“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.
Death comes in myriad ways to both men and ships. Some ships meet their end through an act of God; others, because of human folly. Many succumb to old age.
Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). is the foundational document for all human rights laws, including ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. Any discussion on the rights of seafarers and other maritime workers must hark back to it. So how has the shipping world fared in observing its tenets?
Art depicting mother and child is ubiquitous. Understandably so. Mothers should be praised and honoured for the many sacrifices they make for their children. Artworks with a father-and-child motif are much less common even though fathers often exert a great deal of influence on their offsprings. Indeed, the ones with the sea as backdrop are rare.
The series of unfortunate incidents on board cruise ships never seems to end. The mishaps range from breakouts of disease and drunken brawls to missing passengers and murder. The superstitious may be tempted to believe that a spirit of bad luck lurks on the decks and in the cabins to spoil a fun-filled vacation at sea.
There is nothing beautiful about war. It is savage and nasty. For some reason, however, art depicting naval battles has a strong power to attract viewers. The chaotic scenes of smoke and fire as ships and men try to destroy each other are certainly dramatic. Some may even think them beautiful.
Their whistles have long fallen silent. The smokes from their funnels are no more. Yet, the charm of steamboats that inspired such wonderful songs as Steamboat Bill and Lazy ‘Sippi Steamer lives on in old postcards.
It should not matter whether one uses “female” or “woman” as an adjective for a ship captain or some other person. Both are grammatically correct. But in this age of political correctness and fragile sensitivities, some rabid feminists may object to the use of “female”…
The United States ranked no. 11 in the 2022 UNCTAD table of countries with the largest fleets in terms of carrying capacity (deadweight tonnes). It was way below the top three fleet owners — Greece, China and Japan. Nonetheless, Americans can take pride in having an enviable maritime heritage and preserving and keeping it alive in their art, music and literature. That legacy is even embedded in the official seals of 13 states.
British English has a certain flavour that can make it quite pleasant to hear. The plural noun “docks”, for example, means the man-made structures for the mooring and loading/unloading of boats and ships. But when Brits say “I’m going down to the docks,” they refer to the area of water where the docks (quay walls, piers or wharves) are located and the offices and warehouses around them.
A seafarer may be grateful to his alma mater for his education, to his shipmates for their camaraderie at sea, and to his spouse or partner for being faithful in his absence. But the one person to whom he owes a boundless debt of gratitude is his mother.
I am inviting all and sundry to submit their best photos for an upcoming Marine Café Blog feature about of water. It is my hope that the selected pictures will remind everyone of the immense importance of this natural resource to a world threatened by global warming.
Simply put, an irony is an aspect of a situation which is contrary to what one would normally expect. A seagull perched on a No-Fishing sign is thus ironic. The incongruence between expectation and actuality, which frequently happens in the world of shipping, can be jarring.