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Article: Ringbolting

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    Ringbolting

    55 Comments by Paul Johnson Published on 20th June 2020 09:30 PM
    Hi All,
    Having been badgered incessantly by Des Taff Jenkins (once), to submit this article, I shall now do so.
    For those of you who are too young, or have never come across this practice, an explanation may prove useful; 'Green's Dictionary of Slang' defines 'ringbolt' as, '(NZ) a free voyage obtained by posing as a ship's crew member'. Now, I have never come across anybody ringbolting who wished to 'pose' as a crew member; there were a number of number of people who, for disparate reasons, wished to go from A to B, and we helped them out; they could always kip on somebody's daybed. However, when we speak of ringbolting we usually think of girls as being the 'passengers', my own experiences relate to the NZSCo., but I am sure the same would apply to Blue Star, Port Line and Shaw Saville etc.
    There were a number of reasons for this; a girl may need a lift to meet her boyfriend, in say Lyttleton, or a new girlfriend decided she would like to accompany you for a week or two, or a long term fiancee would spend your whole time in Kiwi onboard with you, this last happened twice with me for example. I was once 'phoned by an irate mother, (ship's shore 'phone), who informed me her daughter had a job to go to and how long would we be in NZ, my answer of another couple of weeks did not go down well!

    I am now going to relate to you an episode that happened on the 'Hauraki', we were in transit to Wellington, from where I am unsure, and we all knew there were a few girls onboard, the normal practice was that, at sea, the girls stayed in your cabin, and other than the usual ablutions, that was it; we were sure most people, including the Captain, knew of this arrangement, but one did not wish to be too obvious. Now, a good friend of mine was John Grey, an AB from Lerwick in the Shetland Is., Shelty to his mates, he was a large lad that looked like a Viking; long blonde beard, built like a brick you know what, with a sheepskin waistcoat and Wranglers, whatever the weather, and his girlfriend, Ryder, was a lovely Maori girl that was not exactly slight. The thought of those two in that small top bunk is best dispensed with, at nearly seventy I do not think my heart could take it.
    After Ryder had had her dinner, readily and happily supplied by the galley, she decided to have a shower, everything fine so far; she then decided to go for a walk aft, as it was such a lovely evening, and it was, but unbeknownst to her, she was spotted by the Chief Officer. Now, this was not 'our' Chief Officer, he was on leave, being domiciled in NZ, no, this was somebody we did not know, or particularly like. What I do know is that he 'phoned the authorities in Wellington! I am a little unsure whether we knew of this before we got to Wellington, I think we may have been as we put all the girls in the crew Pig before arrival, to 'hide' them, thinking it may just be a cursory search.
    I think it is fortuitous to come clean with you at this point, in the past I have inflated the number of girls present to somewhere in the region of twenty, depending how far I am in my cups, and how gullible the listeners; but in all honestly I think there were between 7 and 10 girls there, one being Lorraine Wright, my own girl; she was known as Dinky because she was a small delicate person, a little like yours truly!

    As we approached the wharf we were concerned to see not one or two of the Old Bill but around half a dozen, and a couple of cars; there may have been a 'Paddy' wagon, but that may have been an aberration of my over active memory. Most of the boyfriends of the girls were either in the engine room or on deck duties, Shelty was on the wheel, and so it may fall to me to do something; but what!!

    It may prove helpful to describe the nomenclature of the Hauraki's galley at this point; The galley was situated athwartship, with a door on to the deck at either side, there were two further doors from the crew accommodation on the Port and Starboard sides. On the Port side was my domain, the Baker's shop, just outside was the companionway to the Fridge Flat, Freezers, chillers and handling room, mirroring this on the Starboard side was the Butcher's shop, outside of which was a companionway to the Second Steward's Dry store flat.

    We docked on the Starboard side, and very soon the Wellington Police turned up, they were met by the Chief Officer, almost immediately they insisted on searching the Second Stewards Dry store, nothing there, they then entered the crew accommodation by the Starboard crew accommodation door. It was then, dear reader, that a moment of illumination sparked in my brain; it does not often happen! I would go and get the girls and put them in the handling room of the Fridge Flat, so I went to the crew bar and ushered them out, telling them to be as silent as possible, fat chance! Most had cans of beer, and wanted to give me a kiss, Dinky was not too pleased, but I eventually got them down into the Fridge Flat; Wally Smith, the Chief Cook, was smiling, they were saying thankyou for their food etc.

