Val Ryman ® 25-Jun-2018 02:19

Down to the Sea in Ships: Of Ageless Oceans and Modern Men

Year: 2014
Language: english
Author: Horatio Clare
Genre: History
Publisher: Chatto & Windus: Random House Group
Edition: First
ISBN: 9781409027652
Format: EPUB
Quality: eBook
Pages count: 276
Description: Horatio Clare was a BBC radio producer who turned to journalism and writing books, including two autobiographies, a travel book (about Sicily), a nature book (on swallows), and children's books.
In 2011-12, he was writer-in-residence with Maersk Lines, sailing aboard the Gerd Maersk (LOA 367 m; 10,000 TEU; Danish flag) from Felixstowe to Port Said and from the Port of Tanjung Pelapas via China to Los Angeles and then on the Maersk Pembroke (LOA 210 m; 2,900 TEU; Netherlands flag; now scheduled to be scrapped) from Antwerp to Montreal.
Clare follows in the wake of Rose George and her 2013 Ninety Percent of Everything, providing an overview and critique of the shipping industry and its treatment of seafarers in the early 21st century. Similar to George, Clare compares the conditions on container ships in 2011-12 to the recent past but offers no solutions to problems he identifies.
Although sailing from Europe to Asia only one year after George, the threat of piracy in that time meant that Maersk Line would not allow Clare to stay on board Gerd Maersk for the whole voyage.
Clare's work has more literary style in contrast to George's data-driven investigative journalism. As well as the recent past, Clare contrasts seafarers' lives on container ships in 2011-12 to those on sailing ships centuries ago and to a wide body of literature: from Richard Hakluyt (1589) to Sebastian Junger (1997).
The literary style, the lower level of data, and nostalgia for the past soften the critique of the present.
But the critique remains: the shipping industry is mired in losses and wafer-thin profits; and the only solution imagined involves greater economies of scale and cutting costs. That means the moral disgrace of further exploitation of seafarers while the shipping industry sits trapped in an economy where the cost of shipping goods can be lower than the cost of operating the ship and where banks refuse to fund building new ships.
Clare's publisher could have done a better job. I found five misspellings: 'passess' for passes (Chapter 4); 'Algericas' for Algeciras (error in Chapter 7 after getting it right in Chapter 2!); 'Medocino' for Mendocino (Chapter 12); 'imagaine' for imagine (Chapter 15), and 'tonness' for tonnes (Chapter 18).


Author’s Note
Part One: To the East and West
Chapter 1: Spirits of Ships
Chapter 2: Signing On
Chapter 3: Storms
Chapter 4: World of Men
Chapter 5: Out with the Tide
Chapter 6: Bay Life in the Biscay
Chapter 7: Madness, Superstition and Death
Chapter 8: Bitter Water, Bloody Sand
Chapter 9: Pirates, Soldiers, Thieves
Chapter 10: East
Chapter 11: China
Chapter 12: Pacific Diary
Part Two: North
Chapter 13: The Zeemanshuis
Chapter 14: The Hard-driven Ship
Chapter 15: Down-Channel
Chapter 16: The Western Approaches
Chapter 17: When Something Snaps
Chapter 18: The Eye
Chapter 19: Storm
Chapter 20: The Hold
Chapter 21: Ice
Chapter 22: Landfall
Chapter 23: Signing Off
A Note on Sources


Rating: 5 / 5 (Votes: 11)
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