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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: March 27, 2017, 5:02 pm 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 404
In my previous post I mentioned that I had met the woman i was going to marry. I thought I would not like to go away for any extended time, so I got a job as relieving mate on a coaster that had a regular run between Leith and the near continental ports. This was a weekly service sailing on Saturday and being back on Thursday. That was great so I went done and joined the ship and found out that there were only two mates so it would be watch and watch.
Loading was going on and as this was a regular service I did not have much say in the loading as it seldom varied. The cargo was a very mixed one what with this being Scotland we were loading plenty of whisky in large barrels. There were stalls in the tween deck for livestock and the last thing loaded were the livestock, horses, cows,(bulls) and sheep. If there were going to be a lot of them we carried a stockman to look after them but not enough this trip so I was presented with a humane killer should it be necessary put any of the animals down!! I was given a quick demonstration on how to use it and I was happy that I never had to use it. When I say the last cargo I should say that the passengers were the last cargo as we carried 12 on several trips.
I knew things were different than deep sea but was I in for a learning experience. Here I was with the ink on my Masters Certificate barely dry and I felt like a spare appendage. The captain came on board and of we sailed. He did his own pilotage as he had a certificate. When we cleared the piers he said to me “carry on mate”. I was at a loss as I had never been in this part before so turned to the AB on the wheel and asked if he knew the next course while I hastened to the chartroom to figure it out. Gazing at wonder at the chart which looked as if it had never been corrected I saw the courses penciled in. Alas they were not in degrees but compass readings. I got the parallel rules out to measure it but found it way off. So I told the AB to steer the course (with compass correction) and he looked at me and said “mate I don’t know what you are talking about as we only use compass courses down to quarter points” Now I had to get that nautical almanac to convert the degree to quarter points Talk about being a rookie! When the second mate came to relieve me I asked him about the courses laid out on the chart he told me they were the courses to steer and not the true courses!!! I was in for a completely new way of doing things and every day was something different.
There were no uniforms and all dressed in normal clothes except the engineers who wore their boilersuits (Coveralls to us in North America). We did not eat with the passengers and had much different fare. We were paid weekly when we arrived back in Leith and the first in line was the steward as we had to pay for our meals Athough we did not want rough weather when we did experience it and the unfortunate passengers got mal de mare we were served their meals which were far superior that what we were served!
The captain and crew were all coaster men never having sailed deep sea and I learned many things that were to stand me in good stead in my career.
One day I decided to take a compass error and went on the monkey island to check it and discovered the binnacle painted with many coats of paint and had never been opened for year.
Decca navigator was used exclusively to obtain the ships position as no one used the azimuth ring and I too followed suit.
Getting home each week was great except I was very tired and often to my girlfriends dismay would fall asleep. Two watch system played havoc on your body at first but eventually you got used to it.
Every time we got back the customs rummage squad would board as the crew to supplement their ages were passed masters at getting duty free items etc. hidden away. One time the guy came to my cabin and asked if I had any watches and as I said no he proceeded to take out a screw driver and remove the panel on my cabin door and I was surprised to see rows of hooks crewed in to hang watches!!
My time there made me aware of sailing close to the land where as a deep sea sailor I was taught to keep well off!!
When the relief was over my now fiancé and I decided we needed to save up and get married and the only way to do that was to return to deep sea sailing but that is the next episode in this saga.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: March 27, 2017, 4:59 pm 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 404
Darryl wrote:
You got me interested, Cap. I'm wondering about stuff, like how you transition from salt to The Lakes, did you work as a Master or pilot, worst storm, etc..


That dear sir will be divulged as I continue with my narratives and like the old serials at the movies you will have to come back to find out LOL


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: March 27, 2017, 3:58 pm 
You got me interested, Cap. I'm wondering about stuff, like how you transition from salt to The Lakes, did you work as a Master or pilot, worst storm, etc..


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: March 27, 2017, 2:36 pm 

Joined: March 4, 2011, 8:51 am
Posts: 56
It is very good of you to share your experiences. You have the skill to put the facts into an interesting plot which adds to the reading pleasure. Please keep them coming. I say the same about the stories from Capt. Metz.

The first person accounts are rare and this is one way of preserving a vital part of maritime history.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: March 27, 2017, 12:50 pm 
Captain,
I've been reading every one of your stories and enjoying them greatly. Keep writing. They're great.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: March 27, 2017, 11:40 am 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 404
Thanks guys for these kind words so I will relate more of my nautical tales and then a few about my times on the "Lakes""


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: March 27, 2017, 9:43 am 
Captain, I am sure you are going to run out of stories long before you run out of a grateful audience. You really should look for a publisher and start your second career...


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: March 27, 2017, 8:37 am 
I would love this to be a daily column.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: March 27, 2017, 8:05 am 
Keep em coming please. Excellent first person stories, and the ocean based sailing stories fit in well with the usual Great Lakes based readers found on this site.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: March 27, 2017, 7:36 am 
Great stories. Please keep them coming.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: March 26, 2017, 10:04 pm 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 404
I have noted that there have been quite a number of views on my posts but very few have taken the time to make a comment.
Is it just my perception that they are being not well received???
Should I continue or am I just an old man passing the time???


