Officers' Bar

Shipbuilder
12th September 2008, 16:02
In my first five ships, only one had an officers' bar. That was aboard FREDERICK T. EVERARD. It really ran itself because all it had in it was a barrel of beer and a gas bottle. When it ran out, we simply clubbed together for a replacement, but it lasted ages.
Then for a number of years in Union-Castle ships only the GOOD HOPE CASTLE had one & I was never involved. Got out of it by letting the junior R/O run it if he wanted to. But the moment I joined Silver Line, it was always a case of "sparks usually looks after it." But I never got stuck with the job even at threat of being banned from using it if I didn't take it on. After that, I was in Curnow Shipping for the rest of my time and apart from a token attempt to have an officers' bar when the ship came out, it fell into disuse very quickly & the room was converted into a passengers "quiet lounge!

Did they always try & lumber the R/O with it?

I always took the attitutde that if anyone wanted their radios mended, I would do it because I knew about radio. For similar reasons, I never understood why the running of the bar was never tagged on to the chief steward/purser.
Bob

Brian Locking
12th September 2008, 16:08
I always took the attitutde that if anyone wanted their radios mended, I would do it because I knew about radio. For similar reasons, I never understood why the running of the bar was never tagged on to the chief steward/purser.
Bob

Quite simply, it is a matter of trust .

Basil
12th September 2008, 16:42
Oohh! B1tch! (Jester)

Glyndwr
12th September 2008, 17:22
I hate to say this Bob but I think it was given to the R/O because he was the one "seen" as having more time on his hands in Port. Don't want to go down that road do we?

Shannoner
12th September 2008, 17:24
I always felt it was like putting the fox in charge of the chickens? (Jester)

andysk
12th September 2008, 18:17
I usually did it on the basis that I could then ensure what I liked was stocked - but at least I never carried a barrel up, that was always left to those who used it the most !

There is an element of truth in Brian's comment though !

Shipbuilder
12th September 2008, 18:18
Glyndwr,
You are probably right, wonder why the captain never did it though? I just stated flatly that I didn't like adding up columns of figures & I had enough accounts to do of my own. Never did like doing sums, even radio theory ones. No-one ever pushed the point. I remember in BANDAMA, the 3rd engineer refused as well and it was hinted that he wouldn't be able to use the bar. Someone else was found & even though the 3rd was not banned, I never knew him to get a drink from the bar - he would always fetch it from his cabin on a point of principle.
Bob

James_C
12th September 2008, 19:15
Bob,
In my experience none of the top 4 were generally "permitted" to run the bar, due to them being too senior and may therefore mute the goings on within. Normally either the Sparks/Leckie/Third/Fourth/Junior. On the ships I'm currently on it tends to be either the 3rd/4th/Leckie as they're all on daywork and have half days Saturday and Sunday, thereby allowing them plenty of time to get on with it. Indeed, I've sailed with Old Men who have forbidden any member of the Deck Dept to run the bar, since these days the deck side tend to do the more hours, what with normal watchkeeping plus PM's out of hours.
Certainly on some ships the Officers bar was just that, with the Old Man not being allowed within without permission, since he had his own dayroom to relax in, whereas the rest of us mere mortals had no such luxury.
It's still a tradition you encounter now and then, however its not 'enforced' per se, more that the Old Man will only pop in if invited, in much the same way as an Officer won't venture into the crew bar and vice versa without first being invited.
Of course in todays world of much smaller crews, the bar finances need all the help they can get, hence 4 ringer admittance. LOL [=P]

Rhodri Mawr
12th September 2008, 19:18
I hate to say this Bob but I think it was given to the R/O because he was the one "seen" as having more time on his hands in Port. Don't want to go down that road do we?


Certainly not!!! Even if true on some ships. Later in my sea career, I
became Electronics & Radio Officer - that left little "spare" time for running
ship's bars.

I did it on several Clan Line ships I sailed on but got fed up with all the
backbiting and criticisms that tiny minds can come up with.

However, the officers' bar system was infinitely better than the
arrangement on my first ship - Ripon/GVJK (North Yorkshire Shpg Co
managed by Boltons). On that ship, all the booze came under the control
of the old man using the old "Captain's Bond" arrangement. Fine except
when the old man decided to drink the damn lot himself and stuff everyone
else.

Shipbuilder
12th September 2008, 20:37
I suppose in my last 13 years at sea, I was protected from the changes in the MN in general by serving in both ST. HELENA's. We were an unusal company in the fact that most of us had been together since the mid 1960s in Union-Castle. Conseqently, it was more of a family affair" than anything else & all officers (except cadets) were on first name terms with captain & chief engineer & even the managing director & it worked well. One of my first suggestions on joining the company was that the officers' bar was changed to a quiet lounge for the use of passengers. A short discussion agreed with this & it was implemented. All our captains & chief engineers were welcome at any of our various social gathering & most of us are still in touch. I much preferred the old system of no officers bar at all & anyone wishing for a drink in the smokeroom would bring it in from their cabin.
Glyn,
Remember RIPON well, we may have spoken on ore carrier skeds 1330 & 1630 daily when I was in JOYA MCCANCE & SAGAMORE 1962/65. I even frequented these skeds when in WINDSOR CASTLE although the chief disapproved of it.
When I became 2nd in WINDSOR CASTLE, I began compiling a "Shipping" page in the press & populated it with nautical news, "ships in the vicinity," descriptions of trades & tales of cargo ships etc (to me it was more interesting than world news). When I produced the first one, chief moaned about it for about two weeks & then told me the Commodore was furious about it & I had to stop. Very chastened, I did so. Next morning, Commodore Wright (a very fine fellow ex Hungry Hogarths in the 1920s) came stamping in & I thought I was for it it. "Why have you stopped putting the Shipping News in?" he demanded. Chief did a bit of grovelling, whilst glowering at me & making excuses & I was allowed to resume my Shipping Page after that. Sorry for digression, but ore carrier skeds reminded me of it.
Bob

bert thompson
13th September 2008, 17:45
Bars were unheard of during my first spell at sea 1950 - 1959
When I returned to sea 1977 - 1987 bars were on all the ships I sailed on. Latterly when crew numbers were reduced there was a great arrangement that if you were in working gear you used the former crews dining area and bar. Should you be in "dress" gear you used the former officers dining and bar. Arrangement worked very well.
Happy days
Bert.

R651400
13th September 2008, 19:29
My second coasting trip Peleus/GMQP, 1st R/O Harry Cox, a real gentleman, used to catch the bar steward going past his cabin, gave the two finger sign and within minutes a double gin was on his table.
I've never once stood at a bar on any ship.
With service like that in the old days, there was no need. Whose turn to press the tit?

Tai Pan
16th September 2008, 14:58
Proper Job. In Bluies and Glens we had staff to serve us. Either in our Cabins or in the Officers Lounge.

K urgess
16th September 2008, 16:31
First purpose fitted bar I came across was on the Weirbank in November 1969. Just a counter fitted in the Officer's lounge. We were told it was an experiment and if it worked they'd be fitted in other Bankboats.
Previously bars had been unofficial on the ships I sailed on or passenger lounges/bars taken over because a lack of the fare paying variety of passenger.
Mostly we had bar committees. Representatives from all departments and a rota for filling the fridge. I don't remember ending up being in sole charge.
We were responsible for making sure that bar bills were paid and that hours were adhered to if set. Also that nobody went overboard in the consumption department.
Involving Sparkie didn't happen too often anyway. A lot of bars were run by the Purser/Chief Steward.
I didn't mind carrying the bar committee on the few occasions when I was asked to organise the bar. Never had a lot to do with free time, more to do with being trusted to be impartial and honest.
Even on ships with bars there was still an active social life outside the bar with Sunday drinks before lunch in someone's cabin. Some bars were not used at all.
The only times I've seen bar problems was on VLCCs and bulkies. Mostly due to boredom.

slick
16th September 2008, 17:03
All,
Sometimes referred to in the RFA as the "Wardroom" a la Royal Navy!!
Yours aye,
Slick

M29
24th September 2008, 18:55
Hi all
In Bibby Line, proper bars were always installed in the Officers Lounge and these were run by the Purser/Chief Steward. The 2nd steward would man the bar for limited times before meals and for a couple of hours after dinner.
Payment was by signing bar chits (green) and heads of department had pink chits for entertaining chandlers, technicians, agents etc.

At some time around the end of the 60's, officers bars became common with the permission of the old man. Chief stewards were happy because they did not have to stocktake or be responisble for officers accounts or have one of the stewards standing behind it.

The old man allowed them as long as a recognised "Committee" was identified to supervise it. I was involved in all the ships I was on, usually alongside the 2nd or 3rd mate and the electrician or 3rd or 4th engineer.

Anyone would stand behind and serve, but the comittee were responsible for giving the weekly order to the chief steward. The bars by then were all cash affairs and people threw their money in the till on trust. I can honostly say that each week we had more money than we should do, so it would be spent on things like tapes for the music system.

