Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 1 2
Results 11 to 15 of 15

Article: First Trip

  1. Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    West Yorkshire
    Posts
    3
    Thanks (Given)
    0
    Thanks (Received)
    11
    Likes (Given)
    1
    Likes (Received)
    14

    Jump to Comments

    First Trip

    14 Comments by Tim Parr Published on 25th July 2019 06:46 AM
    Attachment 28951
    I’m absolutely sure that we all remember our first trip.
    This is my story.
    1973, finished Engineering apprenticeship wrote off to different shipping companies (there was plenty to choose from) received an interview from Ropner Mangement in Darlington.
    Turned up at the interview, the guy asked me a few rudimentary engineering questions, then offered me a position Junior Engineer and a ship MT Thirlby.
    Absolutely gob smacked, flying out to the Persian Gulf in a matter of weeks.
    Couple of weeks later (get this) a telegram arrives, “JOIN CREW MATES AT HEATROW I was only 20.. STOP. FLY TO KUWAIT . STOP. TRAVEL WARRANT TO FOLLOW STOP.
    “Heathrow, Kuwait, (different planet)
    Arrived in Abadan after travelling 24hrs. MT Thirlby registered in Hartlepool (bit of a rust bucket 30,000 tons) is ready to leave Abadan (where?) for somewhere else at dawn.
    2nd Engineer had to drag me into the Engine Room, boy was it hot, ship had no proper cold tap!
    The ships engine was the size of a semi-detched house, a Doxford.
    Day two all stop, top piston nuts need tightening, so myself and Ernie (from Manchester, sat next to me on the flight out) stars to tighten the top nut, sledge hammer job, everything is roasting, can’t touch metal with bare hands.
    Ernie keels over from heat stroke, despite everyone’s best efforts Ernie never regains consciousness.
    Ernie was buried at sea at 4-00pm the same day, a sack cart carrying the body, chains around neck waist, knees and ankles.
    I paid off in Falmouth five months later £3,300 richer, oh yes and a hell of a lot wiser.
    Tim Parr

  2. Total Comments 14

    Comments

  3. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    SONNING
    Posts
    5
    Thanks (Given)
    0
    Thanks (Received)
    3
    Likes (Given)
    1
    Likes (Received)
    8

    Default Re: First Trip

    Good story, not the best intro onto the MN, hopefully you managed to enjoy sea going life or was that it for you?

  4. Likes Des Taff Jenkins liked this post
  5. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Cramlington
    Posts
    4
    Thanks (Given)
    0
    Thanks (Received)
    0
    Likes (Given)
    0
    Likes (Received)
    9

    Default Re: First Trip & more events on Thirlby

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Parr View Post
    I’m absolutely sure that we all remember our first trip.
    This is my story.



    I paid off in Falmouth five months later £3,300 richer, oh yes and a hell of a lot wiser.
    Tim Parr
    THIRLBY (4) 1958 West Hartlepool, GB O.N. 180104, IMO 5358957, call sign MYDZ, 20070dwt, 13105.38grt, 7600.47net, launched 2/5/58 by Sir John Laing & Sons, Sunderland, yard 815 oil products tanker, 6cyl L.B. Doxford with 2 exhaust gas turbochargers, 8,000 h.p., 2 x Scotch boilers, 1 Spanner boiler. Aux. diesel & steam generators, electric & steam driven air compressors plus other equipment. 23-year Shell time-charter. 1982 sold to Greece renamed DIAMANDO, 1985 scrapped at Aliaga.

