Copra ships , bugs, and memories...

Alan Rawlinson
7th May 2010, 08:27
Of all the Bankline memories, loading copra ( and coconut oil) homeward from the islands, left many memories, pleasant and otherwise. We have discussed the music, magic, some characters in the ports, ship losses, smells, and what have you. However, I think the bugs deserve more recognition!


Does anyone recall doing a ' round turn ' at sea to let all the clouds of bugs to get blown away?

On the Ernebank heading for Suez, in the Red Sea with a following breeze, the air over the ship was quite still and the bugs swarmed in everywhere - worse than usual. This was solved by swinging round 360 degrees and a huge cloud of them disappearing astern as we came up into the wind.

spongebob
7th May 2010, 09:33
Quote "Does anyone recall doing a ' round turn ' at sea to let all the clouds of bugs to get blown away?"

No not bugs Alan, but sparrows.

This reminds me of the time we were berthed aft of a wheat ship unloading in Auckland and a million sparrows gorged themselves on the spilled grain.
Too fat to fly far they perched for the night anywhere adjacent to breakfast including a myriad of the little blighters in our rigging.
We sailed for the Pacific Islands that night but they did nor budge and in the morning we had confused birds out of sight of land flying in circles and landing again.
We did not want to import them to Suva but when the first lonely atoll appeared on the horizon after a couple of days they took of en-mass to a new home.
I often wonder how long they survived.

Bob

Alan Rawlinson
7th May 2010, 10:13
Quote "Does anyone recall doing a ' round turn ' at sea to let all the clouds of bugs to get blown away?"

No not bugs Alan, but sparrows.

This reminds me of the time we were berthed aft of a wheat ship unloading in Auckland and a million sparrows gorged themselves on the spilled grain.
Too fat to fly far they perched for the night anywhere adjacent to breakfast including a myriad of the little blighters in our rigging.
We sailed for the Pacific Islands that night but they did nor budge and in the morning we had confused birds out of sight of land flying in circles and landing again.
We did not want to import them to Suva but when the first lonely atoll appeared on the horizon after a couple of days they took of en-mass to a new home.
I often wonder how long they survived.

Bob

Hi Spongebob and greetings from Cornwall - (would rather be in Brissy!)

Talking about birds, I recall being in the Line Islands with the Southbank and the deck covered in completely fearless large birds that we had to wade through to get forward. Not sure what they were, but something like a pelican - I guess they were resting or sheltering, but we couldn't shoo them away.

Joe C
7th May 2010, 10:58
Of all the Bankline memories, loading copra ( and coconut oil) homeward from the islands, left many memories, pleasant and otherwise. We have discussed the music, magic, some characters in the ports, ship losses, smells, and what have you. However, I think the bugs deserve more recognition!


Does anyone recall doing a ' round turn ' at sea to let all the clouds of bugs to get blown away?

On the Ernebank heading for Suez, in the Red Sea with a following breeze, the air over the ship was quite still and the bugs swarmed in everywhere - worse than usual. This was solved by swinging round 360 degrees and a huge cloud of them disappearing astern as we came up into the wind.

Very first job as a first tripper was an introduction to " Bombay Canaries", surprised to find that they were bloody enormous cockroaches and lived among the copra trapped in the box beams. Armed,inadequately,with a small hand brush in the hot, sweaty, dirty and dark lower hold,on top of the cargo it was an early warning of things things to come!

Winebuff
7th May 2010, 18:23
Used to come home and spray insect killer into my suitcases before emptying the contents into the bath then putting it all through the washing machine. Made the mistake of leaving it one trip and almost had to fumigate the house to get rid of the blighters.

Happy days.

Peter Smith
74-84

Charlie Stitt
7th May 2010, 19:36
I had no problem with the friendly little copra bugs, baked in the bread etc,(Eat) they reminded me I was Homeward bound. Cockroaches in the pantry? different story.:@

John Dryden
8th May 2010, 00:02
Didn,t do the copra run but the general cargo run twice so never saw the dreaded copra bugs.Plenty of cockroaches and giant flying beetles but can honestly say never got bitten once,must have been the curry I ate acting as a repellant!
However I recall a plague of flying beetles on passage from Rosario to BA.I,d been on the bridge all night and after we,d anchored at 6 in the morning I went to my cabin totally knackered to find everywhere covered in half dead black beetles.My porthole was open and the port boat deck was also thick with them,I guess a swarm had just landed there.Took me ages to clean them all up as they looked savage!

John Rogers
8th May 2010, 00:12
I had no problem with the friendly little copra bugs, baked in the bread etc,(Eat) they reminded me I was Homeward bound. Cockroaches in the pantry? different story.:@

Bugs in the bread always reminds me of raisin bread,thats why I never eat it,and the better half never understands why.

John.

David E
8th May 2010, 00:34
I had no problem with the friendly little copra bugs, baked in the bread etc,(Eat) they reminded me I was Homeward bound. Cockroaches in the pantry? different story.:@

Charlie
Remember the frustration of the Homeward bound painting programme? As fast as you worked, a few hundred bugs would settle on the wet surface-entombed there for ever. In the pre-"modernised" Myrtlebank the roaches had migrated from the pantry to the Saloon-put a light on there after dark and you could see and hear them scuttling for cover under the sideboard.

