Marine Café Blog is now on its 13th year, having reached the dozen mark in August 2021. Twelve years seems a long time indeed, but every year has been worth it. The reason for my saying so is that I have learned many lessons along the way– about seafarers; the unions, charities and other players; the maritime press; the language used by the maritime community; and, not least of all, human nature in general. There are 12 things that I consider particularly edifying.
Poster artists tend to be second-class citizens in the world of art. This is not surprising. No matter how skillfully designed, posters are seen as mere marketing tools. They do not quite belong to the lofty sphere of “art” as people usually regard the term.
Yet, there are posters that are veritable works of art. The vintages ones are also historically significant is inasmuch as they serve as windows to a bygone epoch. For these reasons, they earn the status of collectable items.
I was sceptical early on about the campaign being waged by maritime charities against depression at sea. The problem is undoubtedly very real. But the way the charities have been drumming up the issue as though depression was sweeping the seafaring world like a tsunami raised two questions in my mind.
Charles John de Lacy (1856–1929) may not be as widely acclaimed as Joseph Mallord William Turner, England’s most beloved artist known for his turbulent seascapes. It is even hard to find a photograph of him online. De Lacy, however, clearly belongs to the pantheon of British marine artists. He was such a skilled painter that he was regularly commissioned by the UK shipbuilding firm, Armstrong Whitworth.
Today’s harbour pilots not only have to contend with the great risks inherent in their job. They also face increasing scrutiny over ther pay, the advent of autopilots and, not less important, the public’s lack of understanding of their profession.
The following quotes serve as reminders of the ardous training and qualification pilots have to undergo; the dangers posed by a fickle sea and faulty pilot ladders; and the noble heritage that underpins one of the world’s oldest maritime professions.
The world owes a debt of gratitude to James Francis “Frank” Hurley. The Australian photographer and adventurer took part in a number of expeditions to Antarctica, documenting with his camera a place that most of humanity will never get to see or set foot on.
A harbour is often thought of as a place bustling with maritime commerce. The Britannica definition of the term reminds us of its primary function: “any part of a body of water and the manmade structures surrounding it that sufficiently shelters a vessel from wind, waves, and currents, enabling safe anchorage or the discharge and loading of cargo and passengers.”
It seems foolish, nay absurd, for anyone to holiday on a cruise ship amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But many people still do. They want to party, to celebrate life, against the backdrop of a beautiful blue sea. The celebration, however, can end abruptly when the...
Sail and steam pilot boats have long vanished. But then as now, harbour pilots face the same dangers as they go about their work. Even the ladders they use in boarding vessels have not drastically changed in design. Performing their job iin fair or foul weather, pilots still face the constant risk of getting injured or killed whilst going up these ladders.
“Let every new year find you a better man,” wrote Benjamin Franklin, the American statesman and inventor, in his 1914 Poor Richard’s Almanack. The following are some things seafarers can do this year to achieve that goal. No doubt, they can think of other ways. The thing is to undertake some new activity and open a path to self-fulfillment. A prosperous New Year need not mean prosperity only in financial terms.
Marine Café Blog bids farewell to 2021 with one of my favourite subjects — tugboats. The following photographs, some more than a century old, suggest the reason why tugs have long held a fascination for many people. Although puny compared with the ships they tow, they pack a lot of power. They also exude a certain charm, whether idle at the docks or busy performing multifarious tasks.
There are a myriad of ways to mark the demise of the old year and the dawning of a new one. Some people perform the annual ritual of cleaning house and throwing out flotsam and jetsam. Some listen to old songs. Some go a-drinking and make merry with friends. For those who prefer a little quiet time, here are six unforgettable New Year quotes to reflect on.