“Young man, be not forgetful of prayer,” wrote Fyodor Dostoevsky in his novel The Brothers Karamazov. “Every time you pray, if your prayer is sincere, there will be new feeling and new meaning in it, which will give you fresh courage, and you will understand that prayer is an education.” Not everyone believes in the power of prayer. But for those who do, here are five prayers that may give seafarers the fresh courage to face difficult times.
The COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be a fertile ground for maritime rhetoric. Somebody shouted ‘Crew Change!” and suddenly everyone is mouthing the same slogan. Interestingly, the word “repatriation” is hardly ever mentioned. But that is exactly what seafarers who are stranded at sea urgently need: to be brought back to their home countries and be with their loved ones. The following are some specimens of the kind of language which has sprouted during the pandemic. There is nothing wrong with slogans and speeches — as long as they are not, to borrow Shakespeare’s words in his play Macbeth, all sound and fury, signifying nothing.
If one can admire the beauty of seashells and see in them the grandeur of cathedrals, why can’t one adopt the same attitude towards the female body? As the English artist and poet William Blake wrote in his Proverbs of Hell (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell), “The nakedness of woman is the work of God.” The following photographs of nude women at the beach are stricty for those who can view nudity as art.
I have encountered many CEOs of manning companies in Manila. Some were quite admirable: kind-hearted, generous and professional in their dealings. Others were less savoury characters. The following are five of the latter kind.
In a world where money talks and the end often justifies the means, to speak of utopia may seem out of place. The term, by definition, is an imagined state of affairs in which everything is perfect. But as the old Spanish proverb says, “If you build no castles in the air, you build no castles anywhere.” So let me describe to you a new maritime order which is the exact opposite of the dystopian world of today’s seafarers. What would such a place be like?
Some religious conservatives may frown upon artworks that depict women au naturel. Hardcore feminists may dismiss them as objectification of women. The fact remains, however, that nudity in art is nothing new, and only the prudish and the narrow-minded will be shocked by it. The following artworks feature female nudes by the sea. The collection is preluded by the first stanza of a poem by Pablo Neruda (1904–1973), winner of the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature.
As a coffee enthusiast, I have always associated Brazil with coffee. The country, after all, is the largest grower and exporter of coffee beans. Recently, I discovered that it also has a rich tradition of marine art that is as delectable as its coffee. The following are a few examples of what Brazilians have accomplished in this field. Regrettably, I am unable to share contemporary artworks due to copyright restrictions. This small collection should nonetheless give readers a taste of Brazilian marine art.
What seafarer has not suffered from a bout of loneliness and boredom? These twin monsters can creep in like the tide after one’s watch is over and there is little else to do. Some seafarers may plunge into depression. One maritime charity group seems to think that a two-day online course on mental health costing £125 per participant will address the problem. What a silly idea! Why not promote instead the love for reading amongst seafarers? As the following quotes suggest, books can do wonders for both mind and spirit.
I recently came across a traditiional folk ballad called ‘Hard, Hard Times’. It is light-hearted but has a serious social message, so I thought I should share it with the readers of Marine Café Blog. The song talks about dishonesty, greed and hyprocrisy in society at large — the same ills that plague much of the shipping and mannning sectors and cause misery to those who work at sea.
Those who exploit seafarers — and there’s a legion of them — have no need for a guide. The thing comes naturally to the greedy and the shameless. But if there were such a guide, it would probably include the following items, the first seven of which pertain to manning agents:
I have just spent several days searching online for artworks that depict the 1898 Battle of Manila Bay (also known as the Battle of Cavite). My search yielded a good number of interesting pieces. However, I found none that was created by a Filipino artist. This comes as no surprise. Although Filipinos pride themselves in being a “maritime” nation, the country has a paucity of marine art. Indeed, it lacks a tradition of such art — the kind of tradition that one finds in England, the United States, the Netherlands, Spain and other traditional maritime countries.
What is it about pirates that makes them so appealing to many people? They are essentially dislikeable characters. Captain Jack Sparrow, the main protagonist in the Pirates of the Caribbean fantasy film series, may not be the murderous type. But he is a rogue, a trickster who uses subterfuge and bluff to achieve his ends.