Up The Creek.

Peter Martin
12th March 2008, 18:17
Any memories of trips to Warri & Sapele. Nights anchored at Youngtown Crossing - Canoes and bars of 'Asepso' soap.
The Warri Club perhaps; fruit flies in the hold?

12th March 2008, 19:12
No but vivid memories of "up the Creek" above Freetown at Pepel loading ore.
An old hag selling her "wares" from a leaking canoe also sticks in my mind. Not the happiest of ports of call and one which may fit into the "Obscure Ports" thread.

Roger Turner
12th March 2008, 21:53
Burutu,Warri and Sapele - main memory sausage flies at night and Mango flies by day - you know the ones that lay eggs in you!
Burutu and Warri if I remember correctly, you berthed at the end of a pier, Burutu I think was concrete and a bit more modern, but I think Warri was mainly a palm oil bulk loading berth - seem to remember a number of vessels had bulk tanks in No 4 hatch aft of the midships accommodation.
Remember the "Fork" always great excitement at the prospect of ship "going for bush" - never did while I was there, but the African Pilot and his mate the helmsman, usually seemed quite proficient in their jobs.
Sapele - seemed to be the creek metropolis boasting a plywood factory, European Club and golf course.
One of the sights of Sapele was the golf course mowing gang - 20 or 30 convicts being marched along the street by a guard with a rifle slung over his shoulder - the gang each in turn shouldering a machette.
The story had it, that if they didn`t get back to the jail in time before sundown, they got locked out for the night and no chop
Played Rugby once for Port Harcourt club against Sapele club, got invited because the Bishop had banned the Catholic Fathers from playing because they had been too dirty (play and language the story goes) Anyway the journey started about 5 am in a bus not unlike a "mammy wagon", got to some river about miday, crossed it in a canoe and joined another vehicle which was waiting for us on the other side - we were late, of course, so changed while the bus was still moving, arrived at the ground 5.30,sanka beer,ran out onto the pitch - match abandoned approx 6p.m (pitch dark) retired to club, great meal,hospitality and invented the term "Binge drinking", I think it was mainly Star Lager which wasn`t too bad.
Didn`t really mind the creeks - life in Elders wasn`t too bad really, they had some great Agency Staff.

13th March 2008, 14:10
Half way through my second trip I was transferred in Sapele to another ship which I was to join in Burutu. I had to wait for about 5 days in the AT&P Rest House at Sapele, then a hair-raising car journey to Warri where I stayed in the Government Rest House for a couple of days, spending the evenings in the Warri Club. Then a very interesting trip by launch through the creeks to Burutu to join the ship, (the St Margaret of S.Amercian Saint Line),which had just arrived only to find I was not expected! However it all worked out in the end.

13th March 2008, 15:21
One evening a buch of us decided to visit the European Club in I am not certain but Burutu/Warri comes to mind. It was through the bush and if memory is not too far out up a hill.
We got a lift there and had many liquid refreshments. Time to go back to the ship and no transport back for us happy band. Too dangerous to walk back according to the locals as the wildlife would either eat us or the snakes would bite us.
Told to take the truck at the back.
It was an old truck which was offered and as I was to discover the brakes were not the best and the steering a little loose (Major understatements I was to discover).
I being the least pi**ed was delegated driver and we all piled in. Driving at night on unfamiliar roads through the jungle in the dark was not my idea of ending a pleasant evening as only one headlight was working. Was like using a ships wheel as you turned it and was ages before anything happened and the brakes were none existant even when pumping them. After what seemed an eon the lights of the ship. My inebriated passengers thought it was a great hoot brushing from side to side in the bush and rowdy songs kept the wildlife at bay.
Worst driving experiance in my life and I was sorely in need of a drink when I got myself and passengers on board.
Left the truck on the wharf and it was towed away next morning.
The shore wallah next morning asked how I got that truck onto the wharf as it was supposed to be in for repairs. I had apparently taken the wrong one. Ah someone was looking after us!!!!

13th March 2008, 20:16

You might be interested in this entry in the SN Directory:




Peter Martin
14th March 2008, 09:19
Thank you Brian. A most interesting account.

Ian Stanley
2nd April 2008, 17:38
Spend the some happy years between 70-75 'up the creeks'. Soccer against the Europeans and back to the club for some serious drinking.
Anchored in the bay with no sight of shore, sent the lifeboat out to put huricane lamps on the shore.
Good happy ships, great people.

29th November 2008, 14:31
View my memories of Sapele on my Website:


See "My Story"

mike N
29th November 2008, 17:32
No but vivid memories of "up the Creek" above Freetown at Pepel loading ore.
An old hag selling her "wares" from a leaking canoe also sticks in my mind. Not the happiest of ports of call and one which may fit into the "Obscure Ports" thread.
Remember Pepel well. Did 8 or 9 trips there from Ijmuiden on Huntings "River Afton" back in 60/61. What a dump. Sitting in the bay at Freetown sweating for days on end waiting to go up the creek to load ore. Only one run ashore in Freetown in 10 months (that was one too many). One evening , after a few bevvies on board, some of us decided to visit the European club in Pepel . Well the oldman and his good lady were up there, so we thought why not us as well. Slid down rope onto the loading conveyor and thence ashore about 20 strong. Stumbled along through the jungle to the local village and had a few beers from a tin roofed shed/shop and then found the club, complete with floodlit outdoor pool. All had a good swim, watched from the balcony by our lords and masters , and then as so often, it kicked off, with the locals and native police . We fought our way back to the ship and went to bed licking our wounds. Four of us arrested next day, but all ended well and sailed on time. At least we didn't end up in the cook pot, but that's another story.

