped like blobs and don’t do fancy tricks. The big excitement for me, much bigger than watching lazy seals take up rock space, was the reporter who came along with her video camera. While the other passengers were busy making the most of the voyage, either by recording the number of seals we saw along with the location, time and temperature; giggling with their binoculars on an all-girl birthday party; or simply sitting around fighting sea sickness; I kept busy trying to catch the reporter’s eye so she’d feature me in her news clip. I figured you never know—some director might see it and say, “Hey, watch that middle-aged woman study those lazy seals—she’d make a great leading lady in our next epic seagoing movie for baby boomers!”

Despite my attention-getting efforts, the reporter filmed all around me to catch the do-nothing seals and the giggling birthday party girls. But Jim made it into the published news clip—I caught a glimpse of him with his binoculars standing behind the party of girls.[i] (Note to self: next time I’m in public, carry a prop such as binoculars, wear a weird, eye-catching hat, or station myself next to kids.)

Returning back to Mystic after our seal watch, we dried off in front of the large, stone fireplace in the lower level pub area of the Captain Daniel Packer Inne—the very place the National Geographic website said we would feel like a character in Moby Dick. The Inne was built more than 250 years ago in 1758 by Captain Daniel Packer who operated a ferry across Mystic River. Packer liked to entertain his guests, mostly travelers between New York and Boston, with tales of his high sea adventures.[ii]

Although there were some similarities in the maritime d├ęcor of the Captain Daniel Packer Inne and the Spouter-Inn of Moby Dick (minus the clubs and spears “tufted with knots of human hair”), the Packer Inne was much more comfortable. The Spouter-Inn, for example, didn’t have their fire going when sailor Ishmael entered. Herman Melville wrote: “It was cold as Iceland—no fire at all—the landlord said he couldn't afford it...We were fain to button up our monkey jackets, and hold to our lips cups of scalding tea with our half frozen fingers.”

Unlike Ishmael, we didn’t meet any shrunken head dealers or whalers with beards “stiff with icicles,” but we did enjoy squeezing next to a female prison guard at a tiny table beside the fireplace.  Without a ship to sail, she didn’t try to persuade us to serve as crew on some grueling voyage, but she did regale us with fun prison escape stories—like the time a woman dressed in an orange prison outfit asked a convenience store owner for change to make a phone call—which ultimately led to her recapture.

THE ABOVE WAS AN EXCERPT FROM MY BOOK, Mystic Seafarer's Trail.



[i] (King, Project Oceanology Seal Cruise (with Video), 2011)
[ii] (CLASSIC CUISINE, HISTORIC GOOD TIME )

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sat, Feb 22, 3-6pm, Brewery Open House & Mystic Seafarer's Trail

There is an open house & party (for those over 21) at the Cottrell Brewery today, Sat, Feb 22, 3-6pm. I wrote about the owner and his discovery of Perry's Revenge--a shipwreck off Watch Hill, so I will be autographing copies of my book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail, at the event.

For more info about the event, which includes the address, visit: http://www.cottrellbrewing.com/new/contact/#!events/c66t

Cottrell Brewing Co.

 
100 Mechanic St Ste 22, Pawcatuck · (860) 599-8213
 

Monday, February 17, 2014

History of Mystic, Connecticut--Clipper Ship Days

Photo caption:  The final resting place of Captain Charles Sisson in Lower Mystic Cemetery, Conn. His quest for gold during the California Gold Rush ended tragically, and later, his wife died at sea. His headstone is etched with a ship
and states, his "VOYAGE IS ENDED.”

National Geographic named Mystic, Conn., one of the top "100 Adventure Towns."
Straddling both sides of the Mystic River in the towns of Groton and Stonington, the village of Mystic takes its name from an Indian word, “river running to the sea.” With its scenic views of tall ships, islands, lighthouses, and secluded
coves, it has attracted such legendary honeymooners as Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It is a place where those who cross the oceans gather to swap stories and repair their boats. It is where famous explorers are born, visit,
get married, or sadly, embark from on their way to becoming lost at sea.

Those who have come to the Mystic area include Amelia Earhart, who got married
in nearby Noank;  Dr. Robert Ballard, the discoverer of Titanic ’s watery grave,
who keeps an office in Mystic; Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, the first aviator
to fly over the South Pole; and Captain Nathaniel B. Palmer, who accidentally
discovered Antarctica.

