Sailing with wives

rcraig
27th November 2009, 19:35
Charlie,
You made a comment in one thread a while back that you did not like--I don't think these are your precise words--sailing with wives.
In my early days it would have made a big difference to me. I suspect that I would have gone straight back to Bank Line had it been possible to take my wife then. Indeed I remember that in the early fifties Scandivanian companies allowed this and were taking Brit. mates, etc., because of a huge shortage in their fleets. I applied to a few companies there but had missed the boat in my timing by then.
In the event, I am probably a lot better off as an indirect result of the lack of facilities then existing.
Any comments, especially from younger mates, engineers (everybody is younger as far as I am concerned regrettably) who took their wives with them and how the wives actually found the experience?

Peter B
27th November 2009, 19:52
Any comments, especially from younger mates, engineers (everybody is younger as far as I am concerned regrettably) who took their wives with them and how the wives actually found the experience?
I saw the rare opportunity of playing the part of "the younger"; no way I'm going to let that pass! (*))
My wife joined me on the M/V Arnold Maersk for about six weeks in 1985. I had already been there for about three months when she joined, and I stayed for another month or so, after she left. She boarded in Dubai and took a full round-trip to the Far East and back.
She had a blast; enjoyed the trip, the company and the (short, unfortunately) trips ashore, whether with me or other crew-members. Apart from the radio officer, she was the only female on board at the time. I think everybody enjoyed her company, as have also been the case with other wives I have experienced at sea.

johnb42
27th November 2009, 20:02
My wife (and kids) sailed with me when I was Mate on the Marabank and the Elmbank. About a year on each ship. My wife still looks back on it as an experience and an adventure of a lifetime.

xrm
28th November 2009, 09:56
As part of my wide and varied sea going training as an apprentice, I was at one time the official minder of the mates wife during our stay New Orleans on her daily ventures ashore. Not a bad time - she had the cash!

Charlie Stitt
28th November 2009, 10:31
It would depend very much on the type of guys you were sailing with, but there is that possibility of trouble and friction, an attractive young lady could cause among a dozen randy Bankliners during a long trip. Yes all could be well for months, but it would only take someone with a little too much drink, to make a pass, then crash,wallop,bang, that's how the riot started your honour. It happens shoreside quite often, so on the confined area of a ship, it could happen more easily. This is only my opinion, many others would beg to differ, good luck to you. My wife ,by the way, says she thinks she would have enjoyed sailing with a dozen randy Bankliners. [=P]

Alan Rawlinson
28th November 2009, 16:45
Charlie,
You made a comment in one thread a while back that you did not like--I don't think these are your precise words--sailing with wives.
In my early days it would have made a big difference to me. I suspect that I would have gone straight back to Bank Line had it been possible to take my wife then. Indeed I remember that in the early fifties Scandivanian companies allowed this and were taking Brit. mates, etc., because of a huge shortage in their fleets. I applied to a few companies there but had missed the boat in my timing by then.
In the event, I am probably a lot better off as an indirect result of the lack of facilities then existing.
Any comments, especially from younger mates, engineers (everybody is younger as far as I am concerned regrettably) who took their wives with them and how the wives actually found the experience?

I recall being on the helm on the Maplebank, fully loaded with phosphate, and in very heavy weather in the Tasman sea, shipping lots of water over the bows. Capt Ford had his wife with him, and she staggered out into the wheelhouse, and to my amazement, she shouted instructions back into the accommodation to Billy, her husband, We have to heave to, now Billy! and he did.

Boseley
28th November 2009, 19:03
The first time I encountered officers wives was on my first Shell Tanker, The lady in question was the Skippers wife wife. I was the dining room/engineers steward.

Roast chicken was on the menu on a Thursday, the conversation was always the same,

"Roast chicken please steward,"

"Would madam like stuffing,?"

" Oh yes please steward,"

A steely look from the Captain, Chief Engineer failed to suppress a smile. I always wondered why they never requested chicken.


Boseley

eldersuk
28th November 2009, 20:48
2nd Mate was most disconcerted when the OM's wife appeared on the bridge just after midnight flashing a torch around as "It's always too dark up here to see anything."

Derek

KM Macdonald
28th November 2009, 20:53
As 3rd Mate I was fortunate to have my wife on our honeymoon for a
4 month trip for a round trip from the UK to Japan on the Pacific Swan. We spent 6 weeks on the Japenese coast and we had a great time. Also on the trip was the 2nd mate and 4th Engineer's wives and they all bonded well together which added a lot to the voyage for the rest of the crew.