    J/E 16/12/71 Greenwell’s dry-dock, Sunderland, 28/2/72 Seattle to 23/4/72 Liverpool 23/4/72 to 30/4/72 Tees, Cap. Colin Tingle C/E J Freddie Barron
    Being 110volt DC the starter boxes were like sentry boxes if the parts were removed. The switchboard was open with only a rail to keep you away from the electricity. With a mixture of Doxford oil engine and a couple of Scotch boilers it was mucky and hot. At least there were no scavenge pumps but if it was raining in the engine room you looked up to see a top piston cooling hose snaking about. A steam reciprocating generator and other pumps were an education from a previous generation. There was no escaping the heat of the Caribbean in the accommodation with no air conditioning luckily there was a swimming pool aft and awnings fitted over much of the deck area. Cargo was discharged through two pump rooms each with two very large bucket pumps. Both maintenance and operation were dangerous as leaking glands allowed aviation spirit to slosh about and the fumes caused hand to eye co-ordination to deteriorate. Decision making became poor as frustration with bronze chisels and copper caused steel hammers and spanners to be used with the risk of sparks and explosion. Tots of rum were the counter to settle the fumes although that may have just aggravated the effects. Most desks contained a glass bottle containing petrol to refill zippo lighters. Putting steam on deck for cargo working was challenging as to avoid water hammer bursting the lines it had to be done slowly even though the valve area on top of the boilers was hot and breathing difficult. Two years after I left, in 1974 Thirlby came into Middle Docks in South Shields while I was preparing for 2nd’s EKs. I went on board to remind myself of the equipment and as I knew the Mate stood in his cabin doorway when a handful of my hair was pulled. The Mate’s pet monkey was perched in the pipework above waiting for the unwary which upset some and I did hear later that the crew drowned it in a bucket. The Mate told me that a few months earlier that the Chief had died while hammering a solid taper plug into a leaking tube which moved and he was scalded. Two plugs with a threaded bar would have been better.
    We visited the nearest pub to Greenwell’s dry-dock in Sunderland and met Captain Colin Tingle and the local females who were on first name terms with him. My wife stayed a few nights with me in the 6/E cabin on the portside then at the weekend we got the Sunderland to Newcastle bus getting off in Felling-on-Tyne where we had a flat which was luxury compared to a ship in dry-dock with a toilet block on the quayside and no heating. Being in a British dry-dock we were not allowed to touch anything and Greenwell’s fitters were hired while the work was required so they were not the best or just did not care. All the ship side clapper discharge valves had been overhauled so they either leaked or did not work when we sailed so we had to re-do the work – pity they had not just left them untouched as 1/16 rubber insertion was a bit thin and cutting to the corners and folding the flaps in shortens the job but stops the clappers working.
    We sailed through the Straits of Gibraltar but after a day we were told to turn around enter Gibraltar and take water and bunkers and head for the Caribbean. I went into Gibraltar for postcards and beer and asked if they could change English money which they thought funny. We continued on our way to Curacao which was part of the Netherland Antilles where Shell had a refinery and we were subject to a twenty-year time charter. After 13 years hard work as a parcel tanker she was showing signs of age with the two Scotch boilers no longer able to support all four steam reciprocating cargo pumps at once. Our berth at the refinery was close to the gates and just outside was a large bungalow with sliding doors for outside walls which was the club for everyone not on duty. A bit further away was a place called “Happy Valley” which had other entertainment so I was told. Earlier in the trip the mechanism of a steam pump had banged me on a finger causing a growth on the bone which was removed at the local hospital. In no particular order and using Willemstad in Curacao as our base we visited another refinery at San Nicolas in Aruba, and the island of Bonaire which together form the Netherland Antilles. In the dirt streets of San Nicholas I purchased a pair of white levi jeans, a pair of ginger patterned trousers and a small camphor wood chest – none of which lasted long. Paranam in Surinam and Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. Santa Domingo and La Romana in the Dominican Republic or the Eastern part of the island of Hispaniola. Santo Domingo has to be the best jetty ever being sited at the end of a spit of land with a small ruined fort at the end once guarding the river mouth. At the foot of the gangway were some coconut palms about three deep and beach just beyond. A young boy near needed little urging to scramble up the tree and knock a couple of nuts down. We only had fifty tonnes of “gas-oil” for their nearby naval base but this took two days discharging into a four-inch line as gently as we could but still we burst their line three times. La Romana was a cutting not much wider than Thirlby in which we inched our way in and backed gently out. The town was only a few streets and houses which did not take long to explore. A long jetty at Point Fortin in Trinidad which we were not allowed or indeed wished to walk along so a shore boat was arranged.
    We had one trip further afield to a terminal at Martinez twenty-miles East of San Francisco followed by Seattle. While in Frisco the authorities fined the ship for making smoke and burning soot coming out of the funnel both signs that the boilers could not keep up with demand and anti-social at refineries. They also suspected that we had been discharging oily bilge water into the Pacific Ocean and took samples of fuel from the port and starboard cross bunkers but could not prove it. They may have been more successful if they had sampled the centre cross bunker. On the way back we filled the tanks with fresh water out of Gatun Lake in the middle of the Panama Canal for use in the refinery.
    The first port on the British coast was Stanlow Refinery on the Manchester Ship Canal near Liverpool where the articles were closed and the crew changed. Discharging the policy was no-smoking with a dock policeman to enforce the restriction to the ship’s smoke room. I asked him if that applied to the boiler room which he confirmed. I explained that normal practice in there was a pile of sand doused in diesel and lit. A long steel rod wrapped in rags at the end was doused in diesel and lit from the burning sand and inserted into a furnace. This hopefully caused the ignition of the fuel burner jet to cause a ten-foot flame to shoot along the furnace. This was repeated to all six furnaces. He agreed that a cigarette or my pipe was insignificant compared to this. In a later working life I re-visited this terminal as a consultant engineer to measure the components of the tank steps and handrails to provide re-assurance to HMRC who had to climb to the top so they could check contents and charge duty. Bowling Refinery near Glasgow came next followed by Shell Haven in Essex on the Thames. By this time the five donkeymen (boiler operators) had all been de-rated for various failings such as drunk on watch or incompetence such as on one occasion when I was duty engineer I looked in the boiler room and found the donkeyman missing as was the water in the boiler gauge glass. I shut the fires, rang the alarm for help and determined that the water level was just below the glass. I shut the valve to deck and tried to persuade the feed pump and hotwell supply to restore the gauge glass level with a falling steam pressure and was successful. When we reached Middlesbrough which was the last British port the Shipping Master asked if I wanted to sign on again to Foreign Going Articles but after 4 ½ months on a tanker I opted for leave. Typically, Ropners asked why I had left? As Thirlby was leaving early I went to the Dock Office to wait for my transport in the form of my father. Several females were also waiting for transport which is the only British port where I have observed this.
    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 31st July 2019 at 10:13 PM.

