MICHAEL WALSH ex-seafarer, nomad and author of seafaring books is more aware than most of the awesome size and depths of the earth’s great seas. After all, the once British seaman on reaching his 26th birthday had travelled to over 60 countries, visited hundreds of ports many several times over.
At 4,000 miles it is quite a distance between Los Angeles and the entrance of the Panama Canal. The tranquillity of the tropical western seaboard of the United States was likely the last place on earth where one might expect high drama but on the high or restful seas always be prepared for the unexpected.
On December 14, 1907, a large sailing ship wrecked off the coast of Annet, in the Isles of Scilly, killing all but two of her eighteen crew and causing the world’s first large marine oil spill. The ship involved in the accident, Thomas W. Lawson, was an incredible ship.
The shortest sea route between Europe and Asia passes through the Arctic Due to thick ice it is not traversable for most of the year. Russia has now decided to invest about $10 billion in the near future in order for the region to become an international transport corridor 365 days a year. Developing the route will require a huge investment, but the potential profit will be even greater.
British seamen cynically but in friendly fashion describe themselves not as the crew members or shipmates but as Board of Trade Compulsory Companions. That said, the bad eggs thrown together by circumstance were few and far between. From sailing day, a ship’s crew who were complete strangers to each other a day earlier became firm friends.
The great French artistes, actors, chanteuse like Mireille Matthieu, the iconic Brigitte Bardot, and international actor and heartthrob have put at risk their careers by openly promoting their patriotic anti-migrant stance. Alain Delon has always supported Le Pen’s National Front especially when it was created by Marine le Pen’s war hero father.
The sinking of the French ocean liner SS La Bourgogne on the morning of 4 July 1898 was one of the most disgraceful of disasters in maritime history due to the cowardly and criminal behavior of the crew. Instead of the heroic sacrifice that has often been the shining moment in such a terrible tragedy, the crew of the steamer “fought like demons for the few lifeboats and rafts”, drawing out their knives and threatening passengers with it. Out went for a toss “Women and children first!”, famously established by the soldiers of the sinking Birkenhead, half a century earlier, and by the crew of the Titanic fourteen years later. Only one woman passenger from La Bourgogne was saved, and all children perished.
She was Italy’s one and only Blue Ribband champion. The renowned Blue Riband was coveted by the great shipping companies of history being awarded for passenger-carrying liners making the fastest crossings of the Atlantic Ocean.
There was an ominous feeling in the air as the old German passenger liner Steuben slipped her moorings under dark clouds and set off across a slate-grey Baltic Sea. Crowded onto the ship were 5,200 German refugees and wounded soldiers. Everyone on board was attempting to escape the fast-approaching American-armed Red Army that threatened destruction, rape and death.
How often we relax to the Hispanic melodies of Isaac Albeniz. His Rapsodia Espanola, Sevilla and Granada, based on Catalan folk songs, are perhaps the better known of his many compositions. These lovely melodies evoke the Spanish dream more than could any Goya painting but what of the man behind the music? Like most composers his life was as notable as was his music.