David E

spongebob
8th May 2010, 00:46
Cockroaches were not a big problem on the NZ coast, as I remember, and the Union Co were pretty good at regular fumigation anyway.
The worst bug experience was when we were steaming up the East coast from Wellington to Auckland during mid summer and a swarm of locusts were carried out by an off shore breeze to land on our ship, exhausted.
Fire hoses swept many overboard but it was amazing to see how many got into the accommodation.
Roll over in the bunk a few times on a hot night and the sheets were full of squashed beasts.

Bob

John Dryden
8th May 2010, 01:06
Maggots in the rice were no problem,cooked to perfection so why waste time looking for 'em.I remember one shipmate used to search his rice for ages before he,d eat it just in case there was one in it.As for me I just got on with it and ate the lot,after all they looked just like a rather large grain of rice and tasted quite nice with a dollop of curry.

Alan Rawlinson
8th May 2010, 07:49
Maggots in the rice were no problem,cooked to perfection so why waste time looking for 'em.I remember one shipmate used to search his rice for ages before he,d eat it just in case there was one in it.As for me I just got on with it and ate the lot,after all they looked just like a rather large grain of rice and tasted quite nice with a dollop of curry.

Can recall picking out the odd crispy fried cockroach from the chips on occasions..

Imagine the ' song and dance ' today if this happened in a fish and chip shop! Health and safety, or is it the ' Food standards Authority ' would be in business.

Charlie Stitt
8th May 2010, 11:11
My pet hate, BIG RATS. I never come across many on Bankboats, except as a first trip Apprentice on the old Myrtlebank.We were clearing everything out of the tonnage space, old rope, fenders etc that had been there for years, the senior Appy was up on deck of course, and I was down below, shifting the stuff out and making it fast to a heaving line. It still makes my skin crawl, when I remember bending over and putting my hands down to grab something, when at least six massive rats scurried out through my arms and close to my face:eek:. I broke all records getting out of there, traps were set for a couple of days, and rats caught, but when work resumed I suggested the other first tripper go below.

Pat Thompson
8th May 2010, 11:29
Greetings,

We caried 2 cargoes of Copra from the Phillipines to Northern Europe in the Apsleyhall in 1965/66. It was disgusting and totally alive with two types of copra bugs, little black ones and slightly larger brown ones. By the time we arrived at the discharge port the colder weather had killed off the vast majority of them which lay in a 6 inch layer of dead bugs on the top of the cargo and throughout the rest of the hold. Elevators (suckers) were used to discharge the cargo taking copra and dead beasties at the same time. I am sure (yeaah) that they were carefully removed before the copra was pressed to obtain the coconut oil.

Alistair Macnab
8th May 2010, 17:54
Does anyone remember in the days before air conditioning the jute moths in Chalna? They used to swarm at certain times of the year, get caught in the punka louvre system and blown out as a fine dust over the bed covers. Worse than "itching powder"! After itching 'all over', only a very hot shower gave temporary relief. Mrs. Bowness, the stewardess, crocheted small 'baggies' to tie over the cabin louvres as filters but the dust still got through or the baggies got filled up and blew off. Never welcomed a monsoon deluge more to clean the air.

Joe C
8th May 2010, 18:20
Prior to inspections on Sundays at sea,I think on the Moraybank, we had to set about the crews quarters with the dreaded Flit guns.To a chorus of "Oh Sahib"we sprayed every thing in sight until the chemical, with dead and nearly dead cockroaches was washing about the deck.It's a wonder we survived the toxic fumes, but next Sunday, same procedure,and just as many beasties.I think it only needed to miss two of them to repopulate the ship.(one of each of course)

John Rogers
8th May 2010, 18:44
Joe, was that the old Moraybank or the later one, I sailed on the Moraybank in 1948, Galveston,Auckland,Wellington,Dunedin,Tonga Islands Fiji and back to Liverpool. Captain R.H.Haughton? was master at the time.

John.

China hand
8th May 2010, 19:31
I had a massive cockroach battle on an eastern trader, took advice from the Japanese de-rat inspectors, won in the end.

But, seriously, the cockroach problem seemed to dissappear around 1990, or was I just on fortunate ships? I was always on warm weather, eastern trading and fairly unindustrialized trades. Surprising; anyone any ideas? I did do a fairly intensive research on the German cockroach, so I had a pretty good idea how to deal with the beastie.