  6. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    northumberland
    Posts
    8
    Thanks (Given)
    0
    Thanks (Received)
    8
    Likes (Given)
    15
    Likes (Received)
    27

    Default Re: First Trip & more events on Thirlby

    It was 1972, I had decided that I wanted a piece of this sea going lark whilst serving my time, I was at college and saw an ad in the chrony for Silver Line, wrote off and got an interview date, I had an exam that day so with some trepidation reversed the charges to inform them, " Oh that's fine Mr Thompson just disregard the telegram we have sent you and we will rearrange". Never had a telegram before or since, my mam(who had the same initial) opened it, thought it was bad news! " Possibility vacancy junior engineer on ship leaving for japan next week, do you wish to be considered. Argentic." wish I had kept this, but can obviously still recite it.
    Got the job needless to say, the interview was with a super from Sunderland and consisted of a discussion of the merits of Newcastle and his lot, got pre sea assesment(1C), medical, then a letter, (which I still have), telling me to join the Silverfjord in LA, in the excitement I didn't read it to closely, first flight, first ship, travelled into the US on my discharge book, no passport never mind a visa!! How lucky was I.
    Spent the first few weeks homesick but found it was a great life on the 3 week run from Japan to Panama, the second bent the line so they could cut my long hair, but only on one side, still went up the road in the gulf though, never looked back after that and must have bored my mates when I got home. Some great lads with Silverline, loads of us Geordies and looking back a great company to work for.

  7. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    CHESTER LE STREET
    Posts
    483
    Thanks (Given)
    230
    Thanks (Received)
    257
    Likes (Given)
    2000
    Likes (Received)
    1272

    Default Re: First Trip & more events on Thirlby

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Atkinson View Post
    THIRLBY (4) 1958 West Hartlepool, GB O.N. 180104, IMO 5358957, call sign MYDZ, 20070dwt, 13105.38grt, 7600.47net, launched 2/5/58 by Sir John Laing & Sons, Sunderland, yard 815 oil products tanker, 6cyl L.B. Doxford with 2 exhaust gas turbochargers, 8,000 h.p., 2 x Scotch boilers, 1 Spanner boiler. Aux. diesel & steam generators, electric & steam driven air compressors plus other equipment. 23-year Shell time-charter. 1982 sold to Greece renamed DIAMANDO, 1985 scrapped at Aliaga.

