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

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 285
The trip down Lake Superior was done in calm conditions and after a peaceful night, no engine noises just the white noise of the ventilation blowers. I went down for breakfast and again was overwhelmed by the choices offered. Up to the pilothouse and had a chat with the mate on watch who explained that lacers sailed on designated courses, one for unbound and another for down bound. There was constant chatter on the radio. Next changed into coverall, hard hat and work boats and headed down on deck to ask more stupid questions and see more of this unusual set up (for me). When they had finished loading in a hatch a contraption the likes of I had never seen before was used to lift the numbered hatch covers up and covered the hatch. This apparatus was called the “iron Deckhand and operated by one deckhand who lifted the covers by the special hooks and positioned them over the coamings them released and he moved to the next one. With the machine running along rails on either side of the ship on tracks like railroad rails. When he was doing that, two deckhands were clamping the cover down with special clamps. Having been on ships with large hatches and quick closing systems I found that his way very efficient.
Lunch was another feast with multiple choices and them up to chat with the captain as we were now approaching the St Mary’s river and he had to report in and give particulars of cargo, destination etc..
He piloted the boat down and left the channel and up to the steel works in the Canadian side. We went very slowly as the channel was very shallow and we had little under keel clearance. Next came a manoeuvre that had me in awe. Jim turned the boat round and backed into the unloading dock. Once secured by the deckhand that swung ashore on a landing boom the unloading boom swung out and within minutes the unloading of the iron ore pellets started. The Captain that lived locally as off home.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: July 24, 2017, 9:57 pm 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 285
When I board the Algosoo she was loading iron ore pellets by a method I had never seen but first of all I went ad introduced to the Captain Jim and was I ever glad I never packed my uniform as the standard rig appeared to been jeans and a plaid shirt. Got changed right away into coveralls and work boots and was given a walkie talkie just to keep me n touch. Having sailed on many types of ships my first impression was I might have been on the Starships Enterprise as it was so different to anything I had ever sailed on. They might have been speaking Klingon as I was completely at a loss as to what was going on. I watched in awe as chutes were lowered into small opening called hatches (Never seen anything like them before) and in a matter of seconds three hundred tons of ore roared done into the hold. The mate being very patient explained what was going on between ordering the ship move a few feet. It happened I discovered as two other mates were operating the self tensioning mooring winches. Down came the next chute and again hundreds of tons of ore pellets poured into the hold. Fascinating stuff but they did not mind my foolish questions, which were multitude. After a while this massive structure they called the boom swung into the socket on deck. A few more pockets were dumped into the holds and we were completed loading. I had heard the engine starting up earlier so I headed to the wheelhouse which they corrected me to be called the pilot house. A couple of deckhands went on to the dock with lifejackets and with a blast of the whistle they threw ff he mooring wires and ran like hell for the ladders that were hanging on the ships side. The captain and another person were the only ones there and with the captain issuing instructions to the other person who I learnt was the wheelsman we backed away from the dock, turned in the harbour using the bowthuster out through the piers heading for Sault Saint Marie (Soo)> I was in complete shock as I had never seen anything like this before all done with calm efficiency.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: July 23, 2017, 6:38 pm 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 285
Our load back to the US was the usual one of steel products which were to be unloaded at Savannah and Charleston which were two of my favourite places to walk about and observe their history. I seem to recall that the first nuclear merchant ship was thee in Savannah but rusting away which was a far cry from when I first saw her in Sfax Tunisia those many years ago when I was on “Tourmaline”. I also heard that we were to complete our charter which did not bring tears to my eyes. The guy I had been dealing with was always asking for me to bring him back Cuban cigars. When he asked for the really expense ones I wanted cash up front as I did not want to spend that amount of money and get stiffed. The miserable lot did not even give me a bonus for the entire extra I had done for them. Fare thee well to that bunch of penny pinchers.
Our Ballast trip to Montreal was a pleasant one as most of the crew were looking forward to some well earned vacaton. We tied up at Vickers shipyard (now long gone) and I was somewhat concerned as they had sold off all the ships that used to service the out ports in Canada’s Arctic carrying all the goods that were needed for survival and exploration and construction. These ships had their own small tugs and barges that they used as few places had wharfs or any place to dock. That left only the Lady M A Crosbie and us. When I heard that they were going too install guides and other fitting to make her a container ship I wondered whose hair brained idea this was. That was soon revealed hen the nautical adviser I mentioned previously came down to the ship and wanted the mate and I to work out stability plans for the ship without the use of computers or other equipment. I knew my time with them was drawing to a close.
By chance I met a captain I knew from my last British company who was over in Montreal helping to run an agency that had affiliations’ with Jebsens. When I told him of my position he told me that he knew of a “Laker” company that he was on very friendly terms that might be interested as I been on good terms with Jebsens and my previous ship handling. He gave them a call and they told me to get in contact when I was home. Told Crosbie that I was quitting and my wife drove down in our trusty Honda and I added my Kit and bid them adieu.
When I got home I gave this company a call and a couple of days later the Shore captain came to my home and we had a chat about my experiences and previous employers. This was conducted in our family room with a very relaxed atmosphere. He told me that if I were to join then I would be a trainee captain as there were many things different and I would have a lot of learning to do. (He was not mentioning half of it) They would let me know in a few days time.
Sure enough I was asked to come down to their office in Port Colborne, I did not even know where that was and in these days when nearly everyone has a GPS it as out with the maps and planning the trip in our old faithful Honda.
It was a very welcome sign when I was taken round the office ad introduced as a captain that would be joining. Filled many forms and given information about pension plans, benefits and working conditions including what I was expected to d etc. When saw the salary I about fell over.
The ride home was a very joyous one.
Couple of days later I as called and told to join the “Algosoo” in Thunder Bay and the air tickets were enclosed.
I WAS NOW GOING TO BE A LAKER SAILOR AT LONG LAST
More to follow


