So what did you fix it with? - Ships Nostalgia
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So what did you fix it with?

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  #1  
Old 21st October 2010, 15:34
Vital Sparks Vital Sparks is offline  
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So what did you fix it with?

There were occasions when something broke and you just didn't have the spares. So what did you fix it with?

Main transmitter suddenly refuses to tune one morning, crackling noise breaking through on main rx, distinct smell of burning insulation and a puff of smoke emerging from the tx final stage.

Opened up the cabinet and inspected the damage. Interesting problem, a flat spring component, part of the "anode" variable inductor rotating joint had split apart causing an open circuit. Due to this, a small piece of insulating material which previously held two metal components at the same potential briefly experienced the full HT voltage and promptly went up in smoke.

Need to replace the insulator and the spring but of course no mechanical spares held. I didn't have any brass strip but there was some copper earthing strap left over from the installation of the bridge 2182 monitor. Cut bent twisted and drilled the copper into an approximation of the original. Being too soft it won't last as long as brass but it should do until the real spares arrive. Made a second just in case it didn't.

Now for the insulator, paxolin bush being in short supply I used a section of PVC cut from the nozzle of a tube of glue. Made a spare for this too.

Fired up the transmitter and it worked prefectly however was of the opinion that we shouldn't really be sailing around for long with the main tx in this state but head office disagreed so in the end it was three months before I received the "urgent" spares. Would any survyors care to comment.
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  #2  
Old 21st October 2010, 17:36
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mikeg mikeg is offline  
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Remember fixing a compression cap trimmer with mica from the boiler spares. When an IF interstage tranformer went in a receiver I just used a capacitor bridge instead, the receiver never worked so well!
Plenty of make do's especially when power supplies went down, can't remember how now but got things going again.
I think all RO's had to think outside the box because of lack of spares.
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  #3  
Old 21st October 2010, 19:19
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Main HF Tx wouldn't tune. The tuning knob outside the case refused to move.

The coil frame - a 'pot' type construction had cracked and the coil shifted causing the flanged contact wheel that ran across the top bar of the frame to jam up, mangle itself and refuse to move.

Fix - a bit of araldite or the frame and a new flanged wheel contact runner made by the Oz 3rd Eng - a brilliant fitter. Worked like a charm and all restored within 24 hours.

David
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  #4  
Old 21st October 2010, 22:23
Gareth Jones Gareth Jones is offline  
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Radar failed during a storm - the plastic cover on the parabolic scanner horn had cracked and crumbled allowing ingress of water. when it dried out. I cut a double thickness of plastic tablecloth to shape which, when screwed in place worked perfectly for about 3 months - spare never arrived - so Ch steward gave me a tablecloth of my own to cut bits off as required !!!
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  #5  
Old 22nd October 2010, 08:48
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Ron Stringer Ron Stringer is offline
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Spares

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeg View Post
I think all RO's had to think outside the box because of lack of spares.
If you ever sailed on a ship where the radio/radar equipment was on rental from MIMCo, you wouldn't forget the boxes of spare parts. I can't remember the numbers for sure but the spares kit for Crusader ran to several hundred items and filled several large cardboard boxes. Similar for Hermes/Argus radars.

Very few of the items seemed to get used; on every ship I worked on you spent more time shifting boxes of spares around, to find the item that you wanted, than you did fixing the fault.

In the mid-1990s, in one year we wrote off over 1.2M of unused spares in the Central Stores at Chelmsford, dating back to Oceanspan and even before. The original policy had been to order 10% of each order for new equipment to be supplied as spare parts. Of course only a very few components ever failed (and as they did, they were replaced by normal stock control) while the vast majority sat in stock for ever. That procurement policy was changed later, but the mass already in stock remained.

We eventually reached a position where our limit on capital invested was saturated by the book value of the stockholding of bits for kit that was no longer on ships, and we couldn't order essential spares or other capital items. No Financial Director was brave enough to bite the bullet by declaring the majority of the stock to be obsolete and surplus and writing it off. Eventually we had a combination of MD and FD that came in together and they wanted to clear the decks and load all the bad sh*t onto their predecessors in Year 1 so that their performance in subsequent years would be seen in a much better light. (Seem to have heard something like that again in the media recently).

