Sea & ships through sailors’ eyes
Posted on Friday 12th December 2014


We invited seafarers on social media to share their photographs depicting the ocean, ships, life at sea or the waterfront. Of the two dozen or so images submitted, we selected nine that we thought were interesting and showed photographic skill. We hope these pictures will encourage more mariners — men as well as women — to use their cameras (even smartphone cameras) as a way to express themselves.
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Keeping missing seafarers in mind
Posted on Thursday 11th December 2014


It’s a sad fact that mariners who vanish following a major sea mishap, fall overboard or get kidnapped by pirates are all too soon forgotten. But now The Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) project is developing an international register of missing seafarers, including those who had been working on board fishing vessels. This historic undertaking is coming to fruition thanks to a grant from the Seafarers UK charity. But we do think it deserves the support of the entire world community.
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Filipino maritime realities and the EU
Posted on Thursday 4th December 2014


The EU is right to continue pressuring the Philippines to improve its maritime education and training. It’s not only about compliance with the STCW Convention. The issue boils down to maritime safety. We wonder, though, if the EU can reasonably insist on a total overhaul of how Filipino seafarers are trained and certificated. Such a sea-change seems almost impossible in light of two basic realities in the country.
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Amateur sailor-photographers in focus
Posted on Sunday 30th November 2014


We’re inviting all seafarers to join our search for the best amateur maritime photos. From the entries, we will select 5-8 to be featured in Marine Café Blog. Although we’re not giving any prize, this should be a great opportunity for mariners to showcase their talent and share their vision of life at sea. Please email your entries to: Deadline is 10th December 2014. Here are some simple guidelines:
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Maritime photography à la espresso
Posted on Thursday 27th November 2014


We were delighted to come across some nautical pictures taken by Serdar Bayram of Istanbul, Turkey. They’re a refreshing departure from post card photography – the sort one finds in travel magazines or advertising posters, beautiful but clichéd. Mr Bayram’s photographs have oomph and are all the more impressive because they were captured with his iPhone.
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Call to action on passenger ship safety
Posted on Saturday 22nd November 2014

We’d like to request our readers to sign the online petition for the installation of CCTV cameras on the outside decks of passenger vessels. Click here. The petition was launched by Marianne Fearnside, whose 30-year-old son went missing in May 2013 on board a ferry sailing from Calais, France, to Dover, England. No enquiry was ever made in the absence of surveillance camera footage. Similar cases of mysterious disappearances have been reported over the years in the UK, the US and other countries.


CCTV cameras on ferries: why not?
Posted on Thursday 20th November 2014


Retired British teacher Marianne Fearnside has been waging a protracted battle for the mandatory installation of CCTV cameras on passenger decks. We understand her agony and have, upon her request, signed the online petition she launched last year. Mrs Fearnside’s 30-year-old son, Richard, vanished whilst traveling back to Dover on 21st May 2013 from a holiday in France on the P&O Ferries-owned Pride of Kent. He was last seen going to the deck to have a cigarette.
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Life at sea hangs by a thin thread
Posted on Tuesday 18th November 2014


The jury is still out on what caused the sinking of the trawler Ocean Way last 2nd November off the coast of the Farne Islands in the North Sea. Killed were Scottish skipper James Noble, 45, and two Filipino crewmen whose bodies have not been found – Jhunitzquo Antonio, 34, and Michael Pulpul, 38. What is clear from this tragedy is that life hangs by a thin thread for those who toil at sea. It’s a fact that many overlook or take for granted.
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IMO in love with its own rhetoric
Posted on Friday 24th October 2014

Detail of 1889 Italian fresco, Cicero Denounces Catiline

IMO officials should slow down on the rhetoric. Speaking on 20th January 2014 at the opening of the first session of the Sub-committee on Ship Design and Construction, Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu declared: “I have my targets to eliminate piracy and reduce maritime casualty by half and I will maintain these targets this year as well.” Honestly speaking, we didn’t know that IMO has been leading the anti-piracy campaign. As for maritime accidents, isn’t Mr Sekimizu being overly ambitious?
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Maritime espresso shots on Facebook
Posted on Wednesday 22nd October 2014


Although Marine Café Blog has gained a pretty wide readership since it started in August 2009, we sometimes find it necessary to amplify our views on various maritime subjects. What better way to do so than through social media? Below are some digital picture cards we’ve recently shared on Facebook. They contain aphorisms based on our blog posts — the equivalent of espresso shots, served hot and strong.
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Four obstacles to Filipino STCW reform
Posted on Monday 20th October 2014


After four inspection visits over an eight-year period, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) team must be wondering why it’s been so difficult for Filipinos to put their house in order vis-a-vis the STCW Convention. We ourselves have long ceased to wonder. Four main factors stand in the way of deep and lasting reforms.
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Today’s sailors, hooked on technology?
Posted on Wednesday 15th October 2014

Book frontispiece of The light of navigation, 1608 sailing handbook

The sailors of old relied on the heavenly bodies to navigate using instruments that seem primitive by today’s standards – compass, hourglass, celestial globe, jacob’s staff and mariner’s astrolabe. Back then, it was seamanship that mattered most, not technology. How times have changed!
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