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After a long absence due to personal matters, Marine Café Blog is back with a couple of changes. Not the least important: the blog is completely dropping the use of the term “seafarer”. Henceforth, those who sail and work on board merchant ships will be referred to by their proper epithet, seaman or seawoman.

The shift has been a long time coming. Marine Café Blog first dwelt on the semantic issue in a July 2011 post. Recently, a succinct argument for using “seaman” instead of “seafarer” was made by my good friend, Captain Michael Cuanzon, a venerable old salt who refuses to be called a seafarer. “I am a seaman,” he insisted, “I studied seamanship.”

Come to think of it, there’s no such thing as seafarership. The label “seafarer” is a disservice to merchant mariners. For it undervalues or ignores what the profession entails: years of learning and mastering the skills to navigate and maintain a ship.

Content-wise, Marine Café Blog will adopt a more multifaceted approach to maritime issues such as crew training and seamen’s rights. Sometimes it is not enough to discuss policies and regulations. One will have to consider, too, the culture and social environment in which these operate. Failure to do so, I believe, will mean taking a mechanistic view of things and possibly missing the root causes of the problems.

Finally, Marine Café Blog is giving up the use of the royal “we” to refer to the Barista. Only monarchs and bishops are really entitled to use the majestic plural. The change is stylistic, but I trust that it will make for a friendlier tone and facilitiate engagement with readers of the blog. To communicate and to engage — this is what ultimately matters. ~Barista Uno

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