Forgotten Seafarers

Forgotten Seafarers

According to the International Chamber of Shipping, 1.6 million seafarers are stranded at sea and are unable to go home, while relief crews cannot be brought in.

The UK Chamber of Shipping said up to 2,000 – or around one in 13 – of the UK’s 25,750 seafarers were among the stranded.

In a letter written to Shipping Minister Kelly Tolhurst, the trade association has asked the UK government to sign up to and acknowledge the International Maritime Organisation COVID-19 guidance for personal protective equipment and for interactions between ship and shore-based personnel to ensure crew changeovers can resume. Getting them home is “increasingly taking on a humanitarian dimension”, it adds.

Working at sea often entails consecutive shifts over weeks or even months with few days off, followed by a rest period of weeks or months between trips. While these seafarers are unable to return, work will resume even for those in need of a break.

Discover the seafarer way of life with our series Tough Boats

Mark Dickinson, general secretary of seafarer union Nautilus International, said many UK seafarers were working 90-hour weeks.

In an interview with the BBC, he said: “It’s a confined workplace – not the Hilton Hotel – for three, four or five months. The accommodation is fairly basic and you’re with a small group of people.

“You get into a situation where you think, ‘I’ve got six weeks to go,’ ‘I’ve got four weeks to go,’ and even when this is extended by 24 hours it’s pretty awful. It’s worse when it’s so open-ended.”

Despite uncertainty, seafarers have been honoured for their hard work and professionalism throughout the global pandemic by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

More information:

Watch: Tough Boats – The Arctic

Download: Tough Boats – Great Lakes

Read: Major Shipping Firms Dedicate $5bn To Clean Fuel Research

Read: Phobic Traveller: The What, When & How of COVID-19 Travel

Read: All-Female Sailing Team ‘eXXpedeition’ on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans

Main image: Container ship leaving bay area, Derell Licht, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Summers

Tips For Coping During Lockdown

Tips For Coping During Lockdown

It would be fair to say that more of us than usual are facing stress and/or anxiety this month, and with looming uncertainty as to when we will return to normal, it is important to look after your wellbeing. The good news is that most of us have got plenty of time on our hands to take proper care of ourselves, but if you’re struggling for ideas we’ve put together a list of tips and resources for remaining calm and staving off Coronavirus anxiety – and dare we say – using this awkward time wisely!

Mood Boosters

Positive news

John Krasinski of The Office has launched a YouTube channel aptly named “Some Good News“, covering any and all positive news that the world has to offer. Spare 30 minutes from your week (preferably minutes which you may have been spending ‘terror scrolling’), and check in with John every Monday for his mood boosting show.

Online therapy

The mental health tech sector has experienced a boom in the past month, with more and more people seeking help from online and app-based sources. App based services such as Better Help offer an affordable and easy way to access a professional ear to chew on. If you’d prefer to deal with your stressors on your own, services such as Headspace use meditation to build awareness alongside a healthy sense of perspective.

Watch something inspiring

Head over to the Pilot Guides Store and download any number of our shows. We’re currently loving our Pocket Guides (currently half price!) for planning our next city break, and Travelling in the 70’s for some good old fashioned nostalgia!

70's cars in Los Angeles, Travelling in the 70's by Pilot Productions

70’s cars in Los Angeles, Travelling in the 70’s by Pilot Productions

Schedule video calls with loved ones

Whether its a quiz night, a cup of coffee and a chin-wag or a shared takeaway, utilise video calling to maintain meaningful connections with people you care about. Aside from the obvious boost this will provide to your mood, it will also give you the opportunity to take your mind off your own problems and check in with everyone else.

A screen-ban

Set an allocated time every day where you turn off the TV, put down the phone or tablet and close your laptop. Use this time to read, practice journalling, meditate or some other activity aside from your chores. Actively unwinding can help your frantic thoughts to slow down, inspire creativity and help you let go of factors which are beyond your control. Aside from the benefits of the activities themselves, less screen time will help slow down your consumption of negative information, give your eyes a break from harmful blue-light and help you recognise when you are simply scrolling because you are bored.

