A Second's Life

petetee
18th March 2011, 20:29
Yer Call Sec!”--a voice in the darkness , consciousness, light.
Shuffle into the bog--and a quick check to make sure that the departed Junior Engineer is not behind the shower curtain --poised to leap out and provoke a heart attack or an overwhelming need to sit on the crapper.
Wash’n’shave---that’s a bit better!
Remove socks and y-fronts from fridge ,get dressed.
A quick look out aft to make sure that the sea is still there-- then a glance at the heavens--now suitably depressed by one’s cosmic insignificance, into the engine room.
Good , good ,the boiler is boiling and down we go.
On the Tops the gennies are generating and the mighty Sulzer sounds O.K - can things get better?
No suspicious pile of sacking in the workshop--paranoia kicking in--its 14months into the trip.
The Middles--caress the evaporator--its doing fine.
A quick kick at the fridge compressor to show it who’s boss.
To the Plates!--the Third has not oiled the handrails in hope of an early promotion -that’s a change!
Stare at the controls , extend arms and declaim “Hello Engine!!!”
Turn round to catch the Third facing his Junior ,lifting his eyes to the sky and shaking his head sadly--what’s with this guy?.
He slides to one side on the bench to make room and the Junior thrusts a cup of tea at you. That’s better! But I wont drink it until they leave--in fact better make a fresh one-paranoia up one level.
“Every thing’s O.K. Pete, Nice quiet watch , did three of the heads for No.2 gennie no problems!”
What a Man! How could I be so misguided?.
Off they go to beer, bed and breakfast--not necessarily in that order.
A heap of rags lands on the plates and morphs into an unshaven , hairy creature with eyes like rissoles in the snow--his only boiler suit is a greyer shade of grey , he has hacked off the sleeves , one of which is eight inches longer than the other. Oh horror! -he’s very obviously not wearing y-fronts-he looks utterly lost.
Yes--its my first trip Junior!
Surely the day can only get better.

eldersuk
19th March 2011, 01:03
God send the days!
Brought tears to my eyes.

John Dryden
19th March 2011, 01:52
Have to say petetee you have hit the nail straight on the the head,brilliant words and totally evocative to me from a Bank Line deck point of view from my memory(such as is) of the watch.

Billieboy
19th March 2011, 07:57
You should have switched to steam when you had the chance Pete, life was and is so much easier and cleaner with a couple of high pressure water tube boilers, and turbines all over the engine room.

Ron Dean
19th March 2011, 12:23
Have to say petetee you have hit the nail straight on the the head,brilliant words and totally evocative to me from a Bank Line deck point of view from my memory(such as is) of the watch.
petetee,

I feel obliged to add my comments to those previous.
A first class post! Worthy of 5 stars. (Applause)

Ron, (more please).

gordy
19th March 2011, 12:57
That was pure class, sent shivers up the spine.(Applause)

lazyjohn
19th March 2011, 13:41
(Wave)Took me right back. Magic!

chadburn
19th March 2011, 17:29
Saying "Hello" to the main engine usually followed by "behave yourself" was/is not unusual amongst Engineer's(*))

WilliamH
19th March 2011, 17:38
Excellent, but change the Sulzer to Doxford and you've got perfection.

lazyjohn
19th March 2011, 19:09
Excellent, but change the Sulzer to Doxford and you've got perfection.

One piston good, two piston bad.

Derek Roger
19th March 2011, 20:27
One piston good, two piston bad.

Especially if its a P type Doxford with upper piston water cooled by telescopics .
Derek

Frank Holleran
19th March 2011, 21:13
And then you sight the greaser / donkey man appearing at the end of the plates " at last he sighs, someone who really knows what's going on in the engine room"(Wave)

Magic Fingers
19th March 2011, 21:30
Brilliant. An engineer who doesn't talk to his engines has no soul. I'm old and grey and still do it. The crew think I'm ready for the asylum. That will be o.k. if there's an engine in it.
Richard.

Hugh Ferguson
19th March 2011, 21:35
Great stuff, petetee, loved it! I've printed it out to show my neighbour.

david m leadbetter
20th March 2011, 07:57
God's In His Heaven....
All's right with the world...........

Ian J. Huckin
21st March 2011, 20:20
Great job, have to say it invoked LB Doxford in me...

I enjoyed being Chief, but Sec was better...

In my shoreside line of work they call me Boss, but then, last week, I heard one of the Millwrights calling the Janitor Boss.

Like when I was younger they called me Big Fella because everything was where it should be, now if I get called that it is because gravity took its toll....life can be very sad....

jim garnett
28th May 2011, 05:04
I believe you spelt rissoles wrongly;it used to start with a P.
jim Garnett

George vanner
28th May 2011, 07:18
took me back years. I even spoke to the bilge valves.Just brilliantt

Alex Salmond
28th May 2011, 07:25
Good one Second you sound like a guy me in my former capacity as Donkey Greaser would have been happy working for ,In my years on the Star boats I sailed with the Good ,the Bad ,and the downright ugly from the professional seconds who knew their job inside out to the guys who had the theory part of their Chiefs ticket before they even had a spanner in their hand,educated idiots we called them who believed kissing the Chiefs A@@e was the way to go,In the former category though we had guys like John Philips from Whyalla in Oz via Paisley in Scotland AKA The Screaming Skull,a great guy who stood no nonsense from anyone least of all the Chief who would wander down below after polishing off a half bottle of the Cratur and proceed to point at things giving incoherent instructions to all and sundry until the second took him firmly by the elbow one day ,whispered in his ear at which stage the Chief turned white took off and didnt bother the hired help for the rest of the trip,All we as greasers asked for was a fair second who we could respect didnt allow his juniors to put on any airs and graces and gave us a job and knock on the scavengers ,if we had a second like that we had his back ,good on you if you were a Second like my man from Whyalla,

petetee
28th May 2011, 09:26
I believe you spelt rissoles wrongly;it used to start with a P.
jim Garnett

Believe me Jim!---great greasy rissoles!

Satanic Mechanic
28th May 2011, 10:01
Second Engineer - singularly the best job in the whole world period. Accept it and move on.(Thumb)

They call them 'First Assistant Engineer' in my present company, I call them 'Seconds' - they get upset so I point out that while I may have been never have been a 'first' I was never a bloody 'assistant' .(Cloud)

ARRANMAN35
28th May 2011, 15:38
Petee,
Aye right, on the nail. Nowadays it the comfort of a control room.
UMS did away with the "joys" of watchkeeping.
Archie.

Don Matheson
28th May 2011, 15:48
Brilliant Peetee just Brilliant. Had it all flooding back in a moment.
Always used to encourage the engine with sayings like "Come on old girl, you can do it" worked a treat most days.

Bit worried about George who spoke to bilge valves, perhaps a word in his ear!

Don

chadburn
28th May 2011, 16:39
2nd Engineer= Best Man.:sweat:

ART6
30th May 2011, 15:43
Second Engineer - singularly the best job in the whole world period. Accept it and move on.(Thumb)

They call them 'First Assistant Engineer' in my present company, I call them 'Seconds' - they get upset so I point out that while I may have been never have been a 'first' I was never a bloody 'assistant' .(Cloud)

In Esso tankers they decided to re-title all engineers, and I ceased to be "Sec" and became "First Officer Engine." I recall being scandalised. I recall bellowing "I'm the senior second engineer. This makes me sound like the chief mate who has got lost in the engine room!"

R58484956
30th May 2011, 17:02
Best engineering job at sea must have been Staff Chief on a liner. Never ever saw one near an engine room or come to that see him anywhere else.

surfaceblow
30th May 2011, 17:12
Petee,
Aye right, on the nail. Nowadays it the comfort of a control room.
UMS did away with the "joys" of watchkeeping.
Archie.

