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Article: My Time at Sea

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    My Time at Sea

    31 Comments by Henry Phillips Published on 9th June 2021 03:41 PM
    I was about 17 years old and one evening on my way home from I don't know where, I met a guy who had been in the year ahead of me at Strode's, the grammar school we had attended. Generally you didn't get to know boys in the years ahead or behind you. The only reason that I knew him was because his sister was a friend of my sisters. He was dressed in a navy uniform. I asked him what he was doing. He said that he was a Merchant Navy Radio Officer. "What's that?" was my response. He explained that you had to go to school to get a certificate and then you could join a ship as a Radio Officer. He also told me something of the seagoing life and the clincher was when he said that cigarettes and booze were really cheap! I went to the local Labour Exchange and.they gave me some information and told me to contact the Royal Navy Officers Association who, I was told, might give me a scholarship to attend school to obtain the certificate. I wrote to the RNOA and had an interview and was fortunate enough to be given a scholarship. The RNOA paid the tuition fees and gave me two Pounds a week plus the cost of travel between my home and the school I attended, West Norwood Technical College. Forty years later I met a fellow Englishman who had also emigrated to Canada. He had wanted to go to school and become a Radio Officer. He didn't have the money and was not directed to the RNOA as I had been. He joined the Royal Navy and became a telegraphist but was always sorry that he had not been able to join the MN.
    The certificate had the grandiose title, "The Post Master General's Second Class Certificate of Proficiency in Radio." It was the minimum qualification to be a Radio Officer on a deep sea vessel. There was also a First Class certificate but, other than being the chief RO on large passenger vessels, it did not give any additional qualifications for a seagoing position so it was not worth bothering taking another few months to get it. Besides, my family needed the money. The course was usually referred to as the PMG. The rest of the student body at Norwood Tech referred to us as Pugs, Mugs and Gangsters. We learned the international rules and regulations for radio communications, the theory and technical aspect of the equipment and how to repair it and, of course, Morse code. Back in the mid-fifties relatively few ships had voice communications. Morse code was king. The standard to obtain the 2nd. Class PMG was twenty words per minute plain language and sixteen wpm cypher (code groups). A "word" is five characters. I did quite well with the theoretical parts of the course and managed to scrape through the Morse code testing. The receiving test was fine as the whole class copied the Morse code transmission at the same time. The sending test was another kettle of fish entirely. It was a one on one affair. You sent directly to the examiner and a shaky hand because of nerves could really make a mess of things. The closest thing to that kind of testing that I can think of is the driver's test.
    My certificate came by registered mail on my 19th. birthday and two weeks or so later I went to work for the Marconi International Marine Communications Company. Marconi had contracts with many shipping companies to supply them with radio equipment and Radio Officers. I signed the Articles of my first ship, the s.s. "Beaverburn", as Second Radio Officer, at the Shipping Master's office in London and joined the ship in Antwerp on April 2, 1955. That was the first time that I had ever been out of the UK. The Beaverburn was owned by Canadian Pacific Steamships. It was a wartime built freighter that also carried 12 passengers. There were many, many wartime built ships in service long after WWII ended. Six months service with an experienced RO was required before you were permitted to be set loose as the lone RO on a ship. The vast majority of ships carried only one RO. We sailed from Antwerp, through the English Channel and out into the Atlantic, bound for Montreal. So far the going had been flat calm. After we cleared Land's End there was a nice lazy swell and the ship started into a gentle cork screw motion. My stomach didn't like that too much but it wasn't all that bad and everything stayed down where it belonged. A couple of days later I had bananas and ice cream for dessert at lunch then went up to the radio room to relieve the Chief Sparkie for his lunch. The dessert in my stomach started to rebel. I was burping bananas and knew that it wouldn't be just burps for very much longer! I rushed off the bridge deck, down to the accommodation and into the bathroom. There I lost all my lunch! I went back up to the radio room and was greeted by the Chief who had finished his meal and returned to an empty radio room. He was none too pleased. "Where have you been?" I explained about being seasick and his only comment was, "I hope you didn't do it in front of the passengers." That was the only bout of seasickness I suffered in nearly nine years at sea, although I did experience much rougher weather many times. The St. Lawrence River was not kept open during the winter back then and the Master of the first ship into Montreal in the Spring was awarded a gold headed cane. Unfortunately we were the second ship and missed the award by a couple of hours.
