Karachi and Bombay Crews Paying Off

david freeman
27th May 2011, 07:58
It used to amaze me the signing on of an Indian Crew, with flip flops and a plastic carrier bag: Voyages round europe and the buying of treddle sewing machines and mopeds, and then 24 months later pay off day, where the crew were shipped home. The daily rations had become bags of rice, flour, sugar together with the Sewing machines and, mopeds and other accourtrements like shoes and a suit maybe, the mind boggled. I only say one pay off in Bahrain completed by the agent Grey Mackenzie in the Gulf. It was like watching an army go home. (Go Home ET?). What a sight.
Usually the crew were signed on in a dismal UK Drydock port.

27th May 2011, 09:10
Surprisingly I only sailed with one Indian crew despite going to sea with Clan Line and having always been around indian crews on my father's ships as a pup.... long story involving white crew, zulus and chinamen while serving my time...

Anywaze... on Argyllshire in 1965(?) we paid off an Indian crew while anchored inside at Cochin.... they brought a barge alongside and where all the sewing machines and bicycles came from remains a mystery. So all the crew are in their sunday best except the topaz.... as he said... he was going to get well pis*ed and roll in the gutter and his suit was in his bag.....

Baulkham Hills
28th May 2011, 09:04
I sailed for about 3 years with Indian crew and 12 years with Pakistani crew. It was amazing what could fit into their luggage. One Pakistani oiler paid off in Saudi and at the gate his goods were confiscated and sent back to the ship. Ship items included a full set of ring spanners, Bacho spanners, long life bulbs, transformer, ships cups plates and a fine selection of knives forks and spoons and a bench drill apart from the usual washing powder and coffee.
Lucky he did not end up in a nice Saudi jail.

Julian Calvin
28th May 2011, 09:08
On the "Ebani" we once had a crowd of cadets fron Nigerian National Line that Elders were helping to train. They had six double cabins but all twelve moved into four so that spare cabins could be used for their "luggage". Arriving in Lagos the usual fridges, freezers and TVs were unloaded into about three lorries. Then there was the crew!!!

Was on the bridge one day when cadets were sanding then varnishing the taff rail on starboard side. The two senior cadets were lounging on port side. When I asked why they were not working, reply came "Oh, we're in charge, we don't have to work"

28th May 2011, 11:33
I witnessed a crew change in Bombay. The departing crew hired lackeys to carry all their accumulated goodies off the ship and down the wharf, harrassing and kicking them all the way. Obviously "Burra Sahib" is a relative term.

John T

31st May 2011, 06:33
Hello Cisco Argyllshire was my favourite ship!

Remember many crew changes with Clan Line and it astonished me where all the big sewing machines came from not to mention furniture and bicycles!
Some were stowed in the lifeboats under the canvas!
Anchored off Chittagong once and on anchor watch a blacked out boat came alongside aft by the crews quarters and for some time the loot was loaded up and once we established it did not include our mooring ropes etc we turned a blind eye! The customs used to really hammer the poor blokes and we felt sorry for them.
We used to dread the new crew of 'supposedly' trained seamen!
Some had never even seen a ship!
Happy days!

31st May 2011, 07:18
We used to dread the new crew of 'supposedly' trained seamen!
Some had never even seen a ship!
Happy days!

We were quite used to new Pakistani crews who knew little about ships -- or at least about much of the technology involved. On the Stanvac Horizon the crews heads were the Moslem type -- stand on rather than sit, and because they didn't understand the skills of flushing after use they flushed automatically at intervals from a "pneupress" system in the engine room. This was a water tank held under pressure by compressed air and, as coincidence would have it, this always flushed when one of them was standing there minding his own business. The result was always a wail of terror and a trail of s**t out into the passageway.

31st May 2011, 07:27
You could spot the new Bangladeshi crew a mile off when arriving at UK airports to join ships. Short, very thin, very brown guys wearing a cheap new suit knocked up by the "dherzi", ditto cheap cotton shirt, no socks + cheap shoes worn for the first time. Baggage consisted of one very small cardboard suitcase, containing 1 clean shirt, 1 clean pair of underpants, a packet of 10 "Turf" cigarettes and 1 copy of the Koran.

