West African coaster

Lagos-Marina
1st October 2012, 08:55
Greetings. I am not so much a 'mariner' as a 'marina', but my interests extend back to the WWII days in the West African rivers. With a few Elder Dempster ships in my head - from Mary Kingsley and Abosso to the white swan Aureol - I am particularly interested in anecdotes of the Coast and, in particular, navigation of the rivers and cargoes; anything from deck passengers to rafts of timber at Takoradi. Also the ports, as far south as Luanda and especially Victoria. For a starter, has anyone memories of the surf boat ports? Not exclusively the E D ships - I have a note about a Portuguese passenger liner which used to ply along the coast. And, of course, John Holts and Palm Line and all else besides.

woodend
1st October 2012, 09:56
There are quite a few of us on the 'site' regularly that are ex-West Coasters in E.D.'s and Palm Line. Suggest you read the Elder Dempster and Palm Line posts in their FORUMS first as there are some very interesting ones there on your various requested stories.

Pompeyfan
1st October 2012, 10:15
On behalf of the 'SN Moderating Team', welcome aboard Lagos-Marina.

James_C
1st October 2012, 10:30
Lagos-Marina,
A warm welcome to Ships Nostalgia where I hope you'll find much of interest.
Enjoy the voyage!

Julian Calvin
1st October 2012, 10:47
As put in private post, recent books of interest full of old stories from expats covering many years in both Nigeria and on the Coast are "Ah, this Nigeria" and "So life be"

R58484956
1st October 2012, 11:54
Greetings LM and welcome to SN. Bon voyage.

lakercapt
1st October 2012, 14:32
I have put a post about an incident at a surf port ,Accra that you may find of intesest.
Look under" West Africian tales" in the search forum.(or Accra)

stan mayes
1st October 2012, 18:46
Hi L - M.
In the Merchant Navy I had some experience of the West African coast.
I was in Viking Star sailing independently when we were sunk by three torpedoes from U 130 on 25th August 1942.We were 180 miles SW of Freetown -Captain Mills and seven crew were lost.
Three of the four lifeboats were destroyed and 36 survivors sailed the other boat to the coast of Sierra Leone in six days where we were capsized in heavy surf on Turner's Peninsula...Then a couple days walking through the jungle escorted by natives until reaching Bonthe - Sherbro..Eventually to Freetown and all hands into a hospital suffering malaria.
My next visit to West Africa was in the troopship Largs Bay in July 1943.
We took 2000 Nigerian troops from Lagos to Freetown and transferred them to larger ships then we took on 2000 Gold Coast and Nigerian troops and later rendezvoused with a troopshp convoy WS 32..All ships had West African troops aboard and after a stop at Capetown and Durban we disembarked the troops at Bombay...They would be deployed in the Burma Campaign.
My next ship to West Africa was the tanker Neritina of Anglo Saxon Pet.Co in February 1944.We took a cargo of aviation spirit to Freetown and Takoradi.
In February 1946 I was in Dallington Court on Elder Dempster charter to Bathurst,Freetown here took on Krooboys ,Takoradi,Sekondi,Apapa and Sapele.
At Sapele I believe we were the third deep sea ship to go there ( I would like this confimed)..The two previous ships were Deido and MacGregor Laird of ED's.
There were no berths at Sapele..We moored to trees in the jungle accross the river from Sapele and loaded logs from the river..
My second voyage in Dallington Court was in April 1945 to Takoradi where we loaded 9000 tons of iron ore for Middlesbrough.
In 1952 I was in Starcrest of Crest Line on charter to Elder Dempster outward and Palm Line homeward..
Our ports were Dakar,Freetown,Takoradi,Sekondi,Cape Coast,Accra,Lagos,Apapa,Warri,Calabar,Port Harcourt -Lagos, Takoradi to pay off the Krooboys - Dakar for bunkers - Liverpool for discharge of cargo..
Regards,
Stan

Gulpers
1st October 2012, 18:48
LM,

Also on behalf of the SN Moderating Team, thanks for your introduction and a warm welcome aboard.
You will thoroughly enjoy your time on SN and will also get many happy hours entertainment from your membership. (Thumb)

Lagos-Marina
1st October 2012, 19:24
Thanks for your reply - I have found my way around the companionways and am catching up on some of the Old Coasters.

Lagos-Marina
1st October 2012, 19:28
I have put a post about an incident at a surf port ,Accra that you may find of intesest.
Look under" West Africian tales" in the search forum.(or Accra)

Thanks to lakercapt. That seems like an excellent account; I have a few times shot through the surf there myself. Somewhere I have some good photos of the boat boys working the surf boats. James Cowden sent me a photo of myself from circa 1956 with a crew of the surf boats.

Lagos-Marina
1st October 2012, 19:35
Hi L - M.
In the Merchant Navy I had some experience of the West African coast.
I was in Viking Star sailing independently when we were sunk by three torpedoes from U 130 on 25th August 1942.We were 180 miles SW of Freetown -Captain Mills and seven crew were lost.
Three of the four lifeboats were destroyed and 36 survivors sailed the other boat to the coast of Sierra Leone in six days where we were capsized in heavy surf on Turner's Peninsula...Then a couple days walking through the jungle escorted by natives until reaching Bonthe - Sherbro..Eventually to Freetown and all hands into a hospital suffering malaria.
My next visit to West Africa was in the troopship Largs Bay in July 1943.
..
Regards,
Stan

Stan mayes - what a voyage with the Viking Star! It seems the author Graham Greene used the story of your survival in his novel 'The Heart of the Matter'.

stan mayes
1st October 2012, 19:42
Thankyou for your reply L-M,
I was unaware of the novel by Graham Greene -I will try to obtain it.

Lagos-Marina
3rd October 2012, 11:33
Stan Mayes - having been familiar for many years with the Dunedin Star, I was fascinated to read your account of the Viking Star and your vivid recollection and descriptions. What became of the mariner who gave up his place in the lifeboat? I am still immersed in all these nautical tales in Ships Nostalgia. If I may skip briefly over them all, Stan, have you in your searches for other survivors, come across any of those from the Edward Blyden?

billyboy
4th October 2012, 00:00
A warm welcome aboard from the Philippines. Please enjoy all this great site has to offer.

stan mayes
4th October 2012, 20:28
Lagos-Marina,
That brave incident was by Jim Daintith AB.
Three rafts with 17 survivors on them drifted for 12 days and were
eventually capsized in heavy surf on the coast of Liberia.Unfortunately
a DEMS gunner was killed..
They suffered terrible agonies of salt water boils and sunburn as most
were wearing very little clothing.
I was contacted by John Rigiani about 40 years ago,he was 3rd Officer
and was on one of the rafts.He was now a Master with Blue Star Line and
later their Shore Superintendent in Liverpool and we corresponded regularly.
Sadly he crossed the bar in 1996.
The son of Jim Daintith also contacted me about ten years ago and I was
able to tell him of the bravery of his father,we still correspond.
I don't know any of the survivors of Edward Blyden.
Regards,
Stan

Rogerfrench
4th October 2012, 20:37
There is also an excellent book "Palm Oil and Small Chop" by John Goble about the later days of the old West Coast trade.

stan mayes
5th October 2012, 12:53
Yes Roger an excellent book it is.
I am privileged to have known John Goble for many years when he was with
Elder Dempster and Palm Line.
Regards,
Stan