Drydock in Mobile, Alabama. - Ships Nostalgia

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Drydock in Mobile, Alabama.

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Old 30th January 2019, 20:43
Harry Nicholson's Avatar
Harry Nicholson Harry Nicholson is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2005
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Drydock in Mobile, Alabama.

Things being quiet here, I thought to post this little memory of 1957 with SS Mahanada in dry dock to mend a stern gland leak:

I look over the side into the vast, dripping bowels of the dry-dock. It seems crazy that this arrangement of timbers can be expected to hold erect our eight-thousand tons of steel, equipment, and crew. What if all this gives way?
Electrical cables and fresh water hoses run aboard from the shore, so that the vitals of the ship are kept just alive. But there are no solid-sewage facilities; for that we must walk the short gangway suspended over the void, to a low building on the dockside. I note the shipyard workers going in and out. There's a building for 'Whites' and another for 'Colored'. I experience an urgency, so I'll check out the arrangements and report back.
Arrangements within are crude. The atmosphere is mildly ripe, but the effect is masked by a haze of tobacco smoke through which soporific flies come and go. I see no sign of cubicles for privacy -- merely a long, broad bench of polished wood pierced by the requisite holes. There's plenty of room, there's about ten holes and only two dock workers seated at the far end, close together. Both are at ease, reading newspapers and puffing on the final inches of fat cigars. They pay me no attention, so I undo my braces, lower my serge, navy-blue uniform trousers, and take a seat at the other end of the bench, well away from them. Before I sit, I note there are no flushing arrangements; instead a channel of water continually runs beneath the length of the bench.
Apart from the occasional grunt, my lavatorial comrades don't appear to be engaged in much else besides the reading of newspapers. I conclude they are probably stealing a little private time. A short while later, my reverie is broken when I hear the man at the far end crunch up his newspaper into a ball. He thumbs the wheel of a Zippo lighter, applies the flame to the newspaper, gets it well alight, then drops it through the lavatory hole into the water channel. His neighbour immediately rises. It takes two seconds before I feel the flames pass beneath my bare backside. Both men leave without a word. Armed with knowledge of the way of things in Mobile, I amble back to the ship.
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Old 31st January 2019, 12:20
bryanm bryanm is offline  
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I was in mobile in 1968 on Maskeliya, not in dry dock but had occasion to use a public toilet, again marked white and coloureds. There were proper toilets but no cubicles so no privacy. Luckily I only need a wee
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