'Palm Line' and creek experts required!

Jim Harris
22nd June 2008, 12:59
When you're alongside in a remote jungle 'port', and your next
cargo is to be a full cargo of hardwood logs bound for Europe....

The logs are in the river and scraping and bumping the newly painted
ship's side, much to the anguish of the Mate.

Obviously, you have no cargo plan as the logs are all different
shapes, sizes, weights and dimensions.

All your holds are empty.... but how would you organize it, not so
much quickly, but safely....


Regards,

Jim.

stan mayes
22nd June 2008, 13:32
Hi Jim,
You will receive replies from West Coasters - Palm - EDs- Guinea Gulf and they will agree that seeing the Kroo boys loading and stowing the logs is expertise at its best..They are in charge of a Headman..
Benjidog has kindly included one of my voyages to the creeks in Directory.
Photos are included in it and show logs in the river etc..
It is in Court Line - DALLINGTON COURT.
Regards - Stan

Jim Harris
22nd June 2008, 14:05
Hi Jim,
You will receive replies from West Coasters - Palm - EDs- Guinea Gulf and they will agree that seeing the Kroo boys loading and stowing the logs is expertise at its best..They are in charge of a Headman..
Benjidog has kindly included one of my voyages to the creeks in Directory.
Photos are included in it and show logs in the river etc..
It is in Court Line - DALLINGTON COURT.
Regards - Stan


Many thanks, Stan,

And in your opinion, do you think that this sort of local expertise
was essential for the success of other logging countries.... say Brazil
and Borneo?

Regards,

Jim.

lakercapt
22nd June 2008, 19:52
The logs were loaded and stowed regardless of size or whither they were "sinkers" or floaters. The talley clerk would afix a "tin talley" at the end of the log which already had a shipping mark either stamped on the end of the log or painted.
Seperating the logs for a different ports was varied either using water paint or lines.
The guys that stowed the logs were experts and I still can hear the headman chant "BOOROPE, BOOROPE" when they were dragging them under the coamings etc.

Course this was a long time ago cira 1960 so I may be wrong with some of the details so if so class it as a senior moment

stan mayes
22nd June 2008, 19:59
Hi Jim,
Definitely - their skills are born from practice.. Ships crews could never do it without previous experience.
Regards - Stan

degsy
22nd June 2008, 20:28
I was on an ED loading logs at Cape Palmas, it was a dangerous business for the guy's loading . They had to take the pins out holding the wires that kept the raft together, there was a hell of a swell there. I was a Junior Engineer then and I blew the boiler down, jet of steam an water came out the shipside valve at 120psi as she lifted in the swell. It caused pandemonium on the raft of logs alongside, as I remember the Mate, Chief Eng and Skipper were not overly pleased.
Degsy

slick
23rd June 2008, 08:30
All,
I to served some time in Palm Line, one of the best.
I remember all of the above, but one of the things that I recall was the practice of putting a bowline and a bulldog clip in the bullwire it for the repair of a replacement eye (AKA as a Takoradi Eye) also the call when using it of "One Link, One Link" when the critical point was reached.
The use of two snatched blocks in the tween decks, the snatch blocks were secured to the shipside by strops made by us and the Kru Boys.
I just wonder how H and S would fit in to it all today.
I also remember cuts turning septic almost before your eye!!
Ah, those were the days!!
Yours aye,
Slick

zealandic
23rd June 2008, 08:50
i have a fond memory of one headman..whose name i cant recall..he was quite a small fellow..much older than the kroo boys..
when working with derricks he called "heave o Apapa side" "let go lagos side" i found this amusing...i always got on well with the kroo boys..apart from the smell in their accomadation...i still have a piece of log on my mantle piece...its the "ironwood"...the ones that sunk when they dropped them..``

the smell of logs ...loverly...

stan mayes
23rd June 2008, 11:32
Yes the smell of logs Mel- and what about all the lizards and insects in the bark of the logs?
Stan

purserjuk
23rd June 2008, 13:44
There is a story in Elder Dempster's that they had to fly Willie Toe (Headman) from Takoradi to a European port to assist in unloading the logs. The local stevedores couldn't shift them and as Willie had stowed them he was needed to get them out - which he did! Whether story is true or not I couldn't say. Have any other ED people heard this tale?

lakercapt
23rd June 2008, 16:14
[QUOTE=slick;225856]All,
also the call when using it of "One Link, One Link" when the critical point was reached.
I also remember cuts turning septic almost before your eye!!
Ah, those were the days!!

