After several posts about the subject, I thought I would not have to write again about depression at sea. But some maritime charities continue to beat the war drums. They try to paint depression as a scourge on today’s seafarers, something that has to be defeated like ISIL or Al-Qaeda. Promoting mental health amongst those who work at sea is commendable. So what’s wrong with these well-intentioned efforts to combat seafarer depression?
Time, it is often said, changes everything.. This is not exactly true. As the following pairs of maritime photographs show, some things change dramatically after the lapse of many years and others, little or not at all. The American-British poet T.S. Eliot was right. “Time the destroyer is time the preserver.” he wrote in The Dry Salvages, the third poem of his famous Four Quartets.
As any avid shell collector knows, seashells are the hard exoskeletons (external coverngs) of marine molluscs which serve both as their home and their armour. They are the remnants of creatures that have long passed away. As a photographer, my aim in this set of pictures was to try to give seashells a new kind of life and vitality. These are actual photographs, not manipulated digital images. I hope you enjoy viewing each one.
So much for the pandemic, declarations of seafarers as ‘key workers’, and all that nonsense about mental health training. To hijack a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of by people in the shipping business. The following are some works of art that celebrate romantic love against the backdrop of the sea. Love and the sea — are they not more enduring than the things maritime folks like to blabber about?
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.
It sounds ironic, but many Third World seafarers make themselves vulnerable to exploitation because of their mindset and outlook. This does not justify, of course, the actions of those who abuse them. However, there are certain attitudes that could turn a seafarer into a ‘patsy’ — a term defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a person who is easily taken advantage of, especially by being cheated or blamed for something.” The following are five such attitudes.
The United States Geological Survey ranks the Mississippi River fifth amongst the world’s longest rivers and the second longest in North America. From its source at Lake Itasca in Minnesota through the center of the continental United States to the Gulf of Mexico, its waters flow 2,340 miles (3,766 kms). But more significantly, the Mississippi River brims with history and culture. The following works of art are but a small collection but they tell a story about the great Mississippi. The three quotes are from Mark Twain’s 1883 memoir, ‘Life on the Mississippi’.
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 commodity could be more precious than time? A person can amass wealth if he is smart enough like Microsoft kingpin Bill Gates or Chinese billionaire Jack Ma of the Alibaba Group. But who can accumulate time? There is only so much of it allotted to every human being. Ironically, many fritter away their time posting selfies on social media, watching inane TV shows, or engaging in pointless political debate. I trust that the following quotes, together with some artworks, will serve as food for thought about the value and nature of time and about life itself.
I first learned about the food chain in grade school. What fascinated me then wasn’t so much the fact that the species at the top of the link fed on those below them. It was the idea of interconnectivity and interdependence in the natural world. Many years later, as a shipping and ports journalist, I would discover a more fascinating kind of food chain, one which continues to intrigue me to this day.
I used to cover Manila’s crewing sector as a long-longtime correspondent for British maritime publications. Since kissing ass was not in my vocabulary, I had a reputation for being a maverick who thought little of throwing brickbats at the bigwigs. But who cares about popularity? As a journalist, I did what I had to do and I did the best that I could. Over the years, I learned four important lessons about the local manning business and its underlying culture. They would eventually drive me to give up on this sector, to wit:
The Volga is no ordinary river. The principal waterway in Western Russia, it is the longest on the European continent. Encyclopedia Britannica describes it as “the historic cradle of the Russian state” whose “immense economic, cultural, and historic importance—along with the sheer size of the river and its basin—ranks it among the world’s great rivers.” Small wonder that it has inspired so many Russian artists.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye,” wrote Antoine de Saint Exupéry in his 1943 novel, The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince). Well, there are some things about seafarers’ rights that are quite visible to the eye but many fail to notice them or simpy refuse, for one reason or another, to acknowledge them. The following are plain truths about seafarers and how they are generally treated in the 21st century.