The popularity of The Banana Boat Song (aka ‘Day-O’) seems not to have waned a bit since Harry Belafonte recorded it in 1956. The calypso craze may have died down, but this traditional Jamaican folk song looks destined to live forever. Belafonte’s version has been downloaded more than 14,000 times from Marine Café Blog.
Mention the term “harbour pilot” or “maritime pilot”, and many people would picture a man climbing a ladder to board a vessel at sea. Surely, there is more to a pilot’s life than going up and coming down a ship’s ladder.
On 12th January 2020, I published a candid article on why it is so easy for manning agents to skim money from the dollar remittances of Filipino seafarers. “The system facilitates the stealing,” I said flatly. I elaborated on the statement in a 21st September 2020 post, but the problem continues to this day.
The boat models of Egyptian antiquity do not only highlight the religious beliefs that spurred their construction. They also point to the rich civilisation that developed around the River Nile. The ancient Egyptians used boats, not only for commerce, but also for recreation and sports.
England, being a great 19th-century maritime nation, produced a plethora of talented marine artists. George Chambers (1803–1840) stands out in this honoured crowd not only because of the quality of his art. Born in the seaside town of Whitby, he worked with boats at a very early age and was quite familar with the sea and things maritime.
Beauty, physical dimensions and history — all three factors combine to make a river great. But there is another element that elevates a river’s status so that it stands above the rest: the power to inspire artists, poets and other creative spirits through the ages. The following are 10 such rivers which share this last characteristic.
Harbour pilots play an important role, but ship masters do not always appreciate their services. Some may feel resentful that a local chap is taking over control of their vessel. It’s a blow to their ego.
Only 120 copies of ‘An Arctic Whaling Sketchbook’ by William Gilkerson were printed in 1983. Of these, 100 were for sale. The limited hardcover edition, however, is not the main reason this portfolio of pencil drawings by the American-Canadian author and artist is a rare treasure.
A maritime pilot from Morocco recently sent me a poem entitled ‘Hymne au Pilote’ (Hymn to the Pilot). It’s not everyday that one comes across a pilot who writes poetry, so I thought I should share the piece with the readers of Marine Café Blog.
The author’s name is Mohammed Rida El Mariky, a senior pilot at Tangier Med Complex. He has 14 years pf pilotage experience in various Moroccan port and holds a Ph.D in Admiralty Law from the prestigious Paul Cézanne Faculty, Aix-en-Provence, France. He has published a collection of short stories (‘L’Odeur du luzin’) as well as a collection of poems (‘Les mot qui tanguen’)
A work of art can be striking on account of its very simplicity.
One example is Theodore Roussel’s ‘The Sea at Bognor’ (pictured above), which is the completed version of a set of nine colour prints the artist made in 1895. Some people might call such art minimalism, which would not be accurate. “Minimalism,” Tate Britain points out, “is an extreme form of abstract art developed in the USA in the 1960s and typified by artworks composed of simple geometric shapes based on the square and the rectangle.”
Very old photographs are like time machines, transporting you to an era that has long vanished. Looking at them makes you imagine what it was like to live back then. But some vintage pictures, like the following photographs of islands, can do more than take you on a journey to lost time. They can unmoor certain thoughts. Suddenly, sometimes almost instinctively, you find yourself contemplating upon life and the human condition.
Digging up quotable quotes about the workers who load and unload vessels — stevedores, dockers or longshoremen — can be a real challenge. Try hard as I did, I managed to find online a mere handful which I thought would be worth sharing.
I should have expected this to be the case. Far fewer books and articles have been written about waterfront workers than about seafarers. Poems on the subject, at least those written in English, are as rare as the Casper Octopus. Doesn’t this speak volumes?