We were ordered to go through everything and identify anything that would not be used in the next 6 months and select it for disposal. Had a hell of a job making a case for any spares, even the new stuff still in production - if you knew which items were going to fail in the next 6 months, you would change the design and fix it so they didn't fail. They took the big hit and from then on spares were more difficult to come by but the Profit-to-Capital-Employed Ratio was fantastic and the Directors for big bonuses.
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  #6  
Old 22nd October 2010, 11:11
trotterdotpom trotterdotpom is offline  
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I seem to recall some sort of official requirement for shipborne spare parts - so many replacement valves for however many were in the equipment and so forth.

A lot of ships would have boxes of these with "used but good" written on them. It was very tempting to fault find by swapping valves - I wonder how many "used but good" valves were actually damaged that way. The spares box should have been re-named "The Old Curiosity Shop".

Every ship, I used to religiously go through the spares lists, check what was there and order missing items. Of course, there was often no spare for the bits that went wrong and I often amazed myself by proving that Ohm's Law was actually right - very satisfying when you were able to do that.

I developed a technique for not dropping small screws and seeing them disappear into inaccessible places - a small piece of snot on the end of a two foot screwdriver worked a treat and I never ran out of it! I called it "green tack". Unfortuately, someone called Mr Blue beat me to the Patent Office by a nose.

John T.
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  #7  
Old 22nd October 2010, 12:33
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mikeg mikeg is offline  
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Used to take a good meter and few tools with me, especially screwdrivers with grips to hold screws - one blade shown below.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Screw grip .JPG (41.0 KB, 117 views)
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  #8  
Old 22nd October 2010, 19:40
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After many treks from the wheelhouse to the radar room trying to get a BTH RMS2 to stay on, during a roll, the door slammed with an almighty bang. 'That's it Sparks, great job' called the 2nd Mate from the wheelhouse.

I said nothing !!!

David
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  #9  
Old 22nd October 2010, 23:51
gwzm gwzm is offline  
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BTH RMS1 radar on SS Malakand failed after an especially heavy tropical downpour. After a lot of searching, it turned out to be water in the waveguide. Traced to cracked paintwork and broken solder on the mitre bend on the waveguide beneath the scanner. The tool kit included a humungous soldering iron that resembled a cricket bat so not too difficult to remove the faulty bit of w/g, clean it up, and resolder. Worked fine afterwards.
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  #10  
Old 23rd October 2010, 00:01
Naytikos Naytikos is offline  
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My first trip (not counting a trawler) was on Benmacdhui where the chief R/O had got his ticket before WWII and been on that ship since the maiden voyage in 1947. She had a Nautilus VHF which had a range of only half a mile. Having nothing much to do, with the ship at anchor off Port Swettenham (Port Kelang today) I asked if I could 'fix it'.
Big joke to everyone, it seemed, first trip R/Os were not held in very high regard in Ben line.
What happened to the antenna? I asked, noticing that there was no vertical stub rising from the ground plane on a stanchion at the aft end of the radar platform.
Red faces and 'can you do anything with it?'
1' 6.4" of copper tube and a jubilee clip later and we had a 25 mile range.
'How did you know how long to make the tube?' was the next question.

