Mahanada voyages

Harry Nicholson
16th December 2006, 20:06
Ken Carr, now in Perth, WA. has asked me to post this for him. It is a piece he has written about his trips as electrician on the Mahanada.
(Ken and I sailed together on her in 1957.)


After completing five deep sea voyages and many coasting trips between June 1957 & August 1959 as ships Electrician I got to know the Mahanada rather well, a wonderful and exceptionally reliable old ship. In all the voyages I made on her I can only recall one major break down causing loss of time, the Tail End Shaft / Bearing ran out and started to leak rather badly in the middle of the Western Ocean this of course slowed us down considerably, eventually we discharged the cargo in the Southern States and dry docked in Mobile; fitted the spare Tail End Shaft no problems, off we go. I have noted a few comments in Nostalgia that Brocks run was rather poor, I completely disagree so lets do a trip:
First port was nearly always Port Said, ah yes the bum-boats, the search light just to make sure we did not take a short-cut, thence into the Red Sea to Jeddah, half the crew take leave to visit Mecca, In every visit to this Port we always had problems with the fridge system, the brine room always developed an ammonia leak? This had absolutely nothing to do with Jeddah being a dry port,..??. Next, Port Sudan , Massawa, Djibouti, all places of great interest and different cultures, also very warm indeed, and so to Aden, usually for only a few short hours whilst taking bunkers, a little shopping perhaps, a top class German camera? A Swiss watch complete with an inca block wow and all at duty free prices. Next, the most interesting and beautiful places on earth the Seychelles Islands, wonderful friendly happy people visit some of the surrounding Islands; Praslin Island, the home of that odd coconut the coco-de mer, the beautiful pure white beaches, a virtual paradise. Next, to another group of Islands, The Maldives, always good for a few parties with the R.A.F, then on to Ceylon ( Sri Lanka )
Colombo what a great city, one or two beers at the G.O.H. considered compulsory by Brocks, a day at the swimming club, a visit to Kandy not to be missed. Lets move on to the old R.N. Base of Trincomalee a good place to check out the ship's lifeboat and cruise around the bay. Next the east coast of India , Madras and Visakhapatnam; watch the ship being loaded with Chrome Ore purely by hand hundreds of workers, with a large type of WOK on their heads, tipping the ore into a Kip ready for the ship to haul aboard, just unbelievable.
Calcutta, what a diverse city. The Hooghly; Brocks had a very apt description of this area, but that’s another story??? The history of this city is amazing, great shopping in the markets, wonderful food, a trip on the Beetel-Juice Express not to be missed, however on the dark side I did not understand the meaning of the word Poverty until I wandered around some of the poor areas, it made me think how lucky I was.
Next a quick visit to East Pakistan ( Bangladesh ) Chittagong & Chalna ; return to Calcutta then off to the U.S A. Bunkers at Aden (dash ashore with evil intent to try and find the guy who sold you the genuine Swiss watch minus the Inca-Block ). Through the Canal and head for Gibraltar.
At this point we have just sailed many thousands of Ks in near perfect weather, the gentle roll of the ship, the quite hum of the turbines the only notable sounds was the gentle clunk of the feed pump, the toll of the watch bells, the day work personnel quietly going about their duty. Those sounds of a steamer in motion gentleman cannot be repeated on any other type of ship and fortunately they live with you forever.
On approaching the Rock the Engine room staff issue the Bridge with instructions to turn sharp right once through the Straits, the Bridge in their infinite wisdom pull rank and head for Savannah. Most of our spare time in the Southern States is used up by cementing diplomatic relations at various bars; good fun, but can be hazardous at times. Lake Charles, Pensacola, Mobile, and New Orleans, great nights out at the Jazz Clubs.
Move on to Texas, see the old battleship the USS Texas in the middle of a park as we cruise up to the hustle and bustle of Houston. Even the mosquito’s have twin engines in Texas. After five months wondering around the world the ship is in a crisis situation, we have run out of TENNANTS, its time for home and dear old Blighty and a drop of good beer. I have by-passed many ports of call, namely the northern ports of U.S.A. New York, Boston etc on different voyages
During these two years aboard the MAHANADA the crew hardly changed at all, Brocklebanks treated us well, the pay was good, the food first class, and as for my Ship Mates thank you for the wonderful unforgettable memories, and thank you to Brocklebanks for making it all possible.
Finally any comments on either of these two gentlemen?
1/ Sharky Clark of Seychelles fame. A likeable rogue.
2/ Chief Engineer Tommy Jones, he only did coastal work in my time, he enjoyed a social glass ?????
Ken Carr
Batty Sahib

Derek Roger
16th December 2006, 23:36
Wonderfull letter and right on the money on all counts .
I did 1 coastal on the Maidan as 4th Eng with Tommy " Have you got a beer for the old Chief " Jones . Remarable man and had the most beautufull abstracts all done in copper plate .
He was in some way connected to Antony Armstrong Jones and was flow home to attend princess Margarets wedding much to the chagrin I am told of the "Office Wallahs " Perhaps Tony Sprigings can comment on that occasion .
I am still waiting for my copy of Tonys book " Beyond the Mersey " somthing Ken my well enjoy as well as youself Harry .

PS Hope England can hang together for a draw today and kep the Ashes Alive !
Regards Derek

17th December 2006, 00:56
Sailed with both Ken and Harry on the Mahanada,great guys, great voyage ,this brings it all back.50 years ago.


Tony Sprigings
17th December 2006, 16:12
Not guilty 'me lud'. I think I was still at sea at that time but in any case it would have been handled by the Engineer's Dept.(Bob Masser et al)
Tony S.

Tony Selman
18th December 2006, 11:43
Speaking personally based on an 11 year seagoing career I always thought the Brock's run was middle of the road, what made the trips so good was the quality of the company itself, the ships and your shipmates. I cannot get quite so euphoric about the merits of, say,Port Sudan and Assab but I did thoroughly enjoy Colombo and some of the Indian ports. I was lucky enough to go almost everywhere in the world and thoroughly loved the Far East where I spent a lot of time, South Africa, Aussie and NZ were great as well. I heartily detested West Africa and on another trip never went ashore on a 6 month VLCC voyage with P&O/Trident Tankers. You take the good with the bad and overall we had a great time and I am sure most of us would love to have our time over again.

Brock's was a great company as has been said many times before and it is the main reason that the Brocklebank section is by far the most popular of the named company sections on this board.

Tony Sprigings
18th December 2006, 12:55
I agree with your sentiments. The run was awful really but the quality of the personnel was what made the difference. Says a lot for the Company selection process and the loyalty that the 'old timers' instilled in us all.