John Dryden
28th November 2009, 22:39
My first trip on the Olivebank was the only time a wife was on board.Captain Wigham decided I was the one who would make up the foursome with his wife and the C/E when he found out I could play cribbage.Practically every night from then on when at sea he would knock on my door and summon me up to the saloon for either crib or scrabble.Always had a few beers though and it passed the time.

Ian Harrod
1st December 2009, 05:02
The master's wife on the Taybank in the early 70's was the custodian of the stationery locker. The 2nd mate had to produce the old chart pencil as evidence that he required a new one. On numerous occasions, he was sent away empty handed with the comment along the lines of "there's weeks left in that pencil"!

Commonly referred to as " Captain Thomas and her husband Peter."

Naytikos
1st December 2009, 05:37
Apart from the 18 month I spent on British ships, my wife sailed with me the whole of my time at sea, mostly working as Cook. We both enjoyed it so much we spent 7 years straight on one ship, just spending a few hours ashore at the Japanese/Brazilian/Europoort ends of the trips; or, on rare occasions, somewhere in the PG (special treat!).

I have a few stories about other wives which I'll throw in later if the thread holds up.

gordy
1st December 2009, 10:50
My wife has often said she would like to have been able to go back to sea. I think she felt guilty about missing some of the scenic arrivals we did due to being in the company of the R/O in the bar, glass of Glenfiddich in one hand, fag in the other, claiming she couldn't leave the card game at such a crucial stage(Jester)
We were very lucky with the ships we sailed on together and the people on them. Also, the company, Texaco, were very generous with her travel costs.

As far as the funny things wives say, one of my favourites was from the Geordie wife of our new Trinidad 2/E. They had just joined in Bridgeport, Connecticut, from where we sailed to the big apple. While leaving port there the ships whistle jammed on. He and I raced back aft and managed after some wrestling to get it back to normal. The two of us were pretty mucky when we got back to the midships bar, where his wife took a look at him and said the immortal words, "You're Black". The guy was hysterical with laughter and it was the best 'ice breaker' I ever heard(Thumb)

Alistair Macnab
1st December 2009, 15:45
Not quite 'wives on board' but on an evening out in Capetown, I came across three of my officers sitting in a bar with three lovely but shady ladies and given the apartheid laws at the time, they may have been skirting the law. Anyhow, these ladies were most entertaining and I joined the party for a drink or two before going back to the ship.
Next morning, we sailed for Durban and once we were berthed there, the customary shore party was organized to visit one of the haunts on Point Road.
Imagine my surprise when we came across the three lassies from Capetown!
As Master I said, "How kind of you to come all the way to Durban to see the boys. Did you fly or is there a train service?" There was an awkward silence and then it dawned on me that they had come by ship! Mine! Needless to say there was a carpet muster the next morning!

chadburn
1st December 2009, 16:39
My Wife sailed with me at all time's as did the children when they came along. In a photograph frame (updated every year) in my cabin, In my first few years at sea in the M.N. I was a "sea gypsy" mainly doing single trips for various Companies over the Winter Month's and alway's tried to make sure that I was home for June, July and August to be able to follow my hobby's (motorcycle racing, powerboat racing with the Owner of CEBEC) and spend some time with the children which kept everybody happy as I am not really a "fan" of females on board ship. When I joined Maritime O in 1967 Wive's were allowed on board but bearing in mind thing's Israeli were under attack from the PLO we decided not to take up the option.

Alan Rawlinson
2nd December 2009, 09:30
Not quite 'wives on board' but on an evening out in Capetown, I came across three of my officers sitting in a bar with three lovely but shady ladies and given the apartheid laws at the time, they may have been skirting the law. Anyhow, these ladies were most entertaining and I joined the party for a drink or two before going back to the ship.
Next morning, we sailed for Durban and once we were berthed there, the customary shore party was organized to visit one of the haunts on Point Road.
Imagine my surprise when we came across the three lassies from Capetown!
As Master I said, "How kind of you to come all the way to Durban to see the boys. Did you fly or is there a train service?" There was an awkward silence and then it dawned on me that they had come by ship! Mine! Needless to say there was a carpet muster the next morning!

Following on from Alistair's story........

