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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: November 2, 2017, 9:07 pm 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 404
The first chance we got J.A. the C/E and I were down in the dock to do a haul and Kort Nozzle and propeller inspection. Was surprised to find there was hull damage at #7 starboards D.B. and there was no report of this happening. The paint job that was done two years prior in Thunder Bay was not standing up and the decision had been made to remove it and use a different product. The sand blasting of the hull from the load water line to the bottom had started and as a result the boat was covered from truck to keel in dust. Health and safety had a major job as this previous coating was lead based and disposal of the paint removed and the expended sand had to be carefully collected for disposal. Now for the ironic part. It was not allowed in any landfill in West Germany but was transported to East Germany (This was before the unification and the Berlin wall was still intact). There was a hundred jobs going on and I and C/E G. were required to be on the move at one site or another. In the meantime some brilliant person had decided to have a reception on board to show ships agencies and shipbrokers the versatility of the boat. I was not exactly thrilled about this as we were dirty and getting some semblance of order difficult. The officers dining saloon was converted to a large dining room and the wheelhouse a bar and reception area. The catering staff was asked to cook a Chinese meal as I did not trust any other type of cuisine. It was well received by the 23 guests from all accounts.
It was a surprise visit from H.H. the new vice president of operation in the office. (Another change!!) Now the old paint and rust had been removed it was obvious there was a serious problem of corrosion on the hull and even some welds. This had been caused by the lack of paint and the sacrificial anodes eating them away. A new ECO was on board to assist the other fellow who had replaced Tom. More and more welds were found nearly eaten away so it was decided to do more ex-rays of suspect welds. When we viewed these images it was rather frightening. When the hull was finished with the sand blasting next on the agenda was # 4 and # 7 cargo holds. These were also a ballast holds and the paint coatings there was in rough condition. While this was going on your gallant deck crew were involved in coating some of the wing ballast tanks with what was a new product to stop corrosion. It had been supplied in large drums with a special pump and pressure gauge which worked a spray gun. The idea was to spray all the upper wing tanks with this. I as you might have guessed was delegated to show them how it worked. It did for a little time and then gave up so I was told to wait until we could ballast these tanks. It was before the water reached the tank and was coming up the trunk then pour these remaining drums into the tank. The idea was to continue filling at a slow rate and the gunk would float and spread out and coat the surface of the tank. Sounded like a wonderful idea but it was essential the tank did not overflow as the gunk would end up spilling on to the deck then into the water thus causing pollution. I was amazed at all this great ideas and who would be implementing them!!. No prizes for guessing the right answer.
During our stay in Hamburg, which is a real sailor’s port, with many attractions and dozens of bars that cater for all sorts of tastes? The C/E and I were invited by the supervisor of the repairs for dinner. We elected for a seafood place and were taken to this very popular and expensive restaurant on the waterfront. The meal, service and surroundings were outstanding. I am a confirmed chocoholic and amazing dessert was served. It looked so good I did not want to eat it but was forced to by the others! Next evening we were taken out for dinner again but this time by the paint rep. This was the5th time since docking and I could get used to this splendid dinning. After what was a long stay the hull was finished painting this new coating and the dock inspection completed, the floating dock was lowered o allow us to ballast the boat to the same amount as when we went in. As the some tanks had the fluid film in them I did the ballasting myself on the control panel. Next morning as all was well we were floated out ad after engine trials were on our way. As with most sailors we usually enjoy our time in port but are glad to be back at sea and away from the hustle and bustle of shore. We were headed to Antwerp to load for home.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: November 2, 2017, 11:08 am 
Guest wrote:
Captain, there is a difference between speaking badly about a person and simply telling the truth. The truth is that many of the shore staff are incompetent or simply don't care enough to do their job correctly. A case in point is the failure to get the cold weather gear to the crew. There is no excuse for this failure and other failures like it. No amount of tradition will smooth over the outrageous omissions of office staff who don't do their job properly.



Although I have never worked in the maritime field, I had a career spanning 25 years in manufacturing and corporate facilities that ranged from laborer to middle and upper management in both non-union and unionized settings. As such, I can tell you that sometimes decisions and failings at different levels are usually brought about by circumstances not often easily understood at other levels within an organization. I guess it is human nature to acquire a "us versus them" attitude. I have seen this at every company I ever worked at, and at times have witnessed it even between different shifts within the same department. I worked at one manufacturer that this situation had become so bad between the shop floor and the front office that we used to refer to the wall that separated these two departments as the "Berlin Wall" because both side had so much animosity towards one another and the blatant favoritism exhibited towards the office workers.

I do agree, however, that some failings are beyond excuse as they should have never happened in the first place such as the lack of cold weather gear. One thing I have learned from my experiences in management is that middle management is often caught in the middle. As such, it is usually blamed for something outside of its control or by carrying out the policies of upper management.

