Introducing 'Zebedee'

zebedee
28th February 2011, 21:59
As a new or at least a recent member, I have been asked to introduce myself:
As I was never involved in any fires, collisions, groundings or serious machinery derangements I suppose I can say that my career was quite mundane.
In 1955, after serving an apprenticeship to ship repairing and general engineering, I started my career as a marine engineer. On Friday afternoon I was an apprentice without any real responsibilities but on the following Tuesday I was the duty engineer on a ship in London! Not as crazy as it sounds, after all I was not the only engineer on board. We sailed in ballast to Middlesbrough where we took on board railway lines then we moved to Imminham and loaded newsprint after which we returned to London to take on general cargo which included motorcars in all sorts of forms. Some needed wheels some needed tyres and some were what was known as CK D: this stood for completely knocked down and meant that they were exported in parts, in boxes of course. Our next stop was Marseilles on the coast of France where we stayed overnight and loaded animal hides. The following morning after breakfast the chief engineer said to me “what happened last night Mister Zebedee?” Everything was very formal in those days! To my response of "Nothing Sir,” he said: ‘Come and look over the starboard side!’ This revealed that something had indeed gone wrong! We were at the centre of a large semicircle of oil floating on the previously immaculate seawater: thus I was introduced to the concept of culpable negligence even in the absence of oneself. On passage through the Mediterranean, as light relief from repairing the windlass I was able to observe dolphins swimming in our bow wave. Remember this was 1955 before television and certainly before the marvel of colour television and David Attenborough bringing such items into our living rooms on a daily basis. The bow wave was about 2 foot wide where the cut-water met the ocean. We proceeded to Melbourne and Sydney to discharge and in Sydney, because we were part of the P.& O. Group we were privileged to berth at Circular Quay amongst all the posh passenger liners. After the Lord Mayor’s show comes the dustcart or so they say: from Sydney we moved up the Queensland coast to what was grandiosely known as Port Alma. This was a two berth wooden jetty amongst a mangrove swamp where we spent six weeks discharging the railway lines; the adjacent berth was occupied by a succession of ships loading refrigerated cargoes. An uncomfortable ballast passage took us back to Port Kembla in New South Wales where we were supposed to embark concentrates but the dockers were on strike; a not unusual occurrence in those days in Australia; so after waiting two days we made our way across to New Zealand. En route we were apparently between two storms and one evening we rolled 41°, 42°, 43°, 44°, and finally 45°, before settling down again to some sort of normality! We loaded wool in Gisborne and I think Wellington and Auckland before returning via Panama to discharge in Dunkirk and Hull before a ballast passage to London when I left the ship for some leave. So, on my first voyage I had circumnavigated the globe!
The following trip we proceeded to Cuba in ballast were we loaded sugar for Japan. In the middle of the Pacific we met a storm. Due to a combination of reduced speed and bobbing up and down in our own pool over the two days we made about 150 miles through the water but only 50 miles overland. It was very impressive to go up on the bridge and watch us skiing down the waves which were about the same length as our ship and in the trough we buried our bows to almost halfway back along number one Hatch in a welter of white water before she started to rise again. On arrival it was discovered that the deck steam pipes which had been wrapped in one inch square cross section Magnesia insulation rope which was enclosed in a sewn together canvas shield which was wrapped in wire netting and the whole lot was protected from mechanical damage by longitudinal steel slats had been stripped back to the bare copper on the starboard side and as far back as the bridge accommodation on the port side. More importantly however we had discovered a weakness in the hull: the after corners of number two hatch, all four corners of number three hatch and the forward corners of number four Hatch had developed cracks from 3 to 5 inches long through about 2 inches of steel. I am not suggesting that our decks were 2 inches thick but as the plates around the corners of the hatches were L-shaped there were doubling plates underneath and a three-quarter circular sealing plate welded on top. On completion of discharge we proceeded to a repair berth where the repairs proceeded 24 hours a day until completion, as a result which our sleep was negligible. We went down to Queensland and loaded sugar in Townsville and Cairns and as the dockers were on a go slow this took another six weeks before we could cross the Pacific and go through the Panama Canal and past Cuba to go up the St Laurence to Montréal to discharge after which we loaded grain for home. Specifically Dunkirk and Hull once again! So once more I had circumnavigated the globe. I think that is enough for now but it can be continued unless there arises a howl of protest. Zebedee

Don Matheson
28th February 2011, 23:22
Quite mundane you say, You were proven to have caused Marseilles first oil slick, I believe they are still looking for you.
Nothing mundane about those trips, carry on.

Don

billyboy
1st March 2011, 01:06
A warm welcome aboard from the Philippines. Please enjoy all this great site has to offer.
Great introduction by the way

JET
1st March 2011, 06:59
With all those circumnavigations around the globe, it sounds like it was a 'Magic Roundabout'. When did Florence come on the scene?

Regards, John

hawkey01
1st March 2011, 11:41
Zebedee,

on behalf of the Moderating team welcome to SN. A very good introduction and a good read. We would be very pleased to have more of your seagoing memories. They would be best placed in the Mess Deck Forum. We look forward to more.

Hawkey01

GWB
1st March 2011, 12:06
Welcome aboard from brisbane in Oz, nice intro enjoyed reading it,

stan mayes
1st March 2011, 12:46
A very interesting description of your first trip but all through it no mention of the ship's name...as you mentioned P and O Group I presume it was one of Hain's ships?
Welcome aboard,
Stan

captain61
1st March 2011, 14:32
Welcome aboard this great site

Stephen

R58484956
1st March 2011, 16:55
Greetings Zebedee and welcome to SN on your first very interesting posting. As Stan says name of ship would make it just that more interesting. Bon voyage.

zebedee
2nd March 2011, 13:26
Quite mundane you say, You were proven to have caused Marseilles first oil slick, I believe they are still looking for you.
Nothing mundane about those trips, carry on.

Don
Thank you Don for your kind words. It was quite a small slick even by the cavalier standards of those days. Zebedee

zebedee
2nd March 2011, 13:41
With all those circumnavigations around the globe, it sounds like it was a 'Magic Roundabout'. When did Florence come on the scene?

Regards, John

Hi John, Florence was strictly verboten, although her presence in real life would have meant we could have had genuine milk instead of watered down (very on occasion) condensed milk. At least we were slightly better off than the crew who had to make do with sweetened condensed milk. Incidentally I am sure that some of the Marconi radio operators could have doubled for Dylan without any problems. but I must admit that although we had a new operator every trip I can only recall two of them, not surprisingly the very first one and the second one was the radio operator when I made my first trip as second engineer and his story would justify an article in itself! Watch this space. Regards, Zebedee.

zebedee
2nd March 2011, 13:50
A very interesting description of your first trip but all through it no mention of the ship's name...as you mentioned P and O Group I presume it was one of Hain's ships?
Welcome aboard,
Stan
Hello Stan a very good guess, yes I was with Hains and Hains was not the only P&O subsidiary; James Nourse was another one and after I left the company for reasons to be disclosed in a forthcoming article, James Nourse and Hains were amalgamated and the large white H on Hains' black funnels changed to HN and of course James Nourse' offices were closed completely. More information on the Hain steamship company and their ship's names in the future possibly.
Regards, Zebedee.