Wet or Dry Ships?

Alistair Macnab
18th August 2009, 16:50
Is it too touchy a subject to talk about Master's Bond? As far as Bank Line were concerned, they did not have or want a company bar on board any of their ships but relied upon each individual Master to make up his own mind and would advance the cash to him to fund the bar stock. This funding was never directly out of the Old Man's pocket but was debited against his personal account with the company. That he could wipe it out from sales was, of course the object!
Bonded stores in the UK were ridiculously cheap! If I remember correctly, a modest mark up on a bottle of Gordon's gin still left the retail price at about 7/- which I felt was TOO cheap and would encourage spirits boozing . So I upped the price to 10/- and made out like a bandit! Similar situation with Scotch. Beer was marginal at best, mostly only returning cost and leaving a bit over for collective parties and bar fittings.

These revelations above should be read in the spirit of 40 years ago. No nasty reprisals are expected now!

By the way, half-way between Apia and the Panama Canal, I threw a party in the bar (ex-Smokeroom of "Fleetbank") and once everybody in attendance had a drink or two, I admitted that I was celebrating the purchase of my new Humber when I got home and the boys had all paid for it with their bar patronage! How do you think that frankness went down?

Seriously, though, bars like the Lakanuki on "Weirbank" and several others that had been constructed and lovingly fitted out by the ship's staff themselves (usually with a lot of help from Chippy) were seen by Captain Gale (Chief Superintendent in London) as signs that a ship was being well run and that there was a good spirit aboard. He couldn't say that officially but he did confide in me his opinion that a well organized bar run efficiently by the staff was always a good sign.

makko
18th August 2009, 17:26
Well Alistair, as they say, discretion is the better part of valour.

On Barber Blue Sea, the bar was run for the profit af all the crew. Once on the US coast and on the M's, South America, bar profits were invested in barbecues, free bars, special meals and bar equipment (t.v., stereo etc.). One of the highlights of this social activity was "cooking for the cooks", as all the vessels were excellent feeders. We always had enough left over for crew change in New York which was, of course, a free bar. Maybe a case or two were left over and credit given for the next voyage! We did however look out for any impostors from shoreside who looked to exploit what was a good and democratic system. BTW, I remember helping to run the bar, I forget which vessel, and we had built a kit PC (Tandy?) and were able to computerize the bar bills - Very high tech in the early 80's!

Rgds.
Dave

Ron Stringer
18th August 2009, 17:41
Alistair,

Not a Bank Line post but I sailed on both 'wet' and 'dry' ships in the 1960s. The going price then was Gordon's Export Gin at 5/- (five shillings) a bottle and blended Scotch at 7/6 a bottle. Beer was more expensive at 1 a case.

Tennents was the usual, and favoured beer but I also suffered (in not too much discomfort) various others that were less to my taste - with Shell Tankers, it was Heineken, Amstel or Oranjeboom and, with Ellermans, Charrington's Toby Ale. The latter was a disaster since it left a horrible after-taste and, regardless of the temperature at which you kept it or how carefully you wielded the top-end spanner, it was fearfully lively and sprayed everywhere. Far more was absorbed by the carpeting and upholstery than ever got down our throats. After many complaints we then suffered Double Diamond before someone saw sense and we returned to the blessed Tennents.

Never heard anyone complain about the prices or availability of the booze (apart from on the dry ships of course).

boatlarnie
18th August 2009, 18:24
Hi Alistair,
My contribution to your article 'Wet or Dry Ships' is a firm yes to the former. I sailed on a number of Bank boats and the likes of Charlie Howe, Willie Mendus and Capt McFarlane did themselves no favours by running a dry ship. As you know, life at sea in the 50's and 60's was no holiday and a cold beer (or three) in the evenings was a blessed relief to guys who had been working under a tropical sun or in the E.R. all day. There was no such thing as A/C, even fans were a luxury whilst most of the cabins were small and extremely hot. Mind you, someone like Little RJ Ward, although he allowed Officers 2 beers a day, was not the best as he often forgot to stock the bond up except of course, for his own stores. Coming home on the old Lossiebank, way back in 1958, after loeading copra and cocnut oil around the islands, one of the Deep tanks sprung a leak; the 5th Engineer fixed it for which he received a bottle of Scotch - out of the case of whisky, RJ was keeping for docking bottles. He then proceeded to drink the rest himself, finishing the last bottle with the Pilot as we steamed up the Mersey to Birkenhead. After berthing he disappeared ashore to his home leaving our Channel money heaped on his office desk which we saw by looking through the cabin porthole. Not a popular guy for we had spent 13 months away and could not go ashore for a beer until the next day.
Wandered a bit off track there, sorry.

Alan

Les Gibson
18th August 2009, 23:47
My descriptions of old man's bond and his exhorbitant charges on the Dartbank/Taybank 1963-64 are well documented. Not going to go into detail again. Don't know about a Humber, he could have bought a 'roller'.

John Rogers
19th August 2009, 01:25
Between 1947 and 1954 I sailed on 18 different ships and they were all dry,was I lucky or what. One was a bank boat the Moraybank.