I couldn't think of a polite answer!
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  #11  
Old 24th October 2010, 02:44
Radiomariner Radiomariner is offline  
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I recall back in 1967 on the British Mariner a fault developed on the small Kelvin Hughes radar display. Can't remember the model, it stood on a plinth so that the visor was at eye level. The whole thing slid out on a rack for maintenance.
Cant remember the original fault but it only took a few minutes to repair. Portishead traffic list was on the loudspeaker and when it passed the "GL's (GLTA), i went through to radio room to switch off speaker. In that very short time the 2/O decided to slide the display unit back into its cabinet, I was just re-entering the wheelhouse as he did so. It made a noise like a machine gun. It was not correctly ligned up on its rails and the range change switch consisting of about a dozen wafers had caught on the cabinet and every wafer was snapped in half. No spare.
Rebuilt switch wafers using carboard from back of "Marconi" message pads and the good old Araldite. Worked a treat. KH kept sending the wrong type of switch as a replacement. The day I paid off the "third" replacement arrived again the wrong type but this time with instructions how to modify it. My relief simply said "Lets wait until it goes wrong" and put it away in the spares drawer.
I never did find if it was ever repaired properly
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  #12  
Old 24th October 2010, 03:17
Radiomariner Radiomariner is offline  
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On the Varicella 1975 we did a lot of grain lightering off Karachi. One of the ships we lightened was "Ephasos". The radio operator was unable to repair one of his two main receivers, cant remember the make think it was a Skanti, and asked for my help. It was quite dead, he had replaced every single printed circuit card and the motherboard. I eventually found the problem to be the 5V stabalising transistor for the master oscillator which was mounted direct on to the chasis. He had no replacement for this. I connected up a 5V supply from the audio board to the MO. This worked fine as long as the audio volume was not turned up too far when the receiver would become unstable. I gave him the details and a list of all the equivalent transistors for him to order a replacement. I took back half a case of Ouzo to the Varicella.

About two years later I was on a different ship, at Curacao I Believe, and the Ephasos was on the same jetty. I met the R/O (a different one) ashore and he told me he had a problem with instability on one of his receivers when on loudspeaker, but ok on headphones. None of the shore technicians could find the fault. I could hardly contain myself, but I kept stumph. I offered to have a look. Went with him back to the Ephasos, identified that my "link" was still in place, and that a new stabaliser transistor had been fitted. Two snips and my link was removed and the receiver returned to it's pristine glory before the first beer was consumed. This time I returned to my ship legless with four bottles of "Famous Grouse" and a promise of a well paid job from the Greek Captain.
I never of course mentioned that I had done the original mod!!

Last edited by Radiomariner; 24th October 2010 at 03:20.. Reason: Typo error
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  #13  
Old 30th October 2010, 07:03
Billieboy Billieboy is offline  
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In the engine room one day the motor of one of the main engine Lub. Oil pumps started to rattle. The lower roller race had failed and come loose from the shaft. Stripped the motor down and skimmed the journal/shaft until it was cleaned up, the finished diameter was under the shaft diameter so a shrink fit sleeve was proposed, an old sootblower element was about the right size, bored out the sleeve and rough turned the outside diameter. Warmed up the new sleeve on the superheater outlet, then dropped it over the shaft and let it cool. Finish turned the sleeve and fitted a new roller race. The repair lasted 9 months until the next drydock when a new motor was fitted.
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  #14  
Old 30th October 2010, 07:20
Reef Knot Reef Knot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vital Sparks View Post
Main transmitter suddenly refuses to tune one morning, crackling noise breaking through on main rx, distinct smell of burning insulation and a puff of smoke emerging from the tx final stage.
Rule of thumb...

When the magic smoke escapes, its poked!

(OK! I'm going! Don't push!)
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  #15  
Old 30th October 2010, 12:12
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mikeg mikeg is offline  
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Rule of thumb...

When the magic smoke escapes, its poked!

(OK! I'm going! Don't push!)
Reminds me of Southampton College where one unfortunate students fault finding caused smoke to emit from the transmitter during an exam. Thereafter one lecturer used to say 'tune for maximum smoke'
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  #16  
Old 31st October 2010, 11:26
5TT 5TT is offline  
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Quote:
Thereafter one lecturer used to say 'tune for maximum smoke'
I recall a chap at college who'd touch the antenna terminal on the Salvor 3 after tuning up, sniff the burnt flesh on his finger and proclaim "Yeah, that's about 50 watts" ...

I often wonder if he's still alive !!

= Adrian +
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  #17  
Old 31st October 2010, 13:54
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Ron Stringer Ron Stringer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5TT View Post
I recall a chap at college who'd touch the antenna terminal on the Salvor 3 after tuning up, sniff the burnt flesh on his finger and proclaim "Yeah, that's about 50 watts" ...
On occasion while crisping up the crackling on the Sunday roast pork, things have got a bit too crisp. The smell when the oven door is opened immediately brings back the memories of the results of touching high voltage/RF terminals of one sort or another. Over the years I seem to have left bits of skin on several radars and radio transmitters.

