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Read, Watch, Act: Buoyancy

We Honor our Veterans on Memorial Day

by Martha Walker, Nauticus Curator

Honoring our nation’s military veterans is an old American tradition. The national holiday honoring veterans who died in our nation’s wars here and abroad, was originally known as Decoration Day. Early in the Civil War, women’s groups, both–Confederate and Union–assumed responsibilities for decorating the graves of those who died in battle.

After the loss of more than 600,000 soldiers on both sides, and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, memorialization of gravesites and monuments with flowers and other tributes became a national cultural tradition.

Decoration Day was formally acknowledged in a proclamation by General John A. Logan on May 30, 1868.

Memorial Day occurs every year on the last Monday in May and was established as a federal holiday in 1971.

Ten Maritime Movies to Stream From Home

National Maritime Day, May 22nd, is a day that is dedicated to people who have chosen a life working on the water. While life at sea can seem glamourous and adventurous at times, it can also be harrowing and difficult. Out in the open ocean, people who work in maritime careers are often faced head-on with intense forces of nature.
At Nauticus, we highlight these men and women daily and work to education about the Maritime Industry in all its facets. So, who better to recommend some great Maritime movies in honor of the day! Here are some Maritime movies you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home including “kid-friendly” options for those with little ones! Happy Maritime Day everyone!

1. Secret of Roan Inish

Rating: PG
Stream: Youtube

This is a great example of how deep a fishing village’s connection to the sea can run! Young Fiona and her brother are forced to move in with their grandparents in a small fishing village in Ireland. While there, Fiona gets in touch with her roots and unravels the mystery of her family’s connection with the sea! This film explores themes of magical realism and Irish fishermen lore. Dive into the beauty of the Irish coast and enjoy a heartwarming tale of a family reuniting with their past and each other!

2. The Finest Hours

Rated: PG-13
Stream: Amazon Prime and Disney+

When a pair of oil tankers succumb to a storm off the coast of Cape Cod, the Coast Guard goes out into the storm to rescue the survivors. This harrowing story of community and perseverance highlights how Maritime towns will all come together to make sure their people come home. Break out your tissues and get ready for an emotional story of man vs nature. The strength of the Maritime community and the trust these men and women put in each other working on the water is very apparent! You’ll also remember to say a big thank you to the Coast Guard and all the work they do to keep our Maritime workers safe!

3. In the Heart of the Sea

Rated: PG-13
Stream: Amazon Prime

The story that inspired the legend of Moby Dick comes to life in this action-packed movie that focuses on the sinking of the whaling ship Essex in the early 1800s. This is a brutal tale of survival at sea and gives audiences a look at what happens when nature fights back. It also showcases historic sailing vessels and maritime careers. Once you watch this historic drama, come by Nauticus and see our Schooner Virginia. It’s a much more modern wooden ship but this movie lets you appreciate the skill of the tradespeople who build wooden ships and the maritime workers who sail them!

4. Muppet’s Treasure Island

Rated: G
Stream: Amazon Prime, Disney+ 

If In the Heart of the Sea is not your cup of tea but you’re still in the mood a film about sailing in wooden ships, then may we recommend this classic! Set sail with Kermit and the gang in this hilarious take on Treasure Island. Join this swashbuckling crew on the quest for treasure and laugh a lot along the way! This movie is a classic that the whole family can enjoy!

5. Harriet

Rated: PG-13
Stream: Amazon Prime, Youtube

This movie may seem out of place but bear with me! Historically many mariners and maritime workers were African American, especially here in the Chesapeake Region! “She was part of this really complex maritime system of watermen, sailors, and dockworkers that formed this broad communications network that could get messages back and forth from North to South, a whole world that she tapped into that was entirely beyond the gaze of white people,” said Kate Clifford Larson, author of Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero and a historian who served as a consultant on the film.

6. Captain Phillips

Rated: PG-13
Stream: Amazon Prime 

Captain Phillips tells the true story of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama. After being hijacked by Somali Pirates, the Captain and Crew must find the balance between fighting back and cooperating in order to get out alive. This movie highlights the bravery of the ship’s Captain as he tries to negotiate with the pirates and save his crew. The Port of Virginia right here in Norfolk brings in container ships like this one all the time! We often see them passing right by our windows at Nauticus so this Maritime movie definitely hits close to home!