    J/E 16/12/71 Greenwell’s dry-dock, Sunderland, 28/2/72 Seattle to 23/4/72 Liverpool 23/4/72 to 30/4/72 Tees, Cap. Colin Tingle C/E J Freddie Barron
    Being 110volt DC the starter boxes were like sentry boxes if the parts were removed. The switchboard was open with only a rail to keep you away from the electricity. With a mixture of Doxford oil engine and a couple of Scotch boilers it was mucky and hot. At least there were no scavenge pumps but if it was raining in the engine room you looked up to see a top piston cooling hose snaking about. A steam reciprocating generator and other pumps were an education from a previous generation. There was no escaping the heat of the Caribbean in the accommodation with no air conditioning luckily there was a swimming pool aft and awnings fitted over much of the deck area. Cargo was discharged through two pump rooms each with two very large bucket pumps. Both maintenance and operation were dangerous as leaking glands allowed aviation spirit to slosh about and the fumes caused hand to eye co-ordination to deteriorate. Decision making became poor as frustration with bronze chisels and copper caused steel hammers and spanners to be used with the risk of sparks and explosion. Tots of rum were the counter to settle the fumes although that may have just aggravated the effects. Most desks contained a glass bottle containing petrol to refill zippo lighters. Putting steam on deck for cargo working was challenging as to avoid water hammer bursting the lines it had to be done slowly even though the valve area on top of the boilers was hot and breathing difficult. Two years after I left, in 1974 Thirlby came into Middle Docks in South Shields while I was preparing for 2nd’s EKs. I went on board to remind myself of the equipment and as I knew the Mate stood in his cabin doorway when a handful of my hair was pulled. The Mate’s pet monkey was perched in the pipework above waiting for the unwary which upset some and I did hear later that the crew drowned it in a bucket. The Mate told me that a few months earlier that the Chief had died while hammering a solid taper plug into a leaking tube which moved and he was scalded. Two plugs with a threaded bar would have been better.
    We visited the nearest pub to Greenwell’s dry-dock in Sunderland and met Captain Colin Tingle and the local females who were on first name terms with him. My wife stayed a few nights with me in the 6/E cabin on the portside then at the weekend we got the Sunderland to Newcastle bus getting off in Felling-on-Tyne where we had a flat which was luxury compared to a ship in dry-dock with a toilet block on the quayside and no heating. Being in a British dry-dock we were not allowed to touch anything and Greenwell’s fitters were hired while the work was required so they were not the best or just did not care. All the ship side clapper discharge valves had been overhauled so they either leaked or did not work when we sailed so we had to re-do the work – pity they had not just left them untouched as 1/16 rubber insertion was a bit thin and cutting to the corners and folding the flaps in shortens the job but stops the clappers working.
    We sailed through the Straits of Gibraltar but after a day we were told to turn around enter Gibraltar and take water and bunkers and head for the Caribbean. I went into Gibraltar for postcards and beer and asked if they could change English money which they thought funny. We continued on our way to Curacao which was part of the Netherland Antilles where Shell had a refinery and we were subject to a twenty-year time charter. After 13 years hard work as a parcel tanker she was showing signs of age with the two Scotch boilers no longer able to support all four steam reciprocating cargo pumps at once. Our berth at the refinery was close to the gates and just outside was a large bungalow with sliding doors for outside walls which was the club for everyone not on duty. A bit further away was a place called “Happy Valley” which had other entertainment so I was told. Earlier in the trip the mechanism of a steam pump had banged me on a finger causing a growth on the bone which was removed at the local hospital. In no particular order and using Willemstad in Curacao as our base we visited another refinery at San Nicolas in Aruba, and the island of Bonaire which together form the Netherland Antilles. In the dirt streets of San Nicholas I purchased a pair of white levi jeans, a pair of ginger patterned trousers and a small camphor wood chest – none of which lasted long. Paranam in Surinam and Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. Santa Domingo and La Romana in the Dominican Republic or the Eastern part of the island of Hispaniola. Santo Domingo has to be the best jetty ever being sited at the end of a spit of land with a small ruined fort at the end once guarding the river mouth. At the foot of the gangway were some coconut palms about three deep and beach just beyond. A young boy near needed little urging to scramble up the tree and knock a couple of nuts down. We only had fifty tonnes of “gas-oil” for their nearby naval base but this took two days discharging into a four-inch line as gently as we could but still we burst their line three times. La Romana was a cutting not much wider than Thirlby in which we inched our way in and backed gently out. The town was only a few streets and houses which did not take long to explore. A long jetty at Point Fortin in Trinidad which we were not allowed or indeed wished to walk along so a shore boat was arranged.
    We had one trip further afield to a terminal at Martinez twenty-miles East of San Francisco followed by Seattle. While in Frisco the authorities fined the ship for making smoke and burning soot coming out of the funnel both signs that the boilers could not keep up with demand and anti-social at refineries. They also suspected that we had been discharging oily bilge water into the Pacific Ocean and took samples of fuel from the port and starboard cross bunkers but could not prove it. They may have been more successful if they had sampled the centre cross bunker. On the way back we filled the tanks with fresh water out of Gatun Lake in the middle of the Panama Canal for use in the refinery.
    The first port on the British coast was Stanlow Refinery on the Manchester Ship Canal near Liverpool where the articles were closed and the crew changed. Discharging the policy was no-smoking with a dock policeman to enforce the restriction to the ship’s smoke room. I asked him if that applied to the boiler room which he confirmed. I explained that normal practice in there was a pile of sand doused in diesel and lit. A long steel rod wrapped in rags at the end was doused in diesel and lit from the burning sand and inserted into a furnace. This hopefully caused the ignition of the fuel burner jet to cause a ten-foot flame to shoot along the furnace. This was repeated to all six furnaces. He agreed that a cigarette or my pipe was insignificant compared to this. In a later working life I re-visited this terminal as a consultant engineer to measure the components of the tank steps and handrails to provide re-assurance to HMRC who had to climb to the top so they could check contents and charge duty. Bowling Refinery near Glasgow came next followed by Shell Haven in Essex on the Thames. By this time the five donkeymen (boiler operators) had all been de-rated for various failings such as drunk on watch or incompetence such as on one occasion when I was duty engineer I looked in the boiler room and found the donkeyman missing as was the water in the boiler gauge glass. I shut the fires, rang the alarm for help and determined that the water level was just below the glass. I shut the valve to deck and tried to persuade the feed pump and hotwell supply to restore the gauge glass level with a falling steam pressure and was successful. When we reached Middlesbrough which was the last British port the Shipping Master asked if I wanted to sign on again to Foreign Going Articles but after 4 ½ months on a tanker I opted for leave. Typically, Ropners asked why I had left? As Thirlby was leaving early I went to the Dock Office to wait for my transport in the form of my father. Several females were also waiting for transport which is the only British port where I have observed this.
    used to see Thirlby in Curacao quite often, didnt realise her engine room was so much behind the times equipment wise, even old Shell H boats were AC and had air con (of sorts). Did you ever come across Bob Hedley, an old colleague of mine when apprentices.