John.

jimthehat
19th August 2009, 09:33
Hi Alistair,
My contribution to your article 'Wet or Dry Ships' is a firm yes to the former. I sailed on a number of Bank boats and the likes of Charlie Howe, Willie Mendus and Capt McFarlane did themselves no favours by running a dry ship. As you know, life at sea in the 50's and 60's was no holiday and a cold beer (or three) in the evenings was a blessed relief to guys who had been working under a tropical sun or in the E.R. all day. There was no such thing as A/C, even fans were a luxury whilst most of the cabins were small and extremely hot. Mind you, someone like Little RJ Ward, although he allowed Officers 2 beers a day, was not the best as he often forgot to stock the bond up except of course, for his own stores. Coming home on the old Lossiebank, way back in 1958, after loeading copra and cocnut oil around the islands, one of the Deep tanks sprung a leak; the 5th Engineer fixed it for which he received a bottle of Scotch - out of the case of whisky, RJ was keeping for docking bottles. He then proceeded to drink the rest himself, finishing the last bottle with the Pilot as we steamed up the Mersey to Birkenhead. After berthing he disappeared ashore to his home leaving our Channel money heaped on his office desk which we saw by looking through the cabin porthole. Not a popular guy for we had spent 13 months away and could not go ashore for a beer until the next day.
Wandered a bit off track there, sorry.

Alan
Hi Alan,
cant remember a master RJ Ward(tho there were 50odd ships )but in 55 I was on the Etivebank and the master was a little RJ WARNE(confirmed by my discharge book) AND he did like his booze on sailing from Chalna he was in his cabin with the pilot and when it was time for him to disembark RJ and him had a blazing row and they nearly came to blows.
JIM

Alistair Macnab
19th August 2009, 15:42
Alan and Jim.....
Reggie Warne or Mike Ward? Have we got a conflation of names? Mike Ward was, of course, latterly Marine Superintendent in New Orleans (Alan knows him well) and Reggie was always a seagoing Master

K urgess
19th August 2009, 17:06
As far as I remember the bar on the Weirbank was the first fitted and paid for by Bankline rather than built from dunnage. That was in Hull in December 1969.
A case of Tennents before the bar was fitted cost 25/- (1.25).
It was just a plain white formica counter with a light grey small leaf pattern. A fridge was supplied.
It was almost immediately named as mentioned.
Shore expeditions in New Orleans and Houston supplied some decoration but the final form wasn't completed until New Orleans second trip when the chippy built the canopy and it was decorated out of the previous trip's bar profits.
I seem to remember we bought all the stock from the Old Man, "Dad" Newton at almost cost. Started off with a whip round of 2 apiece to get the bar started. All alcohol was only available through the bar. This meant that there was no cabin drinking. The bar was the social centre of the ship and this was one of the few occasions I can remember this happening. It was a joy to know that there would always be someone in there you could chat to.
Some of us, Ibelieve, still have our bar membership cards. (Sad)
My bar bills range from five to ten quid a month depending where we were.
Cigs were fifteen bob (0.75) for 200 and my docking bottle of Drambuie cost me the same at the end of the first trip.
The Old Man would get us whatever we wanted and all bar profits went into little extras or pay off parties.
We all chipped in five bucks in the States 2nd time round and the Old Man bought an outboard for the jolly boat. One of those tiny Seagulls if I remember right.
Towards the end of the second trip the bar bills were under a quid as we drank up the profits. [=P]
I can't remember sailing on a dry ship. Quite a few the bar was the only place you could get a drink and some were tightly controlled by the Old Man.
Sailed on one where you were only allowed 6 beers a week, crew and officers alike.
One ship my bar bill at the end of a ten week trip consisted of 49 pints of beer at the extortionate price for the lot of 4.10p (EEK) but that was down the west coast of South America and one needed every penny for runs ashore.
Price of a case of beer of various brews seems to have stayed relatively constant over 11 years (66 to 77) at an average of 1.50p.
Cigs varied a lot but seem to have doubled over the same 11 years.
As I said I never sailed on a dry ship but I can vividly remember what happened when the beer ran out or tap was stopped completely for some reason.

Bill Davies
19th August 2009, 17:26
I see nothing wrong with a Masters Bond as ultimately the Master has the final say and his control of drink reinfoces this.
I do not agree with profiteering as it causes problems illustrated in the previous posts.

boatlarnie
19th August 2009, 17:28
Hi Alan,
cant remember a master RJ Ward(tho there were 50odd ships )but in 55 I was on the Etivebank and the master was a little RJ WARNE(confirmed by my discharge book) AND he did like his booze on sailing from Chalna he was in his cabin with the pilot and when it was time for him to disembark RJ and him had a blazing row and they nearly came to blows.
JIM

Jim,
Your memory is better than mine; I was indeed refering to RJ Warne (or Little RJ as he was nicknamed), must have been the same guy for it seemed his preference was to sup with Pilots. He was a little short-****, on the old Lossiebank Chippy built him a step so he could see over the bridge dodger; going up the Hooghly one time, the Indian Dock Master was also vertically challenged and he and Little RJ had a right old pushing competition to see who could stay on the step whilst going through the locks - it was a real scream.
One night he decided to go for a drink with the Sparks; he lived on the back-end of the boatdeck so Little RJ had to go along the deck by No 3 Hatch. We were in rough weather at the time and Paddy Ramsden (the other Appy) and I watched in awe as Little RJ almost disappeared over the bulwarks as the ship rolled, then righted itself and back came the Old Man. No problem, he continued on his merry way aft. One of the Bank Line eleven, he was!!
Alan

boatlarnie
19th August 2009, 17:30
Alan and Jim.....
Reggie Warne or Mike Ward? Have we got a conflation of names? Mike Ward was, of course, latterly Marine Superintendent in New Orleans (Alan knows him well) and Reggie was always a seagoing Master

Twas indeed Reggie Warn or Little RJ as we called him Alistair.

surfaceblow
19th August 2009, 17:41
I sailed on American Ships by law they are suppose to be dry but some of the ships would sell beer and other items out of the slop chest. The ships that sold beverages out of the slop chest had far fewer problems. There would be informal pour downs hosted by various officers and crew members. If any one misbehaved then the privilege was revoked. So there was a lot of self policing.
For the most part being on dry ships there is a problem of binge drinking when the crew actually got ashore. The usual problems of missed watches and missing the ship for sailing. The biggest problems was the closet drinkers when they run out of there drink of choice.

My last commercial vessel that I sailed on the Agent would give the Captain and myself two cases of wine and ten cases of beer each trip. One Captain would dump the whole lot over the side after leaving port while the other Captain would keep the gifts. While I would distribute the gifts to the Engineers each trip. The other Captain would put his gifts in my office and would have a pre dinner drink with the First Assistant Engineer, R/O and my self. (Pint) He did not share any of the gifts with the Deck Department because he was afraid that they would turn him into the company.

Johnnietwocoats
21st August 2009, 19:20
Jim,
Your memory is better than mine; I was indeed refering to RJ Warne (or Little RJ as he was nicknamed), must have been the same guy for it seemed his preference was to sup with Pilots. He was a little short-****, on the old Lossiebank Chippy built him a step so he could see over the bridge dodger; going up the Hooghly one time, the Indian Dock Master was also vertically challenged and he and Little RJ had a right old pushing competition to see who could stay on the step whilst going through the locks - it was a real scream.
One night he decided to go for a drink with the Sparks; he lived on the back-end of the boatdeck so Little RJ had to go along the deck by No 3 Hatch. We were in rough weather at the time and Paddy Ramsden (the other Appy) and I watched in awe as Little RJ almost disappeared over the bulwarks as the ship rolled, then righted itself and back came the Old Man. No problem, he continued on his merry way aft. One of the Bank Line eleven, he was!!
Alan


Alan...You mentioned Paddy Ramsden....Could that have been Paddy Ramsey?

TC(Smoke)

boatlarnie
22nd August 2009, 15:38
Alan...You mentioned Paddy Ramsden....Could that have been Paddy Ramsey?

TC(Smoke)

Right on Johnnie, Paddy Ramsey it was; wehen I left Bank Line for Safmarine one of my fellow Masters was none other than a Paddy Ramsden, hence the mix-up. Apologies to you and Paddy wherever he is now. When we left the Lossiebank after 13/14 months, I was a cockney with an Irish lilt whilst Paddy knew a few words of rhyming slang!!
Alan

WilliamH
22nd August 2009, 17:26
Silver Line was "company bond" in early 1970's, they aquired a Catering Director, who made a large increase on the price of canned beer, his excuse being he was taking into account the crew labour cost in loading the beer onto the ship. I was 2nd Eng on the Chelsea Bridge at the time. The Mate a guy called Harrison, cant remember his christian name, he had red hair and was from Yorkshire, suggested that he the Chief Eng and myself buy our own draught beer, as we were in Port Talbot every 3 weeks this was possible. The Chief and myself said OK good idea but thought nothing else about it. Two days later in Port Talbot while I was having breakfeast, the Mate came in and whispered to me that the barrels of beer were on the quay and could I think of a place to hide them onboard, I nearly fell off my chair. The outcome was we three had cheap good quality beer and a hilarious time moving the hiding places and trying to fool the Master that we had turned TT.
The Captain was Frankie Moorcroft, a real gentleman, at first he suspected and later he knew, but as long as we pretended he did'nt know he also pretended he did'nt know.

Johnnietwocoats
25th August 2009, 04:04
Right on Johnnie, Paddy Ramsey it was; wehen I left Bank Line for Safmarine one of my fellow Masters was none other than a Paddy Ramsden, hence the mix-up. Apologies to you and Paddy wherever he is now. When we left the Lossiebank after 13/14 months, I was a cockney with an Irish lilt whilst Paddy knew a few words of rhyming slang!!
Alan

Paddy Ramsey was my Brother in Law. Unfortuneately he passed away almost 6 years ago.
He as my senior Apprentice on the Eastbank from july 60 until July 61. He was from Dundalk and wanted to visit me in Belfast for the 12th July that year. He met my sister and the rest is history.
He ended up as Senior Master with Stena on the Larne/Stranraer run.
TC.....(Smoke) (Smoke)