7. Happy Feet

Rated: PG
Stream: Amazon Prime

Penguins that sing and dance? What more could you want for you next family movie night! This adorable family movie ties in themes of maritime conservation and careers by featuring fishing boats and field researchers through the point of view of the animals that they interact with!

8. The Perfect Storm

Rated: PG-13
Stream it on: Amazon Prime

Enter a boat full of fearless fishermen who are willing to risk it all in order to reel in a profit, but unaware that three storm systems were about to come together off the coast of Massachusetts to create a super-storm. The Perfect Storm is a maritime movie that will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish, as forces of nature combine to create the ultimate tale of Man versus Nature. This film become even more intense when you realize it is based on true events! If this movie makes you curious about the true events then grab a copy of The Perfect Storm, the non-fiction book that the movie was based on.

9. Moana

Rated: PG
Stream: Disney+

Adventure, Sailing, and great music all come together in this gem from Disney! Moana is a young girl who dreams of what lies beyond the horizons of her small island village. When her island needs saving, she sets sail on the ultimate adventure to go find the demigod Maui and restore the Islands to their former glory! As you watch this wonderful tale, try and focus on all of the sailing skills that Moana must learn to accomplish her tasks! A type of celestial navigation like Moana uses was still used by the US Navy until the 1990s, including on our Battleship Wisconsin!

10. Titanic

Rated: PG-13
Stream: Amazon Prime

You cannot talk about the seas and ships without mentioning the hugely popular movie that broke all the records. Titanic was based on the maiden voyage of the ill-fated passenger liner by the same name, which sank into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Though the real life incident was gruesome and dark, James Cameron made the movie with romance as the main theme, which eventually struck a chord with the movie goers making it the highest grosser of all times. Did you know Nauticus campus is also home to the Half Moone Cruise Terminal? Learn about cruise ships and our vast campus during your next visit.

5 Maritime Books You Can Read to Celebrate Maritime Day

by Victoria Tolson, Education Manager

Maritime Day is a day that celebrates all of the men and women who make their living working on the water. While Maritime Day puts a particular focus on the Merchant Marines, there are hundreds of different careers, lifestyles, and hobbies that bring people to the sea. Here are a few non-fictions books that give you glimpse into the lives of real people who have chosen to live and work in partnership with the world’s waterways. For variety’s sake, I have chosen to include books that focus on other maritime careers as well!  

Five Non-Fiction Books you can read to celebrate Maritime Day:  

1. Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island by Earl Swift 

Have you ever been curious about what it’s like to live and work in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay? This book by Earl Swift gives a detailed look into the lives of the men and women who live on Tangier Island, a small community that is only accessible by boat. This book follows a year in the life of a Waterman, which is a person who makes his or her living working on the water crabbing, oystering, and fishing. This amazing glimpse into this community will give you a new appreciation and love for the Chesapeake Bay and all of the resources that the bay provides! 


2. Until the Sea Shall Free Them: Life, Death, and Survival in the Merchant Marine by Robert Frump 

If you are looking for a book that is packed with drama and disaster, look no further. This book tells the true story of a disaster at sea and the legal ramifications that followed. Reporter Robert Frump details the events that leading to and proceeding the wreck of the Marine Electrica WWII-era carrier that had been supposedly “reconditioned” in 1962The story told in this book directly impacted the way that ships are inspected today, as well as the safety requirements for all sea-going vessels. 

3. Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew  

History-buffs and thrill-seekers alike will find these stories very hard to put down. This book tells true stories about submarine spy missions during the Cold War era. The authors give us an up-close look at what it was like to be in the cramped, high-tension environment that exists aboard a submarine, and the reader gets to experience the thrilling, dangerous, and top-secret missions on every page. 

4. Ninety Percent of Everything by Rose George 

The shipping industry is arguably the most important industry to sustaining the world’s economy. In this book, Rose George goes to great lengths to give readers an idea of what goes on in this mostly unseen industry. Readers get a look into the environmental impacts, the careers in the industry, and, of course, the pirates. Pick up a copy and take a look at the industry that keeps the world’s markets “afloat”! 

5. Woody, Cisco, and Me: Seamen Three in the Merchant Marine by Jim Longhi 

Music lovers and mariners alike will enjoy this read! This is a memoir in which Longhi recounts tales from his three voyages as a merchant marine. What makes his story so interesting is that he was alongside musicians Woody Guthrie and Cicso Houston. Join the adventures of the “Seamen Three” as they experience rough seas, storms, and torpedo attacks in this fast-paced, often humorous novel.  


