Who better to write about the sea and sailors than a man of letters who had been a ship captain? Joseph Conrad, a Polish author who wrote in English, is regarded as one of the greatest writers in the English language. He served for 16 years in the British merchant marine, assuming his first command in 1888 at the age of 31 — the three-masted iron barque Otago.
The world at large is full of dishonesty, and the world of shipping has its fair share of it. I have seen and heard enough over the years to say without hesitation that dishonesty in the maritime sphere is commonplace. It comes in many forms, in both words and deeds....
“All the unhappiness of men,” wrote Blase Pascal, the 17th-century French philosopher, “arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.” The statement rings true especially in today’s hyperconnected world. Many people hate to be alone. They feel a constant need to be in the company of others, even if only virtually through their smartphones and social media.
Retirement can be tough on body and spirit. To be cut off from the workaday world and former colleagues can be jarring. It can usher in a period of loneliness, stress and anxiety. For some folks, however, to retire is to embark on a new voyage in calmer seas. It is a time of personal freedom, peace and self-fulfillment.
Men never get to experience childbirth, which is painful and can be dangerous for women. This does not make fatherhood any less challenging than motherhood. By their words and deeds and by the values they hold, fathers exert a great deal of influence on their children. When that influence is positive, fatherhood becomes a proud calling and a badge of honour.
Incredibly plenty has been written about the sinking of the Titanic on 15th April 1912. So, rather than repeating the facts that most of the world already knows, I am sharing the following quotes from some of the people who were directly involved. One hundred and eleven years after the disaster, the words still reverberate.
Humans have an instinctive need to celebrate beginnings — New Year’s Day, the birth of a child, the launching of a newbuilding ship, etc. Such events do not only mark the start of something new. They evoke feelings of hope, which is the one essential quality that separates man from animals.
Not believing in one’s self and one’s abilities can be a problem especially for Third World ship officers and crews. Many are too diffident to assert their rights, and they often display a slavish attitude towards foreign senior officers. But even those who seem so sure of themselves may see their self-confidence eroded in the face of danger or extreme difficulties.
Marine Café Blog had a post-Thanksgiving Day chat with Frankie the Sage Cat. As expected, he said a mouthful about maritime conferences, seafarer charities and other matters. For those not familiar with Frankie, he’s a real cat who understands humans in an uncanny way. He must be at least 12 years old now, but he still has a sharp mind.
Life is short and perilous — and not only for seafarers. The rich and the mighty may seem to live it up, but life is no less complicated for them. William Shakespeare undertood this truth all too well.
The following quotes, all from women, deal with the general subject of men. The authors do so with such frankness that the less enlightened males might feel offended. But given the fact that the world of shipping is still very much dominated by men and haunted by machismo, these quotes make for interesting reading — for men as well as for women.
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: