R/O Accommodation & favourite ships

27th July 2008, 07:46
What was the best & worst you ever sailed with?
The best I ever had was aboard the product carrier ALGOL. Completed by Cammell Lairds in 1977. Very large cabin on bridge deck, but very small bathroom.
Worst two were FREDERICK T. EVERARD & WANDSWORTH. WANDSWORTH was a six foot cube, with end of daybed going under end of bunk. No running water, fold-up deck, but verey nicely finished & two portholes. FREDERICK T. EVERARD was small, no running water, one porthole & so narrow I could lean out of bunk & touch opposit bulkhead!

Have been told that on some ships, R/O accommodation had dayroom as well, but I have neither sailed in any or seen any! Were they a myth - or did they exist?

Incidentally, the best accommodation did not equate to favourite ship.

My favourite ship was the old ST. HELENA in which I served for 11 years. All our cabins were very similar with only the captain having a curtained off "token" bedroom. Rest (including chief eng.) had single cabins with small bathroom with exception of assistant catering officer who did not have bathroom!

27th July 2008, 10:11
Hi Bob, Yep, multiroom R/O accom did exist, on the Shell 'L' class, R/O - in common with much of the staff - had double bed room, day room, bathroom arranged off an entrance hallway. This in serious contrast to some of the ancient coastal stuff I sailed on where carrying an R/O was not really considered an asset, they being little over the 1600 ton limit while others just under that managed without! On these vessels, lot of fun though they were, the R/O had little more than a small garden shed with a bunk effectively in a slot between the under-bunk drawers and a low set of overhead cupboards. Sitting up sharply when the (extremely loud) auto-alarm went off in the early hours resulted in a sharp whack on the forehead. In the alarm and confusion, one could oscillate between the lying and the whacking several times until reality penetrated and the necessary roll-over procedure was initiated, at which point the altitude of the bunk, the proximity of the desk/chair, and their consequent drawbacks became all too self - evident. Responding to the auto-alarm under these conditions could become somewhat delayed - but it was all part of the rich tapestry !

K urgess
27th July 2008, 11:21
Best finish and best laid out was a Texaco VLCC built in Denmark. Mahogany furniture, hessian covered walls, seperate dayroom and double bedroom. Not very big but exceptionally well thought out and comfortable.
Most were too small to take a decent photo in.
Attached are
Rialto - Wilson Line triple expansion steam job and that cabin holds some memories
Esso Northumbria - Formica, next to the radio room and soulless built on the Tyne
Lord Mount Stephen - Japanese built formica and stainless steel box
Weirbank - Nice and comfortable and liable to send junior engineers to sleep
Cotopaxi - PSNC steam turbine and the alleyway bulkheads didn't go as high as the deckhead.

27th July 2008, 12:07
Thanks for replies. Memories of coaster cabin was very familar to me. Here is my cabin aboard REINA DEL MAR (2nd R/O) Quite small, I took this from the doorway, the window looked out on boat deck, so really very pleasant & very happy ship. Did 3 summer seasons there, once as 3rd & twice as 2nd. Strangely enough, the 4ths cabin was the best of the lot, quite a bit bigger than the chiefs. reason this came about was when ship was PSNC, they only carried 3 R/Os. When she was charted to Union-Castle, they added a 4th. I think it was the old 4th officer's cabin & 4th officer moved up to old pilot cabin at top of bridge stairs.

28th July 2008, 01:59
The worst I had was on Everard's flatiron Battersea, not because the accommodation was poor, but because I'm 6'4'' and not suited to low headroom. I came off her with a permanently bent neck. The best was my last ship (Strategist) because I had my wife with me and was allowed the use of the Owner's suite!

Shipbuilder, your cabin looks like those on the Akaroa and Nevasa, except they were perhaps slightly bigger. What IS that item on your desk - dis the cabins have their own scopes? (Incidentally, I remember watching St Helena being built in Aberdeen, although I missed the launching. Was that the one you were on, or the earlier one that went to the Falklands during the conflict?)

28th July 2008, 07:31
Hi Mimcoman,
I think the acommodation on all the "flatirons" was very similar & very cramped.
The item on my desk in REINA DEL MAR was a small telequipment oscilloscope that I purchased new in 1968 for 30. I found it very useful for several years until the company was able to "afford" the expense of putting them on the ships. Almost 40 years later, I found the 'scope in the attic & it still worked - I sold it on Ebay for about 35, so that was one very efficient deal!

I sailed in the old ST. HELENA (3,150 gross tons, ex NORTHLAND PRINCE, 76 passengers), between 1979 & 1990, including the 13 months in the Falklands. Then we all moved to the new ST. HELENA (132 passengers) that was built in Aberdeen. Althougth the new one was more comfortable, I never really took to it. Too much electronic "junk" aboard for my liking. I certainly wasn't a "dinosaur" as far as electronics were concerened (ref my own scope in the 1960s). Even now, 16 years after leaving the sea I have a modern 'scope, signal generators, frequency counter, several meters & circuit analyser & can generally repair most electronic gadgets. Also still design & build valve radios (transistors - ugh).

