Well, my friends. I’ve been on board my new ship now for twelve days as Master, and for about six of those I’ve been alone. The first week, I had the previous skipper to give me an induction and show me the ropes, both literally and figuratively. An invaluable assistance for a few days, until the moment, comes when you just need to do it for yourself, and by yourself.
I’m loving this trip. The level of seamanship required to do anchor handling, dynamic positioning, towing and diving is such a great new challenge. Time is flying by with how engaged I am in this work.
This boat is a real swiss army knife of a vessel. Towing, anchor handling, and diving so far. Survey, seabed sampling, trenching and ROV work to come. Subsea construction, inspection, maintenance and repair work for the energy industry is so much more interesting to me now than simply counting boxes of cargo going up and down. And driving is really fun when you have all the bells & whistles, of an £11 Million Rolls Royce propulsion system to work with.
Although, I’m not going to lie. The first time I came in and out of Buckie harbour, with only 2 m clearance on either side, I did have rather a dry mouth and a racing heartbeat. It’s tight!
Although to be fair, the last time I used azimuth thrusters was on the Panama Canal Authority’s simulator in 2020, and a further 5 years before that since I’d used it for real.
I’m feeling a lot more confident now.
I’ve learned the language of this ship (every boat has its own vocabulary), and the most important of its quirks in quick enough time to feel at home. The crew are some of the best, smartest, most bonded and toughest I’ve seen in a long time. The cook is brilliant. The divers and the other clients have all been interesting so far. And I’m operating in Northern Scotland for the time being, which is simply one of the most beautiful places on earth. It’s like a tiny version of Alaska, but with more history.
The normie-narrative backdrop to this trip so far has been somewhat tedious. The BBC coverage of Gary Lineker reveals how completely insulated from reality you can be, when you work for a government-subsidised propaganda machine and haven’t set foot in a working-class environment unescorted for probably more than half of your life. The collapse of SVB & the ‘don’t panic’ murmurings of corporal Jones at the British Brainwashing Corporation were uncannily reminiscent of their tone when I graduated into a desolate and shrinking job market in 2007/2008.
The difference this time?
We’ve had fifteen years to digest the injustice of 2008’s GFC and an unprecedented access to networks of free-minded people over the internet. Censorship may be tightening, but it can’t erase the truths we’ve already heard thus far.
I finished university with about £25k in debt. Not so bad coming from a divorced household, and having studied at one of the ancient universities of Scotland, covered in its own Boston Ivy & operating since 1495 AD. Aberdeen was an oil town and quite expensive before the 2015 oil downturn. For four years I did the Navy reserves on weekends and vacations, worked in kitchens at night during term time, and still completed my BSc. Although I really hated it, I finished what I’d started without an unmanageable debt burden. I am now a homeowner, with my wife, and we have a small and manageable fixed-rate mortgage. I have a decent profession, a couple of business plans involving geospatial-temporal databases, & a backup trade. We’ll be fine this time around.
However, rather worryingly, it seems like the banks are preparing to use the same ‘backup’ plan they used last time around.
When I graduated in 2007 I had spent my entire honours year basically doing every bit of extra time with the Naval Reserves that I get my hands on, and ignoring my proto-woke degree program. I went on a leadership course at Dartmouth. I flew helicopters and planes. I went on exercise with the Marines, and let them kick my head in (, which was great fun). Drove boats, did extra training, and read their books and manuals. With four years of this behind my belt I thought I’d walk into the Royal Navy. But by the time I applied, it counted for little. There were so many people applying for a commission that it was going to be a minimum of 1 year for an interview, then another full year before basic training. And even then I’d probably have to go to submarines to get in. They were completely over-subscribed with graduates who’d normally never consider the Navy, due to the financial crash, and the numbers were ridiculous.
It was my father’s friend, a marine engineer, who suggested I try the Merchant Fleet while I was waiting, instead. The price of entry was admitting reality, and starting back at square 1, doing an HNC at a vocational college. Most of the lecturers didn’t attend university when they were young, and some were quite hostile to me being there. They didn’t know how mickey mouse degrees were already becoming in environmental science.
Pride sufficiently swallowed, I soon found myself dining on room service fillet steak, swilling Heineken, and enjoying the view of Hong Kong Bay on a summer’s evening from the teak-decked balcony of a six-star luxury cruise liner at anchor.
Submarines could go hang. I travelled the world in style and met my wife on that cruise line. I landed on my feet, thank God.
But many didn’t. There were fifty graduates applying for every environmental science job in Scotland at that time, and with an average salary of £8K per annum, people who needed to pay their own way in life did not have much of a competitive advantage.
During those early days at sea, the British government incentivised the cruise line to train me with a healthy tax rebate. They realised that they’d neglected to train any seafarers for about 20 years, which was handy, for an island nation.
