Master's Night Orders

John Briggs
31st January 2010, 22:11
All deck officers will have been subjected to the wisdom of Master’s Night orders and also the Standing Orders.
Standing Orders could vary from a comprehensive litany covering every possible demeanour and running into pages, to a brief list of the basic requirements. Night orders could be brief and to the point or rambling and not particularly relevant. Some Masters appeared to use these orders to try and absolve themselves from any blame whatsoever if things happened to go wrong and others were probably too brief in stating their requirements.
I tried to be succinct and relevant but don’t really know how successful I was.
Any thoughts?

Hugh Ferguson
31st January 2010, 23:31
Keep a good lookout.

kewl dude
1st February 2010, 07:13
At 0200 a first trip school ship grad 3/O mistook Venus for a UFO. He roused the whole crew by ringing the General Alarm and blowing Abandon Ship on the whistle.

The next nights Captains orders included the guidance that in case of viewing a UFO to not roust out the whole crew until they put their ladder down on our deck and then call him first.

Greg Hayden

George.GM
1st February 2010, 09:38
The shortest, and probably the best Captain's Standing Orders I have ever seen were on an Australian minesweeper in the Far East :
"Anybody who makes a c--- of himself is in the rattle"

woodend
1st February 2010, 09:53
The best phrase I saw in the night orders was: 'despite my frequent adjurations'..... that had me searching for my dictionary.

sidsal
1st February 2010, 12:55
I was 2nd Mate on a T2 tanker where the master, 1st Mate ( demoted master) and chief engineer were permanently drunk. The master used to write copious night orders with orders to "call me here" and "call me there" but he was always comatose and couldn't be roused. Tricky night passages from near Bahrein to Ras Tanura , for instance required accurate navigation but it was no use relying on the master. After 2 or 3 trips I walked off the ship in Le Havre as I feared for my ticket.

Nova Scotian
1st February 2010, 14:53
I had a flashback to the City of Eastbourne in 1969. Captain Rex Broadbent had a fine copperplate hand and his night orders were quite lengthy. I can see him now in the light of the lamp over the chart table as he scribed away, an inch of ash wobbling at the end of the ever present cigarette! With most masters it was a case of "maintain course line and call me if needed".

Klaatu83
1st February 2010, 15:11
Night Orders might be long or short but, whatever else went into them, they invariably concluded with the phrase, "Call me (the Master) if in doubt". They always meant it, too. No prudent Master would ever reprimand a Mate for calling him for any reason, no matter how trivial, at any time, day or night. If he did, then the next time the Mate might not call him at all, and it might turn out to be something really important.

R58484956
1st February 2010, 15:17
On the P&O Chiefs also had a night order book, both at sea and tied up.

slick
1st February 2010, 20:09
All,
As Klaatu 83 says, "If in doubt do not hesitate to call me" were the most supportive words in the Night Orders.
Very often the Charts were marked at the critical points on passage with "Call me", a call was also required if lights were not raised as expected, it was prudent to have tea or coffee to hand for the old man's arrival.
Yours aye,


Yours aye,

slick

Charlie_Wood
1st February 2010, 20:53
Slightly off topic, a contemporary 2nd Mate in Clan Line, Mark Williams if I recall correctly, got a severe bollocking when the Old Man pitched up on the bridge in the middle of the South Atlantic at 0200 one night and spied a light abeam on the horizon, complaining about not being called when a (rare) light had been spotted he went on to explain that some Greek ships were sailing the oceans with just a dog on watch!!

A couple of nights later Mark saw another light way off and being a bit of a lad, blew down the voice pipe and receiving a gruff "what do you want" proceeded to go "woof woof".

Nothing was ever said and he enjoyed peace and quiet for the rest of the voyage.

sidsal
1st February 2010, 21:26
En route Persian Gulf to Montreal we encountered a very bad storm just where the Grand Banks appear. Probably the heavy seas were caused by the rapidly shallowing waters. We had no sights for about 4 days and radar was bust. I was 2nd Mate and we were due to see Cape Race light about 10 or 11 pm. As usual I used the outside ladder up to the bridge for my 12 to 4 watch. It was a cold clear night and I could see the light clearly to starboard.
On enetering the wheelhouse the 3rd Mate and the "old man" were peering forward through the wheel house windows which were misted up due to the central heating and draft proof doors which were tight shut. After exchanging pleasantries the Master told me to call him if Cape Race had not been sighted by 2am and departed for his bed. When he had gone, I opened the doors to clear the windows and adjusted the course to make for the ST Lawrence.

