Compared to some of you I'm a newby only starting in 1953 but that's the early 50s too, so I shall consider myself as part of this distinguished group.
My first ship was the maiden voyage of the "Fleetbank" joining in Belfast at the shipyard. The taxi took me down to the ship from the agents and when I told him the ship's name, he said "That'll be a Weir ship" I thought he said 'wee-er' ship so my heart sank but when I got to the gangway, I thought she was enormous!
Other apprentices were Tom Pierce from Troon in Ayrshire (I was from Dundonald in Ayrshire) and Peter Cross from Romford (?) in Essex. Both were in mid-apprenticeship as opposed to me who had come direct from high school.
We sailed about two weeks later to Point Fortin, Trinidad to load drummed pitch for India. On the way across the Atlantic light ship, the sadistic Mate sent me down the lower fxl store to tally stores. The bow was rising and falling like a lift/elevator operated by a madman and the occasional thumps as it plowed into a hard one was pretty frightening for someone who had never experienced anything like it before. As for the smell of paint and tarred rope..... it was all I could do to keep my breakfast down. But I did although my ears were stuffed up with the continual variation in air pressure that the violent pitching produced.
As mentioned, the Mate was a sadistic b.st.rd, he created dramas as a teaching tool. One time, when I had been in a masthouse checking something and locked the door behind me, he later called my out, dragged me to the masthouse and opened it without a key. He said I hadn't locked it. I said I had. He spent four hours bollocking me on the necessity of checking doors
after turning the key just to make sure. I was dumbstruck. No one had ever spoken to me like this sod. But I've never locked a door since, on land or sea, without checking to see that it is secure!
All this within the first week of going to sea.
Well, needless to say, I am still around. Altogether, I was 29 years with Bank Line but I shall never forget my first few days with old whatsisname. Can't bring myself to reveal the identity of this sadistic so-and-so.
Went to Point Fortin. All the excitement of a full cargo of drummed bitumen has already been discussed so no need to elaborate. We too, were thought of as 'golden boys' because we were on the newest ship. Nothing could have been further from the truth!