View Full Version : SUGAR IMPORTER TO TRINIDAD (By Mike Hall)

Doc Vernon
14th August 2016, 07:48 PM

It was Monday the 28th March 1960 and I was at home and my leave was about to end, so I started to pack my things and prepare myself for another trip to sea. I left home one morning bright and early and caught the bus to town and then the train to Woolwich. From there I made my way to the Royal Group Docks.
I reported to the federation offices in the docks and was given a ship I had been on before, the Sugar Importer of Silvertown Services. I was to be the pantry boy again. As a pantry boy my job function was to keep the pantry area clean and tidy, I was to do all the washing up and some food preparation. I also had the job of cleaning the stairs and corridors from the bridge down to our cabin corridor.
So out of the dock gates and a steady walk to the Tate & Lyle factory at Silvertown. On checking with security at the gate I made my way to the ship, which looked like an oversize coaster, berthed in the river. When I got to my cabin I found that it was for two people and I was to share with the galley boy. Our cabin consisted of two bunks, two lockers a chest of drawers, a settee and a chair.
With all the current crew on board we all signed on Thursday 31st March. My wages for this voyage was £16-12-6 a month, however we did not sail until Wednesday 6th April. This was a common practise with this shipping company. We left the berth beside the Tate & Lyle factory and with the river pilot on board we made our way down the river towards Gravesend, where we changed pilots and then made our way down the lower reaches of the river and out into the channel, where we were to drop off the pilot, Here we started to make our way across the Atlantic ocean. Once we were out in the open sea, the Walkers Patent log was set in motion. This was an age old device which streams a 65 fathom line astern. At the end is a bronze rotator with curved fins, its design cases the device to rotate with the ships movement forward. This piece of equipment records the progress and speed of the ship.
On our way we had a fire/lifeboat drill, we were alerted to this by the constant ringing of the alarm bells. We would gather on the boat deck and get the fire hoses out and test them, then we would release the clamps on the lifeboats, press a button and out they would go, press another button and back they came. locking the clamps, lifeboat drill over. It was then back to our normal duties.
We were headed towards Port of Spain in Trinidad.
On a Sunday morning the captain would inspect the ship to see if it was kept clean and if required a church service was given, in the main saloon. There were never ever many takers.
We arrived Monday 18th April and had to anchor in the bay. We were here to load raw sugar, which was brought to the ship in barges, and unloaded using grabs which were attached the ships gear. The barges were brought to the ship by a tug, and the tug was the only way we could get to and from the ship.

Several trips were made ashore to sample the local brew “rum”, on one occasion when ashore, I and two mates got very drunk on rum, we had bought a two litre bottle of white rum each, which
I planned to take home .We had to get a taxi back to the tug boarding point. On the way back the taxi driver stopped at his house, which was on the way, so he could have his evening meal. So we were forced to stay in or around his cab, and with nothing better to do, we started to drink the rum. By the time he had finished we were quite drunk, he then continued the journey. When we got to the tug, I managed to get on board ok, but when I got to the ship, that’s when I hit upon a problem, I saw “two” gang planks and yes I picked the wrong one and ended up in the water, as soon as I hit the water, I seemed to be quite sober. I managed to make my way to my cabin, after being fished out of the water by one of the crew. After that I did not go ashore again, I spent most of my time on the after part of the ship, using someone else’s fishing line, fishing for catfish.
When all the sugar was loaded we started our voyage back to England. The day for leaving was Saturday 23rd April. We had quite a pleasant voyage back home; the sea in most places was quite calm. We arrived at the Tate & Lyle factory on Friday 6th May and signed off the next day Saturday 7th May. My wages for this voyage were £26-5-9,I did not have any money advanced this time during this voyage. As it was just a short voyage I did not have much leave. I still therefore made my way home.


BUILDER.------------------Hall Russell, Aberdeen
YARD NO.------------------847
ENGINES BY.-------------
YEAR BUILT.-------------1955
PROPOLSION.------------British Polar
TYPE.-----------------------Bulk Sugar Carrier
REGISTERED AT.------London

1955 Built for Silvertown Services, Named SUGAR IMPORTER
1962, Sold to Uskport Shipping, Renamed USKPORT
1967, Sold to Compagne Maritime, Renamed, LAROCHE
1973, Sold to Nigrita CIA Navigation, Renamed, MACEDONIA
1980 Sold to Sunteam Maritime Co.
1980, Sold to T Ward, Inverkeithing