Thenavigator4
2nd February 2010, 22:49
En route Persian Gulf to Montreal we encountered a very bad storm just where the Grand Banks appear. Probably the heavy seas were caused by the rapidly shallowing waters. We had no sights for about 4 days and radar was bust. I was 2nd Mate and we were due to see Cape Race light about 10 or 11 pm. As usual I used the outside ladder up to the bridge for my 12 to 4 watch. It was a cold clear night and I could see the light clearly to starboard.
On enetering the wheelhouse the 3rd Mate and the "old man" were peering forward through the wheel house windows which were misted up due to the central heating and draft proof doors which were tight shut. After exchanging pleasantries the Master told me to call him if Cape Race had not been sighted by 2am and departed for his bed. When he had gone, I opened the doors to clear the windows and adjusted the course to make for the ST Lawrence.

Good Grief, which company were you sailing with?? Central heating! Draft proof doors?

On the ships I sailed on the only way to stop the bridge wing doors rattling was to knock wooden wedges between the after end of the frame and the door! So there was always a one inch gap for the cold night air to blow in, and the heating was a couple of hot air vents (apart from the hot air in the old man's night orders)!!!

Ernest

Graybeard
3rd February 2010, 00:21
The shortest, and probably the best Captain's Standing Orders I have ever seen were on an Australian minesweeper in the Far East :
"Anybody who makes a c--- of himself is in the rattle"

I remember that one too, George. It's a great quote and one I use in various talks. Good to know it's remembered by others too. I think they were the "Blackfoot" squadron? Did you ever go to one of their "tea parties"?

tunatownshipwreck
3rd February 2010, 01:13
At 0200 a first trip school ship grad 3/O mistook Venus for a UFO. He roused the whole crew by ringing the General Alarm and blowing Abandon Ship on the whistle.

The next nights Captains orders included the guidance that in case of viewing a UFO to not roust out the whole crew until they put their ladder down on our deck and then call him first.

Greg Hayden

That is hilarious.

Steeping
3rd February 2010, 08:26
One master I sailed with used to go on a bender for several days when deepsea. He was a bit of a stickler the rest of the time. When he sobered up he would write up his night orders for the days that he had missed, and we were all expected to sign them as if they had been written on the appropriate nights.

AGAMEMNON
3rd February 2010, 15:26
I sat on a Board of Enquiry once. The first thing the senior member sent for was the night order book. Apparently it is easy to tell if the OM is a pisshead by reviewing a range of night orders in different areas. I am inclined to agree it is very revealing. Don't write them too late at night!
YOU HAVE ALL BEEN WARNED!!

Andrew Craig-Bennett
1st March 2010, 11:12
I was told this story as a young man and cannot vouchsafe for its accuracy. I was told it by the late Fergus Bateson, who was then the Senior Partner of Thomas Cooper and Stibbard, Admiralty solicitors to the P&O, Esso and many other good and great British shipping companies:

Two oil company tankers, one bound South, one bound North, collided, bow to bow, off the coast of Portugal in the 50's or the 60's.

Like so many collisions, this one happened in the early hours of the morning. (I'm not aware of any proper research on why Second Mates are less well versed in the Collision Regulations than Third Mates, we all put it down to chart correction, don't we?)

One of the ships was represented by Fergus's firm and an investigation into the circumstances did not result in anything promising by way of a "story"; at the material time the OOW was not in the wheelhouse but in the separate chartroom, bashing the Decca set, trying to get a fix out of it. The lookout had called him repeatedly, but had been told, repeatedly, to shut up. The Master's Night Orders said very plainly that a Decca fix was to be taken (the chain more or less came to an end off Portugal, so this was either the last or the first chance to get a Decca fix)

As usual, the two firms of lawyers met "Without Prejudice" to see if they could settle the issue of liability without a trial. Fergus didn't fancy a trial, and offered 50/50 as his first offer, being willing to go mich higher as his ship's version of events was unlikely to impress the Judge.