    After I had completed my six months as a Second Sparkie I was assigned to the s.s. "Fort Hamilton". My first ship as the lone RO. We flew out to Halifax in a chartered aircraft and that was the first time I had ever flown. The aircraft was the last of the large prop driven four engine passenger planes and was owned by Seaboard Western, I think. Cannot remember the aircraft model type. There were the crews of three ships on the plane. My crew bound for Halifax, the second going to Boston and the third bound for Miami. We left London Heathrow Airport at about midnight for the U.S. Airforce base in Keflavic, Iceland. The aircraft refuelled there while we were fed breakfast, then we took off bound for Gander, Newfoundland. The weather was good and we were flying low and slow and had a beautiful view of the North Atlantic. I was sitting in the row opposite the door and could see daylight around the door's perimeter. It was quite cold so we asked a flight attendant if we could get some heat on. Off she went to the flight deck and came back a little while later to tell us that the Captain could only give us heat if he feathered one engine. We thanked her but declined the heat! We finally arrived in Halifax 22 hours after we had left London.
    The Fort Hamilton didn't get back to Halifax for about a week after we arrived. We were put into a hotel and spent quite a bit of time in the local dock side tavern. It was hunting season and the stevedores were talking about hunting moose and the rifles they used. Coming from the UK none of us were very familiar with hunting. Our Donkeyman , that's the senior engine room rating, was a wiry little Scot. He said. "Why do you use a gun to get a moose? Where I come from we just use a wee little trap!" He thought they were talking about a mouse which is pronounced moose by the Scots. The Donkeyman had quite the history. His ship had been torpedoed during the war and he had got into a lifeboat with 14 others. Twelve days later he was the only one alive when the lifeboat was found.
    The Fort Hamilton was owned by Furness Withy Prince Lines and was also wartime built. She was quite small, only 1948 gross tons. Why I remember that number I do not know, but it has stuck with me for over 60 years. Because the ship was so small she really moved with the swells and the waves. I used to watch the clinometer, the device that shows how much the ship is rolling, hitting the peg at 35 degrees and we were still rolling, then back the other way where she would hit the 35 degree peg on that side. Canada was the only country in the world that allowed a foreign flag ship to carry cargo between its ports. Our regular run was Halifax to St. John's, Newfoundland, back to Halifax then down to New York, back to Halifax and then St. John's again. We also had the occasional trip to Philadelphia and Baltimore and sometimes we went to some of the outports in Newfoundland. Back then the only way to get to some of the outports was via the ocean. Port Union is one outport I particularly remember. The dock was so short that only the fore part of our small ship could be tied to it. Shipboard life was mostly two days at sea, two days in port, two days at sea and so on. The Chief Cook, Sammy, was a short, thin Scot who liked his drink. He cooked for the two days at sea, when he was sober, and the Second Cook did the honours for the two days in port when Sammy was in his cups. The food was good and I gained something like ten pounds in the year I was in her.
    The radio was shut down while in port and I was paid a dollar an hour for cargo watch. This was in the days before container vessels and the general cargo we carried was in boxes that were loaded on to pallets. The pallets were loaded and unloaded by hand. My job was to ensure that none of the cargo was stolen. The stevedores in New York were mostly Italian and one of them paid me what he must have thought to be the ultimate compliment. He said that I was good looking enough to be Italian. The compliment was not copyright and I now use it to tell a person that they are good looking enough to be Jewish!
    In September 1956, after a year serving in the Fort Hamilton, most of the crew was shipped back to the UK on Furness' flagship, the "Ocean Monarch" which was going back to England from New York for refit. The company arranged to have a special sleeper car for us to travel from Halifax to New York by rail. That's the first and only time I have had the experience of a sleeper. We had to wait for quite a long time in Saint John, NB to get hooked up on to a connecting train and, sailors being sailors, the time was well used by going into the city to make sure that there was enough beer for the trip. After an overnight stay in a New York hotel we boarded the Ocean Monarch and set sail for Manchester.
    It's a small world note. I recently discovered that a neighbour of mine worked for Furness Withy in their head office, before emigrating to Canada. This was at about the same time I was on the Fort Hamilton