Sleep

Physical exercise

In most places, lockdown laws enable individuals to partake in an hour of physical activity each day. This is for good reason – exercise generates feel-good hormones! It’s also a great opportunity to get some fresh air, vitamin D, and connect with nature. Don’t forget that walking counts as exercise too, and now would be a great time to take in some of your local sights!

Historic Walks Hollywood - Justine in the Hollywood Hills

If you cant go out, ensure to do something physical at home. Yoga is a great way to relax your body and mind. Isometric (such as a plank) and isotonic exercises (such as squats and push-ups) are great if you do not have much space and are confined to home.

DVD: Historic Walks

Sleep hygiene

Preparing and preserving your bedroom as a place for sleep can be very important when trying to minimise disruption to sleep! In the morning, make your bed and air your bedroom; and in the evening light a candle or spray some calming linen spray. Stay away from your bedroom until it is time for bed. Also, Mr. Sandman is not a fan of the blue-light from your phone either, so make sure to leave it aside for a restful nights’ kip!

Routine

Set a time for bed each night and stick to it, set an alarm each morning and avoid sleeping-in. Is your sleep pattern already busted? Try to move your bedtime and wake-up back by 10 minutes each day. Even so much as paying attention to your sleep pattern and making a concerted effort towards maintaining a routine will help you feel more in control.

Sleeping in a yurt... Pilot Productions

Sleeping in a yurt… Pilot Productions

Finances

Cash KingMake a zero-sum budget

Do you know where your money goes each month? Knowing where every penny has gone, and where every penny should be will help restore a sense of control in these financially stressful period. There are some fantastic online tools to help you draw up this budget, and many computers come with a pre-loaded budget templates!

Seek help

If things aren’t looking too rosy, then don’t bury your head in the sand. As well as finding out if there are any state benefits which you may be entitled to receive, you should look to temporarily reduce your obligations where possible. Many lenders are offering payment holidays as well as adjustments to repayment schedules, so call your lenders and discuss ways to ease your situation. Remember, it is in their interest for you not to default! Institutions such as Citizens Advice Bureau in the UK can provide some clarity on where to find help, and help you seek it. In the US, assistance generally varies from state to state, so do some digging and find out if there is anything you can do to ease the burden for even a short period.

Home

Spring clean

It is that time of year, after all. What better way to spend an afternoon than cleaning your house from top to bottom, and ‘putting winter away’. Having a clean and tidy environment in the spring time is important, especially when you’re spending so much time at home.

Clean out your closet

Take inventory of your closet! Set aside anything you no longer wear ready to donate it to a charity shop or a clothes bank. Alternatively, to generate some cash, you could sell them online! As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”. Apply this principle to other cupboards, too. Perhaps you have a pile of paperwork stashed away that you’ve been meaning to sort through, old electronics which have been sat in a box collecting dust, or a bathroom cabinet full of lotions and potions – get rid of what you no longer want and organise what you do!

Get creative in the kitchen

Empty out your food cupboard and fridge and get creative! Not only will this help with efforts to cut down on your spending, but cooking can also be a great way to release some stress. There is a plethora of recipes using just about any ingredients on the internet, but we would recommend checking out our Ten Great Global Recipes for inspiration!

A spicy pudding soup with fresh fruit. So wrong, but so delicious.

spicy pudding soup with fresh fruit. So wrong, but so delicious. And more or less exactly what you’ll get when you combine the contents of your cupboard…

Work

We love this Antique Writing Desk. When you're done for the day, you simply shut it! Image by Thomas Quine, Flickr creative Commons

We love this Antique Writing Desk. When you’re done for the day, you simply shut it! Image by Thomas Quine, Flickr creative Commons

Working from home

Pilot HQ’s tried and tested tips:

  • Stick to a routine: Clock in and out at roughly the same time each day where your role permits!
  • Make the most of not commuting: Go for a walk and/or eat a good breakfast!
  • Keep your work area as separate from your living area as possible: As tempting as it might be, taking your laptop to bed is not as productive as you think it is!
  • Take a lunch break!
  • Get dressed properly: Not just for that ever impending surprise video call, but getting dressed for work will help you focus on work, and keep work and home tasks separate.