If God in Heaven turns out to be a cockie when I get there, China hand is in DEEP SHITE.(A)

jimthehat
9th May 2010, 00:18
Bugs and rats ,part of life for a bank line boat.
does anyone remember fumigating in Durban?whilst on the isipingo we were fumigated twice and both times it was me as third mate and a junior engineer who had to sit on the quay all day whil the rest of the gang got their subsistance cash and went off to spend the day on the beach.
Always used to find that 24 hours after fumigation the cockroaches were out in force.

jim

David E
9th May 2010, 00:45
Bugs and rats ,part of life for a bank line boat.
does anyone remember fumigating in Durban?whilst on the isipingo we were fumigated twice and both times it was me as third mate and a junior engineer who had to sit on the quay all day whil the rest of the gang got their subsistance cash and went off to spend the day on the beach.
Always used to find that 24 hours after fumigation the cockroaches were out in force.

jim

Remember it well in Inchanga-I think we used to get 5 subsistence for the day.Did'nt get caught for the quay watch-judged not competent as a U3M.In spite of the "strip and air bedding on deck" routine when I got back I was always uneasy as the stink of fumigant lingered.On one occasion three rats died above the false ceiling in the main saloon-obvious smell of decay after a couple of days-almost total strip down required to find them-Purser Johnson going spare as passenger boarding approached-just managed in time
Fifty nine years ago-where have the years gone !!!

David

Joe C
9th May 2010, 10:50
Joe, was that the old Moraybank or the later one, I sailed on the Moraybank in 1948, Galveston,Auckland,Wellington,Dunedin,Tonga Islands Fiji and back to Liverpool. Captain R.H.Haughton? was master at the time.

John.

Greetings John,it was the Moraybank you sailed on.I joined her in Rotterdam in November 1954,Captain J Townsley was the master and we left for the Gulf in January.Only made it to Port Everglades as we had to bunker in order to make it to Galveston.Then the usual trip to Aussie,followed by a couple of phosphate runs to New Zealand and Aussie.After good times on the coasts there we chartered to Shaw Savill N Z to USA eastern seaboard,then coal from Newport News to Antwerp.That has got to be a good way to spend a year of your teenage life, all those street corners I didn't manage to hang around! Incidently,when on bug exterminating duties we removed some steel bulkheads in the crews accomodation and found the wartime gunners quarters

Charlie Stitt
9th May 2010, 19:29
David E, Yes I remember how the copra bugs did little to enhance the fresh paint work, it's a wonder the Company did not complain about the paint wasted on painting bugs. (Jester) I also remember, as a silly Apprentice on the Westbank, covering my body in coconut oil, lying down to get a tan, and within seconds, fighting off a cloud of copra bugs, then making a dash for the shower to the amusement of others who had been there, done that.. (==D)

Andy Lavies
9th May 2010, 20:45
Alistair,
Did you have to remind me! My skin is crawling again at the memory of the jute moths at Chalna. Copra bugs were friendy little pets in comparison. Like Charlie, I was not fond of rats, particularly the one that tried to run up the leg of my shorts when I cornered it in the ships office.
Andy

johnb42
10th May 2010, 12:21
As second Mate on the Beaverbank, I remember having a fan mounted on the bulkhead at the end of my bunk. The bugs would get caught in the jet stream and come at you like shrapnel when you were trying to get some sleep in a hot sweaty old cabin.

McMorine
10th May 2010, 15:38
When I was on the Riverbank Oriental/Africa run for two years, we were in Mauritius and having a few beers in the mission, as you do. There was a cat wandering around and the Padre said we could take it back to the ship if we wanted to, so having had a few beers, it seemed like a good idea. We kept it hidden from view until we sailed, but when the Captain saw it, he wasn't too pleased and said it would have to go at the next port, but then he saw it catch a rat on the fore deck and the cat was definitley in favour. The cat was with us for about 18 months, but mysteriously disappeared when we were in Taiwan, I think it might have ended up in the cook pot somewhere. It was a damned good ships cat, but had a habit of bringing whatever it had caught, alive or dead into my cabin, which wasn't very pleasant at times.

Alan Rawlinson
10th May 2010, 16:20
Had a cat on the Maplebank which lived on tinned pilchards stocked up in Durban. The white crew would paint his fur, if he got within range. He looked a bit multi coloured after a while.

His name was Billie which was unfortunate, as it was the same as the Old Man's name, and his wife regularly came out of her cabin on the same ( bridge) deck calling, '' Billy, Billy '' and it confused the poor blighter - or maybe both of them.

jimthehat
10th May 2010, 22:13
Had a cat on the Maplebank which lived on tinned pilchards stocked up in Durban. The white crew would paint his fur, if he got within range. He looked a bit multi coloured after a while.

His name was Billie which was unfortunate, as it was the same as the Old Man's name, and his wife regularly came out of her cabin on the same ( bridge) deck calling, '' Billy, Billy '' and it confused the poor blighter - or maybe both of them.
Alan, I was on maplebank sept52 feb54,NOW were you before or after me cos there certainly was no cat during my time on board,a lot of drunken white crew crawling around on hands and knees and lots of cockroaches.

jim

Charlie Stitt
10th May 2010, 22:15
Yummy cornflakes for brekky, pour on the coloured water,( the butler called it milk), 3,2,1 and they are off, ten thousand little weevils,all going hell for leather to the rim of the plate, but all in vain, as I pushed them back in again and spooned them up with the cornflakes, aah delicious. (?HUH)

Alan Rawlinson
11th May 2010, 08:04
Hi Jim,

We almost met when you paid off in Bromboro 1954 and I joined as senior App. Elsewhere on these threads I asked you about the necessity for the lead cosh we found hanging on the radiator in the app cabin, and the lockable steel door at the bottom of the internal companion way?

