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Thread: My first day at sea

  1. #11
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    Default Re: My first day at sea

    John ,I write for some newspapers and magazines end write at funny times of the day my writing brain is at its best many a time at four or five in the morning,all of a sudden something that has inspired me must get my brain into gear ,I wonder if you have the same experiences hope you have success with your book.

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    Default Re: My first day at sea

    Dave, I have got up at odd times just to jot down something that has come to mind.
    Dreaming sometimes triggers a memory, and memories are sp precious to us all.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Another part of my life at sea, much later arouind the early 1964.



    For many Friday the 13th is one fraught with danger, a time of trepidation that sees some reluctant to even leave home in fear of calamity striking them.

    Not so the case for me, for at the time in question I was invincible, as were so many young men of our day. We owned the world nothing could stand in our way.

    Shake down at sea was 0545 with turn to at 0600; in port this was extended to 0700 hours. It was just after 0700 hours when I awoke from my slumber, but this time I was not in my bunk. Laying beside me an Olive skinned lady, once of some beauty, that somehow during the night hours had diminished. The pillow straggled with blonde hair, smudged mascara around the eyes, and the remains of a ruby red lipstick in the corners of her mouth, resembling the mad smile of a circus clown.

    Reaching for a Chesterfield I took a long draw of the sickly cloying smoke so common with American cigarettes. My mouth like the inside of a bird- cage, sand and seed husk, a drink was needed. Stumbling from the bed I made my way across the small bedroom to the lounge/ diner, in the corner of which there was a small sink. As I drank I looked at my surrounds, there perched on the table one half for the reason of my current predicament, an empty KWV bottle. Carelessly slung across a chair back my trousers, here a shoe, there a sock. In the middle of the floor my once white shirt, in the middle of which lay a pair of black frilly panties, the other half that was the reason for my current situation.

    Returning to the bed I gazed upon the form of this still sleeping lady considering how I had come to this? This lady had used my ability on more than one occasion during the night. As I lay there I began to realise I was still in need of a drink, but not from the tap, this was a thirst that could only be quenched in the well of voluptuousness. Reaching across I touched her arm; she awoke and turned to face me. I could see by the look in her eye that she had the same thirst as I.

    I was awakened by the sound of gunfire, that rang out from under the mountain and out across the bay, the noon- day gun, the day was now half over. For catering crew leave ended at noon on sailing day, I was now very late and in danger of missing my ship. A breakfast of hot buttered toast washed down with a mug of black coffee put me in a better frame of mind. I still have time to catch the tide I informed the lady.

    Saying my goodbyes I stepped out into the street, a late autumn day with the sun low in the sky, crispness in the air. A Cape doctor was beginning to drift in, whispering around the streets. My wallet like myself was now empty so perambulation was the order of the day. Arriving at the gangway at about 1400 hours the master at arms greeted me. A kindly man, with whom I had enjoyed many a drink in Southampton. Greeting me with a knowing smile he bid me wait by the gun port door while he summonsed the second steward. Brough by name as well as nature this man was hated not only by all the catering crew, but by many others as well. Married to a member of the owner’s family he considered himself to be above all others. He informed me that I had contravened the company’s policy of return to the ship and that the local police had been informed of my absence. I was ordered to return to my department and that on the morrow I would be required to climb the steps that lead to the captain’ office. Nothing new there I considered.

    Returning to the boat deck where I was employed as an officer’s steward, Bob the officer’s steward in charge greeted me like the prodigal son. Bob was gay but was fully aware of our needs and had turned a blind eye on many an occasion when we had returned just in time to begin the day. But today he could do nothing for me, but promised to speak with Charnley the chief officer on my behalf, considering me to be a good reliable crew- member.

    Saturday morning 0900 hours I made my way to the bridge deck ready to meet the captain. I was informed that captain Patey was otherwise engaged and that the staff captain, Sowden, would be seeing me. His admonishment of me was a long protracted affair, telling me of the concerns of the captain that the local police had to be informed of my absence, the late return to the ship etc. My mind was far away as he spoke, away in a small bedroom a ten- minute walk from the ship, wondering whom the lady would be seeing tonight? I was brought from my thoughts rudely when Sowden informed me that my sojourn of the previous night was to cost me three days pay, and to add insult to injury I also lost my four hours daily overtime for the Friday. The only good news I would still get two VG in my book.

    This was to be my last time in Cape Town; on return to UK I decided there were other ports, other countries, and other ladies who may require my services.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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    Default Re: My first day at sea

    After completing an apprenticeship at Barclay Curle's North British Engine Works in Glasgow, with a night-school earned OND in mechanical engineering at Stowe College, and BoT "A" grading I was reluctantly accepted by Stanvac (Standard Vacuum Transportation company) and told to report to head office in London for an assignment as a (very) junior engineer. That was a proud moment, as I presented by new and unblemished discharge book and Seaman's identity card. I was instructed to join the fleet flagship in Durban and, to my astonishment as one who had never flown before, I was given a first class ticket on a Comet airliner from Heathrow. When I asked about that I was told, briskly, "Our officers travel first class!"

