It’s interesting how the plight of seafarers can be encapsulated in a single word. The following list of transitive verbs (or action words with a direct object) provides good examples. The words tell some of the ways seafarers are exploited or mistreated. For each one, I have given a definition with specific reference to those who work at sea and for whom so many words of sympathy are spun by the bleeding hearts in shipping.
To suggest that poetry can be useful to maritime executives and professionals may sound silly. In the contemporary shipping world, it is Plutus, the Greek god of wealth, who rules — not Apollo, the god of music, poetry, and light. Indulging in poetry seems such a waste of time, a luxury for practical people. But is it really?
Unless one is a polyglot, searching for the equivalent of ‘seafarer’ in different languages can be a daunting task. According to Ethnologue, the leading resource on world languages, there are 7,139 known living languages. Perhaps not all of them have names for ‘seafarer’, but even a partial list of such names would call to mind the biblical story of the Tower of Babel.
In this day and age, maintaining a website seems imperative for most businesses. But it’s not just a question of having one as some people might think. The following are 10 maritime websites that stand out because of their design and, more importantly, the way their content is organised and presented for the benefit of site visitors. They call to mind the words of Apple’s co-founder, Steve Jobs, as quoted in an article in The New York Times: ”It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
Have you ever wondered how a maritime publication can cover developments all over the world as though it had correspondents everywhere? Or why there is so much homogeneity in the news reporting? Well, you need not wonder anymore. The following facts should cast light on the workings of the maritime press. I speak as one who served for many years as a correspondent/contributor to British maritime trade journals and who continues to observe closely the state of maritime journalism as a blogger.
Like the coronavirus, language has a way of mutating. New words and phrases emerge over time even as old ones are pushed aside, if not scuttled. A good example of the latter is the term ‘seaman’.
“What’s in a name?” asked Juliet in Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet. “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The following synonyms for some maritime names and phrases may not smell sweet to the parties referred to. I hope, however, that readers of Marine Café Blog will find them funny, yet not detached from reality.
Marine Café Blog has been guided by three basic precepts since it started in 2009. Call a spade a spade. Don’t kiss ass (it’s incompatible with honest writing). Serve it hot and flavourful like coffee. The following is a list of the blog’s strongest brews in 2020 — each one a reflection of the three rules that have sustained the blog and defined its character.
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 endurance were all that mattered, I should pat myself on the back and make whoopee. Marine Café Blog turns eleven this 25th of August. It has lasted despite being totally independent; despite the scarcity of advertising support; and despite the generally cold-hearted response from folks in maritime Manila. However, to withstand the vicissitudes of writing, to simply endure, isn’t enough.
As a maritime writer, I must confess that I have, more than once, suffered from self-doubt and a gnawing sense of futility. What does it matter if I write about the rights of seafarers or not? Or about marine art and culture? Will it make a bloody difference? The questions sometimes come like arrows to pierce the soul. Yet, I have managed to continue writing (Marine Café Blog will mark its 11th anniversary this August). I draw courage and inspiration from what famous writers have said about the pain and joy of writing.
The shipping industry has a strong fetish for buzzwords. The latest to ring loud and clear is “crew change” — a slogan spawned by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent stranding at sea of thousands of seafarers. Interestingly, nowhere in ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, as amended can one find the phrase “crew change”. Instead, MLC 2006 talks of repatriation (the word is mentioned 37 times in the main body).