Miss Visiting the Nauticus Campus? Here are 5 Movies to Watch From Home!

Nauticus’ mission is to inspire, engage and educate the community through interactive experiences and by sharing access to maritime resources. We hope these films remind you of our campus and provide some entertainment while at home with your family. We look forward to re-opening our campus once again when it is safe to do. In the meantime, enjoy the movies available on several streaming platforms!

1. Disney Nature’s Oceans

Where to stream:
Rating: G

This film gives us an up-close look at the mysteries and wonders of the planet’s five oceans. Experience the power, beauty, and mystery that the sea holds through the eyes of the many creatures that call this unique habitat home. Want to learn more about deep sea exploration? Check our our Read, Watch, Act Virtual Adventure

2. A Plastic Ocean 

Where to Stream: Netflix
Rating: Film Not Rated

This documentary focuses on the issue of plastic pollution and how it impacts our planet’s oceans. Join journalist Craig Leeson and free diver Tanya Streeter as they travel around the world to investigate how plastic pollution endangers not only our ocean environments and species, but also human life on Earth. Activity for after the film: Read, Watch, Act – Plastic Pollution

3. Moana (2016)

Where to Stream: Disney +
Rating: PG

This animated feature film from Disney tells the story of Moana, a chief’s daughter who sets sail on a great adventure to save her island and restore the ocean to what it once was, with the help of the once-powerful demigod Maui. This film features themes of conservation, navigating the seas, and the way people interact with the planet. Plus, it has awesome music by Lin Manuel-Miranda and is great for the whole family!  

Inspired to learn more about sailing? Take a virtual tour with our Sail Nauticus instructor, Peter Leighton, along Norfolk’s Elizabeth River.  

4. Maiden (2019)

Where to stream: Amazon Prime, HULU
Rating: PG

Maiden is the story of how Tracy Edwards, a 24-year-old cook in charter boats, became the skipper of the first ever all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World in 1989. Tracy’s inspirational dream was opposed on all sides: her male competitors thought an all-women crew would never make it, the chauvinistic yachting press took bets on her failure, and potential sponsors rejected her, fearing they would die at sea and generate bad publicity. But Tracy refused to give up: she remortgaged her home and bought a secondhand boat, putting everything on the line to ensure the team made it to the start line. Although blessed with tremendous self-belief Tracy was also beset by crippling doubts and was only able to make it through with the support of her remarkable crew. With their help she went on to shock the sport world and prove that women are very much the equal of men.

Learn more about our Sail Nauticus program through our youtube playlist & an article about our youth sailing program written by Sail Nauticus instructor, Annabelle Wax.

5.  Pocohontas (1995)

Where to stream: Amazon Prime, Disney+
Rating: G

This Disney Animated Classic is based on the story of the English settlers in Jamestown’s first meeting with the local Powhatan tribe. This movie features wonderful music and animation paired with powerful themes of conservation, exploration, and community. Enjoy the beautiful animations and imagine what Virginia and the tidewater area must have looked like back in the 1600’s. When Nauticus re-opens, be sure to come check out our collection of Native aquatic species and imagine what it must have been like for the settlers to see these creatures for the very first time! 

Bonus – Upcoming 2020 Release

We’re looking forward to this new release staring Tom Hanks, GREYHOUND. View the trailer below and let us know what you think!

Are there other movies that remind you of Nauticus? Let us know, send us a message on Facebook!


By Molly Graham, Education Specialist

Make Your Own X Wing (or other space craft) 


  • Toilet Paper or Paper Towel tube. 
  • Cardboard strips (for wings) 
  • Paper strips (for accessories) 
  • Tape or glue 
  • Scissors 


  1. Cut a notch in each side of the toilet paper tube, creating a notch for the cardboard strip “wings” to fit into. 
  2. Fold each carboard strip in half and rest them in the notches that you cut in step 1. The wings should create a “V” shape on either side of the tube. Secure the wings with tape or glue. 
  3. Make the “nose” of the ship by creating a cone out of one of your paper strips. Attach the nose to the end of the toilet paper tube. 
  4. Create the wing accessories but rolling paper strips into tubes. Fasten one tube to the end of each wing. 
  5. Decorate! Get as creative as you want here! 

Notes and Variations: 

Try out different wing designs and see if you can create a unique Star Wars style space craft from your own imagination!