    After a few weeks leave I was called by Marconi to fly out to the Azores to join the tanker, "Athel Regent" owned by Athel Tankers. The Radio Officer had come down with pneumonia and the ship had gone into the Azores so that he could have medical attention. By international regulations ships could not sail without an RO. I flew to Lisbon on a British European Airways flight and then had to change planes to the Azores. When we arrived in Lisbon I was called to get off the BEA flight first. They wanted to hurry me across the tarmac to the smaller plane that flew to the Azores. It was waiting just for me. My luggage was still deep in the hold of the BEA flight so I said I would not board until my bags were loaded on. "Oh, we'll forward them to you." I was told. "No way" said I, "I'm getting on a ship and don't know where it is going, so I'll wait here for my bags." I had the pleasure of holding up a whole plane load of people! The small plane flew to what had been the WWII U.S. Air Force base on Santa Maria. I stayed in a hotel for the night. The "hotel" was one of the quonset huts that the U.S. military had used for barracks. Next day I flew to Ponta Delgada to join the ship. The ship's Captain met me and, after lunch, we went to the British Consulate for me to sign the Articles. The ship was at anchor and as the Captain was climbing up the ladder he was yelling. "Mr. Mate, get the anchor up." It was a Saturday afternoon and as I was climbing up the ladder the crew members were asking me if I had the football results. They seemed to live or die by those.
    The "Athel Regent" had been built in 1928 so was nearly thirty years old when I joined her. She was affectionately known as the "Awful Reject". Athel tankers were mostly mollasses carriers but we carried crude oil from Venezuela and Curacao up the East coast of the US. The Awful Reject had the distinction of being the only vessel of the Athel fleet to survive WWII unscathed. There had been 13 ships in their fleet at its beginning and only two of the original fleet at its end. Her sister ship, the "Athel Monarch", had been torpedoed but the weapon was a dud and didn't explode. The captain ran her up on to a sandbank and most of the cargo was pumped out into another tanker. Then the ship was temporarily patched and refloated before proceeding to a dry dock to have a permanent patch put in place. The Reject's crew were mostly from theCardiff/Barry area and they were a pretty rough bunch. In the course of the five months or so that I served in that ship about half the crew deserted and were replaced with whomever could be found with the right qualifications. The ship was a very poor feeder and that did not make it a very good or happy berth. Napoleon is quoted as saying that an army marches of its stomach. Similarly, good food is a prerequisite for a happy crew. The ship's cook was an African with his tribal marks tatooed on his forehead. I guess that may explain something about the poor food. I went to the officers' mess the first morning for breakfast and people were asking for curry and rice with the egg and bacon on top. "What kind of savages are these?" I wondered to myself. "Curry for breakfast!" Well, in a very short time I was one of those savages! Usually breakfast was the only decent meal of the day. When we returned to England we docked in Liverpool to discharge cargo then out into the Irish Sea and around Wales to Cardiff where the crew was paid off. There was one of the famed Irish Sea gales raging and it took over three days for the relatively short trip. After I signed off it the ship went out to Hong Kong to be broken up for salvage. The Captain asked me if I would care to go on that trip but I politely declined.
    In the second week of February 1957 I received a call from Marconi to join the s.s. "Sunrip" in Avonmouth. When I asked where the ship was going I was told to Jamaica to load, then up the Pacific coast to British Columbia and back again. I took the "back again" to mean back to the UK, so did a rough calculation and packed for a trip of five or six weeks. How wrong I was! I joined the Rip on the day after Valentine's Day '57 and signed off her two years and two weeks later on Feb 28, 1959. In contrast to the Reject, the Rip was a very good berth. She was the flagship of the Saguenay fleet. Saguenay was the shipping arm of the Aluminum Company of Canada and the ship had been built with an unpainted, welded, aluminum superstructure to advertise and demonstrate this building method. Aluminum welding was in its infancy at that time. Whenever we went into a new port there was a reception for the local shipping interests to show off this technique. The ship was registerd in the UK and the officers were quite a mixed bunch from all over Canada and the UK. The rest of the crew was mainly Jamaican. Officers were paid in Canadian dollars and the crew in Jamaican pounds. I was the exception because I was employed by Marconi so my salary was in UK pounds. However, I also received $50 a month for acting as the ship's Purser looking after payroll, crew lists and the general clerical work. Back then $50 was quite a princely sum.
    Our regular run was from Port Esquivel, Jamaica, where we loaded refined bauxite, a fine white powder called alumina, through the Panama Canal and up the West coast to San Pedro, CA. Here we took on fuel then continued North to Kitimat, BC, Alcan's smelter site. We only had 18 hours in Jamaica and 32 in Kitimat with about four hours at anchor in San Pedro going North and South, for fuel. In just 50 hours or so we transitted the Panama Canal from the Pacific side to the Atlantic and then back again. There were also the occasional trips when we carried aluminum ingots or grain. That gave us a break from the five week round trip to and from Kitimat. The ingots were usually unloaded in San Pedro, but we did have one trip to the tourist town of Acapulco, Mexico. Grain was usually loaded in Vancouver and delivered to a European port. The most exotic was Venice where we spent seven days because there was no room at the grain terminal for