10 delightful sea songs recorded over 100 years ago

10 delightful sea songs recorded over 100 years ago

Old song recordings are a delight to listen to. They have a certain charm, a character, like vintage wine. They can bring back memories of one’s childhood… of grandparents who are no longer around… and of family phonographs that have long fallen silent.

The following sea songs were recorded a century ago. They are part of a musical history that belongs, not to one nation alone, but to the world. Click on the titles to play and download the recordings.


The Salt of the Sea for Me

by Frank C. Stanley (American singer and recording artist, 1868–1910)



Bring Back My Bonnie to Me

by the Haydn Quartet (American vocal emsemble; formed in 1896 as the Edison Quartet)




by the Haydn Quartet (American vocal emsemble; formed in 1896 as the Edison Quartet) 


We Parted on the Shore

by Sir Harry Lauder (Scottish singer and comedian, 1870–1950)


When the Bell in the Lighthouse Rings

by Frank C. Stanley (American singer and recording artist, 1868–1910)



The Harbor of Love

by Walter J. Van Brunt (American tenor, 1892–1971)


Steamboat Bill

by Arthur Collins (American baritone, 1864–1933) 


Pirate Song

by David Scull Bispham (American operatic baritone, 1857–1921)


Sailing Down the Chesapeake Bay

by the Premier Quartet (American vocal group that recorded between 1899 and 1925; also known as the American Quartet)


Two Jolly Sailors

by Byron G. Harlan ((American singer, 1861–1936) 
and Steve Porter (American singer and recording artist, 1864–1946)

Can You Help?

For years, Marine Café Blog has been promoting maritime culture and history through music. There are currently some 260 music-related files in the Downloads section.

I hope to at least double this number. Finding the songs that readers will appreciate and, in many cases, remastering the audio files involve a great deal of time and effort.

So, if you can, please make a small donation through Buy Me a Coffee. You can give as little as $5. Your support will be highly appreciated.




Seven hard truths about today’s world of shipping

Seven hard truths about today’s world of shipping

The years I’ve spent as an international maritime journalist and subsequently as a blogger have taught me many things. The world of shipping is beautiful, and there is no shortage of decent, respectable maritime folks. But this world that we all love has its bad side, which some do not see or try not to see. The truth hurts, as the saying goes.

1. Most seafarers from developing countries hesitate to stand up for their rights, much less protest openly about abuses, for fear of repercussions.

2. Maritime charities make heavy use of social media, but they do not engage with others who also advocate the rights and welfare of seafarers. They seem hopelessly enclosed in their own little worlds.

3. Many maritime professionals hanker for recognition. They are quick to post online photos of themselves receiving an award or even a simple certificate.

4. Cut-and-paste maritime journalism is widespread. Rarely does one read an article that is original and offers a fresh perspective on what is happening.

5. Power tends to intoxicate maritime union officials. Some are overweening and hypersensitive to criticism.

6. The International Maritime Organization has done absolutely nothing to make life easier for seafarers.

7. Maritime bureaucrats are just cogs in the wheel, but many act like they were the wheel.

~ Barista Uno

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Frozen sunlight: Fabulous marine art by Edward Hopper

Frozen sunlight: Fabulous marine art by Edward Hopper

Frozen sunlight: Fabulous marine art by Edward Hopper

The American realist painter Edward Hopper (1882–1967) is best known for his works depicting 20th-century urban life. However, he also produced a good deal of marine art that is just as haunting. In the following paintings, Hopper rendered sunlight in a way that adds an air of mystery and subtle symbolism to the works.

Read more: Beyond realism: 10 things to know about Edward Hopper

NOTE: The paintings shown below were sourced from WikiArt: Visual Art Enclopedia, which tags the first two as copyrighted. I publish them here under the principle of Fair Use. The annotations that follow each work are mine. — BU

Rooms by the Sea, 1951
Edward Hopper (American, 1882–1967)

This work is said to represent Hopper’s art studio, but it is surrealistic. Sunlight lights up two rooms facing the sea, creating geometic shapes on the walls and floors The tall glass door on the right side reveals a beautiful blue sea. Interestingly, there is no ledge outside; stepping out of the door would mean falling right into the water.

The way Hopper composed the scene is suggestive of two separate worlds. On the one hand, there is the wide open sea and the sense of freedom associated with it. On the other is the man-made sphere of solitude and isolation represented by the rooms. Hopper seems to engage in a self-dialogue in which he tells himself to get out of his artist’s shell and engage with life and the real world.

Lighthouse at Two Lights, 1929
Edward Hopper (American, 1882–1967)

A lighthouse stands majectic on a hill on a sunny day, and the sky is clear save for a few streaks of cloud. The sunlight that bathes the lighthouse and the keeper’s inn is somewhat subdued, adding to the quiet charm of the painting.

