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Blue Funnel Heyday.

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  #1  
Old 28th March 2009, 15:56
Hugh Ferguson's Avatar
Hugh Ferguson Hugh Ferguson is offline  
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Blue Funnel Heyday.

I believe most would agree that the 1950's decade was the heyday of the typical cargo liner era. It was a time when, on sighting such a ship emerging over the horizon, she could be readily identified as a City, a Shaw Savill & Albion, a Clan, a Brocklebank, a Danish Ostasiatiske Kompagni Aktieselskabet Det, a Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij, a Glen, a Bluey, an Osaka Shosen Kabushiki Kaisha, a B.I., a Hamburg-Amerikanishe Packetfahrt Actien Gesellschaft, or yet many another of that incredibly varied fleet of merchant ships that ploughed the seas during that glorious era when ships had character and all retained their distinctive livery.
In the middle of that decade, 1955, I happened to be a pilot in the Port of Aden and it was in that very year that the number of ships calling there exceeded 5,000. During my near two years in Aden I piloted 1,204 ships, and of those 62 were of my old company, the Blue Funnel & Glen Line.
That is an astonishing 5% of the total. It's little wonder that Blue Funnel was a bye-word amongst the 12 working pilots, (four to an eight hour watch) a 13th pilot being the one having a day off during a week.

Last edited by Hugh Ferguson; 28th March 2009 at 19:41.. Reason: Change two words.
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  #2  
Old 28th March 2009, 21:23
Bill Davies Bill Davies is offline  
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Hugh,

I certainly have fond memories of my Blue Funnel experience of the 50s.
I often heard many an old China Boat hand say that it was all over around 1970. I recall having a drink in Chester in 66 with a mutual friend, Hughie Davies who said that the 'heydays' had passed.

Brgds
Bill
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  #3  
Old 28th March 2009, 21:39
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I was at the tail end of what only be described at not only a means of transport but a way of life. I was part of the rapid demise of a once mighty "China".

Very sad.

BW

J
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  #4  
Old 28th March 2009, 21:57
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Further to above post; in latter years the China was employing a lot of chaps from the "Pool". I certainly noticed a dimunition of skills and discipline among the new chaps. Long hair was creeping in and the long distilled discipline was diluted by poor application and attitude.

The "contract men" i.e. PO's, leading seamen and old hands witnessed a disturbing trend; one that eventually consumed them. By 1978 it was all over as we knew it.

BW

J
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  #5  
Old 28th March 2009, 21:58
benjidog benjidog is offline
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Hugh has asked me to move this thread to the Blue Funnel forum so I have done so and left a one-week redirection notice.
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  #6  
Old 28th March 2009, 22:07
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Hugh
Totally agree, the fifties were the peak, the sixties saw the beginning of the decline and then it was all downhill.
Equally must agree that 'blue flue' ships were the most recognisable since they all had similar, beautiful and classic lines. I am a bit disappointed that your list of Aden visitors omits P&O since we were greeted by the signal station with the combination of House and Royal Mail flags that signalled the arrival of mail from home and P&O established a coaling station at Aden (fed by sailing ships) to refuel its Far East steam ships before the Suez Canal existed.
That said I always admired the wonderful lines of an Alfred Holt ship - blue funnel or red.
Ian
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  #7  
Old 28th March 2009, 22:19
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I remember the Aden pilots, all very grand figures in spotless whites, they looked to me like visiting rear admirals.
As far as I can remember, the Aden pilot only spoke to the Old Man, he certainly never addressed the helmsman directly.
Similarly in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Regards,
Pat
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  #8  
Old 28th March 2009, 22:33
Barber Hector Barber Hector is offline
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I was in the old company from 1958 to 1988 when they chucked their hand in as regards shipping. Lots of changes along the line but one thing I will say that the crew, be it deck, victualling or ER remained of good quality in spite of what JMCG says in #4, to the end. I have great respect for the BF ratings and I dont ever recall any trouble with drugs or violence. Hangovers yes, didnt we all.
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  #9  
Old 28th March 2009, 22:52
ROBERT HENDERSON ROBERT HENDERSON is offline  
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PAT
I am not surprised that the pilot did not address the helmsman directly. As a Master on coastal ships the pilot notes stated that the pilot will give instruction through the master or his delegate ie the OOW. In practice often the pilot would actually steer himself, this however would not be possible on bigger ships.
With Hugh's remarks regarding other companies, when I was deep sea or coasting we could invariably tell what company a ship belonged to before we saw her colours. Towards the end of my sea career I think all the charm had gone out of seagoing, that era were certainly happy days, even in rough hungry Baron boats