After the American Revolution, ship building grew as a major industry along
Mystic River because there was plenty of wood, the river is deep enough, its
banks slope gently to the water, and the area is protected from the worst of
Atlantic Ocean storms by Fishers Island. According to a plaque in Mystic
Seaport’s Mystic River Scale Model exhibit, which represents one mile along the
River from the 1850s through the 1870s, Mystic “produced a greater tonnage of
ships and steamers than any place its size in America.”

One of Mystic’s famous ships was the sloop Hero  built in 1800 as a coastal
trader. After a busy career during the War of 1812, the 47.5 foot Hero was
re-outfitted as a sealer (a ship used for hunting seals). On November 17, 1820,
when the Hero  pressed further south in search of new seal breeding grounds, her
commander, Captain Nathaniel B. Palmer, discovered Antarctica. The Nathanial B.
Palmer House is now a museum in nearby Stonington.

When the California Gold Rush became headline news, attracting the likes of
Mystic's Captain Charles Sisson (whose journey there ended in disaster), Mystic
shipbuilders worked to meet the demand for clipper ships. Clippers, with their
hulls designed to slice through water and abundance of sails, “clipped” more
than a month off the time it took to get from the northeast to California. The
13,000-mile trip from New York to San Francisco, by way of Cape Horn off South
America, normally took more than four months. On a clipper, the trip could be
made in as little as three months. (Those Gold Fever folks didn’t have the
Panama Canal to speed their trip—it wasn’t completed until 1914.)

Mystic became noted for their “half clippers” or “medium clippers,” which
incorporated a hull design by an orphan from Stonington (Mason C. Hill) that
allowed for greater storage space while still meeting the need for speed . One
of the most celebrated and profitable Mystic-built clippers was the David
Crockett , named after America's famous pioneer. Built in 1853, it was
immortalized in a sailor song describing life on board as a “floating Hell.”
Called the “Leaving of Liverpool,” the song portrays a sailor’s dread of leaving
his lady and the notoriously tough working conditions under Captain John
Burgess. Captain Burgess’ reign of terror finally ended on his 1874 trip from
San Francisco to Liverpool, England, to deliver a cargo of wheat. His departure
was delayed five days because of a mutiny, and once at sea, he was washed
overboard and drowned in a gale off South America.

Rounding South America, particularly the island of Cape Horn, was the dread of
every sailor—and still is. The waterway between South America and the ice off
Antarctica is one of the most hazardous in the world to navigate. Known as the
“sailors’ graveyard,” the waters are fraught with strong winds and currents,
large waves, and icebergs.

The David Crockett  herself never succumbed to Cape Horn and was consistently
fast, making the trip between San Francisco and New York in as little as 93 days
in 1860 (the captain of her on that trip, Peter E. Rowland, lived next door to
Captain Sisson at #10 West Mystic Ave.). The David Crockett made a lot of money
in its 46-year career, netting more than a half-million dollars in the first
half of it. The shipyard where the David Crockett was built is now the site of
Mystic Seaport, and the spot where her keel was laid is marked by a large rock
and plaque. Mystic Seaport’s historic diorama features her near-completed
construction on land and highlights how enormous she was compared to the other
ships being built at that time—including Captain Charles Sisson's ship, the
Elizabeth F. Willets , shown in its early stages.

There are many Mystic-built ships that have simply disappeared without a trace.
Mystic cemeteries are full of markers engraved with anchors and “Lost at Sea.”
One in the Lower Mystic Cemetery, for example, was the stone placed as a
memorial to Captain Charles H. Gates and his 18-year-old son. It stated that
father and son were last seen on the Cremorne  leaving San Francisco on June 1,
1870, bound for Liverpool, England, and that they “were never heard from.” In
addition to them, 22 other crew members were lost at sea.

Before Captain Charles H. Gates went missing, he had lived at 48 New London Road
(U.S. Route 1) in Mystic. His wife, Jane E. (Latham) Gates, sold their home 12
years after his disappearance. Never remarrying, she was finally reunited with
her husband and son upon her death 53 long years later.

Although Cape Horn is the final resting place for many captains, there was a
Mystic captain who lived on 77 High Street, Mystic, who defied the odds.
According to Bill Peterson, Mystic historian, “Joseph Warren Holmes has the
distinction of rounding Cape Horn safely 84 times as a sailing ship master. This
is a record that still stands.”

Mystic’s shipbuilding industry grew to an all-time high during the Civil War
with the construction of 57 steamships—the largest output in New England apart
from Boston. Purchased or chartered by the government, the ships were used as
gunboats and troop transports. After the Southern states rejoined the Union,
Mystic shipbuilding eventually gave way to the production of wool, velvet, and
tar soap. Those industries have since given way to tourism, award-winning
restaurants, trendy shops and museums.

