Royal Navy Trains Napkin Folders (Wall Street Journal)

Royal Navy logo

Well, it would be hard to believe if I didn’t read it myself in today’s Wall Street Journal. That’s right, Nelson’s Navy is now training in megayacht napkin folding.

In Ahoy, Billionaires: The Royal Navy Is at Your Service, Stacy Meichtry reports that a Royal Navy contractor has recently taken to training captains, crews, butlers, stewards and chefs for some of the largest yachts in the world. However, not everyone thinks this is a grand idea:

A descendant of Lord Nelson’s isn’t amused. “I don’t expect anyone thought of such a thing in 1805,” says Anna Tribe, the naval hero’s 78-year-old great-great-great-granddaughter. If drill instructors divulge too many trade secrets, Ms. Tribe warns, the Royal Navy risks “Mr. Abramovich and his compatriots very suddenly coming to war with us.”

Ecstasea“Mr. Abramovich” is a Russian billionaire and megayacht owner.

Robert Frank of the WSJ also wrote an amusing post on The Wealth Report blog entitled, Yacht Training Camp: Man the Martinis.

…Naval training doesn’t exactly prepare a crew for all of the potential hazards of high-class boating. Like the “raucous parties at sea, where fancy people, lavish furnishings, flammable alcohol and cigarettes are all part of the mix.”

But with yachts becoming increasingly huge and sophisticated, crew training has become more critical — just as it has for butlers. One of the program’s clients is Roman Abramovich, who, as I reported last year, is building the world’s largest yacht to add to his existing fleet. When the boat is up and running, Mr. Abramovich will have a private boat staff of about 400. (Yes you read that right, 400.)

Visit the Never Sea Land blog for an embedded WSJ video supporting these articles.

Related posts: Superyacht stalkers (Wall Street Journal)

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Tabor Academy Cleveland Leadership Program

Tabor red logo Leadership functions in large part as a result of initiative. Spencer Ash is a Tabor Academy student who approached me about a leadership project he’s been working on with several fellow students. It’s called the Cleveland Leadership Program and their website says:

The CLEVELAND PROGRAM is a student created leadership program that has the goals of developing sn enviroment around the school that is full of HONOR, RESPECT, COMMITMENT, and ESPRIT DE CORPS (PRIDE).

This Sunday, March 2nd the Tabor Cleveland Leadership Club is sponsoring their Distinguished Leadership Forum with guest speaker Dr. John Worthley.

Dr. Worthley, a distinguished global leader, is a provocative speaker, who is a strategic participant in significant world issues. He plays a key role in on-going Vatican-Beijing diplomatic discussions and has been involved in recent talks with North Korea.

Dr. Worthley has been President of Seton Hall University, a visiting professor of management in China, teaching at universities in Beijing, Hainan, Wuhan, Lhasa and Hong Kong for over twenty-five years. In 1984 he published the first article in western literature on Chinese government administration. Over the years he has served as a China consultant to corporations such as Charles Schwab Company, the National Broadcasting Company and to universities and governments around the world. Dr. Worthley is also a retired United States Naval Reserve Captain, where he served as Executive Ship Officer with the Military Sealift Command.

Dr. Worthley holds degrees in Diplomacy from Holy Cross College, in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia, and in Public Management from the State University of New York.

When: Sunday, March 2 at 4:00P.M.
Where: Lyndon Center
For: All Students, Faculty, Admin, & Guests are invited.

It’s great to see young people like Spencer and his classmates taking an active role in exploring the very important subject of leadership. If you are in the neighborhood, try to attend this event.

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Messing About In Ships Podcast Episode # 13

Lou Vest calendar photo Jan 2008 Heather Knutsen - header

Messing About In Ships podcast episode #13 has launched.

(42 minutes)

Download MP3 file: Messing About In Ships Episode 13

Show Notes over at Messing About In Ships blog

Subscribe Via iTunes HERE

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The Leader’s Voice (DHS’s Leadership Journal blog)

DHS logo Like many other government agencies, the US Department of Homeland Security maintains a blog which is called Leadership Journal. The contributors include Secretary Michael Chertoff and all of the department leaders. About the Department Journal:

This journal is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to provide a forum to talk about our work protecting the American people, building an effective emergency preparedness and response capability, enforcing immigration laws, and promoting economic prosperity.

On February 22, 2008, Michael Chertoff wrote a post entitled A Fresh Look at Port Security. Nothing really new here; but what I did find interesting was the tone set by Secretary Chertoff. He opens:

It often amazes me how certain myths about our Department’s efforts continue to endure despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Take port security, for example. I regularly see stories in the media asserting that our nation’s seaports are insecure as if we’ve done nothing since 9/11 to protect them. Just yesterday, a columnist for the New York Times casually repeated that claim.

I suspect a lot of this venting is simply intellectual laziness by those who prefer to recycle old sound bites rather than do their homework. In some cases, a deeper misunderstanding is taking place about how ports function in the real world. I’m referring to those who contend that because we don’t physically inspect every one of the 11 million shipping containers arriving at our ports each year, our entire system of security is compromised. Incidentally, those same individuals never explain that if we did open every box, there’d be a line of ships stretching across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans waiting to enter our country.

