Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 30

Thread: Ratguards

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    W.A.
    Posts
    14,660
    Thanks (Given)
    8145
    Thanks (Received)
    8367
    Likes (Given)
    11524
    Likes (Received)
    37859

    Default Ratguards

    Don’t know if this has been mentioned before, but wondered if anyone had given thoughts to the old ratguards. They were always a chore putting on after mooring and taken off the ropes and wires previous to sailing. I always used to think it was an unnecessary chore to keep rats off the ship. Even saw a picture of a ratguard in an Australian magazine in the 50s where some joker had painted on the face of it “ Dear Rat please use gangway “ it was years before I realised it was not a ships rule but a port health one, to keep rats from going ashore off the ship. Also gangways the first 6 feet or so were painted white in the belief that a rat would not cross it. The rat guards on wire springs were particularly hard to put on due to the configuration of the wire lying hard up against the ships side, so a heath Robinson one was constructed by wrapping burlap around a section and pouring oil or grease on it. All this done as said in the mistaken belief it was done for the ships good, when the old rat used to come on board in any case when loading grain by simply coming down the Shute with the cargo.A good way of the port health getting rid of their surplus rats. In later life on smaller vessels I can never remember any
    emphasis on having ratguards on in most ports I visited. JS

    When you think of it the sea going life is made up of Fables , from the Flying Dutchman, to the Albatross, The Liverpool man, sailing on Friday the 13th. The Bermuda Triangle and many many more. Then the life of the sailorman sitting and yarning and sewing his new Seabag was overtaken by the introduction of the transistor radio. So loud music and so called world calamity’s were sent to disrupt a peaceful life. I can remember a couple of my acquaintances gave up the sea. To join the police force and there used to be a written exam, and they had no trouble with that apart from one thing which failed them, and that was current affairs in the UK . Today with modern communications that would of been the least of their problems . JS
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 7th June 2020 at 12:16 AM.
    R575129

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Wirral
    Posts
    2,724
    Thanks (Given)
    2871
    Thanks (Received)
    2522
    Likes (Given)
    4410
    Likes (Received)
    6240

    Default Re: Ratguards

    I remember in BA watching a rat start climbing one of our headlines. We had ratguards on but thought we would have some fun at the rats expense. We waited for it to get about halfway up, then we saw a couple of its mates start to climb the headline as well. So we then jumped up and down on the inboard length of headline between the bitts and the fairlead. The headline responded by moving violently up and down. Give the rat credit, it hung on quite well for a bit, its mates quickly jumped back on the quay, however it must have got tired and suddenly did a back flip and ended up in the dock. It was a concrete quay, no piles or anything so it could not get out anywhere and was last seen heading for the other side of the dock where the Royal Mail's Arlanza was berthed.

    Remember off Rio one bright moonlight night on watch, when looking down on the bridge wing deck I saw the shadow of a rat in the moonlight on the awning spars above my head. I managed to get a broom out of the bridge locker and swinging it like a top tennis player knocked it off the awning spar into the sea. It surfaced quite quickly but then something must have grabbed it from below and it vanished in a swirl of water. Glad it was'nt me falling in, I think it must have been a shark following the ship.
    Last edited by Chris Allman; 7th June 2020 at 10:34 AM.
    When one door closes another one shuts, it must be the wind

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    4,334
    Thanks (Given)
    1796
    Thanks (Received)
    2722
    Likes (Given)
    8620
    Likes (Received)
    9873

    Default Re: Ratguards

    Where the rat guards to keep the rats of the ship or keep them aboard, Often wondered about that one, I can remember cleaning the hold of a ship that had just discharged a full cargo of grain while brushing the last of it up rats running every where we used to squash them with our steel toe cap boots. Then someone invariably had to bilge dive one hand on your meat and veg if you drew the short straw time for a little pay back from the rat
    {terry scouse}

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    isle of wight
    Posts
    4,801
    Thanks (Given)
    1655
    Thanks (Received)
    3405
    Likes (Given)
    9045
    Likes (Received)
    14153

    Default Re: Ratguards

    I remember cleaning a hold out after carrying grain, all the beams and ledges had to be brushed clean, one of the lads disturbed a rats nest full of youngsters, he cornered the rat, but jesus the rat snarled back and looked like it would attack, so it was a case of several of us attacking with brooms, and eventually got it,I also remember on the St Merriel, a really old Saint line job, aft newsroom with the door pinned back, and suddenly you could see the tail of a rat pocking out, a big one too, the newsroom was evacuated in seconds. Eventually one of the braver guys dispatched it, kt
    R689823

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Torquay
    Posts
    8,623
    Thanks (Given)
    2547
    Thanks (Received)
    5202
    Likes (Given)
    6708
    Likes (Received)
    19640

    Default Re: Ratguards

    #3, Ah! those strum boxes, the cadets favourite, or the mate's favourite for the cadets, fermenting wet grain been laying in there for two weeks on passage, the smell was the nearest thing to rotting dead bodies you could get, a smell I experienced walking through a bombed graveyard next to El-Gamil airfield in Egypt '56, lingered in the nostrils and your pores, could empty a bus in 15 seconds

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    W.A.
    Posts
    14,660
    Thanks (Given)
    8145
    Thanks (Received)
    8367
    Likes (Given)
    11524
    Likes (Received)
    37859

    Default Re: Ratguards

    We were leaving a port in Australia once and after stowing the ropes there was a rats nest found in them as we had been in port. For some time , they immediately all jumped over the side , and we had to live with the thought of the saying that rats will leave a sinking ship, until we got to our next destination. JS
    R575129

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Wirral
    Posts
    2,724
    Thanks (Given)
    2871
    Thanks (Received)
    2522
    Likes (Given)
    4410
    Likes (Received)
    6240

    Default Re: Ratguards

    Re #5 Ivan

    The biggest potato crisp I have ever seen.