Our ' white ' crew on the phosphate run, took to bringing the ladies up and down discretely, ( plus one bloke!) and as we always returned to Aus it worked fine. Then the inevitable happened, and we were diverted to NZ to discharge, where the passengers were discovered by the rummagers , and all hell broke loose.

vasco
2nd December 2009, 11:22
Much as I enjoyed the trips with my Wife, there were times we had to have our own space. My 'space' was the 0000-0400 watch, which has always been the best time on a ship, clear of intruders, phone calls etc. Then she said she wanted to do that watch with me. I asked the Old Man, who, much to my dismay gave it the go ahead.
So the next night, which was moonless, I took over the watch, turned off every light I could and covered the rest, then phoned her to come up.

Of course, being pitch black, she could not see a thing and lasted 5 minutes! off she went, content that night watches were not for her and we are still married!

Cap'n Pete
2nd December 2009, 18:43
A major problem these days with taking your wife to sea (or as so often is the case these days, partner - same sex or otherwise) is obtaining visas. These are mandatory for ships calling in U.S. ports and also Australia.

With multi-national crews, your wife may find that the social atmosphere is not as it once was, particularly if your wife traveled with you more than 30 years ago as mine did. I'm afraid the last time I took her, she did not enjoy it as much as when we were first married in the early 70's.

I've noticed recently that the number of wives traveling with their husbands has decreased significantly. In fact, the only wives I've seen at sea in the past 5 years were captain's wives.

Johnnietwocoats
3rd December 2009, 05:16
Much as I enjoyed the trips with my Wife, there were times we had to have our own space. My 'space' was the 0000-0400 watch, which has always been the best time on a ship, clear of intruders, phone calls etc. Then she said she wanted to do that watch with me. I asked the Old Man, who, much to my dismay gave it the go ahead.
So the next night, which was moonless, I took over the watch, turned off every light I could and covered the rest, then phoned her to come up.

Of course, being pitch black, she could not see a thing and lasted 5 minutes! off she went, content that night watches were not for her and we are still married!

I would have shagged her....Or did you and it lasted only 5 minutes....LOL

Twocoats....(Smoke) (Smoke)

Johnnietwocoats
3rd December 2009, 05:18
When I was a Senior Deck Apprentice I think the Chief Engineers wife fell in love with me........

TC(Smoke) (Smoke) (Smoke)

boatlarnie
3rd January 2010, 11:19
Following on from Alistair's story........

Our ' white ' crew on the phosphate run, took to bringing the ladies up and down discretely, ( plus one bloke!) and as we always returned to Aus it worked fine. Then the inevitable happened, and we were diverted to NZ to discharge, where the passengers were discovered by the rummagers , and all hell broke loose.

I remember meeting up with the Teviotbank (Samboat one) way back in 1958 I think (I was on Lossiebank): the guys on board had been doing the phosphate run from Nauru for something like 18 months by then and all had steady girlfriends there. They heard they were due to be relieved after the next trip so took the women with them for the voyage; after loading they found out the cargo was for Newcastle so all hell broke loose on arrival there. Bank Line was not amused!!

Alistair Macnab
5th January 2010, 15:41
There are three circumstances that prompt me to respond to this site.

The first concerns a Chief Engineer's wife who often accompanied her husband. She was very bossy and was known as "The Chief Engineer and her Husband" when referred to. She constantly spoke for him in conversation and was of the opinion that she was the arbiter of all social activities aboard ship. Her incursions into the steward's department were legendary. I pittied the Old Man but he was quite capable of dealing with her; they hated each other! Two 'old biddies' spitting at each other!

The second occasion was when the young Old Man had his wife on board on what was almost his honeymoon voyage. He was inattentive to the ship's safetly one evening being in a hurry to go below at the change of watch. His ship went ashore some minutes afterwards and his career was caput.

Wives on board? Seagoing is a single man's lifestyle. I didn't think about marrying until after I came ashore which in my case turned out to be a very good decision.

But.....

One Captain and his wife that I sailed with had been married for more than 20 years when I met them. They were still in love and she was the nicest woman I ever met as a shipboard wife. She was always looking after the officers' best interests but yet not intruding herself or being nosey or inquisitive. In the course of a very long voyage, I'm sure she was the depository of many a sorry tale told to her in complete confidence and her advice was always gentle, understanding and apposite. They had two children. She had stayed with them until college age thereafter devoting her time to her husband. An altogether lovely couple and a pleasure to sail with.

marinero
5th January 2010, 16:42
I remember a trip on the M.V. Tewkesbury. We had the 2nd Mates wife on board and she used to demolish the cheese board every lunchtime in the saloon, it having to be replenished before anyone else got to use it.
Our 2nd steward(an elderly Cockney) with a vitriolic tongue got fed up with this and one lunchtime pushed open the swing door from pantry to saloon and bowled a 40lb round of cheddar cheese across the deck towards her with the words "cop for this you greedy cow" Well!!! the whole saloon collapsed with laughter.

