Fortunate are those who had toy sailboats when they were children and played with them outdoors in the water as the sun shone brightly and one’s imagination unfurled like white sails in the wind. Childhood fades, but memories of those beautiful days will stay forever.
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?
The Japanese have a love affair with the moon that goes back centuries. It is reflected in their traditional art and poetry and the annual moon-viewing festival called tsukumi. It is not just the moon’s beauty that drives this lunar mania.
I have been curious about the “Jacob’s ladder”, the old name for the ladder used by pilots to get on board and disembark from a ship. Not wanting to remain ignorant of the subject, I did some research. The information I have gathered thus far is interesting. Indeed, it is food for thought.
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 sometimes wondered: how many choose to be seafarers, not just for the money, but for love of the sea and the seagoing life? Like the ocean tide, the question rose up again in my mind when I recently came across a poem by Edward Clement Cruttwell (1888–1938), a Royal Navy lieutenant who served in World War I.
I have known a number of old salts who are no longer around. They have made their final voyage. To them I dedicate the following poems which are memorable on account of their moving imagery and heartfelt words. I trust that others will be touched as well by these beautiful verses.
Paintings of glorious sunsets at sea, swarthy fishermen, dramatic naval battles, and heart-wrenching shipwrecks may move and inspire the viewer. But there is no marine art more touching and endearing than that which depicts children by the sea. Here are some examples coupled with a few words of wisdom about children.
Poems about maritime pilots are so rare that ‘Le Pilote de Tonga’ (The Pilot of Tonga) is a veritable gem. But there’s another reason this prose poem is special. It was written in 1856 by Charles Meryon (1821–1868), a French artist, printmaker and naval officer whose biography makes for interesting reading
American artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986) painted seashells like no one else. A key figure in the early 20th century movement called “modernism”, she rejected the traditional ways of representing reality. But she had her own inimitable style. For inspiration, she did not turn to the industrial world, as many modernist artists did, but to Nature.
Mass layoffs by companies are not uncommon. But the axing of 800 British seafarer jobs on 17th March this year by P&O Ferries, a company owned by Dubai-based DP World, was something else. Because of the scale and suddenness of the move, it was akin to a massacre. And it was rightly met with anger and condemnation, inside and outside the UK.
The 1830s New Zealand whaling song ‘The Wellerman’ (full title: ‘Soon May the Wellerman Come’) has been interpreted by many artists. Obviously the most popular version is by Scottish singer Nathan Evans, whose upbeat rendition went viral on TikTok in late 2020. But a talented singer-musician from Canada, in my view, blows the rest of the pack out of the water.
There is something about sailboats that make them attractive to many people. Is it their graceful movement as they glide through the water? The beautiful shape of ther wind-driven sails? Or is it the sense of freedom that the sight of them evokes in the viewer? No matter, sailboats are a delight to the eye. Enjoy the following drawings as you would a cup of home-brewed coffee.