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: July 22, 2017, 11:09 am 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 285
I did that as I was a Scottish Nationalist and believed that Scotland should separate and become an Independent nation again.
Arbroath was a famous fishing port and renowned for their smoked fish so now was my chance to get revenge on my Newfie crew by ordering some Scottish food to make up for the stuff they had inflicted on me. Jiggs Dinner, Salt fish and bruise, cods tongues etc. I got the local butcher to supply black pudding, haggis, mealie puddings and sausages beef and pork. That as well as the smoked fish.
It also gave me a chance to have a short visit to my parents who lived in Edinburgh which was only a few hours away by train.
I was sad t leave there as again the crew had a wonderful time and charmed the breeks of a few of the local lassies!! They were always treated well in every port even if their act sent was difficult to follow. Our Scottish chief engineer left there and was replaced by an English guy. We became firm friends and I assisted him in latter immigrating to Canada where once again he became my chief engineer. That friendship alas ended when he went back to home in England when he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. I was even a beneficiary in his will. How is it that good guys have their lives terminated so soon and real down and out scumbags seem to last forever?
On the passage to Holland the R/O picked up a very faint mayday and we got the information that a fishing boat had got his nets tangled round the propeller and with a gale warning out feared for their safety. We relayed it to the Coast radio station and as we were nearest requested we offer any assistance possible. It was a tough job finding him as the generator was attached to the shaft and they were now on battery power that was rapidly running down. We eventually found him by them using a flashlight. I asked the skipper what he wanted us to do ad he requested we tow him to the nearest port. That happened to be Blyth. We secured one of our mooring lines and started town him reminding them if we were going too fast to get us to slow down. The radio station was kept updated and when we neared Blyth one f his fishing boat friends took over and brought him to port. With barely thanks we continued to our destination. We arrived the day before the celebration of “Liberation Day” which was the day the Canadian forces liberated Holland from German occupation. Many now say it was liberation from Nazi occupation but that I will never use as it’s a whitewash. The Allied forces of USA, Canada,Britian and many Commonwealth countries fought the Germans and not the Liberals’, Democrats, Socialists or Conservatives or Communists, etc as Nazi was a political patty which controlled many.
When the Locals discovered that Canadian ship was in port we were inundated with invitations to join in parties and feasts etc. As a gesture of them saying thanks to the Canadian forces or what they had done for the people of Holland (Nederland’s) who were starving and enslaved for the time of occupation.
I did not let on as I was still a British citizen at the time as we were not quite eligible to apply. That is another story that I will get to later.
It was not the end of the towing of the fishing boat as some time later I got a letter from a lawyer to inform me the skipper was suing me for damage to his boat. He contended that I had towed them at excessive speed resulting in my damaging the stem post. I had told him if I was going too fast to tell us to slow down but they never did. That was the second time that I had saved lives (the catamaran in earlier stories) So much for your good deed being acknowledged!


