Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Home Is The Sailor, Home From The Sea

I've had this blog in "layup" for a few weeks since I returned from my last hitch at sea, but it's time to get things going again. Thanks to all the readers who continued to provide feedback, both in the Comments section and via email.

A lot has happened in the maritime world since I last wrote. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has made headlines both in the US and elsewhere. The massive Haiti relief effort I wrote about a few months ago has come up to speed with a major effort by merchant mariners. The commercial fishing community has seen the death of "Deadliest Catch" captain Phil Harris and the sinking of the Northern Belle in the Gulf of Alaska. Meanwhile, some are saying the Deepwater Horizon spill means commercial fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is "dead."

Upon my return from Mexico a few weeks ago, I began taking a number of classes to keep my credentials current and in anticipation of major regulatory changes that will apply to "limited" license American mariners like myself. Although this blog isn't really aimed at professional mariners, I know a number of them read it, so I'm starting an occasional "Monday Morning Mariner" post to help sort out some of the changes in the industry. My hope is to help simplify some things for mariners while giving my non-mariner readers a little more in-depth look at the American maritime industry.

To accommodate the Monday posts, I'm changing the schedule up a bit. There will still be a Saturday post, but the Tuesday post will move to Wednesday. Look for a more current events-driven topic in the weekday post, with more general "misunderstood" nautical topics on the weekend, unless for some reason it makes more sense to switch around two posts with similar themes.

The title of this blog is from the poem "Home Is The Sailor" by the English poet A.E. Housman.

Home is the sailor, home from sea:

Her far-borne canvas furled

The ship pours shining on the quay

The plunder of the world.

Home is the hunter from the hill:

Fast in the boundless snare

All flesh lies taken at his will

And every fowl of air.

'Tis evening on the moorland free,

The starlit wave is still:

Home is the sailor from the sea,

The hunter from the hill.

The Academy of American poets site has more on Housman here. Housman is frequently quoted by, among others, Robert Louis Stevenson in his poem Requiem, and by Patrick O'Brian in the Aubrey/Maturin novel The Thirteen-Gun Salute.

The statue pictured above is Stanley Bleifeld's "The Homecoming" at the United States Navy Memorial in Washington DC. Bleifeld also created the Memorial's famous "The Lone Sailor" statue.

The CBS News program "60 Minutes" had an excellent look at the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill last Sunday; see it here. For all things Deepwater Horizon, something called the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command has a comprehensive site. The websites of BP and Transocean also have pages devoted to the response. In the interest of full disclosure: while I have never worked directly worked for either BP or Transocean, I did at one time work for an oil field service company that did (and probably still does) extensive business with both.

Professional Mariner reporter Rich Miller filed a special report on the Haiti relief effort by mariners in the May issue of the magazine here.

The death of Capt. Phil Harris was covered by the Associated Press in the Juneau Empire here.

The Northern Belle sinking was covered by the Juneau Empire here.


  1. You say A.E. Housman's 'Home Is The Sailor' has been quoted by Robert Louis Stevenson in his poem 'Requiem'. I wonder if it could be the other way around. I think I understand Requiem as facing death as part of life. 'Home Is The Sailor' adds the element that the taker of life will also have his life taken? I have just recently become acquainted with both poems and read (on internet) that 'Home Is The Sailor' is Housman's tribute to RLS & titled the same. Not trying to dampen your well written blog, just trying to understand Housman's poem. Thanks.

    1. It is from R0bert Louis Stevenson.Housman's is a tribute.

  2. I believe you are correct. "Home Is The Sailor" was first published in the journal Academy in December 1894, the month of Stevenson's death.