Once smelt, never forgotten.
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  #18  
Old 31st October 2010, 14:09
BOB GARROCH BOB GARROCH is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Naytikos View Post
My first trip (not counting a trawler) was on Benmacdhui where the chief R/O had got his ticket before WWII and been on that ship since the maiden voyage in 1947. She had a Nautilus VHF which had a range of only half a mile. Having nothing much to do, with the ship at anchor off Port Swettenham (Port Kelang today) I asked if I could 'fix it'.
Big joke to everyone, it seemed, first trip R/Os were not held in very high regard in Ben line.
What happened to the antenna? I asked, noticing that there was no vertical stub rising from the ground plane on a stanchion at the aft end of the radar platform.
Red faces and 'can you do anything with it?'
1' 6.4" of copper tube and a jubilee clip later and we had a 25 mile range.
'How did you know how long to make the tube?' was the next question.

I couldn't think of a polite answer!
As a radio engineer for Pye telecom based in Wales. I was called out to
the Dembyshire ambulance service, which was off the air. I traced the fault to a remote radio site with no UHF link. It was middle of winter and snowing. On arrival at the site I noticed the Yagi had broken away from the mast, due to metal fatigue. The only way to get back on the air was to climb the mast and strip the coax to about 5 inches of inner and pointing the iiner down the valley to the other radio site. The system worked the entire winter, until the riggers could replace the antenna.
Another time in the middle of the Karoo desert on a 7000ft site my antenna where being broken by Baboons swinging on the yag boomi. I fixed this problem by hanging cassete tape on to the mast. As the tape blew in the wind it looked like snakes. Baboon problem sorted out.
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Old 31st October 2010, 19:58
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Ron Stringer Ron Stringer is offline
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Marconi's 'Oceanlink 400' was a 400W, 1.6-30MHz, solid state transmitter/receiver where the transmitter antenna tuning was fully automatic. The transmitter RF output was fed via a 50-Ohm coax to a remote ATU, fitted out on deck at the base of the transmitting antenna. One such installation gave a lot of problems and complaints because the transmitter frequently failed to find tune.

After various service agents and Marconi depot staff had made unsuccessful service calls to the vessel, it was clear that someone from Head Office would have to go and sort things out. Because my right-hand man was on leave and the only other guy available with experience of that transmitter was the one that had supervised the original installation, I sallied out from the Ivory Tower of Chelmsford and visited the vessel in a UK port. Sure enough the transmitter antenna tuning was very unstable, sometimes achieving a match within a second or so, at other times hunting up and down but never getting on tune.

Having tried it on MF and every HF band, I went above deck to check out the antenna and the external installation. I quickly found the problem. The ATU earth connection to the ship's superstructure had been executed by means of a Jubilee clip fastened around one of the stanchions of the ship's railing around the monkey island. Having replaced that arrangement by an earth bolt screwed into the deck and some copper strip, all was sweetness and light. Believe me, on my return, there was one very red face in the team.

For some years that Jubilee clip hung on a peg, back in my office, as a reminder to my staff that earthing was a vital component of any transmitter installation. It now sits on a shelf in my garage, having retired with me.
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  #20  
Old 1st November 2010, 08:45
BOB GARROCH BOB GARROCH is offline  
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i was requested to check on a radio system at a site called "MAC" at 8000ft in the 'Bavianskloof" (Baboon range of hills) . This is an extreme hostile environment in winter and summer, extremes of weather, snow, ice and summer 45C+ . Also wild animals including lots of Baboons and leopard and I would normally request an airforce helicopter to drop me off on top of the mountain. However the airforce where not available, So I had to plan a field trip, which included survival gear for 5 days, water, test equipment, weapons (For protection against wild animals) and field escourts to carry the test equipment and survival gear.