Furloughed or on leave

Devote work-time to professional development or other activities which will help to enrich your career and and add value to your employers or your business. This is not limited to simply seeking out online courses; a more holistic approach to enrichment will enhance your life and your career. We love activities such as learning a language, or exploring the plethora of lessons that history has to offer. Why not check out our Study Guides to get a taste for what you might be interested in pursuing.

Unemployed

As much as finding gainful employment is your priority here, it may also be useful to take this time to reflect on your career so far to help determine what your next move might be. If you were already looking to make a change in your career, then there is literally no time like the present. Those who have lost their jobs could also engage in enriching activities to keep the mind as sharp as possible for when that interview finally comes your way.


Have you already engaged in any of the above, or do you have your own coping strategies? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

Main Image: Ned Kelly‘s First Home in Beveridge, Pilot Productions

Wine Sales Are Booming

Wine Sales Are Booming

Following the closure of many on-trade bars, pubs and restaurants across the world, shops which sell wine and other alcoholic beverages are seeing a dramatic uplift in sales as consumers seek to enjoy a drink at home.

One alcohol delivery service, Drizly, based in Boston MA, have stated that earlier this month the announcement of a lock-down led to the biggest day of sales on record, outstripping otherwise busy periods such as New Years Eve and Halloween.

Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, the government specifically added provision for shops selling alcohol to stay open within the coronavirus lock-down rules.

Kent based winemaker and drinks company Chapel Down have seen sales in supermarkets and off licences grow substantially and direct online sales multiply dramatically as their customers seek to continue to enjoy their brands at home. Chapel Down report that on the current sales trajectory, their sales to consumers enjoying the drinks at home could more than make up for their loss of trade to licenced venues.

However, some nations have taken their lock-down further, effectively introducing a period of prohibition. South Africa, although continuing to harvest and produce wine, have introduced a ban on the purchase of both alcohol and tobacco in a bid to curtail incidence of domestic violence and to improve personal hygiene, adherence to social distancing measures and to mass-protect the nation’s immune systems.

The department of Aisne in northern France began with a similar approach but faced huge backlash from residents, forcing them to lift the ban and allow the purchase and consumption of alcohol.

Current trends suggest that widespread abstinence is unlikely. The wine market has been described in the past as recession-resistant — people like to enjoy a glass as much in good times as they do in bad times.

With many large-scale businesses rapidly adapting to this shift in demand, we hope that smaller, artisan and local producers do not neglect this opportunity to shield their businesses from the impacts of the virus. After all, when this is over, we are all going to need a drink to celebrate!

More information:

Watch: Globe Guides – Wine Trails: France, Italy & Iberia

Download: Globe Guides – Wine Trails: The New World

Read: Châteauneuf du Pape Wine Festival

Read: Vinotherapy – the Glass of Wine Cure

Main image: Malbec Wines from Mendoza’s Vineyards, Pilot Productions

By Sofi Summers

Rare White Giraffes Slaughtered by Poachers in Kenya

Rare White Giraffes Slaughtered by Poachers in Kenya

Two white giraffes – one of which was the last female in the world – have been found killed by poachers in a nature reserve in Kenya.

It is believed that there is only one white giraffe left in the world. The white colouring occurs due to a rare condition called leucism, which causes skin cells to have no pigmentation. Unlike albinism, animals with leucism still produce dark pigment in soft tissues, meaning that the eyes of these giraffe were dark.

The stunning white giraffes have previously attracted much tourism to the nature reserves. The killings have also provided a blow to greater conservation efforts that are designed to protect rare and unique species.

Scientists had also been studying the genetics of the white giraffes since their ‘discovery’ in 2016, providing a further boost to the local economy.

