Port Line grafitti

21st February 2008, 16:46
Once upon a time (the 1950s) in a land far way (Bluff, New Zealand was the probable location) two British cargo liners (because there were lots of them in those days) were berthed next or near to each other.
In the dead of night, a group of young sailors/hooligans, armed with paint and brushes, took advantage of the fact that the quays in this far-away port had a lower deck and went down below to paint SAIL PORT LINE in letters writ large on the side of a ship of the Shaw Savill Line.
The Shaw Savill ship duly sailed for the UK with the graffiti artists’ handiwork plain for all to see. However, the intended durability of their work of art was jeopardised by the local pilot, who radioed the ship to tell her captain of it after he had seen it from his launch when being dropped off.
While waiting at the Panama Canal, hands were put over the side to paint over the piece of vandalism. However, on the Atlantic crossing, heavy seas proved that the vandals’ handiwork was more durable than that of the ship’s crew, with the result that, with the Shaw Savill crew blissfully unaware of the fact, the ship sailed up the Thames with SAIL PORT LINE boldly emblazoned on her side.
There ensued one helluva stink within the British shipping community, with many Port Line cadets and apprentices being put through intensive interrogation. However, due to lack of evidence!!! No-one was disciplined.
Anyone heard that yarn or could add more detail? Perhaps you are one of the guilty and would like to confess your sins now, rather than wait until you have to do it to Him upstairs!
At about the same time, the same guilty ones did one of their paint jobs on a Japanese ship of the Nitto Line, whose wont it was to paint the company name in capital letters on their ships’ sides. Our gallant graffiti artists this time changed the initial N to an H and prefixed it with an S.
Perhaps it was because he got off the other side or maybe it was something to do with the war but the pilot did not let on this time!
And they all lived happily ever after.

21st February 2008, 17:53
Hi Bobs,

While I was an Apprentice in Port Line the story went that unamed individuals on an unnamed Port Line vessel painted SAIL PORT LINE in white on the dark red corrugated iron roof of the wool store at Port Chalmers. The deed was quickly spotted and the perpetrators made to paint over the offending slogan. It was raining as the ship sailed and the fresh paint washed off revealing the slogen in all its glory. There must be some truth in these stories as there were some real terrors amongs the Apprentice fraternity on the ships. I well recall being berthed in Albert Dock in London on the Port Nelson as J/3/O my first coasting job having just got got 2nd Mates. Both KGV and Albert Docks were full of the Aust/NZ boats, Port Line, Shaw Savill, NZS , Ellerman etc so needless to say the local watering holes were well patronised. One morning it was noticable that we were the only vessel with flags flying. We were visited later by the Dock Police enquiring whether we (on Port Nelson) had any knowledge of who may have stolen all the house flags of all the vessels in both docks and more importantly the blue ensign from one of the NZS ships and floated an array of lifebuoys around the docks. Of couse we denied any involvement and I dont recall any further action being taken?
Rgds, Chris Allport

21st February 2008, 20:22
this is the first reference to the Port Line I have ever seen although I do have a book on its history. I signed on in Liverpool and joined ship at Silvertown Dock, London in Jan.1940 as a deckboy at 16 yoa for the Australasia voyage to NZ and Oz signing off in Avonmouth in July 1940. Although I signed on as a deckboy to work up to O/S and AB I found myself as Bosn's, Chippy and Lamptrimmers 'Peggy' with all that entailed I didn't like being a 'skivvy' so didn't sign on again but joined the RN instead. This was fortunate as the Port Wellington was captured and sunk by a German raider in the Indian Ocean on its way home as reported in a Liverpool newspaper and my successor ended up in a POW camp. He was in fact the son of a Peer of the Realm but I cannot remember names and mislaid the cutting over the years.

8th February 2009, 17:16
Hi, My father tells a story of when he a two of his friends rowed across Sydney Harbour in Sept 1958 and painted ' For Sale ' on the side of the Port Hardy. They were caught and made to re-paint it and fined a days wages.

Neil Mant
8th February 2009, 18:12
way back in the 80s i was on one of cunards fruit boats in bluff i was on the servia and there was the samaria sister ship berthed across the way we were opposite each other, there was talk 1 of us was going to russia and the other was going to avonmouth anyway we got avonmouth and the samaria got russia. The samaria was leaving the next day when we got up in the morning some one had painted along the side of our ship FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, and someone from our ship had gone across to there wing of the bridge were the red Cunard sign is and wrote in red F*** CUNARD, They never found out who did the painting i suppose at the time it was funny.

8th February 2009, 18:51
In those days if there was two ships in Bluff it was busy. our SSA ship fielded 13 lads plus two from a Bank Line Libery ship and we took on a local schoolboy rugby team. We lost to them 36-3 . Never involved in paint jobs but was aware of various flag stunts, fellow cadet did Sydney harbour bridge one night in 1960

Nick Balls
8th February 2009, 19:08
I heard a nice "ship graffiti" story that goes like this...Please correct me for any mistakes.
On board Worcester it was alway the done thing to outdo any previous courses with some outrageous leaving "events"
The plan hatched up by cadets on this particular occasion , in the days of Pirate Radio, was to write in huge letters down the side "RADIO WORCESTER" .(it may have been CAROLINE, but not sure) This was done on the Starboard side . This was the side facing away from the Greenhithe Shore, thus not being visible to the college "authorities"
Ships coming up the Thames of course had a fabulous view and sounded there horns .much to the bemusement of the unsuspecting staff.
It took quite a long while for it to be "discovered!!!!!
Just how this very difficult feat ,done as it was at night, at a great height ,was achieved always amazed me.
It set the Standard for the time when it was our turn to leave.......another story!

Andy Lavies
8th February 2009, 20:06
"Bank Line is Best" painted in 6ft high black letters on the side of a white BI cadet ship just before she sailed from Mombasa. The artwork was spotted and painted over but the black was still wet and came through. Can't remember the date but sometime in the late 50's.

10th February 2009, 12:32
Slighty off-topic. In the 1960's during the purge of the Red Guards in China, the BF and Glen Line ships would return to Aussie ports with the sides covered in Chinese slogans.
Painting over them would only result in a new set next trip so they were left on.
We could not read Chinese anyway.

10th February 2009, 15:16
While In Albany Aust On Anzac Day We Didnt Have Anything To Do So We Painted The Port Line House Flag Crossed With The Red Duster And Put The Ships Name Underneath On The Wharf In 1967. Is This Still There Anybody Know????

5th February 2012, 00:56
bobs re shaw savill graffitti theres a web site call snowbow productions in the uk they have a seires of dvd call ships to new zealand in 1 of the dvd there is fottage of the shaw saville boat with the above mentioned graffiti on it, the producer of the dvd des cox know more about how the graffitti came to be there, you can contact him on his email addy of the website !!!!!!