The Container ships went one better, we had a Southampton Cash & Carry card and the Mate would run up there and get boxes of crisps, nuts etc for the bar. The proceeds were again used for buyhing things and I remember we bought a new stereo system for the ship.

Regards

Alan

Clive Kaine
26th September 2008, 17:03
From what Alan says, we had a very similar system in P&O to Bibby's. When I first went to sea in the early 70s we had a steward-run bar and everything was paid for with chits. Bar hours were 1200-1230, 1800-1900 and 2030-2200. You could of course buy carryouts if you wanted to drink outside these hours.

In my last year or two in the late 70s/early 80s, the company decided to carry one less steward on all the ships, and so we went over to an officer-run cash bar. I sometimes helped to run the bar, but I never allowed it to be taken for granted, and I never did it alone. I quite enjoyed it actually, having parents who ran a pub, and it wasn't too onerous a task, mainly consisting of buying stock from the bond and doing a weekly stock take. I let other people fill the fridge and do most of the serving.

Baulkham Hills
29th September 2008, 05:58
Hi there,

I was involved in running many bars on board ships from the early seventies until the early 1990's. I never found it much of a burden, it was run for the benefit of the officers and any profit was ploughed back to the officers.
Most people were honest and marked down exactly what they consumed.
The bar on one ship was losing constantly with the master was was a drunk 3 days a week and totally anti bar for the rest of the week. During the three days he would send the Chinese stewards to get him drinks from the bar and they would follow him around with a tray. Eventually we just marked down any losses to him and because he could not remember anything he had to accept it.
Everything changed after the Exxon Valdez spill, I understand Shell charters had a cause about alcohol testing on vessels after that. And the nail in the coffin of social life on board ships.
The last bars I ran were on Chevron ships under total control of the company.
Maximum 4 drinks per day, no more than 2 drinks in any period and no drinks four hours before watch-keeping. If any drinks were not marked down a major investigation ensued. No drinks could be taken out of the bar by anyone.
They even sent a guy out from San Francisco to pour spirits down the drain because only airline type bottles were allowed. This resulted in a toxic atmosphere on the ships, I gave up having a beer along with almost everyone else except the masters.
Funnily they were the one's with the drinking problems, one master would give the crew a case of beer on a regular basis but it mostly ended up in his cabin. Another master used spirits in cooking almost every night, of course he supervised it personally. He got caught out because he had a Chevron medical before joining his ship and his tests showed up irregular liver function which pointed to excessive drinking during his vacation. They removed him from the ship for ten days and warned him off drinking during his vacation as long as he worked with Chevron.
Another master got the sack on the spot when after spending 6 months at the Betty Ford clinic drying out, becaused he accepted a low alcohol beer during lunch before joining a ship.
No, I don't miss it, but I do remember the great parties and relaxed atmosphere onboard ships years ago.

Cheers

Pat Hughes
29th September 2008, 11:01
Take it you don't like Ships Master's then?

Sarky Cut
29th September 2008, 12:11
Take it you don't like Ships Master's then?

I'll drink to that.(Jester)

James_C
29th September 2008, 12:46
Hi there,

I was involved in running many bars on board ships from the early seventies until the early 1990's. I never found it much of a burden, it was run for the benefit of the officers and any profit was ploughed back to the officers.
Most people were honest and marked down exactly what they consumed.
The bar on one ship was losing constantly with the master was was a drunk 3 days a week and totally anti bar for the rest of the week. During the three days he would send the Chinese stewards to get him drinks from the bar and they would follow him around with a tray. Eventually we just marked down any losses to him and because he could not remember anything he had to accept it.
Everything changed after the Exxon Valdez spill, I understand Shell charters had a cause about alcohol testing on vessels after that. And the nail in the coffin of social life on board ships.
The last bars I ran were on Chevron ships under total control of the company.
Maximum 4 drinks per day, no more than 2 drinks in any period and no drinks four hours before watch-keeping. If any drinks were not marked down a major investigation ensued. No drinks could be taken out of the bar by anyone.
They even sent a guy out from San Francisco to pour spirits down the drain because only airline type bottles were allowed. This resulted in a toxic atmosphere on the ships, I gave up having a beer along with almost everyone else except the masters.
Funnily they were the one's with the drinking problems, one master would give the crew a case of beer on a regular basis but it mostly ended up in his cabin. Another master used spirits in cooking almost every night, of course he supervised it personally. He got caught out because he had a Chevron medical before joining his ship and his tests showed up irregular liver function which pointed to excessive drinking during his vacation. They removed him from the ship for ten days and warned him off drinking during his vacation as long as he worked with Chevron.
Another master got the sack on the spot when after spending 6 months at the Betty Ford clinic drying out, becaused he accepted a low alcohol beer during lunch before joining a ship.
No, I don't miss it, but I do remember the great parties and relaxed atmosphere onboard ships years ago.