Great days(Thumb)

30th November 2008, 03:17
At Sapele, we were warned, "when going ashore from the buoys, wedge your feet under the ridges on the sides of the canoe, because the boatmen sometimes ask for more money and, if it's not forthcoming, they'll tip you out of the canoe." Not fancying the first ever "Eskimo Roll" in equatorial Africa, the 3rd Mate and I clung on for dear life, one steely eye on the boatman, the other looking out for crocodiles, throughout the perilous trip ashore. I suspect the boatman was thinking: "Another pair of dopey oyibos!"

An African Writer used to join the ship in Freetown and remain for the whole coast. He was the original "Girl in Every Port" merchant - what used to be known in 'Boro parlance as a "bugger for his hole". As luck would have it, we ran into him in a drinking den in town. He was surrounded by a bevvy of local beauties and we were soon fixed up with a couple.

We had a fun time drinking lots of tall bottles of Star Lager or Heineken (same beer, different label) and eventually went home with the girls. After a night playing scrabble or something, I awoke in the sweltering room of her compound, lying in a cloud of whining mosquitos. Being unable to waken my new friend, I decided to leave.

Lying back, relaxing in the canoe like Sanders of de Ribber, the boatman paddling gently through the velvet tropical air, was much more pleasant than the scaredy-cat trip ashore the previous evening. Once back aboard, the icy cold pre-breakfast Tennants wasn't too shabby either.

Later that morning, I bumped into the Writer. He was shying away from me with big googly eyes, "You did not pay your woman!" he cried. I was shocked, I'd thought we were just copping a couple of crumbs from his vast table! "It is terrible, you will be very sorry," he said. "Righto," I laughed, arrogant white sh*t that I was in those days.

A week later, in Takoradi, I showed signs of an illness that I thought more commonly came from toilet seats than from scrabble boards. On hearing about my problem, the Writer sought me out: "I told you so," he said, with a smug expression on his face.

A few days later, visiting an East German ship, I discovered three things: East German Sparkies, were Political informants, "Tripper" is German for "clap" and parties without beer are no fun. We're always learning aren't we?

Next trip Haiti? No thanks!

John T.

7th February 2010, 13:53
Did my first run up the creeks to Warri in 1975 ( Pegu ), and my last to Onne in 2005 ( William C. Hightower ). I've got a photo of the Warri Port Hotel from 1975. I'll dig it out and upload it in the next couple of days.


6th January 2011, 05:46
I spent a couple of years at Gilli Gilli on the Osse river. Only white man for miles and surrounded by ju-ju men. Played the drums (hollow log and plank) in the ju-ju band. Ju-ju men danced in a stupor to my beat. Was attacked by a ju-ju man on the Ekawan road, stabbed me with his kudu horn. Nearby was the magic tree where the Oba of Benin rested as he was taken to exile by the british in 1899....so many stories to tell, not enough time.

6th January 2011, 06:42
"I spent a couple of years at Gilli Gilli on the Osse river"

Norm, did you ever run into a bloke called Max Bygraves from Cassanella Bogan by the Sea? He lived in a tiny compound by a tiny stream and may have had an elephant's foreskin on his bicep.

John T.

7th January 2011, 02:43
No I did not. Gilli Gilli flowsation in Bendel State was on the Phillips Oil concession in Nigeria. I was the supervisor there. Oil from the wells was treated and sent downriver by barge to Gulf Oil Escravos terminal. I first visited Nigeria when i sailed with Nigerian National Line on the MV Oba Overami. That ship was named after the Oba of Benin, whom the British expiditionary force attacked in the infamous Benin masacre of the Edo people in 1899. The force landed at Gilli Gilli and travelled inland to Benin City. You can still see the stumps of the jetty they built there. I met the present day Oba (King), and he invited me to his palace in Benin City. He declared me to be a chief, and under his protection. Years later in Australia I met the son of a Benin chief, who had been sent over by Shell Oil for training with Woodside Oil co in FPSO operations. We had much to talk about. A strange series of co-incidencies. The current Obas full name is Omo N'Oba N'Edo Uku Akpolokpolo. Oba Erediauwa. Oba of Benin. I am still in contact with him. As for my experiences in the deep bush of Nigeria, I can quote from Shakespear "There are more things in Heaven and Earth Horatio than are dreamed of in your philosophy"

However Max Bygraves didn't come that way anytime.

7th January 2011, 05:55
Thanks Norm, must have been an interesting and novel experience. Sorry, I thought you were kidding about Gilli Gilli - I'm sure you remember that old song by Max. And, yes, that ju ju is a bit of a worry!

John T.