  8. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Bolton UK
    Posts
    13,975
    Thanks (Given)
    17945
    Thanks (Received)
    9243
    Likes (Given)
    25814
    Likes (Received)
    29944

    Default Re: First Trip & more events on Thirlby

    I THNK I POSTED THIS A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO...………………

    Here is one I wrote earlier in Seafaring Stories thread in Swinging the Lamp.
    .
    .MY FIRST VOYAGE TO SEA AS A DECK BOY. 1952..


    Here is a story of my first trip to sea as a green Deck Boy, bullied by a bunch of bastards, almost driven to suicide by them and then I turned................
    .

    .

    ............................... MY FIRST VOYAGE TO SEA AS A DECK BOY. 1952..
    I had spent twelve weeks on the Training ship, VINDiCATRIX, in Sharpness, Gloucestershire. I signed on at the Pool in Canning Place in Liverpool and after six weeks of waiting I got the a ship, the Commodore Grant, ex Fort Grant. She was owned by a London Greek company, North East Freighters NEF of Montreal.
    I joined the ship in Brocklebank Dock in Liverpool on 18 July 1952 where she had just finished discharging grain.
    I signed on as Deck Boy on £10 a month for a voyage to India via Antwerp where we were to load bagged fertilizer for Madras.
    I climbed the gangway with my gear and went amidships to find the Mate. The deck was littered with hatch boards, beams, wires and the Dockers wearing flat caps and long greasy overcoats puffing on Woodbines.
    I found the Mate’s cabin on the port side and knocked on the door and walked in. There was the Mate, fastening his wife’s bra, “What the hell do you want”? he shouted as he tried to stand in front of his wife who was looking embarrassed.
    “I am your new Deck Boy” I said, “Well Eff off down aft, I’m busy”.
    So I Effed off down aft and found the mess room on the poop.
    The deck crowd was in there, six ABs and three Ordinary Seamen with the Bosun. The most miserable bunch of bullying bastards I have ever had the misfortune to sail with. For fifty years I have searched every Bar and Whorehouse around the world looking for them to repay them for the misery and beatings that I experienced during that voyage but never saw one of them.
    The accommodation was not good. On the poop was two mess rooms, one for the Sailors and one for the Lascar Firemen and two bathrooms , one each side.
    Down below on the tween deck was three cabins for the Sailors and three for the Firemen. I was in a four berth cabin right next to the steam engine in the Steering Flat.
    My job as Peggy was to clean the Bosun and Chippy`s mess and cabin amidships and the Sailors Mess Room, bathroom, alleyways and cabins down aft. Also I had to carry all the Sailors food from the galley amidships down aft to the Mess Room. Sometimes in heavy weather when a green sea came over the after deck and I was washed into the scuppers losing the kits of food I would get battered off the Sailors and when I went back to the galley another thumping off the big fat ugly Cook from Cardiff.
    I also had pump up the water from the after peak to a tank on top of the mess room several times a day, The pump was a wooden handle on the bulkhead, I had to push it backwards and forwards for a long time to get the water up to the tank Then the Lascars would be using it for showers and running taps faster than I could pump it up and then the Sailors would batter me again because there was no water left. After all that I would have to work on Deck in the afternoons chipping and painting or greasing wires.
    On Monday, 21 July we battened down the hatches and dropped the derricks, shifted all the dunnage off the decks and made ready for sea at noon.
    We sailed light ship for Antwerp where we were to load 10,000 tons of bagged fertilizer for Madras and we were there for ten days loading.
    I found Antwerp a fascinating place, my first foreign port with all the colourful lights and bars around Schipper Straat, or Skipper Street as it is better known.
    In one bar a big sexy barmaid, Philomena took a fancy to me and I was on free ale all the time I was there. Some of the Sailors went into Skipper Street and paid ten shillings for a leg over, Expensive just for a few minutes.
    When we had completed loading we battened down, dropped the derricks hosed down the decks and sailed at 2200 stowing ropes as we sailed down the River Scheldt.
    I was on nine pennies an hour for overtime.
    After a five day run at ten knots we passed Gibraltar and entered the Med and then an eight day run in beautiful weather to Port Said for the Suez Canal.
    As we were mooring to the buoys in Port Said, I happened to swear at one of the ABs, Clarence. He battered me up and down the after deck accentuating with each smash of a big iron fist that I should not call him a bastard. I took a hint as in a situation like that I was a quick learner.
    We loaded bunkers and fresh water, then loaded two Canal boats on deck. We hoisted up the Canal Searchlight over the bow and made it fast.
    George Roby, the famous Bum Boat man came on deck and spread his wares on the hatch. I bought a music box for mother off him.
    .
    Just after midnight we let go and joined the Southbound Convoy sailing through the Suez Canal.
    After an interesting passage we past Port Tewfik and dropped off the