To his surprise, this offer was accepted instantly.

Having settled, the two lawyers, who knew each other well, compared notes - the other ship's story was exactly the same!

Cisco
1st March 2010, 11:48
" Call me when it moderates... "

slick
1st March 2010, 13:04
All,
Speaking of luxuries such as Heating and Draft proof Wheelhouse doors, I have been in a couple of ships with no Bridge Toilet consequently taking a leak bordered on the acrobatic off the Bridge wing or opening the sidelight door, other methods included using a bottle!!


Yours aye,

slick

Denise Bonner
1st March 2010, 22:33
Vividly remember on a low air draft ship with a 'fold-down' bridge for the canals of Belgium and Holland during a horrible gale the lee-side door falling off completely so no central heating then!

Thenavigator4
3rd March 2010, 10:43
All,
Speaking of luxuries such as Heating and Draft proof Wheelhouse doors, I have been in a couple of ships with no Bridge Toilet consequently taking a leak bordered on the acrobatic off the Bridge wing or opening the sidelight door, other methods included using a bottle!!


Yours aye,

slick

I always understood the Bridge toilet to be the the lee side of the after end of the bridge wing, somewhere between the railing and the off-side of the lifeboat!(==D) (just aft of the sidelight)

Ernest

millwall dock
5th March 2010, 01:34
Like,many another I suspect,no ship I sailed on in the 50s enjoyed the luxury of bridge toilet facilities other than the monkey island fire buckets--tricky in more than force 3!

surfaceblow
5th March 2010, 03:08
I was on one under powered car carrier where the Master would write call the Duty Engineer two hours before slowing down or turning more than 15 degrees in the Night Order Book. A very nervous Second Mate would ask me what he was suppose to do if he had to turn or slow down. I would tell him to keep a good watch on traffic and to call the Captain when he was in doubt.

Eltel
5th March 2010, 19:12
Night Orders might be long or short but, whatever else went into them, they invariably concluded with the phrase, "Call me (the Master) if in doubt". They always meant it, too. No prudent Master would ever reprimand a Mate for calling him for any reason, no matter how trivial, at any time, day or night. If he did, then the next time the Mate might not call him at all, and it might turn out to be something really important.

I always tell the Mates that I would far rather be called for nothing than not called for something!

John Tremelling
24th March 2010, 19:25
Talking of Bridge comforts.

I sailed as U/C 3rd Mate on a ship where the 2nd Mate was ALWAYS late by about 15 minutes for the graveyard watch. True to say that his wife was onboard, but he would stager onto the bridge, hand outstretched for a cup of coffee and grunt in reply to my handover. On this particular night, we were mid ocean, cannot remember where but off usual busy shipping lanes, so I shut the bridge doors, switched on the windscreen washers, (yes, a real modern posh ship) radar and clear view screen. On handover he staggered to the windscreen took his coffee and peered through the water pouring down the glass. I told him that it was raining heavily, radar was on, nothing on the radar. He grunted and I went to bed.

He never noticed that the Pakistani lookout was on the bridge wing in his rolled up shirt sleeves on a balmy night, in fact he never went outside for 2 hours!!!!

Jolly wheeze, but next day the Chief Engineer wondered how we had lost several tons of fresh water. 2nd Mate was thereafter always punctual.

uk083590
30th March 2010, 02:29
I like most on here have sailed with a variety of different masters, the worst for orders used to religiously write his, after the vessel left port, about 3 pages of the book (A4) for a 60 mile run

Another one used to say "there's the order book you fill it in, I'll sign it tomorrow"

whilst a different one used to sign it and leave it blank for us to write

I also always remember arriving off a port after loading, 12 hours to early, calling the old man , no locks, no boatman, etc , and the port being surprised when I gave them an hours notice, the certain master swore blind he'd left his orders on the chart table in the book, which neither myself or the 2nd mate had seen.

We later found them when we got along side and he sent the pair of us up the road to the super market , producing a piece of scrap paper out of his pocket with his shopping list on it, yes you've guessed it there where the night orders on the back!!!!!!!!!!!!! Certain people will know who the said master was , especially pilot mac

NoR
30th March 2010, 10:50
Whilst coasting an 'X' on the chart with "call me" next to it.

