Thursday, 6 May 2021

mary celeste

Spotted first by Present /&/ Correct, we quite enjoyed contemplating these compositions by artist Jan van Schaik in his Lost Tablets series which explores the vacillation between the familiar and grounded feeling of children’s toy blocks and the untethered nature of architectural vernacular. The cut-up grammar of building elements out of place, to-be-placed reminded us of these model frames sculptures yet unsprued. The pictured piece is called the Sea Bird, all named for ships found abandoned and adrift. More at the links above.

Saturday, 24 April 2021


Courtesy of the New Shelton wet/dry, we are directed towards this helpful and thorough-going comparative resource of map projections (see previously here, here and here) from Jason Davies that covers the range of interrupted maps, two-dimensional flatten of the globe focused on choice areas of less interest that go far beyond the Spilhaus or transverse Mercator projection that’s a favourite television news studio wall-hanging to butterfly maps, the Berghaus Star, Foucaut’s Stereographoc equivalency globe, the loxodrome and the pictured geopolitical bounding box with animation and interactive features.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021


We quite enjoyed this peek into the industries of rope-making and yarn-spinning that gave Cable Street of the East End and Whitechapel through the lens of the late eighteenth century company of the Frost Brothers when it was documented in illustrations and photographs in 1905. Like the above-titled way in Hamburg, the area began as a straight grounds where hemp fibres were twisted into ropes for the ships that would anchor on the Thames between London Bridge and the kilns at Limehouse.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

point danger

Erected on the headland marking the boundary between New South Wales and Queensland near Coolangatta and Tweed Heads and inaugurated on this day in 1971 to commemorate the bicentenary of Captain Cook’s first voyage along this part of the Australian Gold Coast, the original source of the lighthouse’s signal being a laser-beam as part of an experimental approach to develop more efficient warning beacons. The technology however did not work according to plan and the lighthouse was retrofitted with a traditional light source in 1975. 



Monday, 12 April 2021

regimental colours

Whereas the claim that Union Jack properly only refers to the naval ensign flown at sea is vexillologically vexing and likely a historical misunderstanding (or pedantic overreach), in an attempt to make my blog more bedecked with the Union Flag than it already is and therefore a more definitive and trustworthy source of information we recall that on this day in 1606 it was decreed for maritime purposes the nations of England and Scotland would use a joint flag symbolising the regal and personal union under James VI/I (see previously) upon inheriting the two crowns plus the Irish throne. The Cross of Saint Andrew countercharged with the Cross of Saint Patrick, overall the Cross of Saint George, heraldically speaking, was officially adopted with the Act of Union of 1800 that merged came into effect the first day of the next year—merging Great Britain with the Irish kingdom. Even before the Republic of Ireland won independence, the saltire of Saint Patrick was not embraced as representative of the island or its patron and associated with the personal coat of arms of the FitzGerald-FitzMaurice family dynasty.

Saturday, 3 April 2021

married to the sea

Via Strange Company, we were introduced to the missionary felines of the Seamen’s Church Institute of New York and the cats were delights in themselves of course, brave Bosun, Seaweed and her family and other seafaring companions, but the history of this organisation with its fleet of floating churches would be engrossing enough in itself.
Established in 1834 by the American Episcopal Church and still in operation, it is the biggest advocate for sailors, longshoremen and merchant mariners providing educational, legal, union representation, hospitality and pastoral services for the ports of New York and New Jersey, sending chaplains and sponsoring events such as Christmas at Sea (more recently shopping and arranging supplies through gangway exchanges for those stranded by COVID-19) and training and safety programmes and supporting studies on more effective ways to approach piracy, stowaways, refugees and shore leave. More at the links above.

Friday, 2 April 2021

francesco di paola

Venerated on this day—the occasion of his death at the then very advanced age of ninety-one in 1507 (*1416), the friar from Calabria was later appointed patron of his home region at the toe of Italy, Panama, ferrymen, mariners and naval officers for famously refusing to pay a boatman for passage and using his own cloak and staff as a sail and mast and crossing to Sicily under his own power, Francis of Paola also went on to establish the mendicant order known as the Minims. Membership including the botanist monk Charles Plumier who first encountered the fuchsia plant and a cloister in Mรผnchen who continues to brew Paulaner beer though they were expelled from the order for not following the rule that they should subside on charity and alms alone. Known for their humility, their name referring not only to the last among the faithful but also to the idea of having minimal impact, Francis—himself the namesake of St Francis of Assisi—advocated to keep the diet of Lent year round and ate no animals or animal products, vegan in modern parlance. Another legend recounts resurrecting a favourite trout, Antonella, who was caught and cooked by an unthinking brother who tossed out his dish once he saw how upset Francis was getting over a fish. Antonella, with some divine intervention, became whole again, swimming happily in the pond, and convinced the whole friary to abstain.