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: July 21, 2017, 10:01 pm 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 285
We loaded the steel products and other bits and pieces for Liverpool, Arbroath and I don’t remember the name of the small port in Holland and just before sailing noted that the chronometer was not working and could find no clockmaker that would look at so now what to do. You could not navigate at this time without an accurate timepiece so I went to a jeweller and ask what his most accurate watch they had was. Was a Seiko so I bought that to replace the chronometer?
When we sailed I found out that none of the other mates had ever done celestial navigation other than on paper at college. Had anything happened to me on that crossing goodness where they might have ended up!! They however were eager to learn and good students and before the crossing ended were becoming quite proficient. Liverpool was one of my favorite ports and it had changed dramaticaly since my last visit but sill a god run ashore for sailors and our “Newfie” crew made the most of it. Next port was Arbroath on the north east coast of Scotland and though I had been there many times, never on a ship. I decided to go north about rather than going via the English Channel with my rookie mates. Two reasons were to see my old haunts and it was shorter distance. Going through the Minches was a great reminder of my days in Robertson’s. I was listening to the fishing boats on the radio and heard a couple mention that "did you see that big Canadian boat?’ Think he is lost. I interjected and told them we were not lost and asked about a few boat skippers that I had known from Barra. Had a pleasant chat with them and the watchman asked if I as speaking Gaelic the accents were so heavy? I asked if a couple were close and ready to haul their nets and fortunately there was one fairly close. He came alongside and we exchanged baskets of fresh fish for a few bottles of duty free rum and whiskey and a couple of cartons of cigarettes. Everyone was happy!
I called the agent through Wick Radio which is in the North of Scotland and gave them our ETA. They were very surprised to hear from me as they had d been using the radio stations in the south of England and getting no response so were very relieved to hear I was OK. I also caused a stir when entering port by flying the Scottish Saltire as the courtesy flag rather than the red ensign which would have been the correct flag.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: July 21, 2017, 5:56 pm 
Lakercapt:

I'm sure I'm also commenting for many as DiverDan wrote. I look forward to every new posting. Your life story is absolutely fascinating for this land lubber LOL. (I actually have a 23' Searay in Grand Haven:) ).

Thank you for your writings.

RRD


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: July 21, 2017, 11:55 am 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 285
Diver Dan wrote:
I've been enjoying the postings of your sailing history, and early on I started copying them into a MS Word document in order to save the entire story. I'm up to 59 pages now, and it's a fascinating read.

Please know that only a small fraction of us readers might post a comment, but a huge number of folks are following your story. It's like a favorite TV show - I make a point of checking often to see if a new "episode" is available. Thanks for making the effort to get it all down in print. We appreciate the technical parts, the funny anecdotes, and the personal and family sides of your story.

I hope your health issues are manageable and you are able to bring us through the entire story to your eventual retirement.

An appreciative fan!


Many thanks Diver Dan for that very touching response to my (now) long winded tales. I did not start out with the intentions of making it so long but one thing seems to leads to another,
Alas I am not computer competent and have foolishly lost some of the items I wrote.
I would consider it a great favour if you were to copy on to a memory flash stick what you have copied and send it to me and I would be pleased to defray any costs.
I soon will be finishing off the Cosbie tales and start with my time on the Great Lakes and have many tales about that transition period and how a saltie became a lakerman..
Alas my typing is very slow now due to this neurological ailment.
lakercapt@live.ca


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: July 20, 2017, 7:37 pm 

Joined: June 23, 2010, 6:18 am
Posts: 69
I've been enjoying the postings of your sailing history, and early on I started copying them into a MS Word document in order to save the entire story. I'm up to 59 pages now, and it's a fascinating read.

Please know that only a small fraction of us readers might post a comment, but a huge number of folks are following your story. It's like a favorite TV show - I make a point of checking often to see if a new "episode" is available. Thanks for making the effort to get it all down in print. We appreciate the technical parts, the funny anecdotes, and the personal and family sides of your story.

I hope your health issues are manageable and you are able to bring us through the entire story to your eventual retirement.

An appreciative fan!