I think we both share fond memories of this ship - hard to see why, but there you are! It was like nothing else, I suppose. The stone age crew with their hand sewn working gear in Duck canvas ( courtesy of Andrew Weir's stores) The desertions. and the endless drink fuelled clashes , all conducted with that unique Scouser humour.

436lp
14th May 2010, 16:05
my first trip on speybank in 1972 I remember going in pantry at night, which was next to the saloon both of which were remote from the galley, turning on th light and watching the black carpet wriggle away to various nooks and crannies as well as under the door between pantry and saloon. After 10 months took it for granted, even when they dropped off deck head on to dinning table. I have never seen bigger cockroaches than on a Bank boat.
Also remember, about 26 years later, spraying an mt hold on the Clydebank with Malathion one night, at chicken farm strength, went down next day with a surveyor and just torches but stopped on tank top very soon after the crunching noises got to loud. Had serang open hatch cover only to find not one inch of tanlk top free of dead roaches. Mind you, ship by this time was over 30 years in age and doing last trip before the beach.

jimthehat
14th May 2010, 16:23
Hi Jim,

We almost met when you paid off in Bromboro 1954 and I joined as senior App. Elsewhere on these threads I asked you about the necessity for the lead cosh we found hanging on the radiator in the app cabin, and the lockable steel door at the bottom of the internal companion way?

I think we both share fond memories of this ship - hard to see why, but there you are! It was like nothing else, I suppose. The stone age crew with their hand sewn working gear in Duck canvas ( courtesy of Andrew Weir's stores) The desertions. and the endless drink fuelled clashes , all conducted with that unique Scouser humour.
Not too sure whether the door was to keep the crew out or sandy the 3/e who always headed down to look for a punchup once he had a few,but it was always fun and games, especially as one could be in a OZ port for anything up to five weeks loading grain.

jim

Alan Rawlinson
14th May 2010, 19:00
Not too sure whether the door was to keep the crew out or sandy the 3/e who always headed down to look for a punchup once he had a few,but it was always fun and games, especially as one could be in a OZ port for anything up to five weeks loading grain.

jim

Still on the Maplebank, the next trip, our mate was John Whiteside, later to be Master of the Luxmi, I believe it was. When conditions were favourable at the end of the 4 to 8, he had a habit of washing down the boatdeck personally, with us apps assisting. One particular morning he pointed the hose, accidently or deliberately at one of the cowls serving the fireman's accom below, and a red headed fireman came roaring up, furious and looking for a punch up. He did go down on to the quay with one of them later, but I don't remember the conclusion - maybe it fizzled out. I always suspected it was because he was an Everton supporter, and the white crew, before most of them deserted, were largely Liverpool fans!

Charlie Stitt
14th August 2010, 19:56
The Foylebank, now as far as I was concerned, in 1964, this was a proper Copra Ship. With Capt Brants permissiom, I stuck on the bulkhead between the Third and Second Mates cabin, two full page adverts, one for Bushmills Irish whisky and one for Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky. Let the battle of the bottle begin. There was four of us from N Ireland and six from Scotland, we had to add comments to our own advert stating why it was better than the other. Now would'nt you think this was the most corny idea ever, it will be ignored etc . Wrong, the battle went on all the way across the Pacific, and become quite serious, woe betide anyone who made a silly remark about the goings on, it was the topic of conversation at the breakfast table every morning. I don't remember how it finished, I would imagine as a draw. Well if the Scots won the battle, would you expect me to admit it here ? :rolleyes:

rcraig
14th August 2010, 20:33
Well, I am in the throes of a scientific analysis of the virtues of Bushmill against a bottle of cask Scotch (Highland Park), Laphraoig, and a Macallan oak. Now being wholly objective (as you might expect, Charlie) the reading is, using a Craig consumption scale, two thirds of a bottle of L., an almost completely extinguished cask, and a two thirds Macallan.

I still have over half a bottle of Bushmill. To be fair however, I did lack visitors to give the Bushmill to.

Pat Kennedy
14th August 2010, 20:35
I remember the little black copra bugs were far worse than their larger brown cousins, they bit!
We used paraffin to repel them but that stink of that was as bad as the bugs, and could give you a bad rash if you didn't wash it off pretty quickly.
As for rats, I saw very few, which is not to say there weren't any.
They say that in London, you are never more than ten feet from a rat,(or an Australian)
Best Regards,
Pat(Jester)

Alistair Macnab
14th August 2010, 23:52
Went with the agent and the Master of a Wilhelmsen ship for lunch in Yokohama. I was Master of the "Fleetbank" and had gone to the agents house over the weekend in my kilt to show off to his wife and children. The conversation got round to scotch and Suntory and I said I could easily tell the difference. The Norwegian Master took me up on the bet and five liqueur glasses of either Johnny Walker Red or Suntory were produced(This was before the days when straight malts were marketed in Japan). I got five out of five correctly identified. The Norwegian got two out of five. The agent was mystified and curious but I kept the secret to myself. I can now reveal the trick! JW Red has a bouquet; Suntory has not! The Scotch mystique is intact and the Norwegian had to buy several rounds of JW Black in compensation!
Sorry to go off topic but the "Fleetbank" normally a Copra Boat, put in a filler voyage from Australia to Japan before returning to PNG to load homewards!