OK, Homeland Security has a very challenging mission and will always be an easy target for critics; but that’s precisely why the Leader’s Voice is so important. It presents the vision, mission and values to the world and sets the tone for the entire organization.  

Secretary Chertoff should be commended for participating in the DHS’ social media initiative. However, his post is alternatively and unnecessarily defensive and aggressive in tone. While presenting “A Fresh Look at Port Security” is valuable, framing it around “myths about our Department’s efforts” diverts and diffuses the readers attention. Using language like “as if we’ve done nothing” is defensive in nature. Read the editorial that he linked to and see if it is really worthy of this attention or again just distracts the reader. 

In the second paragraph Secretary Chertoff’s writing takes an aggressive turn. Accusing unnamed critics of “intellectual laziness by those who prefer to recycle old sound bites rather than do their homework” appears to be taking the bait of DHS critics; something that the leader of this type of organization should really avoid. The final sentence of this paragraph presents an arrogant “know it all” attitude.

In the next four paragraphs, Secretary Chertoff lays out many of the programs and initiatives undertaken by the DHS to bolster our nation’s maritime security.  While informative and full of links, the passionate voice displayed in the first two paragraphs entirely disappears in the body of the post. Granted presenting this material in an exciting way is pretty difficult and has been made even more so by how he framed the post in the preceding paragraphs.

Secretary Chertoff closes the post by writing:

Those who don’t put in the effort to get their facts straight, or who use misinformation to suggest we are ignoring our maritime sector, are not serving their readers or the American people. They also do a disservice to the men and women who stand watch over our ports and our frontlines every day.

Readers remember the last thing they read and Secretary Chertoff misses the opportunity to make a strong close. By returning attention to DHS critics the reader’s attention is diverted away from the good work done by department employees and it makes the entire post read like a defensive Quixotic argument.

Finally, social media like this blog is designed to be conversational. It is the most democratic form of engaging communication short of actually hosting a town hall meeting. In fact many would argue that this is a form of digital age town hall meeting. Unfortunately, Secretary Chertoff’s post doesn’t really engender conversation and as of this posting, no comments appear. In fact, the entire blog is remarkably void of comments considering the subject matter and authorship.

The Leader’s Voice is so important in every type organization and more so in a constantly closely scrutinized government agency like the Department of Homeland Security. Properly framing the message (vision, mission and values) is absolutely essential in order lead stakeholders and interested parties toward desired outcomes. While Homeland Security should be commended for launching a social media program, they need to find a more engaging voice if they truly want the Leadership Journal to be an authentic and effective communication medium.

Cross posted: Sea-Fever blog and Center for Leader Development

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Sunday Sea-Fever Style (Bonus): Maiden Voyage (NY Times)

Maiden Voyage - TMagazine - New York Times1

Folks, you read it here first. Turn of the century tugboat style is back!

Obviously, the NY Times Style Magazine editors are reading the Sea-Fever blog.

It’s great when maritime culture makes the front pages of the most prestigious and widely read newspapers in the US. Last week it was the Wall Street Journal and today it’s the Sunday NY Times, the Sea-Fever blog is pleased to help you spot these pop maritime culture trends and continue to provide inspiration for big time media. ;-)

Related posts:

Sunday Sea-Fever Style: Tom Price’s Meltdown Chair

Speak like a “Sea”E.O. (Wall Street Journal)

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Sunday Sea-Fever Style: Living in a shell

This house brings new meaning to the phrase “coming out of your shell.” If I lived here I’m not sure that I’d want to leave too often.


The Nautilus House in Naucalpan, Mexico was designed by Mexico City’s Senosiain Arquitectos for “a young couple with two children who after living in a conventional home wanted to change to one integrated to nature.”


“The metaphor was to feel like an internal inhabitant of a snail, like a mollusk moving from one chamber to another, like a symbiotic dweller of a huge fossil maternal cloister. This home social life flows inside the Nautilus without any division, a harmonic area in three dimensions where you can notice the continuous dynamic of the fourth dimension when moving in spiral over the stairs with a feeling of floating over the vegetation.” 


Visit the architect’s website and don’t miss their equally magical Shark House.

Via Boing Boing and World

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Messing About In Ships Podcast #12 – Special Interview of US Coast Guard Rescue of Sailors Aboard the Yacht Sean Seymour II

Lou Vest calendar photo Jan 2008 Heather Knutsen - header

Here is the inspiring interview with the US Coast Guard helicopter rescue crew that saved the lives of three sailors aboard the yacht Sean Seymour II.

File Download:Messing About In Ships 12 – Special Interview


  • Aviation Survival Technician Second Class Drew D. Dazzo, H-60 Rescue Swimmer
  • Lieutenant Commander Nevada A. Smith, H-60 Aircraft Commander
  • Lieutenant Junior Grade Aaron G. Nelson, H-60 Copilot
  • Aviation Maintenance Technician Second Class Scott D. Higgins, H-60 Flight Mechanic

Final log entry by Jean Pierre de Lutz, owner of Sean Seymour II

Robin Storm blog: Saved from the Angry Atlantic

Watch for future episodes with interviews with the C130 flight crew and the Sean Seymour II captain/owner.

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