Working nights as second mate in Takoradi loading logs and you were on your own. A crew nightwatchman was all your assistance.
Heaving the log under the tween deck when the bull rope broke and severed the leg of one of the gang.
I went down the hold to do what I could but getting help was nearly impossible.
My tournequay helped but by the time we got the boat and took him ashore alas it was too late.
The conditions we worked under would, I am certain not be acceptable now.

Jim Harris
24th June 2008, 13:31
purserjuk;225927]There is a story in Elder Dempster's that they had to fly Willie Toe (Headman) from Takoradi to a European port to assist in unloading the logs. The local stevedores couldn't shift them and as Willie had stowed them he was needed to get them out - which he did! Whether story is true or not I couldn't say. Have any other ED people heard this tale?


Dear purserjuk,

You've already answered my next post, well before I posted it!

I had visions of the local wharfies scratching their heads and
asking. "The ***ts got them in.... but how the ***k do we
get them out?":sweat:

Now I know!

Thanks and regards,

Jim.

eldersuk
24th June 2008, 22:11
The Willie Toe story was going round Elders for many years and could well be true. The problem is, the only people who could confirm it are long gone across the bar.

When they stowed logs, especially in Takoradi, there was often a "king log" which completed the stow and had to be identified and lifted out before the rest could be moved, the difficulty was identifying it - hence the Willie Toe story.

Derek

Topherjohn
25th June 2008, 23:25
When you're alongside in a remote jungle 'port', and your next
cargo is to be a full cargo of hardwood logs bound for Europe....
The logs are in the river and scraping and bumping the newly painted
ship's side, much to the anguish of the Mate.
Obviously, you have no cargo plan as the logs are all different
shapes, sizes, weights and dimensions.
All your holds are empty.... but how would you organize it, not so
much quickly, but safely....
Regards, Jim.
Don’t claim to be an expert (one who knows more and more about less and less!!). Following based on my Palm Line experience 1963-1970. Incidentally I’ve just seen Stan Mayes narrative and pictures at http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/guides/Dallington_Court. Great narrative and great photos of loading logs at Sapele.
Attached photo logs on after deck Enugu Palm 1964
Here goes ……………
Actually there is a cargo plan for the hold – it’s a shaded area that says something like “Logs/Hamburg (or Liverpool etc) 950 tons”!
Best at loading logs generally reckoned to be Freetown Kroo boys (originating I think from Kroo tribe in Sierra Leone and Liberia). Fantastic workers grossly underpaid. Kroo boy gangs under headman often signed on Freetown outward bound and stayed aboard working cargo and ship’s maintenance down the West coast and back to SL. 40 or 50 not unusual, lived in fo’cstle or in tents rigged on derricks on top of hatch. Thunderbox fixed over the side on main deck for poopies!! Takoradi labourers also very clever with logs, perhaps a close second to SL.
Many ports like Takoradi, Lagos, Sapele, insisted on own labourers. Some a real pain, couldn’t hold a candle to Kroo and Takoradi boys who could make 10 ton logs actually dance a jig in the wings – honest – I saw it with my own eyes!! Abidjan labourers just plain obstructive – wonder why that was Mr de Gaulle!
From my rusty recollection of 40 years ago …………. Clean the hold out; if loading half hatch chalk-mark a dividing line. When half stowing, watch the face of each layer very carefully to ensure it is as straight and even as possible.
Rig derricks or heavy lift gear depending on weight of logs to load. Lower snatch blocks, tackles, wire runners (bull rope) and hooks, fasten to ring-bolts on the bulkhead/ side frames ready for dragging into the wings. Logs may be loaded from wharf or often from over-side from rafts of logs fastened together with metal pins and ropes.
Logs selected due to varying diameter and length. If you load all thicker ends facing the same way (always stowed fore and aft) in two/ three layers not only have you got a slope just right for downhill ski-ing but you make the Mate and the shipper very angry as you’ve just lost loads of stowage space! Also of course you’ll hear things go bump in the night as upper logs take off in a seaway. So the clever Kroo boy compensates by selecting suitably shaped log and loading it in the best place achieving a (nearly) flat layer of logs. Increasingly difficult in the wings and near the deck-head of course.
Log raised on joined runners from 2 derricks or heavy lift, lowered to hold, attach bull-rope, headman yells “Boorope, Boorope” (or some such ju-ju words). Huge, ungainly and deadly log says “Yes Boss” and smartly executes two-and-a-half turns with twist and forward Pike before coming to rest snugly and evenly right out in the wings alongside another log which just happens to be complementary in its length and girth. That’s Kroo boy magic! Very dangerous work in a pair of ragged shorts and maybe no shoes!! Injury not uncommon.