You still have the joys of watch standing when the computers are getting updated or the system is other wise unstable. The joys of a Windows operating system hanging up at the most inopportune time.

The last ship I was on all of the Engine room Motor Controllers were one deck up from the control room and there were no local start or stop buttons at the motors. You had to manually open the valves or find the correct outstation, terminal strip then find the open or close terminal and jump to ground to shift the valve in the right position (easier than trying to find the correct valve in the pipe tunnel and opening or closing manually). Once the valves were in the correct position you radioed your watch partner to start or stop the correct motor.

I still remember the stares you get when you require to turn over the engines at the engine side to get ready for leaving and transfer to Control Room Control and finally to Bridge Control.

Joe

GlennysF
7th June 2011, 19:29
I read the original post out to my husband. I swear he got tears of nostalgia in his eyes. I'm sure he loved engines more than he loved me. He said he used to talk to them and they'd sing to him.

He says thanks for the trip down memory lane.

uisdean mor
7th June 2011, 21:36
Glennys,
your husband had tears in his eyes ???
Not only would I swop it all again for the chance to settle in NZ you actually read it out to him.!!! My current (sic) domestic champion is in dire straits as the only thing she knows how to read is the weekly work list for Saturdays. Good on you for helping the old man and long may you continue to enjoy the nostalgia of a different outlook on life. Where are you? Some connections still in the Otago region - not least The Highlanders and I keep a wee look out for the Razorbacks on the web site.
Rgds
Uisdean

Malky Glaister
7th June 2011, 23:50
Enjoyed the post a lot, nice one
regards Malky

GlennysF
8th June 2011, 00:24
Glennys,
your husband had tears in his eyes ???


Yep, he loved engines, especially Doxfords. I can recall not long after meeting me he took me over to visit another ship in port. I was all aquiver wondering what was going on, when he essentially flung open a door and said, "isn't that the most beautiful engine you've ever seen". I should have been warned then!

We're in Belleknowes in Dunedin, but my husband's a Scot with his family still living over there. As most of our kids now live in the Northern hemisphere our current retirement plans are to move back there, buy a narrowboat and spend a couple of years cruising the canals. Of course, our plans change weekly based on the state of the NZ dollar, so I don't know whether that will eventuate or not.

James_C
8th June 2011, 00:58
when he essentially flung open a door and said, "isn't that the most beautiful engine you've ever seen".

Now only a true engineer would ever say that about a Doxford!
Others may confuse true with deluded admittedly.....

GlennysF
9th June 2011, 10:55
Hi Jim,

Actually, this particular engine wasn't a Doxford. It was an M.A.N. It was the whole engine room that he loved because it was maintained so immaculately by the Chinese crew. Everything was clean and gleaming. You could even sit on the plates without getting a dirty diamond pattern on your bum because they were kept so clean.

I never quite got the engine love but as far as I was concerned I'd rather be in competition with an engine than with another girl! At least he couldn't take an engine to bed at night.

Cheers,

Glennys

Alex Salmond
9th June 2011, 12:12
Yep, he loved engines, especially Doxfords. I can recall not long after meeting me he took me over to visit another ship in port. I was all aquiver wondering what was going on, when he essentially flung open a door and said, "isn't that the most beautiful engine you've ever seen". I should have been warned then!

We're in Belleknowes in Dunedin, but my husband's a Scot with his family still living over there. As most of our kids now live in the Northern hemisphere our current retirement plans are to move back there, buy a narrowboat and spend a couple of years cruising the canals. Of course, our plans change weekly based on the state of the NZ dollar, so I don't know whether that will eventuate or not.

Im over in NZ too up in Auckland for my sins,and we are also thinking off going back but as im a relative sprightly youngster of 58 got a few more years to go,
Re. the NZ dollar and your plans if I was you id be scooting over ASAP as you will never see the dollar stronger against the British peso $2 to the pound!! when my sister was last out here 5 years or so ago she was getting $3 to the pound Quick wummin get oan yir bike oh and remember to grab the old fella on the way oot...