“This is a very sad day for the community of Ijara and Kenya as a whole,” said Mohammed Ahmednoor, manager of the Ishaqbini Community Conservancy working with the Hirola Conservation Program.

Poachers kill or capture animals to sell them locally or for the global trade in wildlife. Wildlife trading is a major black market that has increased alongside rising wealth in Asia—a major consumer of wildlife—and the advent of e-commerce and social media websites.

International anti-poaching organisations such as the World Wildlife FundThe International Anti-Poaching Foundation and Save The Elephants have been working hard for many years to combat the issue. Organisations such as these often work alongside local-level initiatives such as the Hirola Conservation Program.

More information:

Read: You’ve Probably Never Heard Of The World’s Most Trafficked Animal

Read: Breeding endangered species at La Vanille Crocodile Park

Main Image: Sunset in Kenya, susanjanegolding, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Summers

Major Shipping Firms Dedicate $5bn To Clean Fuel Research

Major Shipping Firms Dedicate $5bn To Clean Fuel Research

7 major global shipping firms have between them pledged $5 billion to develop new clean fuel systems to tackle pollution caused by the industry.

The firms’ aim to decarbonise transoceanic shipping has been received positively by the wider industry and environmental campaigners alike. Shipping accounts for 3% of global emissions and for 90% of how goods are transported around the globe.

Currently viable options include biofuels, green hydrogen, ammonia, renewable electricity and fuel-cells.

The ship owners also are also welcoming a fuel levy to help support research and development in the future. The shipping industry is known for being heavily subsidised, with legislation protecting them from taxes in most parts of the world, however these calls signify a change in attitudes and an acknowledgement that pollution will not tackle itself.

This move also comes following an International Maritime Organisation regulation which has seen fuel suppliers innovating for the January 2020 date which it is set to come into effect, for heavy fuel oil suppliers cut the amount of sulfur used in ship fuels. The sulfur-containing fuel, when heated before combustion, creates harmful sulfur dioxide as a by-product which is released into the atmosphere. It is thought that the reduction of sulfur in the fuel will dramatically improve public health, particularly in the world’s busiest major port areas such as Shanghai, Singapore, Rotterdam, Los Angeles and Valencia.

The international shipping community is clearly demonstrating wider awareness and an eagerness to follow many of the world’s heavy industry communities in their commitment to tackle climate change.

More information:

Read: Chinese Firm to Manufacture 200,000 ‘New Energy’ Vehicles by 2025

Read: All-Female Sailing Team ‘eXXpedeition’ on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans

Read: IMO 2020 – cleaner shipping for cleaner air

By Sofi Summers

Main Image: Emma Maersk, Roy, Flickr Creative Commons

Thirty Mummies Excavated In Egypt

Thirty Mummies Excavated In Egypt
October 22, 2019

Thirty coffins containing mummies thought to belong to the families of high priests have been excavated from an ancient burial site in Egypt.

The sarcophagi are very well preserved, and are thought to be around 3000 years old.

Study Guide: The Ancient Egyptians

The mummies will be displayed in an exhibition at the Grand Egyptian Museum, a new museum scheduled to open in 2020, along with the full Tutankhamun collection.

The multicolored coffins were found in the heart of ancient Egypt – in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, and have got scientists, Egyptologists and archaeologists very excited! It is the first collection of coffins of this scale to be discovered since the end of the 19th century. The Valley of the Kings is also famous as being the resting place of King Tutankhamun.

More information:

Read: Pharoh Tomb: The Pyramids Of Giza

Download: Tough Boats – Egypt Down The Nile

Buy: Empire Builders – The Ancient Egyptians

Ethiopia To Plant 4 Billion Trees To Help Combat Deforestation

Ethiopia To Plant 4 Billion Trees To Help Combat Deforestation

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has this week launched an initiative to reverse the damage done by widespread deforestation across the country by pledging to plant 4 billion new trees.

The prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has vowed to begin the reforestation project at the start of the rainy season, as a part of Ethiopia’s greater commitment to building a ‘Climate Resilient Green Economy’.