Le Pont des Arts, 1907
Edward Hopper (American, 1882–1967)

Hopper’s unique style of rendering light is exemplified by this painting. The River Seine in Paris is softly illuminated by sunlight. It looks like a long sheet of glass, motionless except for some ripples on the bottom right side of the canvas. The eerie stillness of the water contrasts with the movement of ghostly figures crossing the Pont des Art bridge.

Jo Sketching at Good Harbour Beach, 1923
Edward Hopper (American, 1882–1967)

Edward Hopper was married to fellow artist Josephine (“Jo”) Navison, shown here busy sketching on the Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The sun is so bright that the sand is almost completely white. It is interesting that Jo’s hat conceals her face. “Artist at work. Do not disturb” seems to be Hopper’s message.

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~ Barista Uno

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10 uncommon words to describe some maritime folks

10 uncommon words to describe some maritime folks

There are certain words and phrases that one does not get to read in the maritime press. They are not polite to use, to say the least. Yet, they aptly describe some folks in the shipping community. It is language that goes beyond appearances and indicates who an individual really is, not what he or she purports to be. Take the following for instance:

fat cat (n.)

A rich and influential person
Example: The imposition of more training requirements on seafarers makes the fat cats fatter.

bleeding heart (n.)

One who displays excessive concern and sympathy for a certain group
Example: He was the typical bleeding heart, always ready to pose for a photo with a ship’s crew. 

light-fingered (adj.)

Used to describe someone who habitually steals
Example: Light-fingered manning agents in Manila regularly skim money from the remittances of seafarers.

dissembler (n.)

A hypocrite; more precisely, a person who puts on a false front in order to conceal his true motives and thoughts.
Example: He was a dissembler who profited from acting as a champion of seafarers’ rights.

smarty-pants (n.)

A person who wants to appear clever and knowledgeable before others; a know-it-all
Example: He was a smarty-pants who showed his ignorance the more he talked.

mountebank (n.)

One who pretends to be what he is not or to have the ability to do something that he cannot, usually in a showy or flamboyant manner
Example: Only the unthinking will mistake a mountebank for a genius. 

voluble (adj.)

Said of someone who is quick to talk and lengthily at that
Example: He was so voluble he annoyed everyone in the conference room.

patsy (n.)

plural: patsies

One who is easy to cheat, hoodwink, coerce or exploit
Example: Those who don’t stand up for their rights are bound to become patsies.

pedant (n.)

Adjective form: pedantic

One who is too focused on formal rules, procedures, and small details that are not important or essential
Example: Unfortunately for the maritime school, the head of the visiting audit team was a pedant.

grabby (adj.)

Another word for greedy, from the verb “grab” — to seize something suddently and roughly
Example: There is no shortage of grabby individuals in a maritime world fuelled by the love of money.

~ Barista Uno

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A final word on the theft of seafarer remittances

A final word on the theft of seafarer remittances

This is my last blog post about the decades-old scam involving the theft of dollars sent home by Filipino seafarers. No, the problem has not gone away. On the contrary, dishonest manning agents continue to skim money from the remittances of the men and woman who toil at sea.

READ MORE: Crewing agents as money changers

I have decided to end my rantings on the subject for a practical reason: nobody cares. Not the unions. Not the maritime charities. And certainly not the two-bit maritime journalists in Manila who spend more time kissing ass than writing about the abuses perpetrated against seafarers. All are as silent on the subject as the dead lying peacefully in cemeteries.

The seafarers themselves seem not to care. They will post selfies and talk about jobs on social media, but they dare not raise their voice on the dollar theft. No seafarer wants to be seen as a maverick. Besides, seafarers probably think that it’s no big deal. What does it matter if a manning agent shaves off a peso or two from the prevailing dollar-to-peso conversion rate and keeps the difference? What seafarers don’t realise is that unscrupulous agents, collectively, are skimming off millions of dollars annually from their remittances.

READ MORE: Filipino seafarers short-changed big time on remittances

All this points to a grievously damaged culture where cheating and taking advantage of seafarers are considered normal. The British writer Edward Carpenter (1844–1929) said it well in his 1889 essay, ‘Defence of Criminals – Criticism of Immorality’:

“When the ideal of Society is material gain or possession, as it is largely to-day, the object of its special condemnation is the thief — not the rich thief, for he is already in possession and therefore respectable, but the poor thief.”

No doubt, there are many respectable folks in maritime Manila.

NOTE: I have not completely given up on the remittance scam issue. I will be writing about it in a book I am working on and in another that is in the pipeline.

~ Barista Uno

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