    Could this be true? Was I suddenly an officer rather than a lowly apprentice to be kicked around by every chargehand and foreman in the yard?

    Seemed that it was...until I joined the fleet flagship in Durban, when my elevated status was firmly reduced by the commodore chief engineer James Robertson Kidd -- the archetypical Scottish chief engineer. I was handed over to his senior second engineer who assigned me to a cabin and a steward (Asian crews then), and who handed me a notebook and pencil and told me to get my **** down below and trace every pipeline and valve in "The Job" so that I knew what everything did, so that when I was instructed by my senior watch keeper to "Open the third extraction." I didn't open the tunnel bilge valve!

    The trouble was that in Barclay Curle's I had only ever worked in motor ships and had been on sea trials on them. This massive steam turbine ship was a whole other ball game -- boilers, steam, water, oil pipes going all ways and none of the starting air bottles and compressors with which I was familiar. And those two massive steam turbines that lurked threateningly in silence low down in the engine room, when I was more accustomed to a big Sulzer engine towering up to the skylights.

    When I had my notebook filled with pipework sketches and my boiler suit filled with sweat I was assigned as the junior to the fourth engineer on the eight-to-twelve watch. He pointed out the control panel to me and explained what each gauge represented...what to keep a firm eye on, what to just glance at now and again. Then he pointed at a red button in the middle of the panel, "That is the engineer's alarm. It is only used when the S**t has hit the fan. It will never be used on my watch! Got that?" I nodded. "Right. Then get you’re a**e round the job before we take over the watch!"

    The years slipped by, and I graduated from a lowly "fiver" to four-oh, then three-oh, and then my tickets. Junior second engineer for a while and then senior second, which was the job I really loved. Not for me the isolation of the chief's berth -- by then I had (I think) learned my steamship trade, and I couldn't imagine what could occur in my engine room that I couldn't handle.

    Days long gone now I suppose, given that my first trip was eighteen months when now they seem to be until next week. I loved every minute of my time in steamships, but a lovely Irish girl persuaded me of the errors of my vagabond ways. I miss the sea, but I don't miss the bean counters who have taken it over.

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    Default Re: My first day at sea

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Manser View Post
    After completing an apprenticeship at Barclay Curle's North British Engine Works in Glasgow,
    Days long gone now I suppose, given that my first trip was eighteen months when now they seem to be until next week. I loved every minute of my time in steamships, but a lovely Irish girl persuaded me of the errors of my vagabond ways. I miss the sea, but I don't miss the bean counters who have taken it over.
    Excellent!
    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 5th November 2019 at 03:40 PM.

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    Default Re: My first day at sea

    On September 19 the 1967 I attended the British shipping corporation to see about obtaining a position as deck cadet with a shipping company. By the end of the day I not only had a discharge book , passed a medical, was in possession of a gigantic suitcase full of never to worn dress uniforms along with employment with Canadian Pacific steamships. Two days later I reported to their personnel office in the liver building where the guy who had interviewed me two days before, told me to get down to Canada dock to join the empress of England as 5th officer. After some confusion over my name and nautical knowledge, I was eventually sent over to Tranmere to join the Lord Mount Stephen, a 66000 ton crude oil tanker. After 2 days of chasing around the deck and up and down the pump Room attempting to keep up with the chief officer, an ex royal marine, all the time swinging valves, we set sail for the Persian gulf, where we loaded at the exotic port of Das Island. Discharge was in Gothenburg, followed by dry dock in Lisbon, where we all were put up in a swish hotel for the duration.
    I spent 11 months on that ship running to all those exotic Persian gulf ports and libyian offshore loading bouts, did charging mainly in Rotterdam.
    We had Spanish crew who apart from the Basque messman who used to regularly used to threaten me with a knife, took me under their wings and taught me seamanship, rope and wire splicing along with the constant chipping and painting and tank cleaning.
    The captain was a short little guy who spoke in a high squeaky voice and who needed a box to stand on to see over the bridge wing Dodgers and who was married to an ex Lufthansa air hostess who spoke very little English, the chief officer was a great guy from Sunderland, the 2nd mate was from Liverpool who ended up running the simulator for john Moore's university, the 3rd mate was a rebel from hull. The chief engineer was a Scotsman who did not believe in air conditioning and who spent his nights crawling around under the bottom plates, the 2nd engineer was a fantastic engineer from Lincolnshire who bore a remarkable resemblence to barabas. The third engineer was from Liverpool and the 4th was from north Wales.
    12 months on a tanker running up the gulf and north Africa doesn't sound very exotic but I certainly enjoyed every minute of it.
    Rgds
    J.A.

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  8. #16
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    Default Re: My first day at sea

    My first day at Sea one like many here will never be forgotten
    After a mad rush around on the day of Sailing to get all my clearances done (Police ,Tax etc) i went aboard to sign on the old Dunnottar Castle in Cape Town. Had to go to the Captain with the Chief Steward to do all the necessary.

    Well after that i was taken to my Cabin which i was told would be shared with 3 others ,something i had of course heard of and sort of known , once settled in i then was told to report to the Second Steward .
    This done the 2nd politely told me that i was to get a Bucket ,a scrubbing Brush and a hard Bar of soap.
    I was to go to the first class Dining Room and begin to scrub down the Stairwell leading into the Dining Room.
    This was a wee bit of a shock to me,but not really caring what was ahead i jumped into my task.
    It was nearly time for us to set sail,and there was me in the Dining Room Area ,with my small Sister and Mother on the quayside! Oh !!
    I all of a sudden thought what the heck! and up to the Deck i ran as i knew that if i did not hurry i would miss seeing my Family before leaving.
    I managed to get up on Deck in time with the Tugs just starting to pull the Ship out.and there far below i could see my dear Mother and Sister looking very worried,so i frantically waved untill they noticed me.
    It was a tearful time but as we drew away so did all images of them too.
    So that was it i was on my way to the great United Kingdom ,Wow! i could hardly believe it was happening.
    I then remembered that i had just left the Bucket etc on the stairwell,so frantically i ran back to the Dining Room! Alas!! now where the heck was it,i had lost all sense of direction ,and was like a Chook with its head chopped off.
    I then saw a Lad that looked like some Crew Member in jeans and very bronzed from the Sun,so politely went up to him and explained my dilemma.
    He laughed so much ,i thought why the heck is he laughing,but soon found out that the Dining Room was right under my nose! There was a entrance not 3 Yards away he showed me ,and said go through there ,and you will see the Sign.
    Relieved in i went and yes thank goodness there it was,but wait where is my Bucket etc ??
    It had gone! Oh dear now what. So i gingerly looked around and not too long there was the Second Steward.
    Now where on Earth have you been Laddy he says to me,leaving your Bucket full of Water on the stairwell,this could have caused a nasty fall for some old dear, this is not the way to start off .
    So with a very sad look i tried to explain what had happened.
    He seemed like a nice sort and said to me ,well Laddy that i can undersatnd,but you should have come and asked first!
    With that he showed me where my Bucket was and said now get on with it,and fast as we have many things to do,before we serve Dinner.
    So no real harm done ,i finished my chores,and then went back to my cabin to have a little time alone.
    The time seemed to pass so fast,and it was near time now to get ready to do my very first Serving,so i had a quick Shower, cleaned myself up and got dressed in my nice new clobber!
    Mmm! i thought you look quite good,and well so as i was to serve First Class Passengers, i was lucky as i only got a Table of Four and a Table of Two,so only Six Whopeee! I was happy as with only six i knew i could give first class Service.
    So the Evening drew on and the old Ship with her Engines going well, we started out journey towards the United Kingdom.
    Soon the Night came and all duties were finished, i had met a few Lads already and they invited me to the old Pig and Whistle for a Pint.
    That was a new experience for me and i must say i really had a nice time,possibly a few too many on my first day,but oh i was young and in for anything (Well within limits)
    After that off we went to our Bunks,i had a good sleep think it was the Beer that helped as i was so excited.
    I was kept so busy that i had no time at all to even think of Seasickness,so that passed me by and funny enough i never ever had Seasickness in my Sea days!
    There is a lot more to tell of after the first day,but that is of course another story and Chapter.
    Thats it Lads
    Cheers
    Senior Member and Friend of this Website

    R697530

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    Default Re: My first day at sea

    Yes Vernon, scrub outs remember them well.
    Up at 0545 hours, report to the second stewards office to find out what delightful bit you had to scrub today, and all before breakfast.

    But wait there is more, after serving two sittings of vultures for breakfast we then had to scrub the areas around our tables.

    Great when the skipper came to do inspection. Some scrubbed harder than others, it was like a patch work quilt.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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  11. #18
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    Default Re: My first day at sea

    Dont know in your time John mate
    But what about the Beer and Linen carries bright and early too
    Had to take two crates at a time and lug them from one point to another,at times no mean feat with bad weather. Linen Bags were large and heavy too.
    Oh the joys of being at Sea but loved it all.
    Cheers
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    Default Re: My first day at sea

    Yes Vernon ,we had them as well.
    Bring the empties from the pig and other bars and sometimes have to cart fresh barrels of beer to the bars as well.
    No trolley, all done by hand.
    Those lined bags weighed ton, worse still if there were some wet bit in there as well.
    But we did it and loved it all and would if we could do it all over again.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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