I had to leave home with my landcruiser at 3.00am (After advising mountain rescue of my intentions, project times, radio channel number of people. Drive for three hours to pick up the field escourts and then drive through the bush for two hours, then two hours up the mountain track as far as we could get, and then walk for another two hours to the radio site up the edge of the mountain. I found the fault in the transmitter and pulled out my trusty 12vdc soldering iron to replace the part and discovered that I had no solder. I normally wind the solder onto the cable of the soldering iron.
After spending 5 minutes sweating and cursing I scratched around on the ground looking through the pebbles and rocks and found 1 inch of solder. It was just enough to replace the TX PA . Someone was on my side that day. In fact it was one of those special days, lovely weather and the wind was trickeling over the rocks sounding like water. Which did not exist in that environment. From that site I could speak over 300km on VHF ( The joys of a Radio Engineer in Africa)
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  #21  
Old 1st November 2010, 18:01
Naytikos Naytikos is offline  
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Bob, if you ever need an assistant for a field trip like that, let me know!
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  #22  
Old 1st November 2010, 18:33
5TT 5TT is offline  
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Ron, Mr Google hasn't turned up much on the Oceanlink 400.
Do you still have any info on it, photos etc?

= Adrian +
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  #23  
Old 1st November 2010, 20:35
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Ron Stringer Ron Stringer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5TT View Post
Ron, Mr Google hasn't turned up much on the Oceanlink 400.
Do you still have any info on it, photos etc?

= Adrian +
Sorry Adrian, nothing at all. By the time that series of products came out (Oceanlink 800/400/810/EMX) the 'Marconi Mariner' in-house magazine had been discontinued so that is not a possible source as it was for the older products. There may be people with copies of the brochures (which were quite flash by MIMCo standards) or with handbooks, but I'm not one of them.
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  #24  
Old 3rd December 2010, 20:06
John Lyne John Lyne is offline  
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While serving as the second mate on the Mobil Endeavour yonks ago we had a Captain ( Anthony was it ?) who would insist on the radat scanner being aligned athwartships when not in use...consequently when coming onto the bridge he would pulse the scanner controls until it was so,after all this misstreatment the tufnel gearing in the servo motor gave up the ghost and the ppi would show on the screen leaping around on different bearings instead of head up.
Consequently being quite a distance off the coast a load of extra work would be involved in taking sights to fix our position instead of using the radar.
My 'repair' was to take the servo motor from the radar scanner unit lash it to the side of the wheelhouse console and attatch a small handle to the mangled gears (I can't remember what re-wiring was involved but it was very basic ) then by carefully rotating the handle one could get the ppi to point head up plus or minus a couple of degrees so it would be easy to identify points of land and get a good position by means of distances off....I attatched a 'What the Butler saw' label to the assembly..!
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Old 18th December 2010, 23:51
radioman1969 radioman1969 is offline  
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Smile Freelance

After 20 odd years with 'organised' UK flag vessels decided to see how the other half lived and joined UME. They sent me to a small Italian flagged LPG tanker. Not a spare part onboard (not even for the gas side/engines !!). On my side the guy I relieved was drunk in bed so I was on my own to do 'handover'. Good start, eh?

I always take my own testmeter, soldering iron and basic spares kit (notably Decca Radar scanner motor brushes) just in case; fortunate in this case as ship had two TM type Decca radars, one of which was permanently switched off as it had ceased working some months before and the other radar could only be used on Relative Motion mode.

The inop one only required scanner motor brushes fitted (my spares came in useful again !) and in the other case, the shaft of the synchro motor had come unstuck - araldite solved that.

The Italians were 'gob smacked' that both radars were up and running within 24 hrs of me joining !

UME were rubbish to work for; it took me ages to claim my wages when I left as they had held back one month's salary in case I 'jumped ship'.

The lads on there were great to sail with even though we had to supply much of our own food (I survived on cereals and water for the whole 6 months and in port stocked up on fresh milk) The company supplied very little foodstuffs - we even had to buy our own soap ! I lost about 5 stone in weight.

It was a real eye opener after the luxury of UK flagged vessels. Still worth the experience.
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