Bum Boats of suez

DONALD241
13th August 2014, 16:25
Does any one remember the bum boats of the suez canal would like to know why called bum boats or maybe not,can remember the old arab gilli gilli man called jock macgregor who would come on board and do his magic tricks with baby chicks and his scottish accent was very good,do believe if it was a mostly english crew he would speak cockney
or scouse according to the crews on board.

joebuckham
13th August 2014, 16:50
remember them well and their stealing ways.

the name comes courtesy of admiral smyth and his 'sailors word book'

rgds joe b

David Wilcockson
13th August 2014, 17:46
George Roby springs to mind.
Cheers,
David

ninabaker
13th August 2014, 22:37
I certainly remember the Gilligilli men. I only went through the canal once and the memory is pretty vivid. I think because I was the only female on board I was something of a target for all those tricks they did with baby chicks - magicking them out of your clothes and so on. They were very very good.

I remember buying some green khaki tropical shirts - BP allowed khaki as well as white tropicals. The shirts were pretty good quality - lasted for years. I never bought any of the egyptian souvenirs as we had a lot of that sort of stuff at home - my mother taught archaeology and used to take her students to Egypt every year.

Is /was there anywhere else where bum boats came out to ships? I cannot think of anywhere offhand.
n

kypros
13th August 2014, 22:55
DONALD recall them very well they were word perfect on every accent out of the UK and pitched there voice to every ship going through the canal,they seemed to know were the crowd mainly came from I have never heard the Scouse accent copied better by anyone including actors.KYPROS

ben27
13th August 2014, 23:15
good day donald241.today.01:25.re:bumboats of suez.you had to lock your cabin.or they would be in for what they could get quick smart,at least way back.regards ben27

Jon Vincent
14th August 2014, 01:32
After reading this went to my closet and found two pair white and two pairs kaki shorts, I think courtesy of George Roby and they still fit good. My wife says the material is better than anything you can buy now, Happy, happy days.

GWB
14th August 2014, 04:23
I remember the Gilligilli man coming into Engineers Duty Mess and when he left there was no silverware on the table yet four lads sitting at the table never saw a thing but yellow chickens.

Keltic Star
14th August 2014, 04:37
good day donald241.today.01:25.re:bumboats of suez.you had to lock your cabin.or they would be in for what they could get quick smart,at least way back.regards ben27

Sometimes even locking your cabin door didn't keep them out! They could get into any crevice on a ship but their antics were always a great conversation piece and bring back fond memories,

AlbieR
14th August 2014, 04:46
I remember a Junior Engineer having his haircut by the barber in his cabin. The barber asked him to close his eyes while he cut his fringe, when he opened them again the barber had disappeared and also his stereo and wallet off his desk.
Another trip on a Kuwati registered ship the Arab Third Mate had his stereo stolen out of his cabin, an Arab cadet bought a stereo and at the dinner table the next evening they discovered it was the same machine. No brotherly love was shown between them, the Mate wanted his stereo back the cadet wanted his money back. Sort that one out!!
One saying comes to mind "Gillie Gillie Gille" and your cabin disappears.
Another favourite trick was to steal the starters out of the alleyway florescent lights, next time you had a blackout no lights until the leccy went round replacing them.

stein
14th August 2014, 05:03
In Aden the bumboat men sold what was of real value, they had the latest in gadgets at far below European prices, but in Suez and Port Said, it was mostly trash. I remember wallets looking like real leather and turning out to be cardboard, radios and watches that worked for one hour, stacks of small pornographic cards that all looked like they were made long before the war, hashish consisting of 98 percent camel dung. In addition, of course, there were all the very agile thieves that had to be physically removed from every aperture.

There was a barber there in the sixties who spoke Norwegian quite well, which helped his income I guess. I let him do my hair and he cut off a few strands and then asked me: "Now, about Anker - is he inside or is he out?" Anker Rogstad was a well-known safe cracker in Norway, who always swore he now would turn straight, but was forever getting caught after a big bank job on some tiny detail, and was something of a hero to many of us among the working class. He was hardly a name known outside of Oslo though, let alone Norway, and I thought that little demonstration of affinity was fancy.

trotterdotpom
14th August 2014, 06:37
How about the camels stuffed with used bandages? What a crack up.

John T

Stephen J. Card
14th August 2014, 06:58
Bought a camel and other odd and ends.. to use in the Bar. The price... a 20ltr drum of white topcoat... best Jotun. The Arab took away with the boat and he was happy. So was I. The drum said 'white' but it full of the rubbish left in the locker... looked same colour as one bosun used to call... 'same colour as scared woman's shite'!

tunatownshipwreck
14th August 2014, 07:02
How about the camels stuffed with used bandages? What a crack up.

John T

Are you talking about the cigarettes?

kypros
14th August 2014, 09:11
Having a good laugh at these threads,also remember one ship the skipper a bit mean with the subs we got a 200 issue of cigarettes the bum boat men wanted a changy changy for the most prized English cigs for money I decided to do a deal being a non smoker the old chippy called me over told me to take the packets out of the sleeve and put in a perfect size block of light wood.The deal was exchange by heaving line money coming up cigs going down to the boat.Anyway the money flashed Egyptian shillings notes, when the bum boat man got the cigs he started rowing like mad away from the ship when I checked the money I found something like a fifty shilling note with three zeros cleverly stuck on to make fifty thousand notes money was crap value anyway,when he was so far away from our ship he must have checked his cigarette sleeve and started shaking his fist back at us all rolling in laughter on the deck my first lesson on the bum boats I was just a sos.KYPROS

DONALD241
14th August 2014, 09:12
The bum boats also came out to you at anchor in Bombay,Hong Kong,Singapore i don't know if this still goes on to this day.

