French artist Alfred Guillou depicted the horror of being shipwrecked and drowning at sea in his heart-wrenching 1892 painting, Adieu! (pictured above). Today, life is imitating art as people continue to flee from Libya to seek asylum in Europe. Thousands have died on...
In contrast to the ILO's policy, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) does not provide free online access to the full texts of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) and other IMO...
The international maritime community is going gaga over wellness training. One UK-based seafarers' charity even wants to make it mandatory for seafarers. That idea is pinheaded but not really surprising. The shipping industry has a weakness for buzzwords which tends...
A lighthouse is more than what the Cambridge Dictionary says it is: “a tall structure by the sea with a flashing light that warns ships of dangerous rocks or shows them the way into a port.” It serves to inspire writers, painters, photographers and anybody whose mind...read more
What is the difference between a boat and a ship? I am posing this old question again because, try hard as I may, I cannot find a satisfactory answer that would put the matter to rest. If the conundrum can befuddle seafarers and other maritime professionals, what more...read more
How dumb and foolish can some people be? The use of maritime cadets as unpaid labour by Philippine manning agencies is a clear case of exploitation. I would even call it a form of modern-day slavery. Yet, many Filipinos think it is perfectly normal. The arguments they...read more
Several years ago, my interest in Chinese philosophy and healing led me to pingshuai, a simple hand-swinging exercise (pictured above being demonstrated by Yao Huai-Ying on the far left). This basic form of qigong was developed by Master Lee Feng-San Sifu of the...read more
The noble tradition of saving lives at sea, which British engraver Henry Edward Dawe depicted in his 1832 print They're Saved! They're Saved! (pictured above), is under attack. This year, two German captains of rescue vessels operating under the umbrella of Sea-Watch...read more
Les enfants n’ont ni passé ni avenir, et, ce qui ne nous arrive guère, ils jouissent du présent. (Children have neither past nor future, and, that which hardly happens to us, they rejoice in the present.) ~ Jean de La Bruyère, Les Caractères (1885)What has happened to...read more
This is a new version of an article originally published in Marine Café Blog on 27th February 2015. I have retained much of the original. ~ BU The shipping industry talks incessantly of seafarers’ rights. The maritime unions and charities have made a fetish of it. How...read more
Isn't it sad? Many young men and women are responding, not to the lure of the sea, but to the siren call of the dollar. Surely, there is more to seafaring than just money or the chance to travel the world. A sailor's life can be fulfilling in many ways, but it is also...read more
The following is a true story. It happened many years ago. I am narrating it to throw light on a scam, which, although not as widespread as the theft of millions from the dollar remittances of Filipino seafarers, is nonetheless outrageous. To protect the privacy of...read more
How many sailors and maritime professionals would spare some time to read poems? Not many, I suppose. Poetry won't fill anyone's pocket any more than viewing Ivan Aivazovsky's sublime 1874 painting, Brig Mercury in Moonlight (pictured above), would. But it can do...read more