The marvellous marine art of Willem van de Velde II

The marvellous marine art of Willem van de Velde II

Willem van de Velde II  (1633–1707) was one of the leading Dutch marine painters of the 17th century, if not indeed the best amongst them. He was a consummate artist. He depicted fishing boats and naval ships with remarkable precision and artistic discipline — both of which he learned early in life from his father, a sailor and himself a gifted naval artist. Particularly noteworthy was Van de Velde II’s sensitivity to atmospheric changes and the subtle movement of clouds over calm or rough seas. Beyond the technical aspect, however, one gleans from his works the Dutch people’s special connection with the sea and deep pride in their maritime heritage.

The following handful of paintings from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam provide ample proof of Van de Velde II’s artistic genius. For more about his life and works, read his short biography here.

Ships before the Coast, after 1670
Willem van de Velde (II) / Photo credit: Rijksmuseum

Fishing Boats on Shore (The Shore, Unloading a Fishing Smack), 1650 – 1707
Willem van de Velde (II) / Photo credit: Rijksmuseum

Ships near the Coast during a Calm, c. 1650 – c. 1707
Willem van de Velde (II) / Photo credit: Rijksmuseum.

A Ship on the High Seas Caught by a Squall, Known as ‘The Gust’, c. 1680
Willem van de Velde (II) / Photo credit: Rijksmuseum

The Cannon Shot, c. 1680
Willem van de Velde (II) / Photo credit: Rijksmuseum

Encounter during the Battle of Kijkduin, c. 1675
Willem van de Velde (II) / Photo credit: Rijksmuseum.

~Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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Fanciful seascapes by five photographic artists

Fanciful seascapes by five photographic artists

Early this February, I invited photographers on Facebook to submit their photographic artworks depicting the sea for a special Marine Café Blog feature. The idea was to show how one can use digital technology to extend the boundaries of the imagination and create memorable images. Here, in no particular order, are the most striking of the works submitted:

© Eleonora Bruscolini (Italy)

Eleonora Bruscolini depicts the might of the sea with a dramatic image reminiscent of the seascapes of the great Russian Romantic painter, Ivan Aivazovsky.

© Eugenie T Gonzalez (USA)

Using a relatively small amount of manipulation, Eugenie T Gonzalez has created two beautiful images that express her affinity to the sea.

© Paul Seymour (USA)

Paul Seymour has reduced his photograph of a boat tied to the dock to neon-like lines. The result is a picture that is both  enchanting and mysterious. 

© Eugene Rutter (Scotland)

Scottish old salt Eugene Ruttter’s sombre picture speaks volumes about the life of fishermen in his hometown of Fraserburgh.

© Alessandra Casini (Italy)

Italian photographic artist Alessandra Casini has made a powerful, primaeval seascape that calls to mind the Biblical story of God’s creation of the world. 

~Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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Puzzle: Is there ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ in EMSA inspections?

Puzzle: Is there ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ in EMSA inspections?

Does a country pass or fail the inspections conducted by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to review its compliance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) ?

It may seem strange for Marine Café Blog to raise the question. After all, everyone has been talking of the Philippines having “failed” the string of EMSA audits since 2006. Filipino maritime officials are expressing optimism that the country will “pass” the next one in March 2020. In turn, the two terms are bandied about by the press, which has done a great deal of sloppy reporting on the subject.

They all make it sound like the EMSA inspections were some kind of school examination where the student is given a certain score or grade. And there lies the problem. EMSA never uses the terms “pass” and “fail” in any of its inspection reports. Those who do so misunderstand the nature and purpose of the inspections, which is clearly stated in the EMSA website:

Source: EMSA website, Standards for Seafarers

One other point is worth noting. EMSA refers to its review of STCW compliance by EU- and non-EU countries as “inspections”, not as “audits”. It probably won’t matter if it employed the latter term. But EMSA officials apparently are being discreet. They don’t want to give the impression that EMSA conducts its systematic assessments with the end in view of issuing a certification as audit bodies normally do. The job of finally determining if a country has fully complied with the STCW regulations belongs to the European Commission.

Such distinctions should shed light on the EMSA inspections and explain why the EMSA team keeps coming back to Manila. But how many Filipinos and members of the local and international press will bother making them? In the maritime world, the herd mentality rules.

~Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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Waging war on rotten Filipino maritime schools

Waging war on rotten Filipino maritime schools

Inspectors from the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) will be in Manila shortly to check once more on the country’s compliance with the STCW convention. Unless they are wearing blinkers, they cannot possibly overlook one basic fact: there is still a glut of maritime schools. Official figures as of July 2019 show a total of 87 institutions authorised to offer the BS Marine Transportation and BS Marine Engineering programmes (the complete list can be downloaded here).