Regards (Thumb)

PS Apologies for intruding on another Shipping Lines thread.

Winebuff
13th January 2010, 15:11
I always thought wives on board added to the ships company. They gave a different perspective to life and in truth tended to improve not only the language but also the conversation.
Unfortunately apart from a few UK based port trips my wife never spent any time with me. On completion on my cadetship I became a Contract Officer and as such was allowed to take my wife & child with me -in theory. When I contacted head office to make the arrangements they quickly changed the rules about children - only senior offices with double cabin/dayroom set ups were then eligible. Regret I left before reaching the dizzy heights of 2nd Eng - although I had the paper work for 3 years. My career brought to a premature end by the 1980's sell offs. We had, I think, 47 ships when I joined in 74 and 12 when I left in 84.

Colin419
21st January 2010, 07:52
First trip to sea as cadet, we had the 3rd engineers wife, the mates wife and the sparkies wife. They hated each other for 6 solid months. There were some very entertaining cat fights, particularly "in port" and "in drink" !

Second trip to sea as cadet, MV Shirrabank, no wives on board and an absolute blast of a trip, joined her new year 1981 in Bangkok and had 2 weeks in port. Our 1st trip Irish engineer cadet locked his cabin every night to protect himself against the "naughty ladies"! Vast amounts of alcohol were consumed too.

Last trip as cadet, the 2nd Mates wife, Amanda, used to keep watch with him. As I was on the 12-4 in the engineroom, that used to mean drinking with them in the bar after watch. Boy, could she handle her drink! Met them 22 years later in Port Harcourt where the 2nd Mate was now port manager.

On the whole, wives kept the chaps amused, but the trip on the Shirrabank has to go down as my favourite of all time.

Burntisland Ship Yard
9th January 2011, 16:54
Like Gordy, I was lucky to be able to bring my wife aka ScrewTop with me, our honney moon was a week in the Astoria Hotel in Dubai in the honney moon suite, followed by the cruise via Ras Tan / Cape Town to Pembroke on the Copenhagen.
Like most of us, it was always a pleasure to have wives on board, particularly on the "big ships".
Some times after a few refreshments we still reflect back on our trips....
Happy New Year All...

J.Dowd
9th January 2011, 17:37
Not something that has caught on with Chinese and something we do not encourage as my memories of various antics of some in the British flag in the 70s are not good.

China hand
11th January 2011, 18:17
Remember the chilled silence between self, Mate, Ch.Engineer and Ch.Steward in a post-inspection session in my dayroom on a full Chinese manned ship.
Asked Lady Wife to maybe have a look in the Owners suite bathroom ready for the next port call.
Instant camaraderie, clear atmosphere, business done, brandy out, job done, progress.
Ship worked. Sexist? Nah, cultural difference is all. When in Rome?(Thumb)
The Good Lady sailed with me on Chinese ships for years, and ALWAYS made sure ( even in the USA) that the crew got their mail as absolute priority. That was her one and only "official" function.

Waighty
1st March 2011, 22:12
My wife accompanied me on the Shirrabank, Moraybank and Birchbank circa late 1970s when I was Mate on said vessels; she loved every minute of it, except the violent rolling when Birchbank, on charter to Chargeurs Reunis (cognac line - 5 stars on the funnel -geddit?) was on passage from Las Palmas to Cadiz. She persuaded the agents to help her to whatever place/historical site she wanted to visit! Obviously I couldn't always accompany her due to what Mates are (or were) paid to do - work.

I recall when I was second mate on the Willowbank circa December1973, homeward bound, mid-Atlantic, midnight to four watch, hove to in force 11 having pooped earlier, bow just off the wind and waves, and the Old Man's (John Lowans) wife (Olive?) appeared in the wheelhouse in nightie and dressing gown. She couldn't sleep not surprisingly and just stood gazing out of the bridge windows for an hour or so while the vessel cavorted around the ocean. I seem to recall going alongside in Rotterdam a few days later in heavy snow - happy days.

ruthven whisker
30th May 2011, 17:48
regarding wives@sea my wife sailed with me in various companies including bank line she had a whale of a time both on ships where she was the only woman and on ships with several wives on board. treated as a lady and never had a pass made at her in 16years.she saw the world and made many friends a lot of whom we are still in contact with.