Baulkham Hills
31st May 2011, 08:46
The most unusual pay off I seen with the Pakistani crew was one steward paying off with some curry. I asked him why he as taking it, I want to bring some home to my wife.
They have a hard life maybe 9 months onboard and trying to stay for a year to avoid the baksheesh involved in shorter trips and hence more ships.
Corruption is so rife in the Pakistan manning agencies that a greaser one trip could with the right amount of dash be sent to the next ship as a pumpman (much higher pay). On one ship the C/E insisted on testing fitters in the first 24 hours on using the lathe and some welding, and if they failed to were sent home on the manning agencies account. I remember one failed fitter complaining he had paid $500. for the job and was unfair that he was being sent home and who was going to give him back his $500.
Eventually the manning agency tested them before sending them to the ship.
I asked one of the fitters how this worked out. He said I paid the manning agent, I paid the doctor, now I pay the people running the test. Just one more backhander.
One company sent a letter asking for the crew to report any corruption in the manning agencies, no takers, they would not be on the ships unless they paid for the job in the first place and certainly no chance of getting another job if corruption was reported.

Donald McGhee
4th June 2011, 23:03
Bank Line crews paying off in India were always a sight to behold. Everything from sewing machines, bicycles and kitchen sinks, sometimes loaded onto a bicycle and pedalled for hundreds of miles the sailors home village.
Certainly one of the sights to behold. Don't think it's as prevalent now though, then again neither is Bank Line, or Clan, or Brocklebank etc, etc, etc.

4th June 2011, 23:58
I have sailed with many Pakistani and Indian crews, all very good, how come the Filipinos took over.
I was with P&O when the change occurred, the long time serving Patans where not given the chance.
On the “Larchbank” we where stranded in Dublin, the crew bought a whole bunch of bikes from the dockies and stowed them in the steering flat. Prior to sailing the Garda arrived and removed the lot, all stolen property.
A payoff in the USA was dreaded. Sometimes the baggage was just scanned but not opened up, crew pay off on the Mississippi , full baggage inspection and opening up on the jetty , prior to boarding the bus for the airport.
The Captain was in attendance, some of the crew had been on board for two years. He raked in there belongings and removed to one side, what he thought was ships property.
There was a lot, blankets, cutlery and all sorts.
I thought it was a cheap act, they where paid buttons, and we all had our perks.


8th June 2011, 12:11
Hi all
In Bibby Line, the use of indian crews continued long after the company ceased liner runs to that part of the world. As a consequence, crew changes had to be accomplished by air and given the numbers involved often involved charter flights. To overcome the obvious problems of leaving ship with sewing machines and bicycles, our crews would convert their wages into smaller goods such as radios, cameras etc. On one ship (Worcestershire) the deck Serang told me that the proceeds from selling this stuff in India would allow him to keep his family for a year, after which, he would seek another position at sea. He also said that the enitre crew had had a whip round so that the various officials such as Indian customs could be paid off so as to allow all this gear into the country. I was involved in signing on an entire crew in Hong Kong and as said earlier, they all turned up with practicarly nothing but the clothes they stood up in.
Did you guys ever notice that Indian crews seemed to have loyalty to one shipping line? We seemed to have the same Serangs, stewards etc returning after leave. I wonder if the manning agencies had lists of names and allocated them to companies, or was a free choice of the seaman involved?

Best wishes

Dartmouth Mariner
8th June 2011, 23:22

Don't you remember the long service award of a gold watch presented after 25 years service to Bibby's? I do remember Derek Bibby making the presentation to a couple of our crew on Herefordshire.

13th June 2011, 13:31

Don't you remember the long service award of a gold watch presented after 25 years service to Bibby's? I do remember Derek Bibby making the presentation to a couple of our crew on Herefordshire.

Hi Ken
No don't remember an award but sure enough, many of the seamen were well on in age and must have "clocked" up more than 25 years service. Nice to know that DB actually presented watches to them. I wonder if other companies did similar.

Best wishes