John Dryden
15th August 2010, 00:20
Nice story Alistair and a nice trip to Japan by the sound of it,then back to the bugs!I can imagine a whisky testing run ashore with yourself,Charlie Stitt and rcraig being very interesting,bugs or no bugs!

pete
15th August 2010, 10:33
I must confess that whilst sailing on the Rowanbank and Forresbank I found a judicious amount of Scotch applied to the stomach lining assisted the brain in forgetting the little B*****s. Especially when the Hatchcovers were cracked to assist ventilation. (AC ? wot AC) (?HUH)...........pete

Charlie Stitt
19th August 2010, 22:04
When I think back to being on the Laganbank and Foylebank, loaded with copra , heading East across the Pacific, I remember how important it was to us to find that counter current, usually around 4% North. The psychological effect of getting a good days run made such a big difference to the atmosphere in the chartroom and around the lunch table, and beyond. Only 12.6 knots, a bit further North perhaps, long faces, look over the side and the wash appears to just creep along the ships side, doom and gloom until one day, ah, thats a good days run 3/0,2/0, yes Sir we have certainly found it, and that gives us an average of 14.7 for to day, big smiles, feel good factor kicks in, the Old Man goes off to the saloon, da da dee dum. I look over the side and the wash now appears to be really rushing down the ships side. On the Foylebank, I wrote a poem to put in a card for Capt Brants Birthday, I remember it began, On four degrees North we sail along, looking for a current strong, I was sent topsides wrapped up in all sorts of unusual clobber including a wig so the Old Man would not recognise me, Happy Birthday Captain, says I in a muffled voice as I handed him his card, he read the verse and looked really chuffed as he turned to me and said, thank you very much Second Mate. Some disguise.

Alan Rawlinson
1st October 2010, 20:47
When we were trogging round the islands in the Bank Line, loading copra, and getting a taste of the island life, I often wondered what it might be like to really go ' bush' and live among the islands or serve on a rickety copra island hopper. Now I have just rekindled those thoughts and with a bit more insight after finishing a gem of a little book, recently published. Called '' Pacific Passages '' Travelling the South Seas, by Hans Christof Wachter it captures the atmosphere brialliantly, despite being translated from German. The author got in among the action, and describes the places we knew, in addition to lots of out of the way smaller islands. He joined a small clapped out wooden vessel collecting sacks of copra for consolidating in Suva etc - no doubt awaiting collection from whoever replaced the Bank Line service. The boat visits 20 small islands in 3 weeks, loading a few sacks in each place, carrying a buyer who went ashore and offered whatever he felt the condition of the copra warranted. Many of the atolls they visit have no opening into the inner lagoon, and the local boats rely upon the swell to lift them over the coral reef on each trip as they serve the waiting coaster which drifts outside of the reef in deep water..

Well worth a read for island lovers....

Charlie Stitt
13th December 2010, 15:32
Alan, your story brought back memories of when I was around these Islands on the Ernebank 1 in 1959. We had a German 4th Engineer Erich(Eric) Dotzauer who went ashore and got into serious discussion with guys on board the small inter island schooners, the result, he was offered an engineers job on one. When he come back on board, he really pestered me to jump ship with him with the promise, I would get a Skippers job with him. What a joke, me taking one of those craft around, over,or through all those reefs, with my experience, or lack of it, I was a 19 year old Act 3rd Mate at the time(==D).

Alan Rawlinson
13th December 2010, 16:56
Alan, your story brought back memories of when I was around these Islands on the Ernebank 1 in 1959. We had a German 4th Engineer Erich(Eric) Dotzauer who went ashore and got into serious discussion with guys on board the small inter island schooners, the result, he was offered an engineers job on one. When he come back on board, he really pestered me to jump ship with him with the promise, I would get a Skippers job with him. What a joke, me taking one of those craft around, over,or through all those reefs, with my experience, or lack of it, I was a 19 year old Act 3rd Mate at the time(==D).

Charlie,

Interesting addition - The story I mentioned above made me realise that as much as we felt ' at home ' round the Pacific Islands, there was another world which was inhabited by the inter island schooners and their crews. I got the impression that they frequently got into trouble on the reefs - something which is borne out by some of the wrecks we saw. ( I don't mean in the bars!)

jimthehat
13th December 2010, 23:47
Charlie,

Interesting addition - The story I mentioned above made me realise that as much as we felt ' at home ' round the Pacific Islands, there was another world which was inhabited by the inter island schooners and their crews. I got the impression that they frequently got into trouble on the reefs - something which is borne out by some of the wrecks we saw. ( I don't mean in the bars!)