That number, which is inclusive of satellite campuses, may not seem much for a nation that accounts for a large chunk of seafarers serving on the world merchant fleet. But given Manila’s patchy record in supervising the maritime schools, it makes one wonder: how many are really up to standard? The same question has been bugging the EMSA inspectors. Why else would they come a-visiting for the nth time?

Another perspective on the issue:

Filipino maritime schools: the key question

The EMSA head office in Lisbon has not explained its basis for selecting which schools to audit at a given time. What is clear is that the EMSA team cannot, for practical reasons, inspect all schools. For that would require continuous visits over a period of ten years (assuming the inspectors are able to audit at least eight schools every year). Besides, EMSA ‘s main concern is the overall system and state oversight on individual institutions.

Much less can EMSA be expected to address the issue of maritime diploma mills. That is the job of the Manila government. Unfortunately, padlocking schools known to be substandard requires political will. Some Draconian measures may be in order. It would be a bloody war marked by lawsuits and recriminations in the press. But such a war is necessary for the sake of all the maritime students and their parents who may be paying good money for a lousy education. is there one stout-hearted enough to fire the canons?

~Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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21 great love quotes for seafarers and landlubbers

21 great love quotes for seafarers and landlubbers

Love is like rich and heady wine. It can intoxicate and send lovers to a state of euphoria as Polish artist Franciszek Zmurko (1859-1910) depicted in his painting, In Rapture (pictured above). But with joy often comes tribulation and sorrow. The following are some unforgettable quotes from writers and philosophers who delved into one of most complex human emotions.


love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

~ e.e. cummings

Fathers and teachers, I ponder, “What is hell?” I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love. ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky, from The Brothers Karamazov

To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.  ~ Bertrand Russell, from Marriage and Morals

What does the brain matter compared with the heart? ~ Virginia Woolf, from Mrs. Dalloway

Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.

~ William Shakespeare, from Hamlet

Love, plate two from Woman, ca. 1886
Albert Besnard (French, 1849-1934)
Image courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago


The supreme happiness of life consists in the conviction that one is loved; loved for one’s own sake–let us say rather, loved in spite of one’s self; this conviction the blind man possesses.
~ Victor Hugo, from Les Miserables

You must learn to forgive a man when he’s in love. He’s always a nuisance. ~ Rudyard Kipling from The Light that Failed

They are not wise, then, who stand forth to buffet against Love; for Love rules the gods as he will, and me. ~ Sophocles, from Trachiniae

At any rate, let us love for a while, for a year or so, you and me. That’s a form of divine drunkenness that we can all try. There are only diamonds in the whole world, diamonds and perhaps the shabby gift of disillusion. ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, from The Diamond As Big As The Ritz

I believe in being warm-hearted. I believe especially in being warm-hearted in love, in fucking with a warm heart. I believe if men could fuck with warm hearts, and the women take it warm-heartedly, everything would come all right. It’s all the cold-hearted fucking that is death and idiocy. ~ D.H. Lawrence, from Lady Chatterley’s Lover

We are the zanies of sorrow. We are clowns whose hearts are broken. ~ Oscar Wilde, from De Profundis

Payaso con guitarra, 1956
Manuel Rosé (Uruguayan, 1887-1961)
Image courtesy of Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales


No human being, even the most passionately loved and passionately loving, is ever in our possession.
~ Albert Camus, from The Rebel / Part 4: Rebellion and Art

I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other. For, if it lies in the nature of indifference and of the crowd to recognize no solitude, then love and friendship are there for the purpose of continually providing the opportunity for solitude. And only those are the true sharings which rythmically interrupt periods of deep isolation. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters to a Young Poet

Two separate beings, in different circumstances, face to face in freedom and seeking justification of their existence through one another, will always live an adventure full of risk and promise. ~ Simone de Beauvoir, from The Second Sex

To love purely is to consent to distance, it is to adore the distance between ourselves and that which we love. ~ Simone Weil, from Gravity and Grace

Confuse not love with the raptures of possession, which bring the cruellest of sufferings. For, notwithstanding the general opinion, love does not cause suffering: what causes it is the sense of ownership, which is love’s opposite. ~ Antoine de Saint Exupéry, from Citadelle or The Wisdom of the Sands

Parting of Lovers: The Morning After, ca. 1765–70
Suzuki Harunobu (Japanese, 1725–1770)
Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

But O, in a minute she changed—
O do not love too long,
Or you will grow out of fashion
Like an old song.

~ William Butler Yeats, from O Do Not Love Too Long

When women love, they forgive everything, even our crimes; when they do not love, they cannot forgive anything, not even our virtues. ~ Honoré de Balzac, from The Physiology of Marriage

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?

~ Robert Frost, from Reluctance

And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation. ~ Kahlil Gibran, from The Prophet

Oh, love isn’t there to make us happy. I believe it exists to show us how much we can endure. ~ Hermann Hesse, from Peter Camenzind

~Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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