the yellow fleet

Via Kottke’s Quick Links, we are given a bit of historical perspective on the six-day plight of the Ever Given (previously) which has antecedents with a much longer, large-scale stranding resulting from the Six-Day War that broke out in June of 1967 between Israel and Egypt, trapping fifteen international ships and their crews in the Suez Canal that were passing through when the conflict broke out and remained impounded until 1975. Blockaded by Egypt to prevent its use by Israel, debris put in place continued to prevent transport and traffic for eight years during a time when the waterway was not the major artery of trade it is today. Named the above for the colour of the desert sand that accumulated on the decks of the vessels moored in Great Bitter Lake, a turning around point off the main canal, the ships’ crews from West Germany, the UK, the US, France, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Bulgaria quickly forged a community, sharing resources and even holding a mini-Olympic Games—the Swedish ship had a pool, and issuing their own Cinderella postage stamps with the recognition of host nation postal authorities. Within the first few months, countries flagged with these vessels were able to reduce crews to a bare minimum and repatriate their members, rotating in and out skeleton crews for the basic upkeep of the ships and though the population turn-over was regular and complete, the sense of comradery and community endured with each generation. The Suez was reopened with the Yom Kippur War in October of 1975, restoring this trade route but with the spectre of supplies being cut off again, businesses were pressured into making ever larger cargo ships to reduce one’s exposure, like the colossal Ever Given.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

radio caroline

Named after the daughter of JFK photographed dancing in the Oval Office and interpreted by the founder and chief backer Aodogรกn Ronan O’Rahilly (*1940 - †2020) as representing the playful disruption of government business and joyful rule-breaking, the pirate broadcaster (see also) that was never actually circumventing the law as it operated from international waters aired its first regular programme set on this day in 1964—transmitting from a retrofitted passenger ferry anchored off Felixstowne, Suffolk, just beyond the jurisdiction of any one who could object to their activity. Established like its Dutch and other European counterparts to undermine the monopoly that the BBC had over the radiowaves and the pressure that record companies exerted on stations, dictating that their popular songs dominate, Radio Caroline broadcasted from five different ships through 1990 before moving to satellite radio and community AM bands in select areas, continuing today on the internet. Limiting programming to day time hours so as not to interfere with Radio Luxembourg, the station, with news reports at the top of the hour, was extremely popular with homemakers and children and left a lasting impression and alterative from mainstream commercial music. Do give them a listen.

Saturday, 27 March 2021

forever given

We really enjoyed these curated tweets on the jack-knifed cargo ship blocking traffic in the Suez Canal from Super Punch including a dating app for those captains and crew stuck in the queue, an invitation to tag one’s battle avatar from among the named ships in the growing pile-up (see also, our favourites are a toss-up between Bulk Venus and the Nautical Deborah) plus some clearing up on the identity of the ship: not called evergreen—that’s the company—it’s evergreen’s monster.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

calving and bergy bits

Inspired by the impassioned plea from a glaciologist for scientists to portray realistic and stable icebergs, we discover—via Things Magazine—a subroutine that analyses shape and buoyancy of an iceberg of one’s own rendering and rights it approximately as it would appear in the ocean.  Along with a growler, a bergy bit is less than five metres across and are the products of disintegrating icebergs.  Draw your own to see how it would float.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

walk the plank

Having been glancingly acquainted with the existence of Sea Shanty TikTok just last week (see also), we were delighted to see this retrospective of the old genre and new community experimenting with these traditional maritime work songs—often about piracy, colonialism and whaling, though also the instrument—voice of the disgruntled and impressed and a sometimes a form of diss track exchanges for rival crews.

Tuesday, 6 October 2020


dry dock: a drone surveys a cruise ship graveyard  

one of these things is not like the other: match memes described as having the same energy—via Waxy 

anti-trust, anti-social: leaked documents show how viciously Facebook (previously) plans to fight regulations and its forced break-up

verticalisation: photographer Manuel Alvarez Diestro has Chongqing in frame a decade after his first visit 

rephotography: vis-ร -vis, the above, staging the same photos decades later—via Things Magazine  

we bid a hasty retreat from his lair: School House Rock’s Unpack Your Adjectives  

begagnade varor: IKEA to open a second-hand outlet in Sweden—via Kottke  

space ghost coast-to-coast: a retrospective of comics illustrator Alex Toth 

even keel: a tiny, personal boat to navigate Amsterdam’s canals

Sunday, 13 September 2020

san venerio

Venerated on this day as protector of the Gulf of La Spezia and the patron saint of lighthouse keepers (guardiani del faro), hermit and monk Venerius was associated with an isolated religious community in the small island of Tino in the Ligurian Sea for the first three decades of the seventh century.
Little is known about Venerius’ vita et acta other than miraculous accounts of arranging rescue missions for distressed sailors and driving out a sort of dragon fish that was seriously disrupting local commerce. Presently part of an Italian naval station, access to the island is restricted except on Venerius’ feast day, when his statue is carried out to sea with the bishop, blessing all the boats of Cinque Terre and the broader cove beyond.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