us. From Venice we sailed a few hours South to Ravenna where we had another seven days waiting for an unloading berth. Ravenna is the site of a cathedral which is known for its mosaics. It was late May, just before the tourist season, and quite warm and there was a nice sandy beach less than half a mile from our dock where we spent most afternoons. The kids peddling the three wheel bikes with a big box cooler were selling soft drinks and beer, not ice cream. That, of course, suited all the sailors just fine. One trip that I remember was carrying alumina to northern Sweden. It was in the summer time and we were far enough North that the sun never set. The first and only time I enjoyed that experience. The kids in the town had never seen a black person and they would come up to our Jamaican crew and rub their hands to see if the black would wear off!
    Since the ship was of UK registry we earned half a day leave for every Saturday spent at sea and a full day for every Sunday. This was in addition to the usual amount of leave that we earned. Cannot remember how much that was. When I finally signed off the Rip I had over seven months leave accumulated. This was paid to me in a lump sum by Marconi. Also, since I had been away from the UK for over two years, and this period had straddled the 1957/1958 fiscal year, I did not have to pay income tax on my salary for the whole period I had been away. I was rich beyond the dreams of Croesus!
    After I had been home on leave for a few weeks and Marconi had given me a three week radar maintenance course, I received a message from an officer I had sailed with on the Sunrip, that the Saguenay ship "Sunek" was in Avonmouth. (All Saguenay ships were named "Sun" something and the joke was that as there was no ship named "Sunrise" all the world was waiting for the sunrise.) The RO was signing off and would I like to have the job. I told Marconi what I wanted to do. They were none too happy because the Sunek had a Decca radar, not a Marconi. However the Captain of the ship told Marconi that he wanted me as his RO and that settled things. The ship was a bulk carrier and had been built in Japan. She was only six months old and was one of the earlier ships to have the bridge and accommodation in the after section rather than midships. It was quite different to stand on the bridge and have more than a hundred yards of ship in front of you. Naturally enough, because she was a bulk carrier, we were mainly employed in the Port Esquivel - Kitimat trade with the occasional grain trip. We did not have derricks for loading and unloading so we never carried aluminum ingots. I served in the Sunek for about 15 months and then we had a grain trip to the UK where I signed off.
    My next ship was the Shell Tanker m.v. "Labiosa". I flew to Lisbon to join her. The officers were British and the crew was Spanish. She was affectionately called the "Scabby Rosa" and was old and very small for a tanker. Our main trade was to carry ashphalt from Punta Cardon and Maracaibo, Venezuela, to whereever it was needed. The only time I crossed the Equator in nearly nine years at sea, was with the Labiosa when we had a trip to Guayaquil, Ecuador.
    In order that it could be pumped out of the tanks, ashphalt was loaded very hot and was kept that way using what were called donkey boilers. These circulated very hot water through the tanks but were not able to heat the cargo. They just kept it liquid enough to pump out. In the middle of winter we loaded a cargo for Fall River, Mass. One of the donkey boilers quit and the engineers could not get it running again, so the cargo started to cool down. It thickened up but was still warm and just liquid enough for the pumps to handle. They moaned and groaned in protest. We pumped day and night for the week it took to discharge the cargo. It should only have taken about 36 hours. Our longest stay in port was in Dakar in what was French West Africa. It is now Senegal. The ship's engine was a diesel and one of the pistons blew on the voyage from Venezuela. We broke down with monotonous regularity. That trip took us three weeks due to the constant breakdowns. The Captain threw a party to celebrate the day that we averaged ten knots! We were three weeks in Dakar waiting for the new piston to be shipped from Germany and installed. Fortunately there was a nice sandy beach only a short distance from the dock and that's where we spent a lot of our time.
    The only time that I was involved in a rescue at sea was during my time on the Labiosa. We were on our way North to Fall River when we came upon a small yacht which was flying a red shirt as a distress signal. We lowered a lifeboat and picked up the two men who were aboard. They were on their way from New Jersey to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands when the winds came up and the seas became rough. The yacht sprang a leak and they had been taking on water for two days and had been using a fisherman's hand pump to bale it out and keep afloat when we arrived. They were exhausted. Neither of them had any ocean sailing experience. In fact the younger of the two had no sailing experience whatsoever. When we arrived on the scene our rusty old bucket.must have looked like an angel sent from heaven to them. We reported the incident to the U.S. Coast Guard and became local celebrities and made it into the newspapers when we arrived in Fall River.
