THERE was a great turnout for the Nautical Institute's seminar in Newcastle which was used to launch the latest edition of the "Mariner's Role in Collecting Evidence" handbook, produced in association with the North of England P&I Club.
Nearly 200 turned out for some excellent presentations ranging over such topics as the use of AIS evidence in court, the stressful experience of being an expert witness, how evidence is evaluated by the experts and the dangers of misunderstandings creeping in when interviewing witnesses.
Canon Ken Peters of the Mission to Seafarers demonstrated the linguistic pitfalls by showing a short film starring a German radio officer who had picked up a mayday message transmitted in English.
"We're sinking, we're sinking" comes the message.
"What are you thinking about?" comes the reply.
Although the clip raised a laugh, there is obviously a serious message to take away here. In the same way, Ken pointed to the fact that human comportment varied from country to country, and while in some places failure to look someone in the eye would be interpreted as shifty or dishonest behaviour, in other parts of the world, it was considered the best course to take in order to avoid trouble. Food for thought.
(It's also great material for a best man's speech. Your's truly gave a speech at a wedding in Norway earlier in the year. We had no idea the Norwegians were such a rude bunch with such a passion for pizza! They always seemed very nice to us!)