Regards Robert
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  #10  
Old 28th March 2009, 23:02
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Robert,
Of course what you say is true, but in practice, many pilots would directly address the helmsman, particularly if a very quick reaction was required. Amsterdam, Hamburg and Rotterdam pilots were very friendly and chatted affably to whoever was in the wheelhouse.
One pilot entering New York, talked to me about the Beatles who were currently appearing in NY,and gave me a big cigar once we got alongside.
I cant imagine that happening with Blue Funnel appropriated pilots East of Suez, as I said, they were very grand.
Pat
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  #11  
Old 29th March 2009, 00:02
TonyAllen TonyAllen is offline  
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China boats from 55 /60 and yes I agree they were the days to look back on and in that period thats when they pulled down the old overhead railway and that to me was warning sign about the docks Tony allen
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  #12  
Old 29th March 2009, 10:03
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Hugh Ferguson Hugh Ferguson is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian6 View Post
Hugh
Totally agree, the fifties were the peak, the sixties saw the beginning of the decline and then it was all downhill.
Equally must agree that 'blue flue' ships were the most recognisable since they all had similar, beautiful and classic lines. I am a bit disappointed that your list of Aden visitors omits P&O since we were greeted by the signal station with the combination of House and Royal Mail flags that signalled the arrival of mail from home and P&O established a coaling station at Aden (fed by sailing ships) to refuel its Far East steam ships before the Suez Canal existed.
That said I always admired the wonderful lines of an Alfred Holt ship - blue funnel or red.
Ian
Sorry about that, Ian-very remiss of me! Do you recall P&O had their own tug, Lahej, in Aden. We weren't permitted to use it for ships, other than P&O,
except in exceptional circumstances. Regards, Hugh.
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  #13  
Old 29th March 2009, 12:03
Bill Davies Bill Davies is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat Kennedy View Post
Robert,
Of course what you say is true, but in practice, many pilots would directly address the helmsman, particularly if a very quick reaction was required. Amsterdam, Hamburg and Rotterdam pilots were very friendly and chatted affably to whoever was in the wheelhouse.
One pilot entering New York, talked to me about the Beatles who were currently appearing in NY,and gave me a big cigar once we got alongside.
I cant imagine that happening with Blue Funnel appropriated pilots East of Suez, as I said, they were very grand. Pat
Pat,

Interesting.
I relieved a Master of a HK registered O/O carrier (+165k) back in 79 and he had been for many years Chief Pilot in Penang. Hailing from Pitlochry and in his late 70s he had lost none of the 'Grandness' of his former glory and more so as we were the only 'round eyes' on board. Yes, I remember the Pilot Boats with armchair on stern with large umbrella.
Unfortunately, the ship had never carried Oil since built and entered a T/C for carriage Oil Jebel Dhanna/Quintero Bay ( hence the reason I was relieving him).
On a lighter note, disturbed on handover with the question 'Inert Gas??'


Bill

PS : Hugh Ferguson another mutual friend of ours!!

Last edited by Bill Davies; 29th March 2009 at 13:00..
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  #14  
Old 29th March 2009, 12:50
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Hugh Ferguson Hugh Ferguson is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat Kennedy View Post
I remember the Aden pilots, all very grand figures in spotless whites, they looked to me like visiting rear admirals.
As far as I can remember, the Aden pilot only spoke to the Old Man, he certainly never addressed the helmsman directly.
Similarly in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Regards,
Pat
You've got the wrong pilot service there, Pat. You must be thinking of the Hooghly, or Singapore lot-we were never in that class! Hugh.
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  #15  
Old 1st April 2009, 09:30
Bill Davies Bill Davies is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat Kennedy View Post
Robert,
Of course what you say is true, but in practice, many pilots would directly address the helmsman, particularly if a very quick reaction was required. Amsterdam, Hamburg and Rotterdam pilots were very friendly and chatted affably to whoever was in the wheelhouse.
One pilot entering New York, talked to me about the Beatles who were currently appearing in NY,and gave me a big cigar once we got alongside.
I cant imagine that happening with Blue Funnel appropriated pilots East of Suez, as I said, they were very grand.
Pat
Pat,

I used to insist that helmsmen repeated all helm orders in a loud voice and receive affirmative eye contact from me. The Bridge Team would all be well acquainted with my requirements. There would be no room for error.
One or two mishaps in the early 70s made me a Pilots nightmare I have to say.