The best masters kept night orders brief and often none at all.

Hugh Ferguson
30th March 2010, 12:06
An old pilot colleague of mine happened to have been in the Shaw Savill, RUNIC, when she steamed onto the Middleton Reef in 1961 and stayed there. I seem to recall that he had just turned in after his watch when it happened.
It was to be some years later that a yachtsman did the same and was able, before he was rescued, to broach some of the remaining cargo in order to sustain himself until rescuers arrived.
I'd love to know what the night orders had been aboard that ship.
The "thumbnail" was scanned from the excellent book, Shaw Savill & Albion by Richard P de Kerbrech (Engineer)

Hugh Ferguson
30th March 2010, 14:16
If anyone had ever thought of an epitaph, or an in memoriam for the British Merchant Navy, this must be it! It is all that remains of the once mighty Shaw Savill & Albion company, one of the greatest of all of those British shipping companies whose names were forever tripping off of the tongues of the once many seafarers.
In the pilot service to which I once belonged there was a Mr Smalley. Mr Smalley was the selected pilot for Shaw Savill, and he was so fully employed in that capacity that we rarely ever saw him taking a turn in the Dungeness pilot cutter. He spent so much of his piloting time aboard those ships that the company became known-at least amonst pilots- as Shaw Savill & Smalley.
I wonder if the Runic's "Night Order" book is still resting on her chart table: nothing to be written in it any longer, nor in any other.

John Hebblewhite
4th April 2010, 15:34
The reason for modern night orders to be complete and cover everything and to be written every night at sea and with some auditors in port is that they are subject to inspection on a vessel's many audits in my case tankers. If they are not up to spec then it is noted as a failure on the ships audit report for fitness. I hope this explains why they are so comprehensive.
The old phrase " call me if any doubt" is not enough to satisfy the auditors.

Rgds John

CAPTAIN JEREMY
5th April 2010, 14:45
The reason for modern night orders to be complete and cover everything and to be written every night at sea and with some auditors in port is that they are subject to inspection on a vessel's many audits in my case tankers. If they are not up to spec then it is noted as a failure on the ships audit report for fitness. I hope this explains why they are so comprehensive.
The old phrase " call me if any doubt" is not enough to satisfy the auditors.

Rgds John

Certainly it is part of being audited. However, I ensure that mine are comprehensive and unambiguous to ensure that the officers on duty fully understand what is required. They may seem repetitive on longer passages, but there should be no excuse or misunderstanding. Even with the specific night orders written, and mine and the company's standing orders, I find that it is no guarantee for incident free watchkeeping!!

Andrew Craig-Bennett
14th April 2010, 12:20
I have on my desk a document, running to nine pages, on "How to Write Master's Standing Orders and Night Orders". It is issued by a prominent Flag State (I blush to say which) as guidance to Masters sailing under its flag.

Shipbuilder
14th April 2010, 20:24
As a radio officer, such things never bothered me. But in the Falklands, 1982, I was required to keep anchor watches for about three months. I am sure our captain wrote night orders, but I have no recollection of actually reading them. If I had got in a mess, I would not have had the slightest hesitation in calling him and I am sure he would not have minded. Remember years later, being roused from a deep sleep a few hours before arrival Cape Town by a hysterical passenger hammering on my door screaming we were heading for the rocks and the bridge was in darkness and no-one was there. As I rushed off to the bridge, I was shouting at the top of my voice for him to "shut up," bellowing that the bridge was always dark at night or the OOW couldn't see out. Furthermore, when in an alleyway with only three cabins, R/O, Chief Officer and Captain, why call me (R/O) if he thought the ship was in "grave and imminent danger?" When we got there, we found C/Off placidly pacing back and forth in the darkness as the lights of table Mountain spread before us. I just left them to it. Next morning at breakfast, (passengers having left), Captain (Same one as at Falklands) says casually (whilst grinning), "Heard all the shouting last night, did you have to make such a row?" I asked why he hadn't emerged, but was simply told that I "appeared to be dealing with the situation quite well and he assumed I didn't require assistance!"

What the bottom line is, as far as I am concerned, is that most ship's officers from captain down, do have a degree of common sense!