Sorry for the long rant, just trying to add a new perspective to this thread. Keep up the good stories Lakercapt.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: October 31, 2017, 8:39 pm 
Thats a first never seen a skipper doing ships laundry lol if I remember correctly Captains Laundry used to get done with the ships fresh crisp white shirts.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: October 31, 2017, 3:17 pm 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 404
Getting off the wagon so to speak I thought I would relate some happenings about the early days with the Chinese crew. When the three Govan boats were put into service each accommodation deck plus the engine room were fitted with heavy duty laundry machines and driers. These to enable crew members to wash their personal clothing. When we were under Canadian flag the ships laundry was sent ashore in the “Canal”. Its fell to the second cook, to assist the crew with a fresh supply of sheets, pillow cases and towels. This was done on an exchange basis every week and toilet soap and laundry detergent if needed. The second cook would make a list of the dirty laundry and pack it into laundry bags. When approaching the Canal this list was sent to the warehouse and in the canal fresh laundry on a replacement basis was sent on board. When we were outside extra was supplied should it not be possible to have it done in port. Nearly all foreign ports had facilities to get it done during our stay. Now someone had the bright idea that this was to be dispensed with and the crew do it on board. The great idea was the catering staff would receive extra to do it. Contrary to the belief, gleaned from old movies perhaps, Chinese people are not born with this skill. One guess as to who had to show the guys how to do it. I must have acquired this knowledge when I was studying for masters but I don’t recall it being taught. Language difficulties meant I had to pantomime the sequence time and time again till the message got through. Now it was only repetition and all would be OK, wrong. After completion a few washes I left them alone to do the task. It was not long before the machines started to give trouble. I went to see what was happening and found the machine jam packed seized up. I had shown the maximum load for each cycle but they thought putting in more would speed the process. It was not long before the machines quit and needed replacement. Again it was insinuated that I had not been giving enough guidance. I never knew it was in my job description to instruct crew how to laundry. I in the meantime do my own laundry in the machines on our deck. End of rant!


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: October 30, 2017, 1:27 pm 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 404
Loading in Duluth with a very mixed cargo was slow. One of the reasons was the corn was very dry and loading at a fast rate and it would have broken the kernels. A couple of shifts and we finished. I incurred the wrath of the pilots as I shifted without one as it was very short notice. Pilotage was a continuing concern as I was instructed by our gallant leader to minimize there use as much as possible. This edict was not making us masters on the three boats popular and as they were the ones paying my wage I could not ignore this. It was especially so when transiting the Welland Canal and a couple of times I insisted that I maneuver the boat, as I mentioned before if you do not continue using your skills and knowledge you lose it. There was no way of knowing when the Canadian captains and chief engineers would be replaced.
We completed cargo for this port and did the usual trip down to the lower river and with a stop in Montreal for fuel and proceeded to Quebec City to top off the cargo. A surprise there was a new leading steward boarded and I did not know he was coming but glad the other fellow was departing. It only took a few hours and soon we were on our way. Alas the new L.S. had lost his luggage but between us all managed to get some clothes etc for him till we got to Europe. Never seems to be a day goes by without some form of problem. As I had decided to go a great circle route as summer weather it is usually good and the only concern would be icebergs. We did encounter some and the crew were very interested in them> I did a close pass with one large one so they could get a good look. Reminded them that what they saw was only about a tenth of it as the rest was under water. In fact it was clear that you could see part of it and the sea birds swooping about. We were not fortunate with the weather as although it was not rough the westerly winds kept it cool. The crew were not seasick either so that was a plus. Going this way was shorter and it was quickly into the busy shipping lanes and getting TV reception. It was initially intended we were to anchor at Flushing until a berth was ready. I only found this out after the pilot boarded and we were nearly there. Flushing is a very poor anchorage and low and behold a gale force NWly came up so were returned and anchored at the A1 buoy. This is where we picked up the pilot. Next morning the weather improved and we up anchor and proceeded inwards. Berthing in Antwerp after passing through the massive Zandfleet lock in the late afternoon. Discharge commenced right away ad they worked right through rain after I received a letter from the stevedores indicating they were responsible for any damage to the cargo.
I had to say goodbye to the CEO, Tom who had been a terrific asset to us and unfortunately it was a new CEO who was not that but a real Radio officer whose knowledge of electrical work was next to nothing. The C/E was not at all pleased at this turn of events. A surprise visit from the manning agency and I was delighted to tell of the happening with their choice f crew. Whither it did any good or not I don’t know or they just considered me a real pain in the behind. The local Padre got his care package as we still had a little of the Canadian store left. The chief and I missed our usual trip up town for the Pom frites and mussels as there was much to do as I had been informed that we were to be going to Hamburg for dry-docking. This could not been an impulsive booking but why we were not informed earlier is anyone guess. This especially as a wish list from us was requested for work we wished done. I do not refer to as a repair list but a defect list and then the onus is on them (the office) if anything happens because of an omission on their part.
The trip round to Hamburg was one where I was required to spend a considerable amount of tome in the pilothouse and I was glad when we were in the dry dock. It was a floating dock and very quickly the boat was up and out of the water. A fellow from the office was across to oversee the repairs and supervise the work to be carried out. The C/E and I were more than a little miffed in that he was booked into a hotel during the period. How was it we were to economize all the time when this expense could have been avoided as the owner’s suite was ready on board??