Does anyone remember "King billys boat which took us ashore in Apia//

jim

John Hebblewhite
16th December 2010, 17:00
Copra Bugs... one of our ships either the Cedarbank or the Weirbank made the local papers, It was summer and the locals around Bronborough Dock had reported a plague of beetles and did not know where they had come from, The strong winds had blown them all over the locals during the copra discharge.

Waighty
26th December 2010, 19:41
I did the south Pacific run a number of times including the Tonga and Samoa version. The bugs were certainly an interesting study into a lower life form! On the older V/Ls they got everywhere even in the "pink lint" (luncheon meat or bologna) sandwiches but they weren't so prevalent on the Cora class although I do remember opening No4 hatch on the Moraybank in Hamburg in January and watching the dense black cloud of bugs rise up, pause and fall back into the hold again - presumably the coconut oil had frozen inside them.

When I was cadet in Ben Line we used to cover all the steel work in the holds with rattan mats stiched together and lay venting tunnels of dunnage and chicken wire at 10 foot intervals as the copra rose in height. These tunnels made ideal motorways to freedom for the bugs and every week we were required to lower an insecticide smoke bomb (safely contained in a bucket of water) into the corner of each hatch and allow the deadly stuff to do its work. All very laudable but it failed to cut down on the little blighters as they ran rampage through the accommodation.

ernhelenbarrett
27th December 2010, 07:33
We did the Islands run on the old Tweedbank and had our fair share of the Copra bugs on the way home and to the rat lovers, on the long haul from Panama down to NZ/OZ we used to sit out on No.3 hatch at dusk armed with torches and wooden hatch wedges and when it got dark the 3rd Engineer would shout "now"
and we would switch on our torches and try to hit as many rats as possible with the wedges. If I remember correctly one of the Apps was top scorer with 4 in one night!!
Ern Barrett

roibaird7
6th January 2011, 01:12
Holy MOG!!!! the amount of times I read about carrying and discharging phosphate to Aussie and NZ makes me wonder if both countries will finish up in opposition to Naurua and Ocean Island. lol

Alan Rawlinson
6th January 2011, 10:37
Holy MOG!!!! the amount of times I read about carrying and discharging phosphate to Aussie and NZ makes me wonder if both countries will finish up in opposition to Naurua and Ocean Island. lol

In addition to Phosphate, there were regular loads of ( pink) potash from the USA. That is in addition to the steady sulphur cargoes in the lower hold giving off the spectacualr blue flames when the dust was lit by sparks on discharge. The grabs would bash the coamings and that would be enough.

Not sure about the use for potash - presumably mixed and spread on the land - anyone know for sure how this was used?


P.S. All containerised now

John Campbell
6th January 2011, 11:45
In addition to Phosphate, there were regular loads of ( pink) potash from the USA. That is in addition to the steady sulphur cargoes in the lower hold giving off the spectacualr blue flames when the dust was lit by sparks on discharge. The grabs would bash the coamings and that would be enough.

Not sure about the use for potash - presumably mixed and spread on the land - anyone know for sure how this was used?


P.S. All containerised now

I GOOGLED up Port Sulphur to find that all that we "fondly remember"
about that beloved port has gone

viz:-In the early 2000s Freeport Sulphur shut down operations, as the price of sulphur dropped too low because large amounts of sulphur recovered during petroleum refining and huge amounts of Sulphur recovered from Canadian natural gas exploration that were dumped on the international Sulphur market. With inexpensive recovered sulphur in large supply, the large scale and expensive Frasch Process sulphur mining and storage operations proved to be uneconomical and were discontinued. The Freeport-McMoRan Port Sulphur facility was closed and sold. Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of what was left of the sulphur facility in August 2005, with a few buildings remaining. With the closing of Freeport-McMoRan Sulphur, the town has been seeking another economic identity.
JC

Alan Rawlinson
6th January 2011, 17:35
I GOOGLED up Port Sulphur to find that all that we "fondly remember"
about that beloved port has gone

viz:-In the early 2000s Freeport Sulphur shut down operations, as the price of sulphur dropped too low because large amounts of sulphur recovered during petroleum refining and huge amounts of Sulphur recovered from Canadian natural gas exploration that were dumped on the international Sulphur market. With inexpensive recovered sulphur in large supply, the large scale and expensive Frasch Process sulphur mining and storage operations proved to be uneconomical and were discontinued. The Freeport-McMoRan Port Sulphur facility was closed and sold. Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of what was left of the sulphur facility in August 2005, with a few buildings remaining. With the closing of Freeport-McMoRan Sulphur, the town has been seeking another economic identity.
JC


As many of the old hands will know - Sulphur and Copra were natural enemies, and clearing box beams in the lower hold prior to loading Copra was a challenge. The surveyor had to be satisfied - I learned years later that a wadge of notes works wonders! ( ex surveyor readers exempted, of course !) Then there were the deeptanks which were a nightmare for C/O's.