Cheers

Shell and BP went the same way, the latter even more so in that the booze onboard had to be low alcohol (less than 3%), spirits etc were banned, bar opening hours were strictly 1700-2200, no booze 4 hours before watch (so basically the 8-12 couldn't have a beer) and there was an official bar book. In addition on UMS ships the Duty Engineer wasn't allowed a drop and there was random D&A testing in port, and random breath tests on the ship, as per company discretion.
In this bar book, there was the following record: units consumed by each person every day (all drinks had to be signed for), stock in the bar fridge, stock consumed etc. This was all counted every morning and signed as a statement of fact by the Bar Manager (whoever that may be) as well as the Old Man (who often counted it out himself - some even took to counting the number of tins in the bar bin to make sure the lads hadn't been saving them up in their cabins). This book was then archived together with the logbooks.
As you say, these new measures together with the changing nationalities utterly destroyed the social life onboard to the point where it was non existent - and that's just what life is like in the Oil majors now - just an existence, nothing more.
Of course they all wonder why they can't recruit anyone and why all the young lads are running off to the Cruise ships, despite the much poorer wages and leave ratio.
To cap it all, it's since been proved that the Master of the Exxon Valdez wasn't drunk, notwithstanding the fact that it was the 3rd Mate who ran her up on the hard stuff anyway. That incident set a dangerous new precedent with how the Master was used as a scapegoat.
Progress? My ar*e!
(Smoke)

King Ratt
29th September 2008, 15:01
I will wager the office wallahs who thought up this draconian nonsense still have their lunchtime and evening G & Ts.
There was nothing wrong with the way things were done in my time in RFA. There were Officer's bars , POs bars and Crew bars. All subject to bar hours and checked for closing on time by the Deck dept. (I recall Lancastrian sorting out some of those who had "forgotten" to lower the shutters!).
The job always got done and the ships were not staffed by permanently p****d people.
All work and no play makes Jack etc etc etc and as James C says "Progress? Mine too.

ROBERT HENDERSON
29th September 2008, 15:36
KING RATT
It isn't just the office wallahs that enjoy kunchtime and evening G&Ts, The boardrooms usually have had well stocked booze cabinet. The Hoses of Parliament bars are open most of the time. I was master on a small coaster runnining from Rotterdam with barley to Battersea, as we passed the Hoses of Parliament many of them were sitting on the terraces boozing, probably why the country is in such a mess.

Regards Robert

David W
29th September 2008, 16:12
Proper Job. In Bluies and Glens we had staff to serve us. Either in our Cabins or in the Officers Lounge.

And I'm sure you showed your appreciation for such service, at the end of the voyage, in the proper manner!

Sarky Cut
29th September 2008, 19:46
The above reminds me of many arguements in ships bars around the world with all the same people of the same rank using the same arguements.

Things don't change do they(Jester)

twogrumpy
29th September 2008, 20:38
Bob,
In my experience none of the top 4 were generally "permitted" to run the bar, due to them being too senior and may therefore mute the goings on within. Normally either the Sparks/Leckie/Third/Fourth/Junior. On the ships I'm currently on it tends to be either the 3rd/4th/Leckie as they're all on daywork and have half days Saturday and Sunday, thereby allowing them plenty of time to get on with it. Indeed, I've sailed with Old Men who have forbidden any member of the Deck Dept to run the bar, since these days the deck side tend to do the more hours, what with normal watchkeeping plus PM's out of hours.
Certainly on some ships the Officers bar was just that, with the Old Man not being allowed within without permission, since he had his own dayroom to relax in, whereas the rest of us mere mortals had no such luxury.
It's still a tradition you encounter now and then, however its not 'enforced' per se, more that the Old Man will only pop in if invited, in much the same way as an Officer won't venture into the crew bar and vice versa without first being invited.
Of course in todays world of much smaller crews, the bar finances need all the help they can get, hence 4 ringer admittance. LOL [=P]

I did a good while in BP and do not believe there was ever one instance where the old man felt that he had to be invited into the officers bar.
This is the case in the RN where the OM must have an invite from the officers to go in the wardroom or so I believe.(Cloud)

David W
30th September 2008, 11:52
The above reminds me of many arguements in ships bars around the world with all the same people of the same rank using the same arguements.