The country has seen huge deforestation over recent years, ultimately leading to mineral and water loss in the soil and reduced rainfall which has caused severe droughts – the most recent being in 2017, where it is estimated that some 2 million animals perished.

Ethiopia is the second largest country in Africa by population, and the economy has been growing at an impressive rate of  between 7 – 13% over the last 15 years. Deforestation usually occurs as a matter of course in developing nations in order to provide space for homes and livestock, and materials for developing.

An added issue for Ethiopia is their economy’s reliance on the native Arabica coffee plant which grows wild and is exported and consumed worldwide. Coffee harvesting has not only contributed to the deforestation of the native plants themselves, but will also impact their ability to grow in conditions without enough canopy-cover and an adequate water supply. A study in 2006 found that Ethiopia’s coffee production accounts for 3 percent of global coffee supply and represents 34% of income from exports. With the global boom in the coffee trade, and higher demand for speciality coffees, the share of production for the world’s 7th largest coffee producer is sure only to grow.

Developing nations such as Ethiopia are quickly realising their responsibility in responding to global climate change concerns. The ‘Climate Resilient Green Economy’ strategy now employed by the Ethiopian government hopes to address these issues while strengthening growth and building a greener future for its people.

Want to learn some more about Ethiopia?

Main Image: Nina R, Ethiopia Oromia, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Pickering

 

7 quirky things to do in Seychelles in 2019

7 quirky things to do in Seychelles in 2019

Seychelles is a unique destination in itself, but we have rounded up 7 cool things to get up to while you’re out there. Whether you’re after a one-of-a-kind experience, some of the most extraordinary nature or you dare to try unusual food, Seychelles has got it covered. Keep reading to find out what do add to your 2019 bucket list.

Post a letter underwater in Beau Vallon beach. ‘Unlock the Sea’ is a programme by Le Méridien Fisherman’s Cove and The Marine Conservation Society Seychelles that offers a unique way to experience Seychelles and its marine landscape. You can post greetings back home in an underwater letterbox, which is emptied every two days. This guided snorkelling tour, where marine experts offer an insight into the ecosystem, is a new kind of sustainable holiday experience. The post box is removed during monsoon but it will be back in February at the latest.

seychelles-4Get behind the scenes of ‘High & Dry’ on Mahé island, where the cast spent a month filming the Channel 4 comedy. The largest of the Seychelles islands is blessed with rugged mountains, verdant greenery and paradise beaches. Most of the filming was done in Anse Major. The crew wanted a 360-degree view of unspoiled natural beauty, which is exactly what they found at this beach. You can only get there by boat or on foot but the trip to this slice of secluded turquoise water and white sand heaven is well worth it!

Sample bat curry, one of Seychelles’ local delicacies. The dish is hard to find even for the most seasoned travellers, so it is something to write home about. If you’re staying on Mahé, head to Marie Antoinette Creole Restaurant, one of the oldest and most famous restaurants in Seychelles. Here, you will need to request the fruit bat curry in advance. You can also order it from many Creole takeaways, such as Coco Rouge on Praslin who serve it regularly. And if you want to try fruit bat ravioli, check out Mahé’s La Plaine St. Andre.

Plant a tree in one of the most exclusive resorts in the Seychelles. North Island is a car-free island with four perfect beaches encircled by granite rocks and tropical forest. The tree planting experience sees guests planting endemic flora from a nursery, part of North Island’s Noah’s Ark program. With only 11 villas on an island the size of Monaco, all activities are enjoyed in absolute privacy. Unsurprisingly, many guests don’t leave during their visit except for fishing or diving, even though it’s very close to Mahé and Silhouette island.

seychelles-3Spot the world’s heaviest (and sexiest!) seed, the unusual and endemic Coco de Mer. Because of its unusual, erotic shape, and the fact that the pollination process of its trees is still unclear, this rare seed has always been the object of fascinating mythological stories. Some even saying the trees make passionate love on stormy nights! Catch them at UNESCO World Heritage Site Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve on Praslin Island or in the Seychelles National Botanical Gardens on Mahé.

