Marine Café Blog is happy to greet its American readers a cordial Thanksgiving Day. In celebration of this event, which is observed every fourth Thursday of November in the United States, I’d like to share the following works of art from the 19th century. I hope that this limited selection will open for all the blog’s readers a window to American history and culture.
Marine Café Blog will be coming out with a special feature spotlighting the best photographs of bridges by its readers. I invite all photographers, amateur of professional, to submit their pictures for inclusion in the gallery. — BU
I have always objected to the use of the term “the human element” to refer to seafarers. It not only sounds as cold as the periodic table of elements invented by the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev. More important, it objectifies seafarers and detracts from their humanity. The following works of art show just how human they are — no less driven by love and libido than the maritime bureaucrats and pedants who label them “the human element”.
Ship manning agents may have wealth and influence, but they do not, on the whole, enjoy a good reputation. For this they only have themselves to blame. Many of these glorified clerks are rogues who protect their own interests and those of the shipowners they serve, not the interest of seafarers. The following are four of the most egregious acts that give the crewing business a bad name.
In his 60-year career, French Impressionist master Claude Monet produced an astonishing number of paintings depicting the sea, beaches, boats, rivers and harbours. Rarely did he paint lighthouses. As far as I could ascertain, lighthouses figure in only four of his works. In three of them, the lighthouse is not even the main subject of the painting. This makes such artworks by Monet more precious.
The man in whose memory Columbus Day (12th of October) is observed every year, Christopher Columbus (Italian Cristoforo Colombo), had a dark side. As the editors of of Encyclopaedia Britannica have pointed out, “Columbus’s men pillaged villages to support themselves and enslaved large numbers of indigenous people for labor, sex, and sale in Europe.” (Columbus Day and Its Discontents). Despite this, it cannot be denied that the voyages of this Italian explorer and navigator were, in more ways than one, a turning point in history.
There are three reasons why seafarers and other maritime professionals should learn to use idioms more often. First, they enable one to express an idea concisely and avoid being verbose. Second, they enrich one’s vocabulary. Third, and not the least important, they add a bit of flavour to everyday conversation.
Russia has been so vilified in the Western press that some people might forget that it is a great civilisation. The Russians gave the world Doestoevsky, Rachmaninoff and Mendeleev. Their contributions to the world of art have been no less significant. Ivan Aivazovsky stands tall in the pantheon of marine painters. In 2019, his seascape ‘Sunset over Ischia’ was auctioned off by Christies for £491,000 ($635,000).
Water reflection photography is not easy. Changes in the lighting condition, the motion of the water, and the right choice of camera angle — these and other factors make it challenging even for professional photographers.
The following pictures are the most striking and memorable amongst those submitted by photographers who responded to Marine Café Blog’s invitation. Many thanks to everyone who took up the challenge.
Like the birth of a child, ship launchings are a time of joy and celebration. Such events In the past were public spectacles that drew huge crowds (over 100,000 spectators came to the launch of the Titanic). Some were graced by members of the royalty and dignitaries.
Slogans are indispensable in any campaign. They are intended to drive home an important message and goad people into action. To achieve this end, the slogan has to be catchy and original, not clichéd. Alas, some maritime campaign slogans are dull and unimaginative.
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.
What is a genuine seaman (or seafarer)? More than 1.6 million men and women are said to be employed on the world merchant fleet. How many fit the description? The bureaucrats at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the entire shipping industry keep talking about competency. Surely, there is more to being a true seaman than just knowledge and skills.