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: July 20, 2017, 6:44 pm 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 285
The good news that we received at this time was our house in Scotland had finally sold. There had been some water damage which was the cause of the delay and unbeknownst to us as the property had been vacant for more than 60 days it was not covered by insurance we ha d taken out ( what’s the old saying about reading the small print ) My wife, who had suffered many setbacks now had the chore of finding a house she wanted to live in as the rental was beginning to get her down. It was unfortunate that mortgage rates were at the usury level of 13.5% which was a deterrent at what we could afford. She did find one and arranged the moving and all that was involved as I again was away at sea. I was grateful for my family and friends for their assistance. Seemed that in this case I was only required for signing the mortgage
I got home again shortly for vacation and there was a massive amount of work required to make this house into our home. Two incidents that I vividly remember were with our little Honda Station wagon. In the local paper a guy advertized that he had two fridges’s which was what we needed for the basement. I went to see them and one was ideal so bought it and ask if he would help to load it in my car. When he saw the Honda he burst out laughing and said it will never fit in there. OK I said I will pay you double if I can’t get it in but free if I can. Would have lost is bet cause it just fitted with the tailgate down. Another incident which was a bit scary was when I went to the local garden centre to pick up some paving slabs. Got them loaded and driving out on t the road when I hit a bump and the front end came up and lost contact with the pavement. Panic as now I had no brakes or steering so I desperately leaned as far forward over the steering wheel to bring the front end down. It did the job as I was able to stop and steer. Brought one of the paving stones to the front passenger seat and managed home.
It was back to A.C.Crosbie again and this time she was on charter to a New York Firm. They were a hard outfit to deal with as they wanted a second log of the trip kept as well as additional paperwork. There were several changes in the crew and some that really upset me. The first mate had only a coastal licence and the second and third mate’s only watch keeping certificates!! I approached the Owner Colin Crosbie about this and he said that they got exemptions on the account of my certificates!!! That being the case I told him I required additional compensation if my certificates were going to be in Jeopardy. The ports of Charleston and Savannah are steeped in history and I used to enjoy walking about them. In the days of sailing ships they came out in ballast to load tobacco. The ballast was granite blocks from Aberdeen in Scotland and they were used to pave the roads. These “Cossies” are still there as they are in many towns in Scotland.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: July 18, 2017, 10:04 pm 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 285
The trips on the A.C. were always arranged so that either port could be unloaded first so if we were going to arrive at Port Canaveral late in the afternoon we would continue to Port Everglades early in the following morning. We would have a complete day discharging and complete in the evening and sail overnight to the next port also arriving early the next morning and discharge all day, complete and sail in the evening so we never got a night in port. A real bummer for the crew as it was back to Baie Comeau to complete the whole thing again. There was not much to do in that port and anyhow it was too cold unless you wanted to get wrapped up like a polar bear.
We would get a trip to Alexandria in Virginia to break the routine as we got a couple of nights in that fascinating place and form he berth we could look up the river to see the Capital Building gloaming in the sunshine. The history was of interest and it was not unusual to see “important personages” driving round in the armoured limo’s. There was one trip going there when we had a little excitement as we were approaching the lift bridge a school bus broke down at the middle and they could not raise the bridge and the flood tide was carrying up at a good speed. Fortunately some smart trucker got behind it and pushed it until they could lift the bridge.
I went home on vacation and was beginning to get a bit disillusioned with the company as they did not pay any benefits nor have all allowances for pension and was actively looking for another position and would unfortunately have to continue until some opportunity arose. It was back to the Lady M.A. Crosbie as a reliving master. That run was in the summer and I asked my wife to come for a trip as my parents were visiting and would look after the children. It was beautiful weather after we sailed from Montreal until we dropped the pilot at Esqumains when the fog set. It was like that until we arrived at S. Johns where I had arranged a hire car to let my wife see a little of the “Island”. Luck was not on our side as it started to rain and was constant during our whole stay. Going back to Montreal I asked if she would like to do another trip an her reply was “no way I want to go back where its summer and sunshine.”