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: March 26, 2017, 9:16 am 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 404
When I had finished with the “West Coast” and all that it had involved including a bout of malaria and the frequent shots and pills I now had enough time to sit for my Masters certificate. Where I had been on a contract that subsidized my time at school, I was not a poor student but decided to knuckle down and get though it as quickly as possible, them relax.
With that aim I obtained my Certificate of Competency as a Master Foreign going just after my 26th birthday having started nine years earlier.
It was a great moment when after the orals the examiner handed me back my application with Pass written on it. It was time to celebrate as I was now a qualified Master Mariner.
I decided that as this was in my last chance to have a long vacation and not have pressures to go back sailing so I made the most of it and enjoyed golfing, fishing and partying. Alas all good times have to come the end and my bank balance told me I had to go back to work. What to do was the next question. Many of the people I had met while studying had extolled the virtues of tankers so I applied and was accepted by one company and off I went. I was a rookie so I had lots to learn and it did not take long for me to doubt the wisdom of my choice of tankers and when I was transferred to an old T2 second war rust bucket that confirmed it was not the life for me!! It was made more so when sailing up the Red Sea the pumpman came and told me the for’d pumproom was filled with oil and looking over the side I saw a stream of avgas pouring out from a crack in the hull. Arriving in the UK I was down the gangway shortly after the pilot and the customs man not looking back.
It was during this period between tankers and my next employment that I met the lady I was in love with and told her that first date that I had found my true love and she was the person I wished to marry. I did a couple of years later and now 53 years have passed and we still are in love and married.
A short story about my time as second mate and I will conclude this story but should the moderators approve I will start another thread about my sailing with a masters certificate and my immigrating to my new home in Canada.
A second mate you are the navigating officer and one of your responsibilities was to wind the ships chronometer about the same time each day. This was an essential piece of equipment required to obtain the vessels position, before the days of satellites and GPS etc. Noon sights were done by the 2nd mate and 3rd mate to obtain the noon position. That ment the 2nd mate got to the bridge about 9 o’clock each day at sea if on an ocean passage to take a shot of the sun. He wound the chronometer then.
The chronometer was delicate clock that was housed in a special felt lined box at the end of the chart table and was observed through a glass cover.
It transpired we were in port for an extended period and what with one thing or another I forgot to wind the chronometer. When I did remember I went to the bridge and to my horror it had stopped. My heart went into my mouth but I recalled a lesson on how to start it. With the sparkie to get the time signal I took the chronometer out of its gambled box and removed the glass faceplate which is screwed on and turned the hands to the correct time and gave the chron. A quick couple of twists but it did not start as stupid me I had forgotten the reason that it stopped in the first place (I forgot to wind it). So I turned it upside down to wind it up (a special key is used to insert it to the bottom of the chronometer) and to my horror it fell out!! If I was panic stricken before I was nearly on the verge of a heart attack but when my heart returned to normal rate I up it back in and wound it, turned it up and reset the hands and with a quick shake to my relief it started ticking away. Set to about the correct time I put it back in its box and into the special cubby hole in the chart room.
However that is not the end of he story as each day it is check by a time signal sent by radio and the time checked and the error etc is noted in a special book called the chronometer rate book. This is kept should there not be a time signal the correct time GMT can still be obtained by checking te rate book and seeing the rate of loss or gain on the chronometer. Before my episode it had been gaining 1 second every two days and now it was losing 1 second every four days. The captain in one of his few inspections happened to notice this and asked me if I could explain strange occurrence but I responded no I did not!!!


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: March 25, 2017, 11:40 pm 
Great stuff Cap'n!!


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: March 25, 2017, 3:06 pm 

Joined: June 28, 2010, 12:30 pm
Posts: 371
Thanks for sharing Cap! I really enjoyed your stories and your writing style.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: March 25, 2017, 2:10 pm 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 404
Another of my recollections of my days in Palm Line.
We were discharging in Accra which was a surf port and it was one of the mates on deck to initial a talley slip if a piece of cargo was lost over board. (LOB).
One trip I was dismayed to discover that my left elbow was swelling up and was to say the least dis-comfortable.
It was decided that I should go ashore to see a doctor.
Only way to do that was by surfboat.
I was given a slip to say that I was cargo so the crew of the boat could be paid for that trip. I was not going to be the only cargo as the boat was loaded as well so I was perched on top of the cargo.
Off we set with the boss man in the stern keeping time on a little bell thing that kept the rhythm of the paddlers.
As the beach was approaching he stopped and all paddling ceased.
Next thing was he was tinging that thing at double pace and the paddlers were doing their thing keeping time.
All of a sudden as the surf was boiling round us he stopped and the paddlers jumped into the water and pushed the boat as far up the beach as possible..
When it grounded a couple of them hoisted me on their shoulders and carried me to dry land.
I went up to see the doctor who looked at my elbow and said I will fix that laddie (he was a fellow Scot).
Froze it with either and got a scalpel and lanced it. A good squeeze and out popped lots of little maggots. Seems that there is a type of fly that lands on you and lays its eggs under the skin where they hatch using you as their food. It healed up with the aid of some type of cream.
The trip back out to the ship was non eventful as there was no cargo other than I and I sat on the thwarts when they pushed the boat into the surf as it was riding high.

I have other tales to tell but will desist for the time being as I am certain many are wondering when this thread will end and the normal chatter of the lakes resume. More stories about my sailing days but that will have to be at a later date.


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