Brgds
Bill
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  #16  
Old 1st April 2009, 10:13
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Originally Posted by Bill Davies View Post
Pat,

I used to insist that helmsmen repeated all helm orders in a loud voice and receive affirmative eye contact from me. The Bridge Team would all be well acquainted with my requirements. There would be no room for error.
One or two mishaps in the early 70s made me a Pilots nightmare I have to say.

Brgds
Bill
Bill,
That was the way I was taught in the China, and I always did it like that.
Pat
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  #17  
Old 1st April 2009, 11:39
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With one exception perhaps - if I can recall - when the Suez Pilot would order "KEEP HER IN THE MIDDLE".

To that one order my response was along the lines "in the middle she is and in the middle she will remain". It caused a bit of a stir in the w/house. The OM looked on in shock although he did have "a word" with me afterwards.

The Pilot was happy enough with the response.

BW

J
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  #18  
Old 1st April 2009, 12:58
Bill Davies Bill Davies is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat Kennedy View Post
Bill,
That was the way I was taught in the China, and I always did it like that.
Pat
Pat,

I can recognize quality when I hear it.

Brgds

Bill
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  #19  
Old 1st April 2009, 19:33
Bill Davies Bill Davies is offline  
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Originally Posted by jmcg View Post
With one exception perhaps - if I can recall - when the Suez Pilot would order "KEEP HER IN THE MIDDLE".

To that one order my response was along the lines "in the middle she is and in the middle she will remain". It caused a bit of a stir in the w/house. The OM looked on in shock although he did have "a word" with me afterwards.

The Pilot was happy enough with the response.

BW

J
I can understand why!

Bill

Last edited by K urgess; 1st April 2009 at 19:42.. Reason: Quote fixed
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  #20  
Old 28th April 2009, 19:55
bev summerill bev summerill is offline  
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blue funel was much improved when eds came along with much more practical officers and no bull s**t with tickets which were different to blue flue bev summerill
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  #21  
Old 28th April 2009, 22:28
Bill Davies Bill Davies is offline  
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blue funel was much improved when eds came along with much more practical officers and no bull s**t with tickets which were different to blue flue bev summerill
Improved? More practical officers? 'Tickets !

Please expand as I am sure there are many BF Mates out there that would have the opinion there was a'dumbing down' with the integration of EDs

Bill
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  #22  
Old 28th April 2009, 23:02
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As different as chalk and cheese. Culture was alien to me on Forcados, Degema and Obuassi.

Sombre, morbid and crews lacking intellectual rigour. Forcados was a good feeder- probably the best I have experienced.

BW

J
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  #23  
Old 6th May 2009, 11:24
john meekin john meekin is offline  
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Steering

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmcg View Post
With one exception perhaps - if I can recall - when the Suez Pilot would order "KEEP HER IN THE MIDDLE".

To that one order my response was along the lines "in the middle she is and in the middle she will remain". It caused a bit of a stir in the w/house. The OM looked on in shock although he did have "a word" with me afterwards.

The Pilot was happy enough with the response.

BW

J
I remember on a Wilsons 10 day boat round Oslo fjord we used to get the order "nothing to port,(or starboard),some times it was "nothing to port or starboard,that realy kept us on our toes,and we never hit anything.Regards John meekin
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  #24  
Old 6th May 2009, 18:19
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Peter Martin Peter Martin is offline  
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Remenber eons ago as an apprentice going up the Elbe having just picked up the pilot near Cuxhaven the Skipper asking me to take a bearing. I shouted the bearing from the wing of the bridge and the W African helmsman repeated the bearing and went to alter course to it! OM screamed at him to stay 'steady' and at me for confusing the quartermaster.
I still go red at the thought of it now!
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  #25  
Old 6th May 2009, 19:48
Bill Davies Bill Davies is offline  
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Peter,

Sounds like an extract from the 'Don't Panic - Write an Report' post.

Brgds
Bill
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