Exciting times

16th December 2009, 13:38
Bristol Steam Navigation Coaster “Cato” February 1960
I was relief 2nd on watch leaving Rotterdam at the Hook of Holland, when the Chief came down and checked all the ballast valves, When I asked why he said: “We’ve taken a bit of a list”.
We were bouncing about quite considerably, so I thought no more about it. Until I noticed that we did indeed have a list, at which point the engine room telegraph ordered “slow ahead” followed soon after by “dead slow ahead”. By this time the list was so severe I had to support myself walking about.
The next thing that happened was the Third Engineer coming to the top of the engine room, throwing me a life jacket with the words: “We’ve sent out a Mayday” followed by: “We’ll let you know if we’re going to abandon ship!”
A minute or so later the telephone rang. It was the Chief (cowering on the bridge, or so I was told later) saying:
“Check the engine and come on deck”.
We had listed so much that port side the handrails were in the water, and we were encircled by the most amazing fleet of potential rescue ships, from the Hook of Holland lifeboat, to a large Swedish tanker, and everything in between, including the Dutch media.
Eventually after two failed attempts, a Dutch pilot put us aground on a sandbank, and we were taken ashore in the Hook lifeboat.
Our cargo of zinc lead ore was supposed to be no more than 3% water. Subsequent analysis showed it to be 14% !

North Shipping Company “North Cornwall” Autumn 1958
Off shore in Kawasaki, unloading sugar when the typhoon warning came. All the vessels in Kawasaki, Yokohama, and Tokyo were ordered out into Tokyo Bay to ride the storm that was forecast to arrive at 8am the next day.
We had deployed two anchors, and the following morning at about 6am, it was noticed that during the night the two anchor chains had become crossed. The Captain had to decide whether to try to uncross the chains, which meant lifting them both, or to ride the typhoon with them crossed. He decided to try to uncross them, but the typhoon arrived when we only had one anchor down, and it was not enough to hold the ship. We were dragged around Tokyo Bay by the storm, amongst fifty or so other vessels.
I was on watch with our main engine running dead slow ahead, when I heard a loud banging noise under the ship, getting closer and closer. It passed right underneath me and away to the stern and our propeller. Then with a succession of loud bangs, the engine stopped dead. We had been dragged by the storm over the anchor chain of a Japanese vessel, and the clanging noise was its chain bouncing on the underside of our hull. The succession of bangs was our engine’s relief valves going off when the anchor chain hit our propeller and forced “stop engines”.
The only damage was a chunk broken from the tip of one of our propeller blades.

Two near misses ashore
Almost ended up in jail, once when accosted by the Cuban militia in 1958, for refusing to pay the bar bill, having been grossly overcharged, and the other time, by the South African police in 1956, for standing in the “Blacks” queue in a Capetown post office.

ray bloomfield
16th December 2009, 15:22
2005 and I was taking a brand new 2400t coaster 'Adriana' to sea in ballast from Rotterdam to load her first cargo in a SW 8/9 wind. Once the Hook is cleared the course to steer to the MW6 bouy is 305deg(T) which put the sea on our beam.
Shortly after I brought her round the phone rung and a very agitated chief engineer screamed at me 'slow down, head to wind' I never had the chance to ask why.
After reporting to Maas Entrance our intentions and waiting about 1/2 hr a very wet chief came into the wheelhoise to explain the situation. It turned out that the builders had connected a couple of pipes, one on each side but had not fitted gaskets or tightened them either, so each time she rolled they became submerged and sprayed water everywhere, and of course they were not in an easily accessable place, chiefy was not amused at me for laughing at the state of him. Later we plodded on in a 14.5kn ship (max) at abt 6kns.