The above was an excerpt from the book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail  by Lisa Saunders (used with permission).Mystic Seafarer's Trail  is available online (Amazon and Barnes & Noble), in Mystic information centers, and at Monte  Cristo Bookshop in New London  and  Bank Square Books in Mystic. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Attractions in Walking Distance to Downtown Mystic


Mystic, Connecticut, was named top "100 Adventure Towns" by National Geographic. You can embark on your own adventure in this historic seacoast community by following the Mystic Seafarer's Trail map. Along the way, you will discover the “7 Wonders of Mystic” plus places to grab a bite, bike, boat ride or kayak. Sites you will trek past include:

·         Mystic Pizza, the restaurant that inspired the movie starring Julia Roberts

·         Mystic drawbridge

·         Railroad Swing Bridge

·         Captain's Row

·         Haunted old Inn

·         Mystic Seaport

·         Mystic Aquarium

·         Olde Mistick Village



 

Many of these attractions are located within walking distance of Amtrak and Peter Pan bus stops, which are also featured on the map. (The map is taken from the travel memoir, Mystic Seafarer's Trail, by Lisa Saunders.) To download your free map, click here.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

More to Mystic than pizza: Hit the Mystic Seafarer’s Trail!


When most people think of the quaint seacoast village of Mystic, Connecticut, they think of the movie, “Mystic Pizza.” Yet when they visit this maritime community, they find a lot more than pizza! National Geographic named Mystic one of the top 100 adventure towns in the United States.

Preparing to embark on an adventure in Mystic Country? If you are looking for ideas, follow the path featured in the adventure guide, Mystic Seafarer's   Trail, by local author Lisa Saunders.  You’ll uncover little-known facts behind the “7 Wonders of Mystic,” Amelia Earhart’s secret wedding in nearby Noank and several tragic shipwrecks off Watch Hill, R.I.

You’ll learn hidden stories behind Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium, which houses the “Titanic – 12,450 Feet Below” exhibit. You’ll read eye-witness accounts from residents about what it was like when Julia Roberts came to town to star in “Mystic Pizza” and how they prepared for Meryl Streep's recent visit for filming in “Hope Springs.” You’ll also learn how you, too, can be cast as an extra in the next movie.

Other locals you’ll meet include the old fisherman whose cousin is listed among those lost at sea on the Stonington Fishermen’s Memorial and Ernie the Ledge Light Ghost.

The book also includes information about Mystic’s free bike sharing program, how to kayak under the drawbridge to pick up an ice cream order, and where to paddle to the partially submerged schooner Marmion. Valuable tips include what NOT to wear for seal watching in the winter, where to thaw out afterwards, and how to picnic “Mystic Style” for excursions on historic vessels in warmer months.


Mystic Seafarer's Trail  is available online and through these local shops. On Amazon, you can read the first several pages by clicking on the LOOK INSIDE feature.  

Note from the author, Lisa Saunders (seen with her beagle/basset hound):



Visitors often stop me to ask what they should see and do. Their questions inspired me to write my adventure travel guide, Mystic Seafarer's Trail. It begins with the first question I received shortly after stepping out of our new home with my beagle/basset hound for a stroll to downtown Mystic.


A woman pulled over in her van and yelled, "Excuse me." Assuming she wanted directions to Mystic Pizza or some other attraction, I wasn't prepared for what she really wanted to know: "Do you realize the back of your skirt is tucked into your underwear?"


What a debut in my new hometown! I don’t think this is what National Geographic meant when they named Mystic one of the top 100 adventure towns in the U.S. Once recovered from my wardrobe malfunction, my hound and I continued with our daily walks to learn the backstreets and meet the locals—living and dead.

In addition to attracting such legendary honeymooners as Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Mystic Country is where Amelia Earhart got married, where the discoverer of Titanic’s watery grave keeps his home office, and where the sea captain who accidentally discovered Antarctica lived.

My first goal was to compile a list of “The 7 Wonders of Mystic”—something quick I could shout to tourists holding up traffic with their questions.  In the meantime, I searched for my own adventure. Then it happened: when walking across the Mystic drawbridge along the Mystic Seafarer's Trail (which I designed for those who don't like to go uphill), I met a blind sailor who invited me on a long winter voyage. Could I, a landlubber, defy squalls, scurvy, and my fear of scraping barnacles to survive this epic journey?
 
 

To keep abreast of ongoing Mystic adventures, click on my Mystic Seafarer's Trail Newsletter and subscribe to it.