DONALD241
14th August 2014, 09:19
I certainly remember the Gilligilli men. I only went through the canal once and the memory is pretty vivid. I think because I was the only female on board I was something of a target for all those tricks they did with baby chicks - magicking them out of your clothes and so on. They were very very good.

I remember buying some green khaki tropical shirts - BP allowed khaki as well as white tropicals. The shirts were pretty good quality - lasted for years. I never bought any of the egyptian souvenirs as we had a lot of that sort of stuff at home - my mother taught archaeology and used to take her students to Egypt every year.

Is /was there anywhere else where bum boats came out to ships? I cannot think of anywhere offhand.
nYes they came out to you at anchor in Bombay,Singapore,Hong Kong.

DONALD241
14th August 2014, 09:22
A great place for Tropicals was Bombay the could also run you up a suit made to measure in a few hours and they where quite good

Binnacle
14th August 2014, 12:25
Transited the canal 8 times on one ship, at Port Said George Robey used to come out on his launch carrying a beautiful bouquet of flowers for the captain's wife, within minutes he reappeared on the lower bridge deck to whistle his bumboat alongside. The paper work was handed down and those of us who made purchases just signed the book, King Farouk. As there was a curfew in Abadan and the Stern Gang in Palestine we were limited in shopping choice if our gear was wearing out. Before arrival and before the first fez appeared above the bulwark we had to remove the fo'c'sle head doors, remove all our toys from inside i.e. mooring ropes, stages, bosuns chairs, gantlines, bowsing in lines, rat guards, fenders, coils of wire, man helps, prayer books, canvas wind chutes, heaving lines, cement bags, sand bags, lengths of chippy's timber, etc etc etc. Stow the lot on top of the dry cargo hatch, cover with tarpaulin and then takes turns sitting on it to keep the Ali Baba crowd at bay. The empty space was then then exempt from Suez Canal dues, once clear of the canal the process was reversed. Needless to say with all the hassle and thievery we did nothing to improve Anglo/Egyptian relations.
Happy Days

Klaatu83
14th August 2014, 13:02
I don't know why they were called "bumboats", but I do know that the term goes back a long time, at least to the 19th Century. After all, there were allusions to "bumboats" in Gilbert and Sullivan's "HMS Pinafore".

The Suez Canal bum-boatmen would steal anything that wasn't welded down. The Canal was the only place I have ever been where they used to lock up all the ship's fire-fighting equipment, to prevent the Egyptians from stealing the brass nozzles. At the Port of Suez I recall seeing one bumboat go alongside one of the channel buoys and I actually saw the boatman steal the light bulb off the buoy.

Although I never learned his name I also remember the old "Gilly-Gilly Man", who came aboard ships transiting the Suez Canal and performed feats of slight-of-hand with the a scrawniest chicken I have ever seen. We had a really difficult time getting rid of him, which was made even more difficult by our Cadet, who wanted to see more "magic tricks". Finally I had to take the young fool aside and explain to him that the man was a thief and that we were trying to encourage him to leave. The kid was astonished at that. "How to you know he's a thief?", he asked. "First, because all these people are thieves; and second, because any guy who can pull a chicken out of a hat can just as easily pull a wallet out of your pocket".

trotterdotpom
14th August 2014, 15:35
Are you talking about the cigarettes?

No, they would be Camels. Probably taste the same though. Those paper packs with the snazzy logo were much more sophisticated than a packet of Woodbines, weren't they?

John T

tunatownshipwreck
14th August 2014, 17:47
No, they would be Camels. Probably taste the same though. Those paper packs with the snazzy logo were much more sophisticated than a packet of Woodbines, weren't they?

John T

Yes, the art was nice, but in Tijuana you can buy an attractive pack of "Horse S**t" cigarettes.

Varley
15th August 2014, 00:39
Ah, that explains it. One of the little legacies I have from my late friend's house clearing is about 2.5 Kg of King Edward's (which he had the temerity to refer to as cigars, until offered a Havana anyway). I was astonished to see that they claim to have "natural wrappers" there's no denying that horse faeces is natural however I don't think they taste even that good.

John Briggs
15th August 2014, 04:43
In Singapore the milk girl's boat was definitely not a bum boat, quite the opposite in fact.

trotterdotpom
15th August 2014, 07:16
In Singapore the milk girl's boat was definitely not a bum boat, quite the opposite in fact.

Tee hee.

Here (hopefully) is Singapore Roads a couple of months ago) ...not a Coca Cola girl in sight.

A sad Strait of non affairs.

John T

Varley
15th August 2014, 09:37
What? No sew-sew girls?

Aberdonian
15th August 2014, 15:26
In 1962, when the Bencleuch was at a Singapore anchorage some distance from the shore, we had few visitors apart from port labourers, cheery young girls selling fresh milk from baskets at 1/3d per bottle and elderly Sew-sew women. Having been on night duty I was abed one afternoon when a Sew-sew lady entered my cabin unannounced and, ignoring my plea that I had no business for her, went through all drawers and lockers selecting garments needing minor repairs. An hour later she returned demanding, and readily getting $2 (5/-) for her excellent handiwork.

Keith