My pay was a mighty £120 per week. Strangely, however, I found myself dining with the captain and meeting and entertaining exceedingly wealthy passengers from time to time. I remember one conversation with a guest particularly well, as it showed me a side of the world that spoke to the character of our society so well.
‘So what do you do’?
‘I buy banks’.
‘Banks? Are you in real estate’?
‘No, I buy banks as a business’.
‘Oh. How did you get into doing that’?
‘Well, after 2008, we were bailed out because we were too big to fail. So, now we know, just keep getting bigger, and then we’ll never fail’
And that, my friends, is moral hazard in a nutshell.
Never hate the players. Only hate the game.
Myspace was still around in those days, and Facebook was still more of a novelty than a sinister CIA-controlled plot to zombify children into matrix-wired drool farms. Dissenting discussion around the events of 9/11 was the first introduction many of us had to YouTube, and smartphones were still roughly the size of a bank card.
The internet was the wild west back then because it was too new for corruption to have taken root yet. I remember watching prisoners of war having their heads cut off, uncensored, on YouTube, about 60 minutes before a physics exam.
Now I won’t even listen to someone unless they’ve been de-platformed at least once.
Cernovich, Styx, and Molyneux introduced us to Bastiat, Ludwig von Mises, Thomas Sowell, Henry Hazlitt, Peter Schiff & Mike Malone. We learned that inflation was more than just ‘prices going up’, as our professors and media had been patronisingly telling us. We learned that the socialist rebels pointing to the failures of ‘capitalism’ after 2008 had as much utility or integrity as a chocolate teapot when it came to our generation’s turn to pay the bills or get on the property ladder.
How much worse is it now?
Crypto was supposed to be the internet’s answer to all of the troubles of the graduating class of 2008. Never mind that ‘programmed scarcity’ doesn’t achieve much when you’re talking about open-source software. It may not be money, but neither is fiat currency.
Crypto was a valiant attempt to sidestep the inevitable conflict that is on its way now.
As any libertarian or ancap worth his salt knows, fiat is backed by coercion. As the US Ambassador to London said a few years ago when answering critics of the sustainability of the US $30Trillion debt, she said (roughly paraphrasing from memory):
‘The US Dollar is sound because it is backed by the largest military force the world has ever produced’.
So there we have it. National debts and fiat currency aren’t ‘backed by nothing’, as many keyboard warriors assert. They are backed by promises and threats of future violence (bonds as bondage) and the violation of property rights.
Until the Bitcoin Bros are prepared to raise their own army, crypto was always destined to become CBDCs.
I made a few grand from speculating on BTC & ETH, but it only paid for some baby-raising equipment and a few trinkets. I never believed in it as any kind of societal ‘backup’, so I cashed out a while ago and spent the money on tools, training & going self-employed.
The news is so boring these days because we’ve been waiting for this for years. And it will still be a couple more years of circling the drain before we see any real excitement, as a society.
The strikes and protests we are seeing in the UK and France this week only serve to make the whole country feel like an NHS waiting room. It even smells a bit sterile now. The lack of self-awareness of public sector employees who demand an increase in government spending, while bemoaning inflation, is just too much.
At least the guys at sea are honest when they take money from government-subsidised contracts to build renewables. The only reason we’re not working on Oil & Gas or nuclear projects is because of regulatory interference in the market. And if we don’t take their money, it’ll only go to foreign states &/or get spent on guns anyway.
And with Humza ‘Longshanks’ Yousaf leading the rigged SNP leadership contest, we face a Sunak/Khan/Yusaf leadership on the mainland UK. An unelected head of state recently crowned, & an unelected First Minister in Scotland, & Prime Minister in England? The Russian propagandists don’t even have to try any more, do they?
We’re still sending aid money to India as Modi is terrorising his own people, expanding his space program, & persecuting Christians (not just the ‘colonised’ ones, as Jesus’ doppelganger - Saint Thomas the Apostle - made it to India 1,970 years ago).
All while the UK indigenous birth rate collapses, but taxes are raised to house Albanian drug dealers and Wahabist terrorists who shot at our own soldiers in Iraq (Gary). All while wages stagnate, inflation soars, worker productivity languishes, regulatory uncertainty scares off investment, and our national debt hovers around 100% of GDP, with untold losses due to lockdowns still barely fathomable.
Try bailouts again against this backdrop, and see what happens.
If Rishi, Saddiq & Humza walk into a bar, & Charles III pours them a pint of sparkling water, the Commonwealth will have officially inverted and dissolved.
So, I’m wondering, where’s the liferaft?
Herman Melville once said, ‘There never was a great man yet who spent all his life inland’.
I agree. I’m surrounded by great men at work. They are not like politicians or banksters. Now, why would that be?