Just thought this simple tale might amuse you!

Bob

Hugh Ferguson
14th April 2010, 22:11
Lovely story, Bob, I enjoyed that!

ioncomike
15th April 2010, 21:03
I remember on passage from Manchester to Montreal -- proceeding at full speed. keep a sharp lookout for icebergs!!!!!!!

NoR
15th April 2010, 23:39
The reason for modern night orders to be complete and cover everything and to be written every night at sea and with some auditors in port is that they are subject to inspection on a vessel's many audits

I feel sorry for Masters these days having to write reams of bullshit just to keep the jobsworths happy.

kevinseery
10th May 2010, 23:41
The reason for modern night orders to be complete and cover everything and to be written every night at sea and with some auditors in port is that they are subject to inspection on a vessel's many audits in my case tankers. If they are not up to spec then it is noted as a failure on the ships audit report for fitness. I hope this explains why they are so comprehensive.
The old phrase " call me if any doubt" is not enough to satisfy the auditors.

Rgds John

Unfortunately this is so true. It is all repetition of everything in the Management System which the OOW has already signed to say he understands. It makes the Master's Night Orders the same as checklists - prone to being signed as a matter of course. It doesn't do anything to improve safety in my opinion.

Michal-S
30th November 2010, 10:52
I experienced young 2nd Mate, caught watching DVD while navigating at night, looking at me innocently and claiming that I had never, specifically, prohibited that kind of activities on the bridge. My standard standing orders contained only some general remarks of sharp lookout. My fault!

CAPTAIN JEREMY
30th November 2010, 11:26
Unfortunately this is so true. It is all repetition of everything in the Management System which the OOW has already signed to say he understands. It makes the Master's Night Orders the same as checklists - prone to being signed as a matter of course. It doesn't do anything to improve safety in my opinion.

When I go to the bridge in the evening to write my night orders, I check the situation, navigation, traffic operational status etc. After I have written my night orders, I then discuss them with the OOW, and stress any particular requirements that I have, and tell them to also explain them to their relief. It seems to help.

I have not come across anyone watching a DVD on watch, but did a check on the browsing history of the bridge computer one day, and found a whole host of Russian dating sites were being viewed ..... but not for long!!

R58484956
30th November 2010, 13:34
Greetings Michal-S and welcome to SN. Bon voyage.

Hawkeye
1st December 2010, 00:57
I did an anchor watch on the Sea Cadet Training ship - Royalist. At that time the Master Standing Orders took into account the wind force. The orders were basically: 1. If the wind strength went above a certain point, 2. If any land came into the radar ring he'd set up, & 3. If in any doubts, call me.
I had to call him twice during the night. The first time was when the wind did get up, but dropped by the time he got there. The second one was abit more amusing. I sent a cadet to do a round of the open deck, to check if everything was ok. (having caught him having 40 winks on watch). He walked round and said everything was ok. Looking forward I wasn't so sure, so sent him round again. On return, again said everything was ok, but there was still something in the back of my mind saying something was not quite right. Sent him a third time, but went with him. Got to the front of the ship where it was very dark. About to walk on when the problem hit me. It shouldn't have been dark. There should have been lit in that area, by the anchor light. It was out. Sent the cadet to get the master up whilst I stayed and tried to fix it, but couldn't. On return to the cockpit area, the sailing master was there, in just a towel. Asked what has happened to the anchor. 'Nothing, the light has gone out, that was all'. The message he'd got from the cadet (who was now trying to make himself small & hide somewhere) was that the anchor had gone, hense his rush to the cockpit. Neither of us could repair the light, so we just switched on the forward deck lights instead. Reported this to my relief at four in the morning pointing out the 'new' anchor light.
I got thanked for calling him out at during breakfast, but the cadet didn't half get some ribbing from the others when they found out.

sidsal
1st December 2010, 20:17
Just after ww2 I was 2nd Mate of a tanker - the OWYHEE - Panamanian flag where the master and Mate ( demoted master) were drunks. Master used to write copious nightorders - "call me when...." etc but he was always dead to the world and couldn't be awakened. So one just carried on - often navigating tricky areas s.g. Bahrein Island to Ras Tanura. I eventually wlaked off the ship in Le Havre, fearing for my ticket.