Things don't change do they(Jester)

O'h Sarky, that was a very cutting comment, maybe it was good thing I never sailed in a ship with any kind of bar, it was just "jars out" by number 5 hatch and arguements were settled, rapidly, down aft.

twogrumpy
30th September 2008, 20:00
The above reminds me of many arguements in ships bars around the world with all the same people of the same rank using the same arguements.

Things don't change do they(Jester)

Well said Sarky, got sick and tired of it myself after the umpteenth time of hearing the same old c***.
twogrumpy(Cloud)

Sarky Cut
30th September 2008, 20:27
O'h Sarky, that was a very cutting comment, maybe it was good thing I never sailed in a ship with any kind of bar, it was just "jars out" by number 5 hatch and arguements were settled, rapidly, down aft.
Hi Dave you just don't know what you missed, the tripping over liners that had been changed, fuelvalves that had been tested to breaking points, the RO's leaving as their round came up to go and receive an important message, the list is endless.

All I did was sum up what has been written above by many people who have experienced "the officer's bar" officer's bar being the name of the thread(A)

twogrumpy
30th September 2008, 20:38
O'h Sarky, that was a very cutting comment, maybe it was good thing I never sailed in a ship with any kind of bar, it was just "jars out" by number 5 hatch and arguements were settled, rapidly, down aft.

"Arguements settled rapidly down aft"
A prime example of why many of us wanted nothing to do with the crew bar.
God what a mindset!!!!!
twogrumpy(Cloud)

David W
30th September 2008, 21:16
Hello Sarky, thanks for the explanation, maybe my soul is a little to sensitive, having had the pleasure of serving some types of engineer.
As for Twogrumpy I'd rather have a mindset than a twinset.
Where there many vacancies in the Martian Merchant Navy ?

K urgess
30th September 2008, 21:25
May I remind you gentlemen that you are guests in the radio room.
Arguments are not allowed.
Off topic now. This thread has nothing to do with behaviour.
Please limit your input unless you ran a ship's bar and can contribute your experience.

Mimcoman
30th September 2008, 22:02
What about the various means of decorating the bar? Thos&Jas smaller cargo vessels usually had the bar area plastered with various countries' banknotes, or the ubiquitous beer mats, or some such. The Novelist's was also festooned in chains of ringpulls, (which must have come from coke cans, as there were beerpumps for lager and bitter). On one trip, the Lecky (whose name I can't remember at the mom but who played sax in a Liverpool group called "Casper's Fire Engine" - the name has stuck with me for some reason) revarnished the bar panelling, stuck up the banknotes and beermats and also fitted a varnished turtleshell, labelled "King Jasper, caught coming out of the smokeroom fridge".

I can honestly say that I don't remember any troubles due to the presence of a Officers' bar on the T&J ships.

The bar was usually run by those wives who were onboard for the trip.

trotterdotpom
1st October 2008, 01:06
I remember a "Bar Committee" meeting in which the Old Man was ponificating, as per usual, and telling us what the profits should be spent on. The Third Engineer, the only one with the nerve to stand up and be counted, recklessly spouted: "I've always understood that the Captain is a guest in the bar, so why should you make these decisions?"

A stunned silence was followed by the Old Man's announcement: "You're quite right, I am a guest in the bar and it's shut!" With that he took his bat and ball and went home to his well stocked fridge.

For the next couple of days, people were wandering surreptitiously around the accommodation with towel covered dhobi buckets (we still had the keys to the bar, ha ha). A nostalgic returne to cabin parties - quite good fun really.

John T.

Shipbuilder
2nd October 2008, 08:35
I think the pleasantest officers bar I ever sailed with was the "Drokkenbolt Arms" aboard the FREDERICK T. EVERARD in 1962. The accommodation was pretty poor, but the officers lounge was very well fitted & comfortable. It had a bar at the end, but as far as I remember, there was only a barrel of beer & a gas bottle. But not a great deal of drinking went on anyway. The 'midship section was very sparsely populated. Captain, three mates, R/O & myself. The engineers had their own messroom aft. Chief steward was rarely seen apart from serving in the saloon at mealtimes. Captains (I sailed with two different ones aboard that ship) didn't associate with us very much, but nevertheless were very both "good chaps" in every way. So it was just myself & three mates. Generators turned off after tea in port in winter made the bar rather dark although there was an oil lamp. We some times cooked a modern version of "crackerhash" & ate it in the bar. The most drinking I ever did in there was in later years, visiting from other ships when we met occasionally in port. On one occasion, got told off by chief R/O of PENDENNIS CASTLE because he spotted me "coming off that collier" in Southampton!
Bob