    Two Canal Boats and the Searchlight into the water and sailed into the Red Sea.
    The heat in the Red Sea was terrific and the Sailors and Lascars were using more and more water for showers and I was spending more and more time pumping up water for them, As soon as I had finished pumping up the water the Lascars would run it off and the Sailors would scream abuse at me in between thumps shouting `Get pumping you lazy bastard`
    Five days later we were mooring up to the buoys in Aden to load bunkers again. We were soon surrounded by bum boats and a few cartons of ciggies were swopped for tea sets and music boxes.
    Eight hours later we let go and the sailed round Steamer Point and towards the Indian Ocean.
    We were in the South West Monsoon then with heavy seas sweeping over our decks. I lost a few meals trying to carry them from the galley amidships to the Mess room down aft. So I was hammered again by the deck crowd and the fat ugly Cook from Cardiff.
    I got my own back on the Cook, he had a trumpet that he played very badly every day, the noise was diabolical. One day he turned in during the afternoon and left his Trumpet in the Galley. He had left his Trumpet in the Galley so I poured a load of chip fat into it and turned it round a few times and then when the lard set later it seized up all the valves.
    When he went to play it that evening he was going demented, he was going to take a cleaver and kill the bastard who had done that.
    Fortunately he never found out and the ship was a little quieter after that.
    Eight days after leaving Aden astern we arrived in Colombo, Ceylon and moored up to buoys in the harbour to load bunkers.
    Astern of us on the same buoy was the Cape Wrath, another old tramp that looked in a worse condition than we did.
    The Sailors on the Cape Wrath shouted across to us that they had no cigarettes but had some cans of beer to do a swop with us.
    Our Sailors got a wooden box made a lashing on it and put a few cartons of ciggies in and told me to swim over to the Cape Wrath.
    The distance from our gangway to their gangway was a few hundred yards, I told them I couldn’t swim that far.
    After being thumped a few times I decided that I was a fantastic swimmer and was over the side in no time at all.
    It was a long hard swim across to the other ship dragging the wooden box, the water was quite choppy with the movement of ships and tugs in the harbour. The Sailors were jeering and cheering all the way.
    When I got on board the Cape Wrath the Sailors were gasping for a ciggie, they had run out a week before. I had a beer with them, they told me they had been out for eighteen months and didn’t know when they were going to get home.
    After hearing our Sailors screaming abuse across the water I put 18 cans of beer into the box and went back down the gangway and into the water again. It was a long hard swim to get back to the Commodore Grant. I was totally worn out when I got back on board.
    I never got any beer, the Sailors drank the lot without offering me any. I must have been mad to have done it. When the Galley Boy dumped the garbage over the wall a big shark zoomed in along side to eat it.
    We let go later that evening, sailed around Dondra Head and headed north into the Bay of Bengal. Two days later we tied up alongside the wharf in Madras, we were to be there for around ten days to discharge the bags of fertilizer.
    Madras was hot stinking, sweaty and noisy. What a contrast to being at sea with the cool refreshing breeze and only the sound of the sea.
    As soon as we were alongside the deck was swarming with hundreds of Indians shouting, screaming and stripping the hatches of tarps and throwing hatch boards and beams on deck and the clatter of the steam winches as they started discharging.
    The deck was soon filthy with the spilt fertilizer and red betel juice spit all over. The Indians had no toilets and would just squat in the scuppers and crap filling the ship with their stink and millions of flies.
    We had to keep the ports and doors locked or they would have stolen everything and made a stinking mess on the bathroom deck.
    Every day the beggars would come down to the ship begging for food scraps, the saddest ones were the little kids who were like skeletons
    pleading with squeaky voices, `No Mamma , No Poppa, dash me baksheesh.` I would give them any gash left over by the Sailors if they left any.
    Dhobi Walla’s would come down and ask if they could do our dhobi.
    The Sailors decided to hire one and made me in charge of him, I had to watch him all the time to make sure he didn’t steal anything.
    He eventually did, stealing all the Sailors dungarees, shirts and our towels. We had to provide our towels in those days.
    This resulted in me being beaten up again by all the Sailors.
    On the first Saturday in Madras I heard there was a dance at the Anglo Indian Club in town. By the time I had scrubbed out both mess rooms and pumped up the water tank, showered and changed all hands were ashore and I went ashore on my own.
    I didn’t know where this club was so I got a Rickshaw to take me. The rickshaw boy towed me around the City for a couple of hours and ended up at the gangway again saying he didn’t know where the club was. He was demanding 15 rupees, I only had a sub of 25 rupees and so I told him to get stuffed and gave him five and went to climb the gangway. He started to scream and grabbed my shirt and in an instant I was surrounded by a big crowd of screaming Indians.