Diver
23rd December 2010, 01:39
Most of the cos I worked for had standing night orders which remained the same until he changed them , then he had the nightly orders , course changes , expected sighting , weather concerns , and the post by KLAATU83

3knots
3rd January 2011, 10:59
Some years ago we were due to raise Minicoy Is. light about 02:30 hrs - by memory it had a 26 mile range. I wrote in the night orders to "... call me when the light was sighted, or when the racon was sighted on the radar, or at 02:30 hours if not sighted before." I also set my alarm clock for 02:20 hrs, and got up as soon as it rang. It gave me time to dress before the expected call. At 02:30 there was no call. I waited a few minutes as I thought the 2/M was probably putting a position on the chart. By 02:35 there was still no call, and I was wondering "Why?" At 02:40 I went onto the bridge. The first thing I saw was Minicoy's light flashing; and when I glanced at the radar there was the racon. The 2/M, who hailed from the country that now regularly claims to be the world's greatest supplier of seafarers, welcomed me warmly but with a little surprise in his voice ... and then he asked if I was having trouble sleeping. I asked whether he had read the night orders and he replied "yes". So I considered it appropriate to go over those orders with him and enquire whether he understood them. He replied that "Yes, he did understand them". I then asked why he had not called me as instructed. In a rather hurt tone of voice he replied ... "But Sir, you were sleeping!" I guess I should have stipulated that I should be called whether or not I was sleeping ... he left the company's employ shortly after.

vasco
3rd January 2011, 13:28
The vetters are at it again. It is no longer sufficient to write observe standing orders and then any thing pertinent for that night.

Now bow crossing, cpa distances must be written in everynight, reduced visibulity distances for calling Master. It can take up half a page re-writng the same thing everynight that is already in the standing orders and/or company instructions.

Bloody pathetic really.

Ron Stringer
3rd January 2011, 17:34
3Knots

During the Monsoon, Minicoy was a thing to be feared since our old Radiolocator IV radar was pushed to pick up such a low-lying target. I lived on a knife-edge hoping that it would not pack up at a crucial moment.

Strange to see that the place is now a holiday destination (scroll down the page) at

http://travelmasticom.blogspot.com/2010/07/places-to-visit-in-lakshadweep.html

ian283
21st March 2011, 14:00
Thank you all for the interesting stories that you have put up for us to read.

I have never laughed so much. ex3/0 1960

Vital Sparks
22nd March 2011, 19:24
I sailed with one Master who's standing orders included not erasing the TV transmitter locations and transmission range arcs drawn on all north west europe charts (Passages were planned to maximise time within TV transmitter range).

lakercapt
23rd March 2011, 03:59
Always thought that Night Orders were really a crock but necessary as a GYA.
Why this was continued I don't understand as the mates on watch were all required to be qualified and during the day did not need Day Orders.
As responsible watch keepers it should never have been necessary to remind them of their duties.
I know I did not take kindly as a watch keeping mate to having to read in many cases drivel repeated parrot fashion e.g. keep a good lookout etc. What were we there for?
As master I was castigated for not writing Night Orders and reluctantly did but only a minimum and hopefully constructive advise.

YankeeAirPirate
8th November 2011, 17:35
This was Christmas Eve in the North Atlantic off Halifax:

"Be on the lookout for Reindeer and Red Lights".

Then, while off the straits of Florida southbound to Key West:

"Remain no more than three miles offshore to catch the Gulf Stream Countercurrent and to keep well within Television reception range."

He was a great skipper and had a sense of humor...

Michal-S
9th December 2011, 08:07
The most important idea behind all night orders, in my opinion, is to write this what you really mean to instead of some "save-my-ass, copy-paste" stuff.
If you write that you are to be called in certain conditions then you ought to show-up when called and never show angry or impatient if the calling happened to be unjustified.
Better to be called 100 times in vain than not to be called once when needed.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All!

dibles
31st December 2011, 01:03
I always refer to my 'Standing Orders' so they only have to read all the detail once - the rest consists of calls and other daily domestic stuff - keep it brief - you don't want them in the chart room too long and not keeping a look out ;-)

LANCE BALL
6th February 2012, 13:28
One memorable night order entry, " Call me two hours before the Dakar pilot station," this was written the day after we had sailed from Dakar .
"Lost weekend "was a good film as well.