eldersuk
25th June 2008, 23:50
Couple of pics of Takoradi logs coming aboard what looks like a Paddy Henderson 'K' boat.

Lescudjack
26th June 2008, 00:52
Remember it as if it were yesterday.
Shouts from on deck of " Pull on the Boorope !". "Slacken the GUY !" " Dash me this - Dash me that".
Shouts from the Engine Room - unprintable.

slick
26th June 2008, 07:16
All,
We really have tapped into some fabulous memories of West Africa.
I returned to Sierra Leone with the RFA after the Civil War in 2001 - 2002, I could have wept.
The comment that stays in my mind on Christmas Day 2001 was a local saying to me that " It was the first Christmas day for sometime she hadn't heard gunfire"
I also went to Number 2 Beach for BBQ's and met the Leonians there who were as pleasant as I remember them from my Palm Line days.
Yours aye,
Slick

Jim Harris
26th June 2008, 11:10
Thank you shipmates for all the information.... and the photographs
are really something special.(Thumb)

I really had no idea just how specialized a job it was.... and
dangerous goes without saying.

And not wanting to be boring and repetitive, but this really is an
amazing site, with some amazing members willing to share their
experiences and memories without personal gain or profit.(Thumb)

Kindest regards to all,

Jim.

Topherjohn
26th June 2008, 11:42
Couple of pics of Takoradi logs coming aboard what looks like a Paddy Henderson 'K' boat.
Your Takoradi photo working cargo on the buoys brings back memories. Could be Takoradi Palm alongside in the background.

stan mayes
26th June 2008, 11:55
Hi Chris,
Many thanks for your 'rusty recollections' of 40 years ago.
You have given a wonderful description in the art of stowing logs in ships.
Regards - Stan

inandaship
26th June 2008, 12:05
Thanks for the memories folks, was with Paddy's 'K' boats 1960/1964 and remember a 'headman' being flown to Europe, I think it was Bremen or Hamburg.
Also remember sailing up the Elbe on the Kabala with logs hanging down the ship's side after encountering rough weather in the Bay.

Rgs, Paul

alan mason
21st July 2009, 01:24
There is a story in Elder Dempster's that they had to fly Willie Toe (Headman) from Takoradi to a European port to assist in unloading the logs. The local stevedores couldn't shift them and as Willie had stowed them he was needed to get them out - which he did! Whether story is true or not I couldn't say. Have any other ED people heard this tale?i SAILED WITH eD'S EARLY 60S AND HEARD THE SAME STORY AND COULD WELL BELIEVE IT ALANM

johnb42
21st July 2009, 01:56
There is a story in Elder Dempster's that they had to fly Willie Toe (Headman) from Takoradi to a European port to assist in unloading the logs. The local stevedores couldn't shift them and as Willie had stowed them he was needed to get them out - which he did! Whether story is true or not I couldn't say. Have any other ED people heard this tale?

Served my time with Paddy Henderson with half of it on 'The Coast' and half on the Burma run. On The Coast I sailed on "Kanbe" and "Kumba", including double header to the States.
I did hear the story of a kroo headman being flown to Europe to get the logs out. Being slightly cynical by nature, I find it hard to believe and rank it alongside the Port Said donkey show and other stories that were legend in the late 50's, early 60's.[=P]

ROBERT HENDERSON
27th July 2009, 21:43
Clicking the link inn post 14 ansd Stan's account of the Dallington Court brought memories of my own first trip deep sea.
Early 1947 I joined the MV Peebles at Tilbury cargo jetty as a 16 year old deck boy with general cargo for West Africa. Home ward bound we loaded ground nuts and then to Sapele to load logs. I remember going up the creek Stan refers to, bouncing of the banks, one particular place the ships bow was ran at speed into the bank to turn a sharp bend in the creek. I remember going portside to and tying up to trees with kedge anchors run out from the starboard bow and quarter. Also the trek through the jungle with other crew members to a shack that served as a bar, if my memory serves me correctly it was called tambo Marys.
Thanks for the memories Stan.