Seafaring is a dangerous occupation. And not just because of mandatory medical procedures with unknowable risk profiles. Ian Urbina estimates that 100,000 seafarers are killed each year, and the vast majority of them are victims of kidnapping, murder or suicide on the high seas. Aside from that grey/black market aspect of seafaring, even professional shipping companies lose about 75 ships per year as total constructive losses, in current times, the safest period in 5,000 years of known maritime history.
One guy on my new ship had to have twelve bouts of facial reconstructive surgery, over five years, after his skipper on a former ship panicked at the controls when near an oil rig, and moved away from the rig too soon. Before my crewman could disconnect the cargo hose, the steel pipe manifold was ripped from its mountings and smashed his skull open. His last memory as he hit the deck and blacked out was someone saying ‘Don’t bother. He’s a goner’.
It was a miracle that a helicopter got to him in time, and had the knowledge and presence of mind to fly at a very low altitude back to the hospital so that the air pressure was stable enough to keep most of his brain from leaking out.
On my first night alone in command of this vessel, we were disembarking passengers via a novel gangway installation, to another ship. The design of this novel gangway was requested by the client, but it is unsuitable in anything but flat calm conditions, which are a rarity in March, in Northern Scotland. As the gangway bucked and slammed, a mooring bitt was ripped from the side of the other ship, luckily not hitting anyone.
The ’safety’ equipment requested by the client had given an illusion of ‘safety’, by mitigating against one perceived risk. However, this control measure introduced new hazards of its own. We’d swapped a very minor risk of man-overboard, for a significant risk of injury by projectile or crushing.
(Again, dear owners, only hire lucky captains!)
I was commended for dealing with the incident properly and reporting it quickly. But the lesson to learn is that single-factor analysis, and improper attitudes to authority, increase the risk to safety of life. That’s as true in the maritime industry as it is in biomedical science, politics or finance.
Safety is never an absolute. It is only ever a relative and temporary state.
That’s why all the people who Jesus healed or resurrected, still, eventually died.
Accepting the facts of life is a prerequisite for doing anything difficult. We must deal with reality as it is. Not how a customer, client, manager, or politician sees it or asserts it to be.
Seamanship is the art of doing work at sea. It is an art form in the pre-renaissance sense of art, as a ‘bringing together’ of many things.
If you’ve read the first few chapters of Moby Dick, you already know that the primary principle of seamanship is redundancy. Whether you’re hunting whales for their oil, or going offshore to drill for it, once you’re over that horizon you’re on your own.
As Melville detailed in his book, every ship has a list of ‘critical equipment’. Items on board, which, if they were to fail would have a catastrophic outcome. Critical equipment needs critical spares to be carried on board because you can’t just call the AA, or push the boat round the corner to a local garage.
The same principle of having a ‘backup’ or redundancy is applied in many ways.
When manoeuvring past other ships we try to allow enough sea room so that our ‘closest point of approach’ is greater than the combined stopping distance of each vessel. We carry fire fighting equipment so that if our automatic shut-downs and CO2 can’t extinguish a blaze, we can tackle it ourselves. We have a reverse osmosis machine so that if our fresh water runs out, we can make our own. We have sufficient life raft capacity to accommodate 100% of both crew and passengers, on both the port & starboard sides, so that if the ship partially sinks to one side (called listing), the other side is still available to save everyone.
The life raft itself is a kind of backup ship, but it too embodies the redundancy principle of seamanship. Everything on an inflatable life raft is doubled. There is not one buoyant chamber, but two. There is not one method of launching, but at least two (manual, & automatic after the ship has sunk). There is not one canopy, but two. There are two doors for access and ventilation. There are two floors for insulation. There are water rations plus a backup means of gathering rainwater. Not only are there two sea anchors, but there is a backup pocket built in to act as another type of sea anchor. Almost every item of equipment on board a life raft is doubled, and it even has a means of being turned back over, in case it gets turned upside-down in a storm.
The trouble with many of our financial and political institutions is, that they’ve already been living in their ‘backup’ plan for decades. And they have no way out.
But luckily I don’t believe that when they go down, we all go down.
I think that the weird people in the capital think that just because they started the hunger games, that they are somehow protected from them.
The capital can only be the source of society when it interacts with and relates to all of its extreme parts., and acts properly toward them. When the central authority is based on fraud and coercion, its authority is eroded.
I believe that our culture is more enduring than our state.
We only have to look at the Rugby of late to see the cultural memory of trench warfare, tribal fealty, and the skills of flanking and penetrating attack being maintained alive and well. Human beings retain the things that work.
The danger now comes if we fail to update and resurrect our culture, as the old contextual paradigms come to their end.