 

The seaside chapel at Enders Island. Photo by Lisa Saunders

The plaque in Noank about Amelia Earhart's wedding. Photo by Lisa Saunders
 
The photo of Bailey and I was taken on Enders Island in Mystic. Photo by Maureen Hicks.

Captain Bill Palmer: Indiana Jones of the Sea

Watch Lisa Saunders interview Captain Bill Palmer, shipwreck explorer and author in his home. See artifacts and read more below.
Captain Bill Palmer with his mannequin he calls Eva. She is wearing a foul weather leather jacket from German U-boat 853 sunk off Block Island, R.I.. She is steering the emergency steering station, also from the U-853. The German helmet was a gift given to Palmer. Lisa Saunders interviews Captain Bill Palmer, shipwreck explorer and author.
 

Captain Bill Palmer of Wallingford, Conn., seen with some of the artifacts he's collected during shipwreck exploration. The dishes on top of the cabinet are from the Metis and Onondaga. The dishes on the inside top shelf are from the German U-853. On the shelf below that, are dishes from various wrecks including the Larchmont and Andrea Doria sunk in July of 1956. On the right is the bronze torpedo tube from the L-8 submarine sunk off Newport, R.I., in 1926. Photo by Lisa Saunders.

Captain Bill Palmer: Indiana Jones of the Sea
by Lisa Saunders

 

Shipwreck explorer Captain Bill Palmer of Wallingford, Conn., not only offers sport fishing and shark cage diving from his charter vessel, but he’ll take you down to the tangled wrecks off Watch Hill and Block Island, R.I.

An Army paratrooper during the time of the Vietnam War, Palmer is now one of New England's leading authorities on underwater wrecks and has videotaped dozens of submarines, U-boats, and sunken vessels lost in East Coast waters. His expertise (and dramatic eccentricity) is highlighted in the best-selling book Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson because it was his advice the divers sought to identify a particular submarine. (Palmer told them to look in the electric motor room for a box of spare parts normally carried to make repairs. Those boxes have identifying tags on them specific to that particular boat.)

 
As owner operator of the charter vessel Thunderfish out of R.I. and Mystic, Conn., Captain Palmer has been diving since the late 1960s and knows the exact location of wrecks, including those where there was a large loss of life, such as the Metis and the Larchmont.*

 
Palmer mentioned that in addition to the artifacts he’s found on shipwrecks, he has also discovered the skeletal remains of German sailors on the WWII submarine sunk seven miles off Block Island moments before the end of World War II in Europe. Highlighted in his new book, The Last Battle of the Atlantic, The Sinking of the U-853, which is packed with underwater images, he hopes the German remains will one day be returned to their families. 

 

Captain Palmer introduces his book, The Last Battle of the Atlantic, on his website: Out in the cold Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Rhode Island, lies the remains of what was once a feared and mighty hunter. …It's what men feared the most when they went to sea aboard their vessel back in the World War II years. It's a German Submarine called a U-Boat. The U-853 was the last German submarine sunk in World War II. She was sunk with all hands just minutes before World War II ended. The once mighty hunter feared by all who put to sea, now lies in 130 feet of water off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island, her grave marked only by a circle on the nautical charts, DANGER Unexploded Depth Charges, May 1945.” His book is available in area shops.

If you’re not a diver, you can still negotiate around a wreck’s numerous hazards and squeeze through a submarine’s deck hatches with Captain Palmer through his diving documentaries made by his production company, Thunderfish Video.

A noted story teller, Palmer enjoys giving the history of the people behind the maritime disasters and is a regular lecturer at venues such as the Beneath the Sea conference in N.J. Palmer also shares his advice willingly to would-be shipwreck discoverers looking for clues on where to find wrecks. For example, one place to start is to ask fishermen where their nets have been snagged or lost.

When asked what is scarier, sky or shipwreck diving, he said, "Shipwreck diving is more dangerous. You don't often encounter a shark in the air. In North Carolina, it's not unusual to have one meet you on your way to the shipwreck or glide by  you. One time, I got lost inside of the coal freighter Black Point (the one that the U-boat sunk) one time, which was very unnerving. It wasn't a typical entry--you had to drop in the sand and then swim underneath and rise up through a hole. The guy who followed me in stirred up the silt and when I turned to leave I couldn't see anything--I had to feel my way out." Palmer also discussed what divers call "Martini's Law," meaning that every 50 feet down, it's as if you have consumed another martini because the nitrogen in the air you are breathing acts like a narcotic. (Now, when diving deep, divers use mixed gas where the nitrogen is replaced by helium).