Regards Robert

stan mayes
27th July 2009, 22:08
Hello Robert,
Yes,great memories..full ahead and bouncing off sandbanks and jungle trees to get round a bend in the river was still in practice in recent years so I have heard from Palm and ED crews.
At Sapele you moored to trees and went accross the river to Sapele by canoe.
Tombo Mary's was a bar [shack]in the jungle near Apapa Wharf.
In the days of you and I Apapa Wharf was a two ship wharf -do you remember the swimming pool at the mission near the wharf -always had a variety of wildlife in it but it didnt deter us from swimming in it..
Memorable days.
And your old tramp Peebles of Sutherlands was very familiar to me prewar when I was in sailing barges...we loaded Western Canada timber from her 3 or 4 times in Surrey Commercial dock.
Regards
Stan

ROBERT HENDERSON
27th July 2009, 22:37
Hi Stan
Some of the things I have forgotten, it was your article that brought it all back. I do remember after getting round one bend we anchored for the night, as there was no dark navigation on the creek. Yes Stan they were rough oold days as far as wages and conditions were concerned, yet happier than some of the more modern ships I have sailed on.

Regards Robert

KenLin39
28th July 2009, 03:44
Hello Robert,
Yes,great memories..full ahead and bouncing off sandbanks and jungle trees to get round a bend in the river was still in practice in recent years so I have heard from Palm and ED crews.
At Sapele you moored to trees and went accross the river to Sapele by canoe.
Tombo Mary's was a bar [shack]in the jungle near Apapa Wharf.
In the days of you and I Apapa Wharf was a two ship wharf -do you remember the swimming pool at the mission near the wharf -always had a variety of wildlife in it but it didnt deter us from swimming in it..
Memorable days.
And your old tramp Peebles of Sutherlands was very familiar to me prewar when I was in sailing barges...we loaded Western Canada timber from her 3 or 4 times in Surrey Commercial dock.
Regards
Stan
Hi Stan. The mission on the wharf at Apapa was called The Wharf Inn. Later Tugwell House. Ken.

Shipbuilder
17th September 2009, 17:57
Here is the BANDAMA ex SILVERAVON sailing north with logs from Abidjan and San Pedro in the late 70s. Every voyage, we spent almost six weeks in Abidjan discharging general and then moving to the river to load logs. When that was over, short overninght voyage to San Pedro for another two weeks loading coffee in Nr 1 and more logs on deck. At one stage, I timed them at one log picked from river and loaded into hold, all by shore labour too half an hour.
I was senior R/O and on first log run (we were a container ship as SILVERAVON) myself and jnr R/O volunteered to oversee the coffeee stowage down Nr1. It took two weeks to fill from bottom to top and we did six hours on, six hours off all that time, felt like zombies when we had finished. Got $25 each as a reward! Only time we came up was maybe half an hour for a bite to eat in middle of night. Steaming hot all the time. 2nd and 3rd mates did the same 6 on 6 off on deck the whole time. C/O remained on daywork in supervisory capacity. Spent a year on that ship and generally enjoyed the experience. When we left San Pedro for the last time, we fell in with the RMS ST. HELENA on her proving voyage on the Cape Mail run. Knew a few of them aboard and they offered me permanent job of R/O on return to UK. Left BANDAMA in Sete in Feb. '79 and remained with ST. HELENA until I got fed up and left in late '92!
Bob

Any more BANDAMA's here?

Palmship
17th October 2009, 22:53
Hi All,

Just been reading through the thread, really interesting stuff! Topherjohn, I think the ship in the background from the "K" boat might be either the "Africa Palm" or "Burutu Palm", just been looking through all my photos and they seem to be the likliest candidates.

Regards
Graham

Topherjohn
18th October 2009, 21:29
Hi All,

Just been reading through the thread, really interesting stuff! Topherjohn, I think the ship in the background from the "K" boat might be either the "Africa Palm" or "Burutu Palm", just been looking through all my photos and they seem to be the likliest candidates.