    I got a bit scared then so I gave him another ten and ran up the gangway. I thought what a lousy night out, first night ashore for over one month and it cost more than five days wages just to have a ride in a rickshaw.
    On Sunday afternoon the galley boy, a lad called Keating from Wallasey, and I went to the beach a few hundred yards from the docks. It was a beautiful beach, completely deserted and stretch for miles with clean white sand and lined with palm trees, we spent a couple of happy hours swimming in the surf.
    The following Saturday night there was another dance at the Anglo-Indian Club so this time I walked into the city and found it, no more rickshaws.
    In the Club I saw an attractive young lady, I danced with her, she was the same age as I was and she told me her name was Elizabeth.
    After the dance she took me over to the table where her mother was sitting and introduced me to her. Her mother, Mrs Thompson, was an Anglo-Indian and before she was widowed was married to a Liverpool man and they had lived there for many years before returning to Madras, where Mr Thompson had died. As I lived near to Liverpool they were quite interested and we got on quite well with each other.
    At the end of a pleasant evening, dancing and talking, they invited me to dinner their home on Sunday evening.
    They lived 30 minutes ride on a train south of Madras, so I finished work early and arrived at their house around 7pm.
    They had a beautiful home built in Colonial style and surrounded by lush tropical gardens.
    We had a fantastic dinner, waited on by Servants, it like something out of a movie for a young lad out of Bolton on his first trip.
    Elizabeth introduced me to her brother, George, who was around 20 years old, he had been born in Liverpool and was easy to get along with.
    All to soon the pleasant evening ended and I had to get the train back to Madras. Elizabeth and I wrote to each other for a while then it faded away and I never went back to Madras.
    .
    .................................. ********************************************
    .
    .
    42 years later, in June 1994, my elder brother Jim and I went to London to see the Liberty ship, JEREMIAH O`BRIEN that had sailed from San Francisco to London for the 50th Anniversary of D. Day. We had both sailed on Sam boats and so it brought us a few memories.
    We stayed at the Merchant Navy Hotel in Lancaster Gate.
    In the evening we went into the hotel bar which was empty except for one very attractive young barmaid. We got chatting to her and found that she was a Student from Liverpool who worked in the Hotel in her spare time.
    I could see that she was part Indian and mentioned this to her. An incredible story unfolded. She told me her father was an Anglo-Indian who had lived in Madras for many years before returning to Liverpool where he got married.
    I had a strange feeling, and said, “Is your name Thompson?”
    She gasped in amazement. I told her that I knew a family by the name of Thompson who lived outside Madras and there was a pretty young girl called Elizabeth, way back in 1952.
    I described the house and location and her brother George.
    The barmaid confirmed that was right, George was indeed her father and incredibly Elizabeth still lived in the house, she had never married. I wondered if she was still waiting for me.
    The barmaid had been to the house many times on holiday to stay with her aunt Elizabeth.
    My brother, Jim, could not believe it, an incredible story, of all the Gin Joints in all the world we had to choose this one.
    We went into the bar on the next two nights but she was not there, another barmaid had taken over. It was amazing to have found her that night.
    .
    ...............................******************* **********************************
    .
    Meanwhile back in 1952 in Madras, we completed discharging, battened down the hatches and dropped the derricks, hosed down the decks to clear the filth away.
    Then a little Indian fellow turned up, he was a tattooist, and said he would tattoo all hands if we would stow him away and take him to Vizagapatam a couple of hundred miles up the coast. After he had tattooed us all we stowed him down the dunnage hatch with a load of burlap bags to sleep on. I had to feed him now and again.
    Two days later we docked in Vizagapatam where he disappeared into the jungle of a million shanties.
    Vizagapatam was just a stinking port, the town just consisted of filthy hovels and shanties and what seemed to be millions of Indians screaming “Baksheesh, Baksheesh.”
    I only walked ashore once and that was enough. No one went ashore there.
    We were her for seven days to load Manganese ore for Birkenhead, great we were homeward bound.
    We completed loading and battened down again ready for sailing, dropped and secured the derricks and then hosed down the to get rid of the ore dust then let go and sailed south down the Bay of Bengal.
    Four days later we moored to the buoys again in Colombo Harbour for bunkers. I bought 12 pounds of Broken Orange Peko Tea for mother back home. Tea was still rationed in those days.