Marvel at the world’s smallest frog and giant tortoises in Seychelles. The Gardiner’s Tree Frog is only 11mm in length! It is endemic to the Seychelles and its green to brown skin shows a distinctive dark band extending from its mouth, to below its eye and to the hind legs. You can spot the little one at Morne Seychellois, a striking hiking trail in Mahé. The archipelago is also home to the biggest population of the rare Aldabra tortoises. You can find them on North Island, Cousin Island and Curieuse Island.

Meet a real-life hero: the Seychelles Warbler. This native bird saved Cousin Island! When it was discovered that the species was almost becoming extinct, the island that was once a coconut plantation was given protected status and native flora was re-planted. Thanks to the Seychelles Warbler, Cousin Island is now a special nature reserve. Tours to Cousin Island can be organised through operators, guest houses and hotels on Praslin Island.

More Information

Seychelles Tourism Board

Introducing: The Grand Egyptian Museum

Introducing: The Grand Egyptian Museum

Ever since its foundation in 1902, the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in central Cairo has been famous as one of the world’s greatest museums, containing an astonishing wealth of artifacts, including the spectacular golden treasures found in 1922 during the excavation of King Tutankhamen’s tomb, perhaps the world’s greatest ever archaeological discovery.

The museum’s time as the world’s greatest museum of Egyptian antiquities, however, is soon about to end, as a brand-new Egyptian museum is on the verge of opening in Giza, close to the pyramids.

The Grand Egyptian Museum, due to open to the public in 2019, will display the greatest treasures currently on show in the old Cairo Museum, plus much much more. Only the most spectacular objects found in Tutankhamen’s tomb, for example, were on display in the old Cairo Museum, while the vast majority were kept in storage, unseen by the general public. For the first time, once the new Grand Egyptian Museum opens, all of the more than 5000 objects found in Tutankhamen’s tomb will be on display, alongside countless other remarkable ancient Egyptian treasures. The 5.2-million-square-foot structure will become the world’s largest museum devoted to a single civilisation.

Interested in all things Egyptian history? Watch our episode Empire Builders: Egypt to learn more about one of the world’s earliest and greatest civilisations.

Leonardo DiCaprio & Seychelles join forces to create marine reserves

Leonardo DiCaprio & Seychelles join forces to create marine reserves

In an agreement the first of its kind in world history, Seychelles is to protect large areas in the Indian Ocean to clear some of its national debt and protect its aquatic life.

The island nation has agreed to preserve 210,000 square kilometres of ocean (almost the entire size of the United Kingdom), comprising of two huge marine parks which will cover 15% of Seychelles’ ocean. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s foundation donated $1 million towards funding the debt swap.

The plan restricts tourism and fishing activities to prevent damage to aquatic life. For a country such as the Seychelles, where tourism accounts for 16% of its GDP, this was a difficult, yet important decision.

“We need to be responsible as we sustainably develop our oceans,” Seychelles Tourism Board CEO Sherin Francis said. “By safeguarding our environment, we can also ensure that we are protecting our people against an uncertain future.”

The World’s First Debt Swap Designed to Protect Ocean Areas

In 2016, The Seychelles government agreed on the debt swap with the Nature Conservancy, a US charity, and other investors.

As part of the $21 million deal, the charity and investors, including the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, paid off a part of Seychelles’ national debt.

The country will make future debt payments to the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT). The trust will offer low-interest rates on debt repayments. Any savings will fund new projects designed to protect marine life and fight climate change.

What Will Be Protected?

Seychelles will increase its protected waters from 0.04 to 30 percent by 2020.

The first marine reserve includes the Aldabra islands. Aldabra is home to giant tortoises, rare tropical bird colonies and the dugong – one of the Indian Ocean’s more endangered species. This area will be completely protected, with only research and regulated tourism allowed.

The second area will limit the fishing and tourism activities around the waters of Seychelles’ main islands.

More information:

The Seychelles Islands Official Tourism Site