Barrie Youde
12th February 2012, 15:48
By far the most memorable night orders I ever received were oral. Aged 22 I was (as an apprentice pilot) an uncertificated 3rd Mate in British & Continental Steamship Co. It was in m/v EGRET, which Captain Jack Berry joined after me. On going below (long before nightfall) he pointed to the engine-room telegraph and said, " The quickest way to get me up here is to lift that handle."

Some weeks later he taught me another lesson. We were anchored in the Mersey, inward-bound, in dense fog. Knowing that I would be examined for my Third Class Liverpool pilot's licence within a few weeks (after I had reached the age of 23 and completed my sea-time), I was keen not only to assist but also to to get into dock and to get home. The sagacious Captain Jack (who held a Pilotage Exemption Certificate for the Mersey) said, "Listen, son. There is one golden rule in pilotage. Never forget it. If you can't see, you don't go."

Waighty
29th March 2012, 15:54
A tale I was told by a Clan Line deck officer when up for 1st Mates, so I make no claims as to its veracity - as soon as the Southampton pilot had diembarked, the master wrote his night order book with the words "call me when the pilot cutter's alongside"; the next port was Capetown.

oldman 80
7th May 2012, 11:58
Well I have just read all three pages of this string so far, and have been greatly amused.
I think everything that can be said, has been said.
My night orders used to be kept as short as possible whenever possible.
My own Standing Orders and the Company Rule Book covered pretty well everything in any case.
The company required I write standing orders each night - so I did.
Had I not, I would have been severely chastised back in Head Office.
Standing Orders apply, Call me if in doubt, keep to the track laid down on the chart - that sort of thing.
I hardly ever wrote them up before 0015 hrs as I always liked to say good night to the 2nd Mate - and have a good "sniff" of him before retiring - just in case.
I was seldom let down - I might add, - only once in fact, and the following night there were 2 foolscap pages of night orders - I was never let down again. My displeasure was truly recorded. It would not have escaped the attention of the next visiting superintendent - yes even in those days they did audits - but they just were not called that.
The offender left the ship and the company shortly afterwards.
A good "sniff" of the 2nd mate around midnight, is as important as repetative entries in any Night Order book, in my humble opinion.

Oldman 80(Scribe)

slick
7th May 2012, 14:59
All,
Reference Oldman 80's 'sniff' also for the Second mate to do likewise?

Yours aye,

slick

Ron Stringer
7th May 2012, 16:21
Would have found it easier to sniff the 2/O's breath than the OM's - the 2/O had to turn-to twice a day. One OM I sailed with only ventured out from his cabin once in a fortnight and even then he was not sober.

The only 2/O I sailed with that regularly came on watch in a dodgy condition, was a professional second mate with a small tramp company. He was fired at the end of the trip.

The "Absent" master was with a major oil company's tanker arm. Nobody shopped him; the company had to take action though when he fell into the briny from a pilot ladder while trying to board a launch sent by the agents to collect him. Subsequent full-scale rescue and hospitalisation could not be ignored.

sidsal
7th May 2012, 20:58
When I was at sea during ww2 I was privileged to sail with old hands who had been at sea before ww1 and I recall some amazing stories - some appear far fetched. One I loved was of a Brocklebank ship before ww1 crossing from the Horn of Africa to round Dondra Head in Ceylon en route to Calcutta. The old man suspected the 2nd Mate was napping on the 12 to 4 so one night he crept out of his cabiin below the bridge , looked up and there was the 2nd Mate slumped across the dodger - obviously snoozing. He went to the other side and climbed up to the bridge only to find the quartermaster leaning back against the bulkhead with the wheel unattended before him.
He crept down- went to the engine room and got a big spanner and crept back on the bridge and silently removed the boss holding the wheel in place. He gently removed the wheel and took it down to his deck.
He then crossed over and shouted to the 2nd Mate that he could see something in the water and to go hard astarboard. The second mate shouted to the qm- hard astarboard. The old man then climbed onto the bridge and found the QM trying to turnthe greasy spindle.
May be a tall tale but one can imagine it !

oldman 80
8th May 2012, 01:44
All,
Reference Oldman 80's 'sniff' also for the Second mate to do likewise?