    Eight hours later we let go and sailed into the Indian Ocean bound for Aden eight days away.
    On the voyage across the Sailors were getting a bit bored so for entertainment they would beat me up on Number five hatch every evening, they all thought it was funny, I was only a skinny kid and had no chance against the big Abs.
    Some nights I was so fed up with it all I would climb over the rails lean out, count up to ten and when I got to ten I would let go and end it all.
    It looked very tempting, looking into the dark water which was lit up with swirling patterns of phosphorous. In the end I would climb back inboard. Those bastards were driving me to suicide, but I put a stop to it when we were berthing in Aden.
    As we were approaching the buoys in Aden one morning a big fat AB called Mush, started to knock me about the after deck.
    By this time I had had enough, I had nothing to lose now and so went berserk. I smashed him several times in the face with my fists, bursting his nose and lips. I got him by the rails and heaved him over, I don’t know where I got the strength from.
    He was clinging to the bottom rail on the outboard side hanging over the propeller, screaming for help while I was stamping on his fingers to make him let go, then I got the chain stopper and started to lash him with it, I just wanted to kill the bastard.
    The Second Mate and one of the other Abs dragged me away from the trails and pulled Mush back inboard. He had to go below to his bunk to recover. He was a quiet man for the rest of the voyage after that and all the Sailors treated me with a bit of respect. I should have done that earlier in the voyage, I felt ten feet tall.
    Any whinging off the Sailors after that I would just snarl at them. Some of them even helped me to pump up the water and occasionally washed the dishes in the mess after the evening meal.
    I was never beaten again in all my years of seafaring.
    After leaving Aden we steamed up the Red Sea to arrive in Suez Bay and then anchored to await our turn in the next convoy.
    The sight there is something we will never see again, the bay was full of dozens of British ships, Union Castle, P&O, Orient, Blue Star, Blue Funnel, Federal, Clan, Shaw Savills, Port line, troop ships and so on.
    Later in the morning it was our turn and we heaved up the anchor and followed the convoy into the Canal. A couple of hours later we anchored in the Great Bitter Lake and the convoy anchored again while the South bound convoy slowly steamed past. We were there for a few hours and so we had time to leap over the wall to swim in the warm turquoise waters of the lake. It was very refreshing as the heat was terrific. Once the South bound convoy was clear we heaved away and sailed on towards Port Said.
    Next morning as we steamed between the lines of ships at Port Said, we lowered the two Canal boats into the water and dropped off the searchlight, the Agents boat came out with mail and papers.
    We sailed past the statue of Ferdinand de Lesseps and out of the breakwater dropping off the Canal Pilot and into the Mediterranean.
    We didn’t load any fresh water there so water was rationed. The Mate had a padlock on the pump and water was only allowed to be pumped for one hour in the morning and one in the evening, that suited me fine, save quite a bit of work.
    The voyage to Birkenhead took 14 days along the Mediterranean and up the Atlantic coast. We picked up the Pilot at Point Lynus off Anglesey and on a cold grey Friday morning at the end of October and docked at the East Float in Birkenhead docks.
    What a contrast Merseyside was with its forty shades of grey compared with the bright colours of the tropics, still it was good to be back.
    The following day Saturday the Liverpool fellows and I went home for the weekend except the two Southampton Abs, when I got back on Monday morning the two of them had used every plate and piece of cutlery in the mess, they had not washed their own dishes, saving it all for me when I came back. Mush started to shout abuse again for not staying on board to look after them but when I threatened to throw him over the wall again he shut up.
    We stayed in Birkenhead for ten days discharging the Manganese ore then we were to take her to Glasgow dry dock. I thought the breakers would have been more suitable.
    On a cold wet windy day we sailed light ship, We cleared the Mersey Bar dropped the Pilot off and headed north into a screaming northerly gale which turned into a hurricane force 12. The ship being light was bouncing and rolling her guts out, after two days and nights we were off the North Wales coast making no headway. Eventually the gale eased and we crept up the coast to Glasgow four days out from Birkenhead. We entered the dry dock at 6 am and were paid of by 11am.
    I paid off with £8 and a train ticket home, not bad for four months hard labour. I packed my bags and went down the gangway for the last time and into the taxi for Glasgow Station, I looked at the Commodore Grant for the last time as we moved away, lying in the dry dock, rusty and battered looking, I never saw her again, thank God.

    .
    Hope you enjoyed it.
    Cheers
    Brian.

  9. Likes Bill Cameron, Denis O'Shea liked this post
Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 1 2

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •