In September 69 I joined the J.V. Clyne in Tilbury. She was one of 3 sister ships owned by C.P. and on long term charter to CTC, a subsidiary of MacMillan bloedel. The ship was a forest product carrier, carrying packaged lumber, plywood, pulp, Kraft liner paper as well as newsprint rolls. The voyages were discharge timber products in Europe, ballast to Jacksonville in Florida to load bulk phosphate for discharge in port Moody, British Columbia before loading B.C. forest products in Vancouver and other mainland and Vancouver island ports, always completing loading of deck cargo packaged timber in port alberni, all cargo bound for the U.K. mainly with occasional European port calls and even the odd USA east coast discharge.Over the years the clyne and her sister ships had developed a reputation as party ships on the B.C. coast, so it was a trip to look forward to. The deck cargo had been discharged in Newport, Wales and after discharge of Tilbury cargo we went over to Rotterdam to complete discharge.
Then it was off to Jacksonville to load our phosphate cargo for B.C.
We had a great crowd of officers with Spanish ratings and many of us were football fans and so knowing that we were going to be strike bound once we arrived in B.C. we formed a football team purchasing trainers for us all and having training sessions in an empty cargo hatch. There were some excellent players amongst us, not least the sparks who had actually been on Manchester city's books as a youth player.
We loaded to our marks in Jacksonville and sailed but despite being assured by the harbour master that there was ample depth of water in the channel, on one bend in the river we went hard aground on a sand bar that had built up from the spoil from a dredger that instead of dumping it ashore had just deposited it back into the river. It took every harbour tug in Jacksonville to get us off at the next high water and then once out of the river we anchored for the Lloyds surveyor to board and class us as seaworthy, there being no breech of the hull but the proviso was to dry dock at the first opportunity for a bottom inspection.
So off we went up to B.C. via Panama canal transit plus bunkering in Cristobal and taking on fresh water in Panama city.
Our first call on arrival in B.C. was to dry dock in esqilmault, Victoria, for bottom inspection. This showed only some waving of the bottom plates but all paint had been removed. So after a week in dock for inspection and painting we sailed for port moody and anchored in Indian arm awaiting the strike to end. As cadet my job was to run the lifeboat to the shore on a regular schedule for shore leave and to bring guests out to the ship for almost nightly parties.
Every Sunday we would have a football match against other ships caught up in the strike, the matches being organised by the Missions to Seafarers. We beat a Greek ship 7-1, drew against a Swedish ship and of course lost against the German ship.
Eventually the strike ended and we went alongside in Port Moody and discharged the phosphate cargo before shifting down to Vancouver to start loading timber and that's where my trip came to an abrupt end.
One night whilst closing up hatches I was riding on one of the gantry cranes carrying the hatch slab when my foot got caught between the moving crane and one of the hold ventilator, the result of which was not only did I wreck my trainer but I also tore all the flesh off the heel of my foot down to the bone. Not realising the extent of the damage I limped off to see the chief steward to get a sticking plaster on any wound. When I removed my footwear and he saw the extent of the damage he almost fainted. An ambulance was called, my heel was bandaged up and arrangements made to take me to Vancouver general hospital. On arrival there the ambulance crew along with the chief steward who accompanied me with the necessary paperwork rushed me into A&Ewhere a nurse started removing the temporary bandage. The doctor came along and started filling out the admittance form but when he found out that I was not only not a Canadian citizen but also a foreign seaman to boot he just screwed up the paper, told the nurse to put the bandage back on and told us to get out as they did not treat seafarers in that hospital. So myself in a wheelchair, the chief steward and the ambulance crew were left outside like a crowd being thrown out of a bar, trying to decide where to honest. I eventually ended up in the veterans association hospital where I spent the next couple of weeks being treated before eventually being allowed to fly home with my foot in a protective cast. At least I got crimbo out of it all though.
When the company found out what had happened at the General hospital there was a right stink raised about it all with the admitting doctor being called before the medical board and censured over his actions.