As Scotland showed in their final match of the six nations tonight, there is great beauty in the spirit of never giving up. Particularly when all seems to be going against you, in the twilight moments of your test.
The danger inherent in our modernist materialism, scientism, neopaganism, new-age spiritualism, stoicism and nihilism moving forward is the completely incorrect existentialist idea that the only meaning that exists in life is the arbitrary meaning that you as an individual assign to it.
This dangerous idea is promoted by narcissistic philosopher kings who know that you don’t have to time to sit and work out your position on every hypothetical moral quandary. Thereby creating market opportunities for you to outsource your conscience and responsibility to these soothsayers. Those ‘influencers’ of the ever-shifting madness of the mob, who have a maddening contradiction to allow you to indulge in every self-destructive whim you may conceive of.
But the thing to know, that every captain knows, is that at some point, there is no backup. Sometimes all that stands between you, and some very sharp rocks (or a crewman’s facial reconstructive surgery), is your own performance.
The only thing they never carry as a spare on a ship is another captain.
And to become the captain, you simply have to have the balls to do it for yourself and accept that you need to risk everything.
Only then will you learn that there is no excuse anymore, and no higher authority to appeal to. You just have to get it right or accept your fate if you get it wrong.
And in that acceptance, there is freedom.
The future we are facing will require us all to become masters. Like the medieval guild system, our professional networks and clan ties will take priority, as we defend ourselves from an overreaching, predatory, dying, state.
Blockchain and network technology will be used against us, but when we learn to use these technologies to defend ourselves from the fraud and predations of corrupt institutions, the state will return to its proper role. That of defender and protector, mediator and servant of justice.
When we can withhold our funds without fear of reprisal, we can exercise true consent and conscience. The state will then be forced into a ‘customer-facing role’, in a way that hasn’t existed since the Whisky Rebellion.
When we can defend our currency against the fraud of money printing and national debt or deficit spending, we will no longer be forced to subsidise the destruction of our own nation.
You can have your abortion, but you won’t be able to force me and my kids to pay for it. You can provoke your wars, but if I don’t like your policy, I’ll be able to change my ‘defence provider’ as easily as a ship can change its flag, or a teenager can change cell phone provider. You can love immigration all you want, but you’ll have to provide charity for those poor people voluntarily, instead of by manufactured consent.
The Soviet Union collapsed, perhaps inevitably. But those people had the advantage of knowing that they were communists. We are living in techno-fascist structures, but believe that we are free, and marching towards Utopian progressive heaven with every new regulation, scheme or intervention.
A lot of people are going to be very disappointed when the bubble bursts, and the illusion of safety dissolves.
But it is our job then to bring people’s attention to the right things, when the time is ready for them to see them. The anger at the collapse of the welfare state will bring brutal, civil war-inducing, ethnic cleansing levels of rhetoric from the enemies of freedom. We need to be ready with a better story than theirs when GFC2 and the Great-Green-Technofascist-Reset bring disappointment to the poor people who believe they’ve been paying into a nation-state that cares about them & owes them.
I have noticed a hopeful trend in cartography in the last ten years that I think reflects a societal groundswell of philosophical change. Ancient maps were entirely relative, centred on Jerusalem, or on other relative centres. Modernity brought an obsession with reductivist objectivism as its core philosophy, producing cartography that was impenetrable and opaque, as it tried to produce a ‘one size fits all’, North-Up, view of the world. The uniformity of modernity is its greatest limitation.
Maps now can be tailored and modified relative to individual or customer requirements with great ease, and I’ve worked on many products that specialised (lucratively) in achieving a balance between objective and relative values.
Society too is moving back toward recognising the value of the individual, over the collective.
The stronger story will be one of love as a verb and consent as the highest virtue.
The reason the fight is happening now is that the enemies of freedom know that the technology to achieve the real new world order, where every soul is a sovereign monarch, is already in our hands.
The sooner we realise that we have to build our own life rafts, the sooner we will attain the sovereignty, responsibility and freedom that we were built for.
Top notch as usual, though the substack extra sign-in verification is starting to piss me off. I guess they want to track the readers too.
I learned that:
- the cook is the second most important person on board
- there are simulators for ships !!
- Australia is in pretty much the same boat (no pun intended) except I don't we think we have any Albanian drug dealers masquerading as refugees.
Great article! We are all responsible for ourselves and our families, not to some amorphous greater good agenda of the day. Yesterday I cancelled my longtime subscription to the once great Wall Street Journal after they published (1) an article on how the Germans have evidence that 6 people on a 50 foot sailboat blew up Nordstream and (2) an article praising measures taken during the Covid panic, such as the vaccinations which saved millions and the lockdowns which saved even more. I'm not paying for someone to write that drivel which others accept as gospel because it appeared in the WSJ. Press on and good luck!