View Full Version : VIEW FROM THE RAIL

happy daze john in oz
15th January 2013, 05:45 AM
Overlooking the ships rail I hear the call, ‘let go fore andaft’
Rope hawsers, the thickness of a man’s forearm, spring likecoiled serpents up the ships side, drawn in by giant winches.
Slowly she moved off the quay, no tugs, as we knew, rathermechanical thrusters bow and stern now do the task.
The ship’s whistle sounds a blast, that long low lonelysoulful sound that trammels up the mind to bring forth memories of times longpast.

A Solent quayside those many years ago, from whence oncesailed the Queens of Cunard, Lavender Ladies Castles of the Seas, finePrincesses of P&O all bound for foreign climes.
On the quay, cranes like some giant prehistoric birds, theirlong necks moving up and down in time with the hatch man’s whistle. In theirbeaks from the very bowels of the ship slings and nets filled with all mannerof wondrous cargo. Then on to the quayside where men with bailing hooks pulland haul those loads onto drays and flat tops ready for the onward journey.

A van arrives from which are brought forth-potted plants,set to adorn the tables of he dinning salons. A porter with his trolley piledhigh with luggage makes his way to a gangway where waits ‘Boot’s to take aboardthat’ Not Required On Voyage’.

The London train arrives discharging its’ precious cargo ofpassengers set to sail forth upon this giant liner. With some trepidation theyclimb the gangway accompanied with friends and family set to see them off. Thencomes the call, ‘All persons not sailing should now make their way ashore’. A lastembrace, a tearful farewell as they slowly file ashore.

Then over the ships rail steamers, like a thousand umbilicalcords, flow to the quayside quickly taken up by those ashore. The band strikesup, the whistle sounds and slowly the tugs pull her away. One by one thestreamers part, for many the last hold on the land of their birth, for sometheir last voyage. The tugs let go and slowly she moves along the river pastcargo ships their derricks topped and stowed awaiting orders to once again sailfor foreign climes.

Another sound and I am brought back to the currentsituation, I look out across a pristine wharf, no more the hustle and bustle ofthe quayside workers, not trains, no porter with his trolley, long gone thegiant cranes. Now row upon row of metal boxes piled high like giant coffins,the box that changed the face of shipping forever. Giant metal boxes, then likethe coffin that through the cemetery lynch gate goes on that final journey, tothe grave and eternity, so that metal box became the coffin for the once greatBritish Merchant Navy we all knew.

As we move away from the quay I see, not a cables lengthaway, a container ship like a giant hearse loaded high with coffins. Heranchor, shackle by shackle, rising from the ocean floor each link hosed cleanof sand and silt. A tug, bespecaled with tyres and rubber rings, slowly nudges,as would a sheep dog with the flock, this ‘hearse’ to take up the berth we havevacated.

The light fails, an evening star appears, the sun has nowset, just as many long years past it did upon our Merchant Navy. But on themorrow I will once again perambulate the promenade deck as slowly she rolls, aswould the cradle rocked gently by the mother. Once again I gaze upon the sea,small white caps dotted like giant confetti across the ocean. I think back toearlier times, my memory filled with pictures of my life. The world may change,the ships of a new era appear but nomatter what may come and go my memories will live we me forever.

Doc Vernon
15th January 2013, 06:43 AM
Like always John
When you have been on a Cruise you always post such interesting and detailed things you have seen and been to!
I wish that i too could write like that mate,it makes ones trip so much more interesting not only for you but for the readers as well!
Well done there Lad!!
Cheers and good to have you back aboard!
Your old Chubba!
Doc the Crock! haha!

Captain Kong
15th January 2013, 10:09 AM
You said it as it is John,
I also miss the thousands of coloured streamers from the people on the quayside waving people off, slowly snapping as the ship moves away until the last one goes. Now that was sailing day.
Now no one allowed on quay sides.
Just have the memories of happier times.

alf corbyn
15th January 2013, 03:26 PM
john mate, that was very moving. brought back many memories of various ports both in the uk and oz & nz. it also reminded m e of the time we left wellington and the maori ladies choir on the quayside, singing, "now is the hour" a very poignent memory.
i truly thank you for that.

ps. you forgot to mention the toilet rolls thrown over by some of the crew.

15th January 2013, 03:41 PM
Somewhere around voyage 98 of the Pendennis Castle we left the berth and were followed along the Solent by a Royal Navy County Class Destroyer , It pulled alongside , a marine Band appeared on the Quarter Deck , Played Life on the Ocean Wave and a few other Maritime selections , as we reached almost fifteen knots approaching the Isle of Wight , The Warship blew its whistle , the band vanished and the damn thing took off heading home to Portsmouth for lunch at a high speed . When it came to bull those guys had it !!