China hand
30th May 2011, 18:32
Hi Riv, regards to Pat. CH(Wave)

GlennysF
14th June 2011, 19:15
I was a wife who sailed with her husband, unfortunately only for one trip, but what a trip. We ran aground leaving Ijmuiden and had to be towed to Amsterdam for repair. One of the ABs literally went mad and attacked the cook with a cargo hook one night. He had to be taken off and I never heard what happened to him. The captain hated me because he'd wanted to take his wife but my husband had got in first and there was only room for one supernumary. He'd turn up for meals in a filthy, torn singlet and burp and scratch all through the meal. I don't think he exchanged one word with me through the entire voyage.

Being the only woman on board I was spoilt rotten by everyone (apart from the skipper), especially as the majority of the crew were not young, and I could have been their daughter.

It did get a bit boring at times when my husband was working, so I used to head down to the galley and help the cook. He taught me how to make the best bread rolls ever, a skill I've retained to this day.

All in all, I had a wonderful time and would happily have gone on as many trips as I could, but having 5 kids in 5 years does rather put paid to seafaring.
In fact, I would have gone on having more kids but my husband threatened to join Bank Line if I did, telling me dire tales of being away for 2 years at a time. I decided that perhaps 5 was enough after all.

Binnacle
15th June 2011, 21:49
On passage Geelong/Madras we went to the aid of a British ship, not Bank Line,which had taken on a dangerous list after it’s cargo shifted. We took off the survivors including the master’s wife and landed them in Port Adelaide. A couple of years later I was informed that the lady who we believed was the master’s wife was only what might be termed a “bidie in”. There was considerable ructions when the news pictures of the “wife” standing with our captain appeared in the UK press. Apart from having to face the wrath of his real wife and the vessel’s owners he had his ticket suspended for six months for improperly securing the cargo. The moral of the story seems to be if you are carrying a “bidie in” make doubly sure everything is shipshape & Bristol fashion.

Alan Rawlinson
16th June 2011, 08:38
On passage Geelong/Madras we went to the aid of a British ship, not Bank Line,which had taken on a dangerous list after it’s cargo shifted. We took off the survivors including the master’s wife and landed them in Port Adelaide. A couple of years later I was informed that the lady who we believed was the master’s wife was only what might be termed a “bidie in”. There was considerable ructions when the news pictures of the “wife” standing with our captain appeared in the UK press. Apart from having to face the wrath of his real wife and the vessel’s owners he had his ticket suspended for six months for improperly securing the cargo. The moral of the story seems to be if you are carrying a “bidie in” make doubly sure everything is shipshape & Bristol fashion.

Reminds me of the Maplebank 1956 running between Aus ports and Nauru/Ocean island with phosphates. The white crew, or some members at least, had taken to sailing with secret partners, both male and female, and all was well until the discharge port was changed in mid passage down from the islands. We were to go to NZ instead, and the game was up. The Customs rummagers found more than they expected in bedraggled looking ' wives '. Caused a fuss but was soon forgotten.

Waighty
6th August 2011, 15:18
My wife sailed with me, when I was Mate, on Birchbank, Shirrabank, Moraybank and loved every bit of it. The reason for that was knowing the common sense parameters that would affect "guests" aboard working vessels. Long before she accompanied me I told her what shipboard life involved and how it would affect her. Forewarned is forearmed and that was the big mistake a lot of younger wives made - not enough maturity to comprehend - they didn't know what to expect and found shipboard life a bit exacting.

I heard many horror stories about wives on board but didn't actually witness any such events myself, although there was one ship (can't recall which one) where the 3rd Mate, newly married and still in the lovey dovey stage of romance, had to be dragged out on deck from his cabin because his wife demanded his company! She wouldn't speak to me after the third episode but I was bloody annoyed that her husband didn't explain what life at sea was all about. Like all of us, he was there to make Bank Line money, safely and efficiently, not to spend time gazing into his wife's eyes. They got the message after that. I could live with the silence and sullen stares.

Most wives at sea provided a happy, sane and balanced environment for all of us, just as long as they stayed away from trying to run things!!

luigi
6th August 2011, 15:52
As a Second Mate, my wife sailed with me several times.

I had her trained up on radar plotting so I could sit in the Pilot's chair on the quiet midnight to 4 watch whilst she kept me appraised of CPA and TCPA of any sightings. She used to really enjoy it and it gave me a break!!!!