infinite cantabria

Local artist Okuda San Miguel has recently finishing turning the iconic Faro de Ajo into a vibrant celebration of the Santander community and the larger region that the painter and sculptor hails from. Built just in 1985 to safeguard the cape, the town council commissioned San Miguel to make the landmark as unique and diverse as the landscape. Peruse a whole gallery of images at Design Boom and discover more in the artist’s portfolio at the links above.

hans รธ

Namesake of Hans Hendrik, Arctic explorer and Kalaallit interpreter, whom in Greenlandic was called Suersaq, the small island (Tartupaluk, รŽle Hans, แ‘•แ•แ‘แธแ“—แ’ƒ) in the Nares Strait with no permanent human presence is disputed territory, claimed by both Greenland (and Denmark which represents the autonomous realm in foreign affairs) and Canada.
While the legal status of Hans Island does carry consequences for the range of both countries territorial waters in terms of drilling and fishing rights and negotiations continue, practically it is administered as a condominium—with the imaginary border bisecting the island and delegations from Canada and Denmark periodically visiting, upsetting the opposing flag and depositing a bottle of signature libations for the trouble, waging a “whiskey war.” More to explore at Messy Nessy Chic at the link up top.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020


Via the always excellent Kottke, we learn more about the lifeboat that Banksy (previously) has financed to patrol the Mediterranean waters and come to the aid of those in distress.
The M.V. Louise Michel (her namesake being the author and grand dame of feminism, social justice and anarchy, *1830 – †1905) is a retired French naval vessel outfitted for rescue operations and is professionally crewed—with a flat hierarchy and a vegan diet. From their mission statement: “We answer the SOS call of all those in distress, not just to save their souls—but our own.” Learn more at the links above.

Friday, 7 August 2020

even keel

Having recently noted the anniversary of the passing away of the tradition of the rum ration with Black Tot Day (31 July 1970)—the abolishment of the daily allotment aboard vessels of the Royal Navy in the UK, though lasting under the admiralties of Canada and New Zealand until 1972 and 1990 respectively, we enjoyed learning about the term “splice the mainbrace
—originally an emergency directive to undertake one of the most difficult emergency rigging repair jobs, it became over the years an allowance for a taking a celebratory toast or dispensing an extra ration to the crew. Since the institution ended, only the Queen, Admiralty or another member of the Royal Family can issue the order, sometimes with the supplementary command to “Mend and make clothes,” in other words to take half a day off. Compare to the “:59 Minute Rule” that’s observed in the US military that allows commanders to dismiss staff early without charge to leave, since it falls beneath the threshold that requires it.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

black monday

Already jittery and fragile in the face of the evolving thread and response to the efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, world stock markets experienced a sharp, precipitous decline—a drop fast enough to trigger a breaker-switch that suspended trading on Wall Street for a quarter of an hour to give investors a chance to regroup, when the mood was yesterday exacerbated by an oil war that erupted once Russia and OPEC were unable to come to a consensus on the right production numbers to ensure fuel retain value as a commodity during a steep decline in demand due to disruptions in shipping, travel and manufacture over said pandemic.

Saudi Arabia signaled it would flood the market with cheap crude and undercut the competition from Russia and the US—whom both have large reserves but lack the refining capacity, constricting further the prospects where the market could move its money with the retreat en masse to bonds having reduced the yield to under one percent, raising the spectre of defaults and bankruptcy. Italy’s expansion of its quarantine measures nationwide and North Korean missile tests did nothing to elevate spirits. With interest rates at historic lows and many companies’ portfolios just a tick above junk status (a comfortable, low-effort place to be until it suddenly wasn’t) national banks nor advocate stakeholders have really been painted into a corner and can do little to intervene. Though the Trump regime is more interested in the stock market and how his reelection hinges on its performance, the government may be forced to entertain extending the basic right to workers of paid sick leave, though such reform probably smacks too much of creeping socialism to allow it to gain a foothold.

Saturday, 23 November 2019


Though feeling far less cinematically informed than in previous years, this rundown of 2019’s Box Office portrayed in Simpsons’ screen captures brilliant curated by Hannah Woodhead (via Kottke) taught me everything I need to know to catch up. The Lighthouse from Max and Robert Eggers starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattison was one I got right away (and the treatment reminded me of these memes of last year’s Academy Award contenders) but be sure to check out the whole thread at the link above.