I had the good fortune recently of finding a book with the unassuming title ‘Proverbs’. Published in 1854, it was written by Rev. William Scott Downey, an American Baptist pastor before he became an Episcopelian. It is a slim volume of 110 pages or so, but it contains some nuggets of wisdom for today’s seafarers and other maritime folks. Here are 21 of Downey’s proverbs:
There is faith of the religious sort. There is also faith in the general sense — that is, immense trust or confidence in something or someone. It could be anything: a system, a particular individual, humankind, or life itself. Either way, faith is essential. A person without it is like a rudderless, anchorless ship drifting at sea.
A conversation can be interesting and enjoyable, or it can be insipid and tiresome. The difference lies in what people are able and willing to put into it. Conversation is an art. Those who are good at it make the interaction a gratifying experience for themselves and for others involved.
Paintings of glorious sunsets at sea, swarthy fishermen, dramatic naval battles, and heart-wrenching shipwrecks may move and inspire the viewer. But there is no marine art more touching and endearing than that which depicts children by the sea. Here are some examples coupled with a few words of wisdom about children.
Women’s voyage to equality has been long and difficult. And it is not over yet. Even in the shipping world, where one hears a loud clamour for gender equality, women have a long way to go. Why, for instance, has there been no female elected to the post of secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization (IMO)? Or why is it that no seafarers’ union has ever been led by a woman?
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?
Speeches and slogans abound in the maritime world. Yet, not many have mastered the art of rhetoric — that is, the effective use of language to influence or persuade others.
Certainly not the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The reason that its buzzwords and slogans are instantly repeated throughout the shipping industry is not because of it is skilled in rhetoric but because those who echo the IMO’s words do not question their sincerity or if they even match reality.
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.
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.
What would you consider as the best of times in shipping? The answer, I suppose, will depend on the needs and expectations of those being asked.
Shipping lines would see sustained high freight rates as a godsend; crewing agents, an ample supply of ship officers; nautical schools, a spike in enrolment; and maritime charities, a continued flow of donations. All that, however, has to do with business. I would rather look at shipping as a culture — a conglomerate of general customs and beliefs that define its essential character.
Power drives the shipping world — not money, although everyone seems to be preoccupied with it. The desire for power (and control) is what really spurs the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to issue more and more regulations for ships and crews.
The same motivating force is behind the mistreatment of seafarers by abusive ship masters and rogue shipowners; the use of cadets as unpaid labour by manning agents; the muscle-flexing by seafarer unions; and the inspection visits by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
The following is just a handful of quotes from those who commanded ships and men in former times. But the words are memorable. They should resonate with today’s merchant ship captains, who face essentially the same challenges as those who came before them.