    The Scabby Rosa was equipped with the type of radar for which Marconi had given me the course. One afternoon I was called to the bridge as the radar was not working. I opened the transmittter and immediately saw what the problem was. There were two banks of valves, three in each, on each side and the filaments on one bank were not lit. Each bank was controlled by a separate fuse. Obviously the fuse on that side had blown. "I know what the problem is." I said, and was so happy that I had remembered this piece of the course that, without thinking, reached in to get to the fuse. ZAP!! I had completely forgotten that there was ten thousand volts high tension at the top of each valve. I drew a nice green spark about an inch long and was thrown back a couple of feet aainst the chart table. All the breath was knocked out of me. When I had got my breath back and switched the radar off at the main breaker I changed the fuse and the radar came on just as it should. Mission accomplished.
    While we were in the Western Atlantic I received a message from the Captain of the "Sunflower". I had sailed with him in both the Sunrip and Sunek. He said that the RO would be signing off shortly and he was offering me the position. Saguenay had some ships registered in the UK and these employed Marconi ROs. Others sailed under a flag of convenience and the RO was directly employed by Saguenay. The Sunflower was registered in Liberia. The salary was in Canadian dollars and nearly twice that of a Marconi RO. Of course I jumped at the chance. After about a year on the Labiosa I signed off in Curacao, flew back to the UK, resigned from Marconi, and signed on with Saguenay. Next I flew out to Canada to join the Sunflower. I had to convert my British radio certificate and that was simple enough. I went to the Liberian consulate in Montreal, paid $50, and was given a nice, shiny new, Liberian certificate.
    The Sunflower was a wartime built freighter/passenger vessel and had a dream of a trade. In the summer we sailed from Montreal with general cargo and topped off in Halifax. In the winter we loaded in Halifax. Then, depending on the destination of the cargo, we had one of two routes. One route was to Bermuda and then Barbados. After that we called in at some of the smaller islands and Port of Spain, Trinidad. After Trinidad we unloaded the last of the cargo in Georgetown, British Guiana, now Guyana. We then went up river to Mackenie, a bauxite mine, and loaded there before sailing to Chaguaramas, Trinidad where we topped off with bauxite and headed North to Port Alfred, Quebec. After discharging the bauxite we cleaned the ship and went to Montreal where the cycle began again. The other route was that after Halifax we went to Nassau, Bahamas then to the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica before calling into some smaller islands on our way to Port of Spain. The smaller islands were Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua, Dominica and St. Lucia. On the way North we would occasionally load Bacardi rum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for discharge in Montreal. Usually our passengers were retired people and they stayed with us for the five week round trip. I met my first wife when she was a passenger on the Sunflower.
    My cabin was on the port side of what had been the bridge deck. The Captain's was on the starbord side. Much bigger than my accommodation, of course. The bridge had been moved one deck up and the old bridge was now the passenger lounge. Just for amusement I would act as bartender at times. One passenger I particularly remember was a retired British Indian Army colonel. On the first day he saw that we had a bottle of Gordon's gin in the rack at the back of the bar. "By Jove. Gordon's. That's the only gin I will drink." Little did he know that what he saw was the only Gordon's we had. Every day we topped off the bottle with Gilbey's gin and he drank his "Gordon's" quite happily for the five week trip.
    On my last trip in the Sunflower we ran into a hurricane about 12 miles Southwest of Bermuda. It was supposed to have crossed our track about six hours before but had changed direction and speed. I woke up at six a.m. with solid water hitting the porthole. My cabin was about 35 feet above the water line. I dressed in a hurry and went up to the bridge via the Captain's stair way. No way was I was going to go outside to get up to the bridge in that kind of weather. When I arrived in the chartroom there was the Captain stretched out on the settee with his feet against a locker and his head against the bulkhead, looking like he didn't have a care in the world. "Quite the blow, eh boy?" he said to me. (He always called me boy) "Get the position from the Mate and give it to the Coast Guard in Bemuda." We were just on the edge of the eye of the hurricane. I went into the radio room but could not get any transmission out. The antenna lead-in insulators were grounded because they were covered with salt water. I reported this to the Captain and he said, "Never mind. They'll know soon enough where the hurricane is." He was not concerned about the ship. A few hours later we were sailing under clear blue skies and, after I had washed the lead-in insulators with fresh water, the radio was back in business. That Captain was probably the finest seaman I ever sailed with. He was an old Newfoundlander who had started his seagoing career as a deck boy of 13 and had worked his way up.
    I signed off the Sunflower in Montreal and flew out to British Columbia to be married. And that was the end of my seagoing days.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: My Time at Sea