    Now this story is not for the faint hearted. Amongst the many tasks that Cadets had to carry out during their education was bilge cleaning.

    Now to those who are perhaps not quite sure what a bilge is, it is the lowest compartment on a ship where the two sides of the ship (port and starboard) meet the bottom of the ship. In the holds of a cargo ship, the bilges are normally covered over with thick wooden boards called ď limber boards ď. These keep the bilges clear of any cargo and debris, enabling them to be pumped out should any water get into them. Holes in the ships framing allows any water in the bilges to run the entire length of each hold and be pumped out via a sump.

    In the sump is the main suction pipe leading to the bilge pump. The end of the suction pipe is protected by a small, square, perforated steel box, which is designed to stop any debris from getting into the pipe and thence damaging the bilge pump. This box is called the Ď strum box Ď.

    When the holds were empty following the discharge of any cargo and prior to re-loading, it was the cadetís job to examine all the bilges, clean them if necessary and check and clean the strum boxes.

    Now the bilges in the cargo holds, unfortunately become the container of any liquid, material or otherwise, that, both man and the elements elected to put in them. They were invariably used as a loo, dustbin, and doss hole by the dockers, so it was a complete lottery what one discovered whilst performing bilge cleaning. Unfortunately they were also home to the ships rats and also the ships cockroaches or jaspers as they were known.

    On this occasion, my two colleagues and I descended to the lower hold of No 3 hatch, the largest on the ship and to my knowledge the one with the biggest population of rats, as we had recently carried grain in sacks in it. Donít get me wrong, we were not overrun with rats, but we had seen a couple in the hatch whilst it was being unloaded.

    We removed a couple of limber boards as loudly as possible to scare them off and inspected each compartment in turn. To inspect a compartment, one had to hang head down into it whilst being held by the belt and legs by your companions. You then removed any debris into a bucket and were pulled back out again. We took it in turn so as each had his fair share of bilge diving.

    We had done about six compartments when it was my turn again. We hauled off the boards with loud banging, stamping of feet and shouting and I was then suspended into the compartment. Looking around I saw a rats nest, empty except for one of the biggest potato crisps I had ever seen, I kid you not, it must have been nearly the size of a crisp packet itself. I was amazed and reached for it to enable me to put it in my bucket.

    As I did so, a rat jumped from nowhere onto my shoulders and back of my neck, using me as an escape route. I let out one almighty shout, brought my head up sharply and practically knocked myself out on the limber board above me.

    My two mates nearly let go of me as the rat ran up my back and out into the hold and away. They fortunately held on and dragged me from the bilge, a shivering half comatose heap and dumped me on the limber boards.

    When the stars has stopped spinning around my head and I had recovered enough to tell them what happened, they did not believe me about the crisp. One of them looked in and said, ď there is no crisp there ď, I struggled up and managed to look into the bilge. He was right, the empty nest was empty, no crisp. Well bloody h-ll, a fellow rat must have rescued it, whilst the other one caused a diversion.

    We had a good look around that bilge compartment but there was no crisp to be seen. We were not going to reopen up all the compartments again, so that was that. My mates thought the bang on the head must have puddled my senses, but I know what I saw and it was the biggest potato crisp I have ever seen, even up to today, I have never seen a bigger one.

    Dam clever rats, dam clever.

    Chris.
    When one door closes another one shuts, it must be the wind

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    isle of wight
    Posts
    4,801
    Thanks (Given)
    1655
    Thanks (Received)
    3405
    Likes (Given)
    9045
    Likes (Received)
    14153

    Default Re: Ratguards

    I think i posted before, on one ship, i can seee the guys face, but cannot recall the name of the ship, after carrying grain and hatch cleaning in the usual fashion, it came to cleaning the strum boxes, one of the guys was waist deep in underkaks, and the strum box was supposed to be pumping clear, and was obviously jammed, so the engine room was asked to try and blow back the pump, this guy shot out of the strum box like a rocket, eyes like saucers with fright, and declared that there was a snake in there, eventually we raked around with brooms etc, and what had caused the problem was a short length of the rubber gasket between the Mcgregor hatches that had found its way into the box, which had moved between his legs when they had reversed the pump. You have to just imagine the laughter from all hands, happy days, kt
    R689823

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    W.A.
    Posts
    14,660
    Thanks (Given)
    8145
    Thanks (Received)
    8367
    Likes (Given)
    11524
    Likes (Received)
    37859

    Default Re: Ratguards

    When bilge diving I always used to keep one hand covering my throat and the bilge only ever got the other for cleaning purposes. someone once told me that a cornered rat would always go for the throat, and I still believe that whether true or false. jS
    R575129

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Cooma NSW
    Posts
    5,375
    Thanks (Given)
    4844
    Thanks (Received)
    3114
    Likes (Given)
    17695
    Likes (Received)
    13283

    Default Re: Ratguards

    Hi John.
    The rat goes for the light over your shoulder, but if he misses he hits your throat and hangs on. This was supposed to have happened to a Wren or A.T.S. girl in a London toilet during the war, as she opened the door a rat had her by the throat going for the light, she died.
    Chris that rat you threw over board, you sure it was a shark that got it, may have been the chief steward in for his morning swim.
    Des
    Lest We Forget

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast

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
  •