Alistair Macnab
6th January 2011, 18:05
Bank Boats with only one tweendeck had lower holds which were too deep and difficult spaces in which to load general cargo as this class of cargo had grown in quantity from the original neo-bulks and case oils which originated the Gulf-Australia and Gulf-New Zealand Services.
Accordingly, bulk parcels were obtained that would fill the lower half of lower holds. It was then leveled off, covered with plastic sheeting and floored over with dunnage to make an 'artificial' tween deck where generals could be suitably stowed. Bulk commodities that were loaded were sulphur and diammonium phosphate. China clay (from Fowey in England) was also similarly carried on "Beaverbank" Class but bulk petroleum coke was invariably stowed in the short hold of No.3 hatch on newer "copra boats" and was never leveled or over-loaded for obvious reasons!

Cleaning out these holds once discharging had been completed Down Under was certainly a difficult job, especially the overhead box beams which were usually swept out on the southbound leg when access was easier but, of course, did not help if any cargo residue was lodged in these spaces during discharge.

These bulk parcels were a necessary contribution not only to the facilitating of subsequent general cargo stowage but also contributed to the revenue of the voyage, the freight rate applied to 'small' parcels of bulk was considerably better than the full-cargo rate of the same commodity.

Incidentally, did anyone sailing on the "Corabank" Class ever use the portable bulkhead in No.4 Hold which was part of the original fitments and was provided so that the odd bulk parcel could be loaded in the after third of that space? I would imagine that it was never used as container numbers quickly overtook the need to carry bulk commodities.

jimthehat
7th January 2011, 00:36
I GOOGLED up Port Sulphur to find that all that we "fondly remember"
about that beloved port has gone

viz:-In the early 2000s Freeport Sulphur shut down operations, as the price of sulphur dropped too low because large amounts of sulphur recovered during petroleum refining and huge amounts of Sulphur recovered from Canadian natural gas exploration that were dumped on the international Sulphur market. With inexpensive recovered sulphur in large supply, the large scale and expensive Frasch Process sulphur mining and storage operations proved to be uneconomical and were discontinued. The Freeport-McMoRan Port Sulphur facility was closed and sold. Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of what was left of the sulphur facility in August 2005, with a few buildings remaining. With the closing of Freeport-McMoRan Sulphur, the town has been seeking another economic identity.
JC
cant remember what ship,But we loaded sulphur in coatzacolcas in Mexico,certainly was not the maplebank as we loaded in port sulphur after the fire.

jim

Alan Rawlinson
7th January 2011, 10:34
cant remember what ship,But we loaded sulphur in coatzacolcas in Mexico,certainly was not the maplebank as we loaded in port sulphur after the fire.

jim

Jim, Happy New Year to you and your family...

I also loaded Sulphur in Coatzacolcas, in Eastern Mexico. Think it was the Maplebank that time.. Can still recall a (then) recently wrecked ship stuck up bizarrely on the breakwater.

Also carried a couple of loads of Potash, but don't recall the Gulf loading port(s) Had a look on Google, and it was the fine grained stuff we lifted for fertilizer in NZ. It was not the Diammonium phosphate mentioned by Alistair in his posting.

McMorine
7th January 2011, 12:21
We loaded sulphur in Coatzacolcos Mexico on the Westbank in 1959, remember all the Bankline silver cutlery turning black.

Alistair Macnab
7th January 2011, 15:22
Coatzacoalcos was one of the loading ports for bulk sulphur, also Galveston and Port Sulphur as already mentioned. Always loaded first.
If the ship went to Houston or New Orleans next, then a small front end pusher was loaded by the stevedores to level out the bulk but if the ship went on to Brownsville or Corpus Christi after bulk loading then the crew were used to level out the bulk to prep[are for baled cotton loading at these ports.

The combination of sulphur and cotton in the same compartment was asking for trouble but somehow it was deemed to be OK at the time!

Alan Rawlinson
19th January 2011, 13:59
As this is a nostalgia site, I just wanted to wallow a bit, and say how I still miss the overwhelming and distinctive smell of copra and hot coconut oil as a Bank Line ship was discharging in the UK! The sights, sounds, and smells were a true tonic to me after a leave spell, and I can still conjur them up in 2011 - no problem.

Alistair Macnab
21st January 2011, 16:52
One of the warning sights and signs was on joining a copra boat in Bromborough and seeing sheets of solidified coconut oil coating the ship's side where an accidental spill had happened, Made one wonder what was going to be found when getting up the gangway!

Alan Rawlinson
21st January 2011, 17:56
One of the warning sights and signs was on joining a copra boat in Bromborough and seeing sheets of solidified coconut oil coating the ship's side where an accidental spill had happened, Made one wonder what was going to be found when getting up the gangway!

I knew I was ' home ' when the first cup of tea was handed out with condensed milk stiffening the brew, and the hand bell was being rung outside of the galley for mealtime. Incidentally, did this ' call to eat ' routine continue into the 80's or was there a more sedate procedure introduced somewhere along the line?