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: October 29, 2017, 9:27 pm 
Enjoying your stories daily Cap !


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: October 28, 2017, 4:32 pm 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 404
One little incident I forgot to mention was the PRC crew did have a political commissar and we, the other crew member gave him a nickname of Chairman Mao. I think they were in terror of him and he watched all that was going on. The PRC crew had a meeting one evening (This must have been one of the few times they were not seasick or so they said) the outcome of the meeting was presented to the leading steward. It stated they wished to e feed the some as the officers or in lieu a sum of $5.00 US per day. This from a crew that were not restricted in the amount of food they could eat. I don’t know what the reason for this but our food was not great. I however sent this to the manning agency and requested a response. Good job I did not hold my breath waiting for a reply as it never came. All this was new to me as I had sailed with Chinese crew before but from Honk Kong and never had any concerns or problems. The seasickness was an ailment many of us experienced but it never in any way gave you an excuse for not turning to. I would have, after a few days informed them of a new policy, no work, no pay but I thought this would show lack of face. Anyone with a little bit of Chinese manners know that loss of face is a very big thing.
Loading in Duluth with a very mixed cargo was slow. One of the reasons was the corn was very dry and loading at a fast rate and it would have broken the kernels. A couple of shifts and we finished. I incurred the wrath of the pilots as I shifted without one as it was very short notice. Pilotage was a continuing concern as I was instructed by our gallant leader to minimize there use as much as possible. This edict was not making us masters on the three boats popular and as they were the ones paying my wage I could not ignore this. It was especially so when transiting the Welland Canal and a couple of times I insisted that I maneuver the boat, as I mentioned before if you do not continue using your skills and knowledge you lose it. There was no way of knowing when the Canadian captains and chief engineers would be replaced


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: October 28, 2017, 2:57 pm 
Capt its not like these stories were a secret or anything like that anyone around the industry back then knew of them or had heard from someone,


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: October 28, 2017, 11:05 am 
Captain, there is a difference between speaking badly about a person and simply telling the truth. The truth is that many of the shore staff are incompetent or simply don't care enough to do their job correctly. A case in point is the failure to get the cold weather gear to the crew. There is no excuse for this failure and other failures like it. No amount of tradition will smooth over the outrageous omissions of office staff who don't do their job properly.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: October 28, 2017, 11:00 am 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
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hugh3 wrote:
I for one like to hear the real story and not one sugar coated for PR purposes or to protect "The Office".


I am sure you would but it will not be from myself. Just say that I believe that building of the three Govan boats was a costly mistake.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: October 28, 2017, 4:24 am 
I for one like to hear the real story and not one sugar coated for PR purposes or to protect "The Office".


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: October 27, 2017, 9:41 pm 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
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MasterMariner wrote:
Captain BR it is sad that you had differences with the office staff but this is not the place to air your dirty laundry. As a professional you should show respect for departed mariners. According to your stories it appears that you had problems with the numerous shipping companies you worked for. With your seniority at Misener, why did you not accept the office job.


I was offered this job but if you knew that you would be junior to the whims of Capt. V who had no deep sea experience you would realise it would be extemely difficult.
I have not been airing dirty laundry as you say but telling it how it was. There were many changes in the office staff during my time there and I often wondered who was going to be our next boss. You know who I am and I am not surprised as I have never hidden my identity
Why would I have respect for a person whose main aim was to make my life difficult, but not only me but anyone whose views were contrary to his.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: October 27, 2017, 7:16 pm 
Captain BR it is sad that you had differences with the office staff but this is not the place to air your dirty laundry. As a professional you should show respect for departed mariners. According to your stories it appears that you had problems with the numerous shipping companies you worked for. With your seniority at Misener, why did you not accept the office job.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: October 27, 2017, 2:15 pm 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
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Guest wrote:
Was Cap K ever a skipper over here or was he just deep sea before he got the job?


He did a few weeks as master before taking the job ashore as assistant to the shore Captain V. (no one else in the company wanted it).
He was not a well liked person and made many enemies and as you would have guessed I was not one of his admirers.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: October 27, 2017, 12:12 pm 
Was Cap K ever a skipper over here or was he just deep sea before he got the job?


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