Yours aye,

slick

Well Absolutely - no problem there - L.O.L.
(Thumb)
Jerry

oldman 80
8th May 2012, 02:01
Would have found it easier to sniff the 2/O's breath than the OM's - the 2/O had to turn-to twice a day. One OM I sailed with only ventured out from his cabin once in a fortnight and even then he was not sober.

The only 2/O I sailed with that regularly came on watch in a dodgy condition, was a professional second mate with a small tramp company. He was fired at the end of the trip.

The "Absent" master was with a major oil company's tanker arm. Nobody shopped him; the company had to take action though when he fell into the briny from a pilot ladder while trying to board a launch sent by the agents to collect him. Subsequent full-scale rescue and hospitalisation could not be ignored.

Hmm yes, there were quite a few OM who were essentially alcoholic.
I think we all must have sailed with at least one during the course of our careers.
I can certainly think of one - God What a menace.
The company new all about it, but basically did nothing, until one day a Pilot at Le Harve, boarded (Inbound) realised the Master was out of his mind, then promptly called the pilot boat back and disembarked.
They had to do something about it then.
Lets face it alcholism is an illness.
An occupational hazard ?
Well maybe, - quite possibly, in fact. (My opinion).
Sad really - and the thing about that guy was that when sober (and on occasion he was, but not often,) he was a very clever and intelligent guy - almost brilliant, - in fact.
Jerry.

Mike S
8th May 2012, 02:22
I never sailed with a boozey Master in NZS however on the Aussie coast there were two!
One was so bad that the Melbourne pilot almost refused to sail the ship. The Mate was a highly responsible man and between the two of us (I was 2/0) we convinced the pilot that we would be dealing with the matter in Sydney. Problem was that we had to go to Port Kembla first. On arrival the Old Man lined up the neon sign on the fish and chip shop with the other lead and we nearly went the wrong side of the mole. (Master was exempt for that port)
The first I knew was when the wee Doxford was blasting double full astern and the stern was dancing like a dervish.
The Master was relieved on arrival.
Never saw any night orders! (Sad)

Varley
8th May 2012, 11:03
Should we re-title the thread to "Last orders?"

Ian Brown
8th May 2012, 13:29
Many years ago read the night orders left by the Master then read the last bit again.

"Do not hesitate not to call me"

Next morning Chief Officer pointed it out to a very embarrassed Master.

Mick Spear
8th May 2012, 16:39
Great post this. I have qouted it a few times in recent voyages and it got a laught too. Now i have relocated it, i thought it worthy of a bump. Well done Kewl Dude.
Mick S

At 0200 a first trip school ship grad 3/O mistook Venus for a UFO. He roused the whole crew by ringing the General Alarm and blowing Abandon Ship on the whistle.

The next nights Captains orders included the guidance that in case of viewing a UFO to not roust out the whole crew until they put their ladder down on our deck and then call him first.

Greg Hayden

ninabaker
27th May 2012, 02:15
Verbal night order that ended up in a blazing row:

When I was a new 3/O on a BP product tanker , the OM was a hopeless character who either micromanaged everything all the officers did or else was unavailable when really needed to make a serious decision.

We had taken on the Dardanelles pilot, heading northbound at night and the OM said he was going below and to call him if the pilot hadnt altered course by the time some buoy or light was abeam. So, we get to the buoy and the pilot is clearly not altering, so I politely ask the pilot if he will be altering course and he says not yet.

Pilot not the least put out but when I call the OM to tell him that the pilot says he isnt altering course yet, the OM goes absolutely beserk. OM storms up to bridge and gives me a high volume public bollocking for daring to usurp his authority by asking the pilot a question. I, perhaps ill-advisedly, try to stand my ground and am banished to the bridge wing.

As you might suppose my end of trip report was not of the best, and as a brand new 3/o I was really worried about my future prospects. So when I got home on leave I went to Britannic House to see the fleet personnel guy and pour out my woes. He laughed like a drain - "Oh, you dont imagine we take seriously anything written by Captain ........ , do you? Torn up and thrown away, dont worry about a thing!"

They knew he was a nutter but hadnt enough evidence to actually dismiss him.