A report from a Ship's Master?

John Briggs
17th August 2006, 06:52
It is with regret and haste that I write to you, regret that such a small misunderstanding could lead to the following circumstances, and haste in order that you get this report before you form your own pre-conceived opinions from reports in the world press, for I am sure they will tend to over-dramatise the affair.
We had just picked up the pilot, and the apprentice had returned from changing the "G" flag for an "H" and, it being his first trip was having difficulty in rolling up the "G" flag. I therefore proceeded to show him how. Coming to the last part, I told him to "let go", the lad although willing, is not too bright, necessitating my having to repeat the order in a sharper tone. At this moment the Chief Officer appeared from the chart room, having been plotting the vessel's progress, and, thinking that it was the anchors that were being referred to repeated the "let go" to the Third Officer on the forecastle. The port anchor, having being cleared away but not walked out was promptly let go. The effect of letting the anchor drop from the "pipe" whilst the vessel was proceeding at full harbour speed proved too much for the windlass brake, and the entire length of the port cable was pulled out by the roots. I fear that the damage to the chain locker may be extensive. The braking effect of the port anchor naturally caused the vessel to sheer in that direction, right towards the swing bridge that spans the tributary to the river up which we were proceeding.
The swing bridge operator showed great presence of mind by opening the bridge for my vessel. Unfortunately, he did not think to stop the vehicular traffic, the result being that the bridge partly opened and deposited a Volkswagen, two cyclists and a cattle truck on my foredeck. My ship's company are at present rounding up the contents of the latter which from the noise I would say were pigs. In his efforts to stop the progress of the vessel the Third Officer dropped the starboard anchor, too late to be of practical use for it fell on the swing bridge operators cabin.
After the port anchor was let go and the vessel began to sheer, I gave a double full astern on the engine room telegraph and personally rang the engine room to order maximum astern revolutions. I was informed that the sea temperature was 53 and asked if there was a film tonight, my reply would not be constructive to this report.
Up to now I have confined my report to the activities at the forward end of the vessel. Down aft they were having their own problems. At the moment the port anchor was let go, the Second Officer was supervising the making fast of the after tug and was lowering the ship's towing line down onto the tug. The sudden braking effect of the port anchor caused the tug to run in under the stern of my vessel, just at the moment when the propeller was answering my double ring "Full Astern". The prompt action of the Second Officer in securing the inboard end of the towing line delayed the sinking of the tug by some minutes thereby allowing the safe abandonment of that vessel.
It is strange but at the very same moment of letting go the port anchor there was a power cut ashore. The fact that we were passing over a "Cable Area" at the time might suggest that we may have touched something on the river bed. It is perhaps lucky that the high power cables brought down by the foremast were not live, possibly being replaced by the underwater cable, but owing to the shore black out it is impossible to say where the pylon fell.
It never fails to amaze me, the actions and behaviour of foreigners during moments of minor crisis. The pilot, for instance is at this moment huddled in the corner of my day cabin, alternately crooning to himself and crying after having consumed a bottle of gin in a time that is worthy of inclusion in the Guinness Book of Records. The tug captain on the other hand reacted violently and had to be forcibly restrained by the Steward who has him handcuffed in the ship's hospital, where he is telling me to do impossible things with my ship and crew.
I enclose the names and addresses of the drivers of the vehicles on my fore deck, which the third officer collected after his somewhat hurried evacuation of the forecastle. These particulars will enable you to claim for the damage they did to the railings of No. 1 hold. I am enclosing this as a preliminary report as I am finding it difficult to concentrate with the sound of police sirens and their flashing lights.

It is sad to think that had the apprentice realised that there is no need to fly pilot flags after dark, none of this would have happened.

Yours truly.

Captain Anonymous.

17th August 2006, 08:01
Several comedy films or radio comedy come to mind when reading this such as the Navy Lark from the radio(shows my age)or an Inspector Jacques Closeau character giving a report with a dead pan face as all hell is breaking loose around him!!. Very funny John. David

bert thompson
17th August 2006, 08:11
Nice to read this report again. It always amuses. Thanks

John Tremelling
17th August 2006, 08:33
I think that I have sailed with that Master!!!!!!!!!!

17th August 2006, 08:36
gave me a good chuckle. nice one mate

17th August 2006, 10:18
(EEK) LOL, cheered me up on a very dull morning. Thank you.
Hawkey01 (Thumb)

17th August 2006, 12:39
Were you the Sydney Harbour Master that sat me for my local Knowledge certificate in 1986? and if so i would be hoisting the #1 pennant and heading for sea with out a ship after that story if i was the apprentice.
Cheers Captain

17th August 2006, 12:41
My wife nearly choked on her Cornflakes when she read this. Many thanks................pete

John Briggs
17th August 2006, 13:00

As I was Harbour Master from 85 to 91 I must be the culprit. Must have been O.K. though as I haven't heard of too many ferries going crunch on the rocks over the years.

Best wishes


My mailwasher has just deleted an email which started off "Hello John Briggs". I didn't read any more as I thought it would be on this site and now I cant get at it. Would the sender be kind enough to resend & I promise not to delete it this time.

17th August 2006, 18:19
I'd like to see the reply from the insurance company.

Peter Fielding
18th August 2006, 09:16
The bit about the livestock waggon could explain the expression "Pigs might fly."