Folks at The Nautical Institute in London continue to refer to seafarers as “the human element”. They and others who are well meaning may think that it helps in analysing and elucidating certain maritime issues. What the use of the phrase has accomplished is objectify further the men and women who work at sea.
The term “old salt” is widely understood to mean an experienced or seasoned mariner. But how many years of sailing experience does it take for one to be given the tag? I have known some fellows who chalked up enough seagoing service to get licensed as masters in their early 30s. Can they be called “old salts”?
When in maritime Manila, expect the unexpected. You might hear words uttered that will jolt you and make you wonder if you’re watching an absurdist comedy. But it is no play. It is real life.
People in the shipping world love talking, and they are infatuated with words. How else can one explain the never-ending string of maritime conferences; the highfalutin awards dinner speeches; and the Day of the Seafarer slogans warbled by officials of IMO London and echoed by just about everyone in shipping?
Dead Weight Tonnage (DWT)… Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT)… Net Tonnage (NT). These terms could confuse those with scant knowledge of shipping, journalists, and even seafarers. I have often encountered news reports that describe a ship that has sunk or run aground as “weighing” so many tonnes. What exactly is the reporter referring to?
How can one tell if it’s a wharf, a pier or a jetty? The question can stump non-maritime professionals. But even some seafarers may not be able to give a satisfactory answer. Dictionaries provide varying definitions, some of which can be a bit vague. The following works of art should be of help to those who sometimes or often get confused by the terms
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.
How many still send postcards by mail? People now use email and social media to send messages from near and far. Gone are the days when one would handwrite a greeting on a postcard, lick a stamp to paste onto it, and dispatch the card by mail to a friend or loved one. Come and have a nostalgic look at the lost age of postcards:
It sounds a bit ironic. I have been firing broadsides at the maritime press in Marine Café Blog. Yet, I myself was once an international shipping and ports journalist. That was a long time ago, when the internet was in its infancy and I had to dispatch stories to my UK editors by teletype.
I have been known for calling a spade a spade in Marine Café Blog, for being so candid at times as to sound irreverent. This is not an enviable reputation in a conservative shipping world. But I wear it as a badge of honour, like a tattoo etched on the forearm of an old mariner.
Imagine Aesop, the supposed author of a collection of Greek fables, living in the 21st century and writing about various players in the shipping world.A maritime edition of Aesop’s fables! That should be quite entertaining to read. The following are some individuals who would be perfect for the cast of characters:
This story highlights the stark contrast between the ILO and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in the treatment of maritime conventions that affect seafarers. Who really cares about the men and women who toil at sea?