    Henry, really enjoyed reading your story. Sad to say those times are long gone.

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    Default Re: My Time at Sea

    Agree with Trevor:

    Henry, really enjoyed reading your story.

    Keith.

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    Henry thanks for that very interesting story you certainly got around. Rgds Den ex RO.

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    Hello Henry
    Welcome to the site and many thanks for such a great Opener!
    Its nice to have such good stories to read, besides us all that went to Sea , Visitors will also be enlightened by the Story which will open their Eyes a bit to the things that went on!
    Hope you Enjoy the site and that you may post even more stories later!
    Cheers
    Senior Site Moderator-Member and Friend of this Website

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trevor Bodiam View Post
    Henry, really enjoyed reading your story. Sad to say those times are long gone.
    Glad you liked it. Sounded like an echo. My last boss in the Canadian Coast Guard had been an RO and he often said to me that we had gone to sea at just the right time as things changed not too long after we went ashore. Amen!

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    Thanks, Den. I didn't think that I had got around very much. In nearly nine years at sea I only went South of the Equator once, and then only by about 60 miles. The farthest East was the Adriatic and the farthest West the BC coast of Canada. But believe me, I wouldn't have liked to miss those years. I had a great time. It was only a year or so before I retired from the Canadian Coast Guard that I went to Hong Kong and Vietnam on a business trip but that is another story.

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    #1 Very interesting Henry. Only one inquiry you may be right on this , but I always thought Saguenay was a subsidary of Alcoa and not Alcan. I was a year as Ch. Officer in the Sunprincess in 1967/68. My notion at the time was because the first trip there Montreal to the BWI islands in the sun so to speak . We carried as passenger the President of Alcoa and I had the impression he owned the vessel. He had the authority at the time to delay the ship in Bermuda for a day while he finished his game of golf anyway. The Sunprincess was one of the ships actually owned by the company whichever it is Alcoa or Alcan , most of the Sun fleet otherwise were ships on bareboat charter. The 2nd Engineer and myself were the only two Englishmen on board , that is that werent landed immigrants to Canada. Cheers JS
    The Bluenose captain you mention wasn’t called Rand was he ? JS
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 10th June 2021 at 03:16 AM.
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    #8..The other Saguenay master I sailed with was called Dewar an original Scotsman had been in Canada for decades. 0n the Sunprincess the R/0 did all the accounts as per wages , and the total amount owing he paid out at the end of the month in hand in US dollars. He was a little Irishman and was well known in the West Indian calypso world and used to write music for and used to dance in Street parades with the steel bands. We used to join him time permitting armed each with a bottle of Old Oak Rum. Itís a pity all sea going life was not the same. Cheers JS
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 10th June 2021 at 05:38 AM.
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    A terrific story Henry. Many thank yous. Lot of keying there without any errors that I can see and I'm something of a pedant on spelling. Looking forward to your next "report". Welcome by the way.
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