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    Ringbolting

    68 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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    Paul did you know Gaynor and her troop of girls , supposedly from the Port Line Offices in Auckland. Never did find out whether there was a Port Line Office in Auckland , but that was given as their address when the phone calls to the ship came in , for a party on board. One of the advantages of NZ over Australia , where if you asked a girl for a dance at the local hop in Oz were likely to get a bunch of fives from her boyfriend. Think Kiwi had a bigger percentage of females to males in those days. Either that or they were all alcoholic raving sex addicts. Can see why Keith Tindal prefers NZ to Oz. Carried a bird from Betty’s bar in Glasgow to Liverpool once and kept her locked up In the pilots cabin on the bridge , not for private consumption either but for her own safety , was lucky it was Liverpool and not Murmansk she finished her voyage. Your story certainly agitates the memory’s . Cheers JS
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 21st June 2020 at 01:01 AM.
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    Think that Ch. Officer should have checked before crying wolf. Nearly all ships carried guests around the coast in NZ at one time, Everyone on board was in on it and as long as the faith was kept nothing was said.. only when it brought on trouble was it stopped. Then everyone said no savvy they were on board . Didn’t carry Safety officers in those days either. . Cheers JS
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    Hi JS,
    Those were definitely wonderful times, I am an ugly old bugger now, but then I had a very light dusky skin and long eye lashes, but still very shy; the NZ girls were lovely to me.
    I remember going to a local hop, all the blokes were at one end, with their best rugby shirt on, and where the beer was, and all the girls were at the other end! I was not seen as a threat as I was wearing a three piece suit, as one did then, I was obviously gay, I did not disapprove the blokes of this; I just got a drink for girls and joined them. Oh happy days, to have a man talk to them rather than at them, and not about rugby, was a whole new experience in many ways. I had the time of my life.
    Cheers, Paul.

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    Hi JS,
    My apologies, you asked a couple of questions and because I was revelling in the past I forgot answer, yes I can see why KT prefers NZ to Oz. I think it a remembrance of a glorious nirvana that will never be repeated, and as much as we may have liked OZ we were never really LIKED. You mention carrying someone locked in a Pilot's cabin; there is a story that a NZSCO. Chippy dismantled his chest of drawers, made a false frontage, and hid his girl in the void.
    Cheers, Paul.

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    Hi JS,
    I suspect he did not pass it by the Captain, J. S. Laidlaw, he would not have been happy, one of the finest Captains I have ever sailed with, a pure an utter gentleman; another story in the future perhaps. In many ways the ship's crew was so happy because of him. I will one day tell a story of him being cross with me for not giving his Tiger his bingo tickets! Lovely to speak to you JS,, this website makes my day.
    Cheers, Paul.

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    #4, My father of the same name exactly was a wise seaman and before my going to sea he said forget the booze as a main source of enjoyment, learn to dance and you will never be lonely, he never spoke a truer word, most of my formative years whilst deep sea were spent in Cuba and WCSA where dancing was kinda different to UK! and very enjoyable, I'm not just talking bar girl dancing, as went to the Casino dance hall in Vina del Mar the next town to Valparaiso and danced with respectable married ladies (their husbands were there also), could have been because I was slight, blond and hazel eyed (how things have changed!!!) and a curiosity. Anyway like you when in Oz and NZ the ability was a godsend with a choice of so many lovely ladies attracted to someone who wasn't swigging from a tinnie or talking rugby. Happy days.

    I also met my first (Late) wife at a dance in Bristol before setting out on one of Ropner's short trips (22 months), one of those moments in life when you say to yourself 'I'm going to marry that girl' even before you'd spoken to her. As soon as we had a first dance and I looked into those green eyes I just knew what true love was, we did get married shortly after my return from the short trip. alas she died young from cancer in both lungs and the liver and she didn't smoke or drink, life is a bummer at times. After being a widower for nine years I met my current wife at a dance on a blind date arranged by a friend, though at that time we lived a 120 miles from each other. Anyway we're still dancing rock-n-roll, salsa, rumba and American Smooth and agewise we've clocked up a 161 years between us, just waiting for the lockdown to lift so we can get back to it.

    Anyway it was good advice from my father
    Last edited by Ivan Cloherty; 21st June 2020 at 10:38 AM.

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    Hi Paul.
    You were just seamen who passed by in the night, mind you I knew many on the Home boats. I went on the NZ coast after ten years on British ships, and had a whale of a time for six years, before going ashore, then coming to Aus to live.
    Talk about Ring Bolts, we took them across the Tasman just about every trip, mind you we made mistakes, this was one.
    The firemen had a Ring Bolt from Wellington to Sydney, everyone knew of course, when he was landed in Sydney he took off, the lads told him to book into the Bunch Of %#$*S as we called it, in Sussex street, the Welcome Inn was the true name, That night we were on our way ashore when we saw this Ring Bolt racing down the street with the biggest copper I have ever seen after him, we stopped him to ask what was the matter, when the copper hit him and he went down like a sack of spuds. Apparently he been caught trying to rape the owners wife, when the police car pulled up we could see blood on the windows as they loaded him up, the fireman found out later he was wanted for rape back in NZ.
    The passenger ship Monawai used to run between Sydney and Auckland and on more than one occasion she carried more Ring Bolts than passengers. Great days, great memories.
    Des.
    PS
    Only a little pestering
    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 22nd June 2020 at 06:47 AM.
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    Those were the days my friend, we thought they would never end,

    Remember in Sydney with a guy I knew on UCL who had been repatriated. We were having a few cold ones in the Waterloo with a couple of other guys off the ship.
    There were a number of shelias there all with guys who looked a good few years older than them.
    When we asked why we were told,

    'Well the younger guys are more interested in Rugby, surfing and other things, so the young girls have little choice but older men'.
    But they area funny bloody lot up there at the best of time.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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    #9, That's why in those halcyon days of yore 50's and 60's when docking in Oz and NZ the most innocent looking crew member (guess who!) was sent to see the Matron at the local hospital and invite her and her charges to parties aboard the vessel. The nurses were only too eager to get aboard and meet some real men who paid them lavish attention, never remember a matron coming though as it would probably ruined her authority back at base!!

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