    I then had a major decision to make, to ask a Second Steward for the key to his Dry store, anybody that has ever contemplated such an aberration will know the enormity of such an action. Looking deeply into my eyes, George just handed the key over, normally his ilk would ask what i wanted, he would get it; but no, looking deeply into my eyes he just handed it over.

    Now, from the Fridge Flat there was a locked door to the Supply Flat, this extended from one side of the ship to the other, serviced by the Gunport doors in the ship's side, this was not just for the dry and chilled stores but also for Engineroom stores, the engine room had access to this flat. I went down to the Fridge flat, opened the the connecting door and ushered the girls through, trying to get these girls to the other side of the ship was like trying to herd cats, at the opening to the engine room there was blown kisses, waves and what we would now call twerking, and that was just from the engineers!
    Now, for those of you paying attention, you will know there is a door from the supply flat into the Second Steward's dry store, I let the girls into the store, exhorting them not to touch anything, and retraced my steps. In getting back to the handling room I had to clear up, a few empty cans was okay, but they had 'feasted' on my spare loaves and cake! At sea I was more than happy to do eclairs etc., but on the Coast they had to make do with slab cherry cake and light fruit cake for their Tab Nabs.. I just had time to cover any obvious habitation and went back to the Baker's shop. Within minutes Mr. and Mrs. Bill and their offspring appeared and went down to the Fridge Flat, a circular inspection if you will, tout suite, they were up again. After a conflab they started to disembark; happy days! I thought I would wait for them to drive away, and then release the girls.

    It was about this time that I was revelling in the success of the operation when the Second Steward appeared, oh, dear reader, one must not revel too soon; looking deep into my eyes he said he needed his Dry Store keys, the shoreside Catering Superintendent wanted to inspect the Dry stores. If one can imagine a Guppy, soundlessly opening and closing their mouth, then that was me; wordlessly I handed them over. Within a very short time the gaggle of girls appeared, all chewing biscuits, some with packets in their hands, followed by the Catering Superintendent, he made a bee-line for me. He informed me that if the police had still been on board he would have notified them of the situation, drawing myself up to my impressive 5' 8" (a tad over in fact), I looked askance at him, wordlessly. As he toddled off I recognised him as the Purser that sacked me off the 'Rangitoto', and that his was a pyrrhic victory.

    As anybody that reads my posts will know that I hold anybody who has sailed on the wet green choppy stuff in high regard, and so when Dinky and I went to the pig later I was prepared to be embarrassed by an embarrassing display of gratitude; as one would expect Shelty and Ryder 'shouted' Dinky and I drinks, (Shelty ran the Pig), but from all the others, with their girlfriends, nothing, nada, zilch.

    I am not a bitter man, and there must be at least one or two days a week when I do not give this a thought, even now; but come on, what an ungrateful bunch of f!@#$%^ barstewards.

    Cheers, Paul.

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  3. #51
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    Default Re: Ringbolting

    Hi All,
    I too looked up the term before I wrote the article, and was not too surprised it originated in NZ, although to be fair I cannot remember any ringbolter working their passage.
    Some of your other suggestions are very interesting.
    Cheers, Paul.

  4. Thanks Keith at Tregenna thanked for this post
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    Default Re: Ringbolting

    It has been said that on many UCL liners there was a lot of 'Ring Bolting' goin on.
    But I think t may have been a bit different.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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    Default Re: Ringbolting

    Hi John,
    In what way would it have been different? My perception was that a ringbolter was getting a free passage, normally girls, although there where exceptions,
    Cheers, Paul.

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    Default Re: Ringbolting

    Oh! Paul You dont get the drift on John in Oz reply !
    Its a sort of Joke mate! To do with the not so male Crew on Board most all of the UCL Ships at that time ! LOL
    cHEERS
    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 14th September 2020 at 10:06 PM.
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    Default Re: Ringbolting

    Correct Vernon, remember the chant,
    'Sing, sing or show your ring"
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
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    Default Re: Ringbolting

    Sorry lads, must have been half asleep.
    Cheers, Paul.

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