Joe C
22nd January 2011, 14:21
The first warning signs that we noticed when joining the Irisbank at Bromborough that it wasn't just copra that had been loaded, were the bug screens fitted to the port holes and the rat guards apparently fitted to keep the rats on board!
The bug screens were supposed to keep them out of the cabins but that was unsuccesfull.They were everywhere,as you would expect having spent the previous couple of months multiplying among thousands of tons of top quality food.It took a fumigation session in the States to bring them under control together with trapping with giant mouse traps.We filled three or four, forty gallon drums with the corpses.I don't remember what we did with those,(who said curry?)

Klaatu83
22nd January 2011, 14:59
I recall a ship I was on being subjected to a plague of insects in, of all places, Southampton, England! And the culprits were, of all things, ladybugs! Don't ask me why or how, but suddenly the little red and black blighters were everywhere, and you couldn't take a step on deck without hearing them crunching underfoot.

Alan Rawlinson
22nd January 2011, 17:37
The first warning signs that we noticed when joining the Irisbank at Bromborough that it wasn't just copra that had been loaded, were the bug screens fitted to the port holes and the rat guards apparently fitted to keep the rats on board!
The bug screens were supposed to keep them out of the cabins but that was unsuccesfull.They were everywhere,as you would expect having spent the previous couple of months multiplying among thousands of tons of top quality food.It took a fumigation session in the States to bring them under control together with trapping with giant mouse traps.We filled three or four, forty gallon drums with the corpses.I don't remember what we did with those,(who said curry?)

Hi Joe,

I was trawling through the memory bank trying to think of something useful to say ( first time?) about joining a bankline ship when it occurred to me how antiquated it all was on the older vessels. Just like stepping into some surreal film set, only it went on for months and years.

You left us for pastures anew before we finally paid off in Bathurst W.A. but I have a lasting memory of the landing at Blackbush airport on a lovely summers evening, getting on a coach, and seeing all of the attractive pubs as we drove by, many with fairy lights, and an overwhelming feeling of awe almost, at the beauty of it all. I suppose we were stepping from one world into another.

Arthur Miller
5th February 2011, 12:46
Re Ships cat. Joined my first ship. Lochybank in Manchester in 1953. There were 24 cats on board. All were removed except one, Mary, who subsequently gave birth to 4 kittens in the Maltese carpenter's bunk. They all deserted in Australia

Joe C
5th February 2011, 17:11
Hi Joe,
Why did I bale out in South Africa,I missed out on the Dakota trip home.I just had to put up with a far east trip,what a lovely mistake!
I was trawling through the memory bank trying to think of something useful to say ( first time?) about joining a bankline ship when it occurred to me how antiquated it all was on the older vessels. Just like stepping into some surreal film set, only it went on for months and years.

You left us for pastures anew before we finally paid off in Bathurst W.A. but I have a lasting memory of the landing at Blackbush airport on a lovely summers evening, getting on a coach, and seeing all of the attractive pubs as we drove by, many with fairy lights, and an overwhelming feeling of awe almost, at the beauty of it all. I suppose we were stepping from one world into another.

Why did I bail out in South Africa,I missed out on the Dakota trip,I had to put up with a far east trip!

Bernie Jones
7th May 2011, 16:27
I found this Cargo plan which may interest those of you who were on the copra run. The Rosebank arrived at Liverpool on or about the 17th February 1966 where we were paid off after an 11 month trip.

pete
7th May 2011, 19:41
I found this Cargo plan which may interest those of you who were on the copra run. The Rosebank arrived at Liverpool on or about the 17th February 1966 where we were paid off after an 11 month trip.

Now.... THAT, to me, is pure nostalgia. Many thanks indeed for posting this image.......pete

John Dryden
7th May 2011, 22:21
I never sailed on a copra ship but great to see that.I posted a few pics of cargo plans with general cargo outward bound to the S.Pacific but had to scan the plan in bits.How did you get a full plan to fit?

Bernie Jones
9th May 2011, 01:26
I just photographed the plan and downloaded onto my computer.

Alan Rawlinson
28th July 2013, 11:54
One of the warning sights and signs was on joining a copra boat in Bromborough and seeing sheets of solidified coconut oil coating the ship's side where an accidental spill had happened, Made one wonder what was going to be found when getting up the gangway!

Ah...... and that (to me) lovely sweet smell of coconut oil and copra.
Can still conjur it up in the memory bank! Pure wistful nostalgia.

Alan Rawlinson
28th December 2013, 16:10
Here's a nice pic of the 50's Beaverbank ( with the later version for comparison). She carried her fair share of Copra home, nearly coming to grief in the early 50's when she stranded in the Line Islands, and was dragged off by the U.S. Coastguard down from Honolulu, but not before she pumped all of the oil overside from the deeptanks - leaving a white layer all around her on the sea surface.

I was coasting C/O on her late 50's.

She was the favourite ship in the fleet of a good friend - John Hawkes (son of the then chartering Director) now departed, and he had a model opposite his desk in the City when he was Chairman of a big Insurance Group.