Regards
Graham
Graham
Yes also possible and thank you. I served on both v/ls in the 1960s.
Regards - Chris

China hand
24th October 2009, 19:34
Wonderful vision: Lagos in the evening: vanishing astern.

david.hopcroft
24th October 2009, 20:34
Loading logs......How long is this one then Mr Mate ??

David
+

lakercapt
24th October 2009, 21:06
Wonderful vision: Lagos in the evening: vanishing astern.

A better one.
the "Africian Ensign" over the stern after leaving Freetown!!!!!!

stan mayes
24th October 2009, 21:59
Hello Bill,
Some crews called them 'thunder boxes'.
I was in Largs Bay as a troopship 1943 and took 2000 African troops from the Gold Coast and Nigeria to Bombay where they would be engaged in the Burma campaign.
We rigged six of the ships painting stages outside the rails around the poop.
Climb over,hang on and discharge.
With a following wind all the way to Capetown we found on arrival that the s--t was a foot thick around her counter stern.
It was removed by pressure hoses.
Same again arriving Bombay.
Regards
Stan

PollY Anna
27th October 2009, 18:26
Hi Folks
Elmina Palm loaded a lot of our logs at the cape port with the heavy swell I was watching them load, must have been a smoko. Any way the little guy on the log raft fell in between the raft and the side of the ship I thought god he's gone, I had a vision of his scull been crushed like an egg. No up he potted save and sound but it showed how good they were but still a very dangerous job and I would think there must have been a few fatalities over the years, and those surf ports must have been the worst.

Ron

alan ward
17th October 2011, 16:01
Yes the smell of logs Mel- and what about all the lizards and insects in the bark of the logs?
Stan

What about that cheesy smell of the rubber bales?

Mick Spear
17th October 2011, 16:52
Hello Bill,
Some crews called them 'thunder boxes'.
I was in Largs Bay as a troopship 1943 and took 2000 African troops from the Gold Coast and Nigeria to Bombay where they would be engaged in the Burma campaign.
We rigged six of the ships painting stages outside the rails around the poop.
Climb over,hang on and discharge.
With a following wind all the way to Capetown we found on arrival that the s--t was a foot thick around her counter stern.
It was removed by pressure hoses.
Same again arriving Bombay.
Regards
Stan


Great yarn Stan, as always. Had to laugh at that.
Mick S

Julian Calvin
17th October 2011, 16:52
On ED ships a single line would lift lightweight logs under three tons, next up was the gun-tackle with wire through single block then back to derrick head with eye shackled back on itself (burlap wrapped around derrick to prevent slipping). This for lifts up to five tons. Next stage was the ten, fifteen and twenty ton lifts.
All normal for ED guys but confusing when Blue Flue guys joined us where a heavy lift was considered anything over two and a half tons.

Re smells. What of the ammonia smell when, as cadets, we had to clean the deeptanks after a carriage of latex. Spent most of the time make fantastic bouncing balls from the latex stripped from the wax covered bulkheads.

Once surveyed a deep tank of a NNSL vessel carrying latex. Deep tank was epoxy coated but Mate had touched up with green boot topping. On opening tank all that could be seen was green scum on surface!!

sheringham
17th October 2011, 21:42
Itinery of ports visited on round trip during 1961/2 on Kano Palm as 3/O........(Lakercapt was 2/O, do you remember?)
Hamburg, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Bremen, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Freetown, Takoradi, Accra, Tema, Lagos(Apapa), Port Harcourt, Douala, Victoria, Calabar, Tiko, Lagos, Takoradi, Abidjan, Freetown, Las Palmas, Tilbury.
The west coast was a brutal place to be working but I like everyone (in comments above) enjoyed the experience.
Dislikes.....Pepper soup and Palm Oil Chop for which we paid extra!!!!.

Leave for deck officers was usually taken whilst ship was being loaded/discharged in Europe!. As a single guy with no ties at home I could not see the logic in leaving the ship as the European ports were the easiest part of the trip. Staying on board was better than Birmingham in the 60s.
The next trip was the same with the additional port outward bound of Rouen to load gypsum.
On the Lagos Palm in 62 the trip was similar but included Abonnema and Dakar.....Happy days.

lakercapt
17th October 2011, 23:58
What about that cheesy smell of the rubber bales?