February 1, 2014, Marks 107 Years Since Sinking of the Larchmont,

Rhode Island’s Greatest Marine Disaster



Shipwreck explorer says steamer’s paddlewheel still stands

 
Mystic, Conn.--Captain Bill Palmer, one of New England's leading authorities on underwater shipwrecks, remembers the anniversary of the sinking of the Larchmont, Rhode Island’s greatest marine disaster, on February 11, 1907.
 
Owner operator of the charter vessel Thunderfish out of R.I. and Mystic, Conn., Captain Palmer of Wallingford, Conn., has been diving since the late 1960s and knows the exact location of many wrecks, including the Metis and the Larchmont off Watch Hill, R.I.
 
According to the book, “Mystic Seafarer’s Trail,” by Lisa Saunders, “Even more souls were lost on the Larchmont than on the Metis one bitterly cold night on February 11, 1907. When the steamer Larchmont, bound for New York from Providence with 200 passengers, collided with a coal-laden schooner four miles southwest of Watch Hill Light, the vast majority of its panic stricken passengers were doomed. Thrown from their beds when the bow of the schooner plowed deep into its hull, the few able to make to it to a lifeboat were largely underdressed and unable to survive the freezing temperatures to the shores of Block Island.” The dead came to shore encased in ice.
 
Palmer said, “You can still see the Larchmont’s paddlewheel sticking upright, looking very much like a Ferris wheel.” Palmer has found dishes and various ship fittings at the Larchmont wreck site.
 
Palmer, author of the book, “The Last Battle of the Atlantic: The Sinking of the U-853,” has videotaped dozens of submarines, U-boats, and sunken vessels that have been lost in East Coast waters.  His expertise and eccentricity is highlighted in the best-selling book Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson because it was his advice the divers sought to identify a particular submarine. 
 
An Army paratrooper during the time of the Vietnam War, Captain Bill Palmer is now a licensed Coast Guard Captain and a dive instructor specializing in advanced wreck diving. He is a member of the American Society of Oceanographers. His award-winning films have aired on the Discovery Channel, A&E, and Connecticut Public Television.
 

You can watch an interview with Captain Bill Palmer, which includes a diving clip of the Larchmont (interviewer is Lisa Saunders on public access television), at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iE97K3xeFA4&feature=youtu.be. Another interview in his home with artifacts: Lisa Saunders interviews Captain Bill Palmer, shipwreck explorer and author.
 
For more information about Captain Bill Palmer, his upcoming talks, films, book, or charter vessel, visit: www.thunderfishcharters.com 
or call (203) 269-0619. His email address: captainbillpalmer@gmail.com
 
On Feb. 14 - 16, 2014, Captain Bill Palmer will have an information table at the Fishing& Hunting Show at the Connecticut EXPO center. On March 29 & 30, he will be a guest speaker at the Beneath the Sea Expo, the largest scuba and dive travel show in the country, at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in New Jersey.
 
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*Author’s Note: The Metis and Larchmont shipwrecks are discussed in my book, “Mystic Seafarer’s Trail,” and in my TV interview with Captain Bill Palmer, which includes clips of his dives  (you can locate the interview on YouTube by searching "Lisa Saunders and Captain Bill Palmer" or go directly to:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iE97K3xeFA4&feature=youtu.be ).

Captain Bill Palmer and Lisa Saunders with a plate from the Andrea Doria, sunk off the coast of Massachusetts and considered the "Mount Everest" of shipwrecks because of the difficulty of safely reaching it and exploring it.
 
See his  short interview on News 8, Connecticut Style  
  • Saturday, February 1, 2014

    Fri, Feb 7, 7-10pm, Mystic Arts Center "Mix"

    Featured fun along the Mystic Seafarer's Trail:
    Fri, Feb 7, 7-10pm, Mystic Arts Center "Mix"
    From Mystic Arts Center website about their event called "Mix
    Cost: $20 at the door. $10 for ages 18-20.
    Address:9 Water Street, Mystic , CT, 860.536.7601
    Map     
    Mix beats, art, and food with other creative types at our winter party, featuring music from DJ Brian Carter, and live art by Enchanted April Occasions. 
    Rum Tasting by Real McCoy, artisanal cheese by Mystic Cheese, hors d’oeuvres by Noank Community Market and East Coast Catering, and desserts by Pearl Street Bakery.

    Visit Daniel Packer Inne between 5pm and 6pm, mention MIX and receive half-priced appetizers in the dining room. 
    Admission includes wine bar, signature cocktail, and light hors d’oeuvres.