Voyage not Completed - part 4

Arthur Jenner
3rd February 2009, 12:13
Voyage not Completed - Part 4


I didnít enjoy the flight to Adelaide. It was my first trip in a plane. The DC3 flew at five thousand feet and was not pressurised. We stopped at Mildura and when we started to lose height the pain in my ears nearly drove me insane. The hostess gave us sweets to suck; they were supposed reduce the ear pain. When we landed at Adelaide the same thing happened and I swore Iíd never fly again
I suppose there must have been some kind of transport laid on to take us into the city but I donít remember anything about it. I was only interested in getting to the port. It was either a bus or a tram ride; I canít remember which. My memory seems to recall one street only in Port Adelaide and when I arrived I must have met someone in the street whom I knew because I quickly found out where my two ex-companions were. They were renting beds in a large, bare room. There were about eight basic beds each with a couple of blankets. There was no lighting and at night the only illumination was by means of small jars filled with metho each having a wick stuck through a hole in the lid. They were paying fifteen shillings a week each for this.
I was told that there were no vacancies so back in the street I was informed by a character I met that there was a room to let in a house further down the street. I was in luck. The room was very comfortable with two single beds. Real beds with sheets and pillow cases and there was carpet on the floor. The rent was less than the other blokes were paying and the fellow I was to share my room with was working away up the country so I had the room all to myself. I also had electric light.
When I contacted Ted and Roy I suppose I must have mentioned the bill Iíd paid for them but I canít remember whether or not they paid me. My main concern was for the case and seabag that Iíd consigned to Adelaide at Port Kembla. They told me that Eddie and Dusty had collected all the luggage from the station and placed it in one of the seamanís mission but that mine was not among it. I was very suspicious and I was sure that those two Ďmatesí had stolen it in the belief that I would never have turned up to collect it. I suspect that they knew I had fallen in love with outback Australia, was considering heading north to cattle country and would never make it to Adelaide. My friends in the Yanco caravan had introduced to the poetry of Banjo Paterson and one of the first things I bought in Adelaide was a book of his collected verse.
My next task was to find a job. This was easier than I thought. I found employment in a small factory making cultivator shares. Along with a number of other blokes I had to operate a press that stamped bits out of the red-hot shares. Because it was mid-summer, working with red hot steel was not the most desirable of occupations. I stuck it however until I found employment at the docks, loading trucks with bags of phosphate. Hard work but at least it was in the open air.
Most of our wages was spent on food because we had to eat in cafes. On Sundays, however, everything was closed. There were, as there were in all major Australian ports, three seamanís missions in the port. They all had a dance and meal on Sunday evenings so we had to starve all day and at about seven in the evening call in at the Stella Maris Catholic Mission for a good meal. A little later we would go for a snack to the British Sailors Society and then to the Flying Angel for a little more grub. The evening would be completed by a return to Stella Maris for supper.
One Sunday after completing the round I walked into the Stella Maris Club for the last snack of the day and I saw a man; Alec Neill with whom Iíd sailed for two trips on the Wellington Court about fifteen months earlier. He was from Belfast and we had become good friends even though he was a good bit older than me.
He told me he was boatswain on the MV Reaveley and that they were short of a couple of ABs. So, to cut a long story short I signed on. The ship was discharging a cargo. I canít recall what but it was taking some considerable time. The ship had been a long time away from the UK and most of the deck crew had skinned out at various places with the result that the majority of ABs were Australian.
Eventually we sailed to Melbourne to discharge the remainder of our cargo. While in Melbourne someone suggested we should go ice skating. Well it was a case of try anything once so we went down to the St Kilda ice rink. It was fun but Iíve never been tempted to try it again.
From Melbourne our next trip was to Nauru and Ocean Islands to load phosphate. In Nauru all the labour was Chinese but in Ocean Island it was the local natives who loaded the cargo. We were not, for some reason allowed ashore in Nauru but one Saturday afternoon in Ocean Island three of us were given a walk around the island guided by a local chief.
The cargo from there was taken to the Spenser Gulf ports Port Lincoln and Wallaroo and our next stop was Fremantle where the ship was fitted with shifting boards for loading wheat in Geraldton. From Geraldton to Bombay and then Bunbury for more wheat to Karachi. In Bunbury we shared a wharf with the Passat one of the great German ĎPí class barques now owned by the government of Finland. In those days sailing ships were not the sought after vessels that they are today and she was short of crew members. Always looking for adventure, I was tempted to Ďskin outí again and join her but looking up at those high masts and imagining climbing them and being out on the yards in a gale, I chickened out and stayed where I was.
From Karachi we returned to Fremantle where we loaded another cargo of wheat; this time for Glasgow. We travelled all the way non-stop around the Cape.
After discharging our cargo in Glasgow we had to take the ship to dry dock in Sunderland before we were paid off.
I had been away seventeen months.

Four Bells
3rd February 2009, 12:24
Excellant you should write a book.

3rd February 2009, 12:33
Arthur many thanks for a first class and interesting story.

Sister Eleff
3rd February 2009, 13:27
Another instalment thoroughly enjoyed, thank you.

3rd February 2009, 14:58
Ooooooh ! what a good life Arthur, wish I was young again !
Good story mate but don't put your pen down yet. Sure you'll have some more for us.
Thanks. Gino(Thumb)

stan mayes
3rd February 2009, 19:49
Thankyou for some very interesting stories.
I have a couple VNCs [not ashamed to admit it] but will not post to your thread..
One of them I have commented on is with the photo of Atheltarn in todays gallery.

Steve Woodward
3rd February 2009, 20:16
Thank you Arthur
very much enjoyed reading about your travels

John Briggs
4th February 2009, 00:23
Excellent and interesting account of a bunch of seamen jumping ship Arthur. You really should consider gathering all your yarns together for a book of short stories.

4th February 2009, 02:50
Arthur, John is right, you should write a collection of short stories.
Have you read "Oceans of Time" by SN member Dave Share now retired in NZ?
He is from a generation younger than you but he kept a diary of his years at sea and writes, as you do in a way that is entertaining and reminiscent to ex seamen.
I bought a copy on my last trip home to NZ and could lend it to you if you were to send me a PM with your Australian address and promise to return it when finished with.
My fee? A free signed copy of your first published edition.

Keep penning