If the HSE was to have ben around in those days shipping would have gone bust way back. I remember the pile of sand on the main deck where the fire was lite to melt the parrifin wax then they would lower it over the hatch combing in 5 gallon drums then down the deep tank ,this was a drum of hot boiling wax on the end of a wammie and a hook made out of a six inch nail.
They would allbe balancing on the bamboo staging inside the deep tank with small cans of wax painting it on the tank walls,when they had finished they would remove the staging and again balance on the bamboo poles with a brush tied to a broom handle touching up the areas above them where the bamboo was in contact with the walls.
Some of these women were no young lassies the older they were the more gold in the mouth weighed thier head down. If any were injured or burnt with the wax the supervisor would not come to you they would just send them down onto the quay to get in the truck and wait till the rest were finished.
Sometimes we had them sweeping hatches as the crew were too busy on other things besides shore leave.
Does anyone remember Mary Jordan and her husband of the Jordan watch company in Hong kong, I used to buy most of my watches from her.
I remember Fraser(George)Walker 1st mate on the Valla, his dad was a master on the trinity house light vessel and he had given fraser an old watch when he went to sea and Fraser wanted the illuminous numbers and spots redoing ,Mary took it ashore and brought it back that night and the she had done the whole face it was like brand new. Fraser was fair chuffed. He used to get his jesus sandles made by the shoe man , then ashore to YUK Kee just off Nathan rd for two new suits even in those days 65 you got them in a plastic zipper back with the tailors name on the bag and the wooden coathanger embossed with the name. Yuk Kee made great khakis for deck work ,short shorts with ,shirts with square tails to be worn out as many pockets and pen pockets you wanted, the shorts came with a webbing belt .
Mary used to trade her wares in the smoke room and she usually had two brief cases full of the latest watches Sekio,Cyma,Eterna, omega,Rolex(for those Chinese quartemasters or no1 painters only folk who could afford them) Rado,Tudor, super slim Tissots and expensive lighters in gold for those who wanted them.
I remember Hang wee Dan ch cook on the Valla and all the e/room chinese fitters having thier collers felt by Japanese customs when we arrived in Yoko from HK, somebody had stached a load of Colibri gold lighters behind a engineers locker in a brown paper bag. Han we dan got off by paying one of the fitters to take his wrap,most of them spent a night in jail till they coughed.
Talking about Collibri lighters does anyone remember the night club in Hamburg called the Collibri ,I was there on business a few years ago and it still exists ,I took a collegue there to see the phanthom of the opera, it was done very tastefully..
One tale leads to another ,its on the same subject lighters (for your ****).
In Londonwe used to load Ronson gas lighters in the tween deck lockers, the cargo used to arrivejust before sailing with the Royal Mail . The lighters were packed into very secure plywood boxes edged with a steel strip on all corners,so all the edges were locked into each other then banded.
We loaded nearly 70 cases this time for two ports in the far east Bangkok and Keelung, we had cadets in the locker ,in the hatch square and mates on the deck,P&O had just had a huge amount stolen in the royals.
In the locker space we had trimming hatches which were barred down and secure.The loker doors were padlocked and bolted,the upper t/dk had all the hatch boards in place and the trunk way doors were locked ,so in theory no one could go anywhere.
It was lunch time so the lads and chippy closed the hatch and dropped a pair of wheels, You are all thinking what happened next , well we arrived in Bangkok ,opened the locker for the mail ,whiskey and Ronson lighters, only 18 cases of Bangkok cargo was in there, The questions started to be asked only three of us were on board for the voyage when we loaded this cargo so what did we see.
In the afternoon we got down into the ford end of the lower hold no5 ,this is where we had all theevaporated and condensed milk from Hamburg and Rotterdam, I noticed the Thai dockers were being very cautious of me wondering around , then i saw one of them reading an instruction leaflet for (yes you guessed it ) ronson lighters, I charged down into the lower hold and looked around there was hundreds of mt lighter velvet boxes and thuosands of pcs of broken wooden cases . down the back of the spar ceiling was a ton of broken cases and leaflets and the tiny wire spirral cleaning brushes whicch came with each lighter. I never found one lighter..
Back in the Royals in london i remember all the dockers used to wear army camaflague trousers with loads of pockets , an electrican said he could remember the dockers going ashore regular from No 5 as he was working on a winch next to the quay and they were only ashore minutes.
We eventually phatomed it out how they did the job under our noses, they kept men in the lower hold whilst we loaded in the upper tween deck they were ther during lunch, then they came up through the hatch boards into the tween deck unscrewed the pins in the hinged locked doors and opened on single sleeve door andcarried the 18 cases out and threw them down into the lower hold ,where they did thier stuff after lunch when the trunkways were unlocked they had thier exit and escape. The London docker like the Grangemouth and Middlesbrough ones were very hard to catch if they were up to no good.
I suppose if they were caught in todays world they would get an ASBO .