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: July 17, 2017, 6:13 pm 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 285
My next ship was the “Lady M.A.Crosie” which was a small container ship that was on a regular run between St.Johns and Montreal. She was an ex United Baltic ship and there were still the chief and second engineer who had a contract allowing them to work on a Canadian ship. I spent New Year’s on her but you might guess that with a “Newfie” crew thing were not calm and sedate. But reality hit shortly afterwards as we encountered the ice and that was when the fun started. It was a cold winter and the ice was building all the way down to the Cabot Straits. The Canadian Coast Guard ice breakers were working flat out keeping at ships moving and sometimes reverted to the convoy system. We were beset a couple of times and one occasion ice was pressing so hard that it was coming on deck. Fortunately the wind changed and the pressure ridge released us. It is a time when ships have to cooperate and should another ship become stuck close by you try and make a pass close by to ease the ice pressure, on one trip we had to do many ahead and astern movements to get to leads in the ice to continue our passage. That was when we hit a hard piece of ice when going astern that it damaged the cover plate near the rudder and we could not move it. An inspection by being lowered in to the ice and seeing if we could do anything. Unfortunately we did not have any burning gear so I tried backing the ship to the nearest port which was Baie Comeau. Unfortunately the bow thruster was electric and could not use it for extended periods. That was because we had heated containers and refrigerator containers that needed the power so we could not cut the power off for too long. Got within 20 miles when the ice stopped any further progress. Called the office and they arranged for one of their shore repair squad to hire a helicopter and fly out gas cutting gear and the guy that was going to use it. Did not take him long to get to the ship but we needed a secure and safe platform to use on top of the ice so it was decided to lower one of the lifeboats and heave it to the stern on top of the ice. I went down with him as an assistant and it took only a short period to cut away the offending piece of metal. Tested the rudder movement and fortunately it worked well. Now the not so fun part began as the boat was heaved under the davits and started to hoist the boat. Half way up and the electric motor quit leaving us in the tenuous position. By this time we were so cold we not climb up the ladder so had to wait till the electrician fixed the motor. By the time we got to deck level I have never felt so cold in all my life, that was amended later as I will get to.
That little container ship carried all sorts of cargo and I was the only person on board that knew what was in each container. The reason for secrecy was that the Newfoundland liquor board had many with their supplies and it was a precaution that it would not be pilfered. One thing that I noted was the amount of Carnation canned milk we shipped. I think at my time on board we carried enough to float the boat.


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: July 17, 2017, 6:10 pm 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 285
At long last our household furnishings had arrived and except for a few breakages everything seemed OK and they were covered by our insurances. My wife searched or a suitable rental until such times that the house still had not sold. That as a disappointment but with the help of a few friends, as I was away she moved into the rental. Unfortunately it required the kids had to change schools. Which was an upheaval they really didn’t need but they did it a couple of times more. A big annoyance was when my wife applied for a job as a teacher with the Peel Board of Education so little tin pot minion told her she was not qualified and would have to take some course at an Ontario University to be considered. I should point out that my wife who attended a world renowned College, a part of Edinburgh University, Moray House College of Education where students from all over the world competed to be accepted. She had also been teaching many grades including in a small village school where several grades were all in the one class. She only had brief breaks for maternity leave. To say that she was upset at this edict would be an understatement as she had been in the classrooms our children attended and was dismayed at the antiquated system in us. She later became involved with a private tutorial firm who were delight at how successful she was with the students that were failing subjects whilst attending the public system. Being a bit of a business women she thought why share the fees with the firm and started on her own. But more of her achievements later.
The A.C.Crosbie was on charter carrying newsprint from Baie Comeau to the US the main ports were Alexandria in Virginia and Port Canaveral and port Everglades in Florida. We would need three to four days to load in temperatures going as low as -35C. A couple of hours before the morning shift started one of the crew would go round and start the cranes, they were hydraulic as were the pumps to open the hatches. It was so cold that condensation used to freeze on the steelwork in the accommodation which causes problems we started heading south with the cargo. Pools of water appeared from behind the paneling and everything was damp. It was pleasant to get into the warmer climes but a constant chore getting things dried out. It was an all Newfie crew except for two foreigners, the chief engineer and I who were Scots. We had more than our share of “Down East” cooking, much of which is to be kind is an acquired taste. The cook, who could turn out some expellant baking, was later on I found out illiterate and could neither read or wrote. When the chief steward gave him the day’s menu he could remember it. He had another skill that came to the fore when, during a spell of bad weather the dry storeroom got flooded and the entire label were washed off the cans. He could pick up a can and shake it and with nearly 100% accuracy tells what it contained


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: July 13, 2017, 5:09 pm 

Joined: July 19, 2010, 4:51 pm
Posts: 285
thanks for all the well wishes. hope to resume my narratives shortly as my typing with two fingers is bad enough. I fell in my garden and cracked three ribs and damaged my already right shoulder. Takes longer to heal when you get old. Can vouch for that!!!


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: July 13, 2017, 6:02 am 
Hope it's not "Writers Cramp".


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 Post subject: Re: My starting to be a sailor
Unread postPosted: July 12, 2017, 10:05 pm 
Get well Captain, we look forward to your return


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