The new ST. HELENA was "over the top" though. For example, if you threw a light switch, it didn't just close a link in a 220V line to the bulb - no - it operated a 24 volt circuit connected to quite a complicated printed circuit board that controlled the light. If you adjusted the airflow lever to control the air conditioning, it wasn't simply a mechanical flap. The control operated a small geared electric motor that closed the flap for you.

Some of the electronics never worked from the start & it took the other R/O & myself some considerable time to get most of it working.

Accommodation was quite comfortable, but my cabin looked out onto the side of a bright orange lifeboat & I would have exchanged it form my cabin on the old ship without a qualm.

In the end in late 1992, we were all made redundant, paid up & offered our jobs back on "new terms" & you can guess what that meant - 30% pay cut. So, after 31 years I took the money & "ran" in order to become ship model builder/writer/marine historian with a hobby of vintage radio. All these things have turned out successful.

Old S.T HELENA was definately the happiest ship I ever sailed in. She was 16 years old when I joined & 27 years old when I left!


28th July 2008, 23:05
Can't say I had a bad one. The best was probably the S.A. Huguenot of Safmarine plenty of room with my own shower etc. Also the Sidonia of Anchor Line.

29th July 2008, 14:05
........ What was the best & worst you ever sailed with? ......

Best - probably ELBE ORE, large cabin, small but big enough bathroom, connecting door to Radio Room, forward facing windows.

Worst (1) - probably CLAN MACLEOD, built 1948, cold water only in cabins, no a/c, and rather too close to the bar for any peace & quiet.

Worst (2) - EDINBURGH CASTLE & S A ORANJE, 4th R/O's cabin, very small, at the bottom of the bridge stairs so busy outside, very close to the OM's door, but handy to boat deck door for wheeling the 'visitors' in and out without drawing attention.

Never had a multi-room cabin, but like you say, the best & worst cabins bear no relationship to the best and worst ships !

K urgess
29th July 2008, 14:20
As has been said worst accommodation had nothing to do with the worst ship.
My "most inconvenient" was on the bridge deck whereas the showers were 2 decks down just opposite the bar. At least there was a toilet on the bridge just outside my cabin.
But this was the best ship I ever sailed on from the point of view of what a young unmarried man wants from going to sea.
Two back-to-back Copra Runs on the Weirbank. (Thumb)
15 months of cruisin' Europe, US and the Pacific.

29th July 2008, 15:16
I agree Kris the worst accommodation had nothing to do with the worst ship.
Shell's SS Aulica situated two rotary converters for the radars in a space just opposite the R/O's cabin, very thoughtful (Smoke)

30th July 2008, 00:20
Cunard Chieftain............

R/O 's shower and toilet was part of the engine room uptake structure.
any attempt to "sit back" on the "throne" would have caused 2nd degree burns at least.
i NEVER dared to use the hot line in the shower, as the cold came out like superheated steam.

i wore 3/4 white tropicals daily.......as soon as i left the shower, i was a damp as when i got in.......:(

we had a great "topaz", though

in this case........lousy accomodation........lousy ship.

alex page
30th July 2008, 04:46
Shell Tanker Nacella bunk too short, no fresh water, saltwater h/c to basin in cabin, no drainage water ranout into bucket . One shower for general use midships. Food crap .Good points it didn't sink

K urgess
30th July 2008, 16:58
The attached is a plan I drew in a letter to the Memsahib in April 1977.
Esso Norfumberia on our way round from Capetown to Durban.
Quoting from my description -
"It's all light coloured wood grain formica in the cabin & light blue formica in the radio room. Fitted carpet everywhere although it's very short pile, cheap and nasty and glued to the deck. The forced draught fans are in the engine casing on the opposite side of the alleyway and very noisy. If I was fat I wouldn't get into the shower and anyway it's either too hot or too cold or changes temperature halfway through a shower when someone flushes a loo. The saloon and bar are three decks down and the wheelhouse is two decks up."
So much for VLCCs. I was offered this one as permanent R/E/O with a junior every trip. I still can't think of anything more boring. Doing a watch and all the overtime were the only things keeping me semi-sane.
I quit Marconi after I'd been home on leave for a couple of months.

30th July 2008, 19:03
Best Accomodation was probably the Lauderdale did not have a dayroom etc but the cabin was very spacious was at the back of the accomodation on the port side very close to the radio room and the swimming pool ( wife was with me )
Worst was on the Maasdam when I went back to sea as a trainee for 10 days before I took over as Chief , it was a VERY small black hole ( no windows ) right above the main stage so when they started the late evening show I got the full effect right under my bunk !! as I say luckily only ten days then into the normal cabin for the rest of the contract which was very good

31st July 2008, 09:17
Best accomodation had to be the Arctic Troll - dayroom, bedroom and bathroom. Worst was the Wellington Star. The cabin was a cubbyhole on the port side of the chart room. No aircon, no toilet or shower and the only way to the bar and dining saloon was via outside stairways - not very pleasant in the dark or with any sort of sea running.