Potent quotes about power for maritime folks

Potent quotes about power for maritime folks

Power drives the shipping world — not money, although everyone seems to be preoccupied with it. The desire for power (and control) is what really spurs the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to issue more and more regulations for ships and crews.

The same motivating force is behind the mistreatment of seafarers by abusive ship masters and rogue shipowners; the use of cadets as unpaid labour by manning agents; the muscle-flexing by seafarer unions; and the inspection visits by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

The irresistible pull of tugboats in prints and drawings

The irresistible pull of tugboats in prints and drawings

What would shipping be like without tugboats? In the same vein, what could ask: what would the world of marine art be without tugboats?

These mean little machines exude a certain charm as they tow barges up and down rivers; nudge ships into position at the wharves; and pull disabled vessels to safety. When one looks at the tugboats in the following artworks, the caption of a movie poster for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring might resonate: “Power can be held in the smallest of things.”

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Eye-catching kimonos with sea and water motifs

Eye-catching kimonos with sea and water motifs

For centuries, the kimono has been worn by Japanese women, men and children as an everyday garment or as a formal attire for ceremonial events. In either case, it is more than a piece of clothing. It is a work of art that embodies Japanese aesthetics, the craftmanship of weavers and designers, and the Japanese love for nature. The following kimonos are striking in their incorporation of sea and other water images.

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A peek at the world of fishermen through old photos

A peek at the world of fishermen through old photos

The shipping industry should stop this silly talk about seafarers being invisible. How can they be out of sight and out of mind? Seafarers love to post selfies on Facebook. And there is constant warbling from the maritime do-gooders about the rights and mental health of mariners that is louder than the song of a blue whale.

No sir, the really invisible ones are the fishermen who eke out a living from the sea. They are seldom in the media spotlight. Unsung, they face greater dangers in the course of their work than do merchant sailors. Yet, how many would spare a thought for these hardy folks?

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Can the use of cadets as unpaid labour ever be right?

Can the use of cadets as unpaid labour ever be right?

Any person with some ethical sense would say that the use of cadets as unpaid office flunkeys and domestic servants is wrong. But for most folks in maritime Manila, the practice is both normal and right.

Some even insist that it is beneficial to the cadets, like the manning executive who once declared, “You have to break them in”. He sounded as though he was talking about of a new pair of shoes that need to be loosened so it can be worn comfortably by the owner. Fair enough, but why subject the cadets to indefinite periods of servitude before deploying them oversas as apprentice-officers?

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Tide of emigrants and the sea: A familiar tale told in art

Tide of emigrants and the sea: A familiar tale told in art

In his 1906 book The Mirror of the Sea, Joseph Conrad likened the sea to “a savage autocrat” with a “conscienceless temper”, the “irreconcilable enemy of ships and men.” The sea, however, has not stopped the centuries-old tide of emigrants. Today, people still cross the ocean to escape political or religious persecution at home, or simply to seek a better life in a foreign land. It’s a familiar narrative that is told in the following works of art.

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