Some of the raw rubber from the bush was cured with urine and after a few days in the hold nobody needed to tell you that.
Just about as bad was the bags of bones we occassionally carried.
Where did they get those cargo's???
One cargo that was a hit was specie.
When many off to Colonies got independence the wanted their own coinage so the old British West African coins were shipped back to the UK in small plywood boxes. Four bags to a box and they were flimsy and often broke. Used to sweep the coins up and roughly nail the boxes together again.
Quite a few bags went missing and in Liverpool one of the stewards (Nigerian crew) tried to pay for a new suit in BWA coins.
That was on the Ashanti Palm an old steamer and a real work up for the crew.

Mike Stanley
18th October 2011, 00:25
We arrived Hamburg with logs from Sapele only to find that one of them far outweighed the SWL of the heavy derrick but the lads at Sapele still got it in there. Hiring a suitable crane in Germany wasn't cheap and I don't think head office were too happy.

I sailed that coast for 6 years in the late 60's and 70's with Palm Line and apart from a stowage plan which more or less worked the local knowledge couldn't be beat.

What memories......

John Dryden
18th October 2011, 00:50
Nice tale Mike,as you say.. where there,s a will there,s a way and it got done in Sapele.Must have been a big lump of wood!

ed glover
19th October 2011, 16:26
boy this thread brings back memouries. was on the Sulima when the heavy lift derrick snapped at the base, the bosun managed to right her and get it stowed. I remember they welded it when we got back to the UK. wonder how they get the logs into containers these days. (tip up the container and load like a cig packet) ha ha

ed glover
controlled drifting

woodend
19th October 2011, 17:10
Just spent a very happy hour reading all the posts in this thread. I learnt a great deal as an Apprentice going down the holds when the log gangs were busy loading logs and watching the bull rope rigs they put up. They would take turns around a log with the bull rope as well as across the end of the log so that when they heaved away it spun as well being pulled as it flew into its assigned space. The wooden 'spar ceiling' used to suffer badly to say nothing of the strain on the winches. They only knew one operating speed!
I have heard the story of Jim Toe but in the story I heard the logs were in a deep tank. 'Health and Safety' would have had nightmares over the operating procedures but in my time 1955 - 1966 I never saw a serious accident to any member of a log gang. Wire strand cuts a plenty!

tom roberts
19th October 2011, 17:27
First time up the creeks us young ones were fascinated by the bare breasted girls on the shore borrowed the bridge binoculars for a closer look the old man was stood behind us on the wing of the bridge as we were having a blimp of them s**t ourselves when he tapped us on the shoulder, never forget the first time I saw an albino the one I saw was pimmping the girls in Abonima or Takoradi I cant remember which but Im sure some old hand will enlighten me as to where all the same as Queen Victoria red inside seemed to be his chat line.On the Badagry Palm the bosun who shall remain nameless rtold my mate an me to get the little punt out and paint the rudderpost and around the stern right under the African ensign as it was called twenty foot poles with a turks head on were the tools of the day and another mate of ours stopping the use of said ensign but how was he to stop some desparate Kroo boy with his kecks around his ankles he just buggered off and left us to our fate thankfully we missed the torrent that decended into the creeks, oh happy times.

barrypriddis
9th November 2011, 03:09
Talking of logs, what about the skill of the chippy in building cat walks over the logs on deck so that you could get access to the forecastle and poop.

LANCE BALL
16th November 2011, 11:50
When the logs were floated down a "sinker" such as iroko would always be lashed between two floaters such as obeche. No prizes for guessing which one you loaded first......

jmcg
16th November 2011, 17:09
I did two trips on Bamenda Palm - she was a good all-rounder from a good outfit. As indeed were EDs - Degema, Forcados and Obuassi.

We were told that on a previous voyage a Bosun from either Palm Line or EDs had remonstrated with a kroo boy who subsequently died. The bosun was "arrested" by the police who arrived each riding a bicycle. The Bosun was tethered to the two police officers who then mounted their bicycles and rode off - the accused running in beween and maintaining the speed of the two bicycles.

The Bosun was imprisoned in Lagos for some considerable time.

May be a tall tale, someone might confirm its truth.


BW

J(Gleam)(Gleam)