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Boniface

Hi Duquesa and Caffj, these are the times I was on Booth boats.
Viajero April 59- April 60 as 4th Engineer
Basil Dec 60- Feb 61 as 3rd
Valiente Oct 61 -June 63 as 2nd
Boniface Nov 64 -Dec 64 as 2nd.
Yes I remember old Stan Witkowski well. Bit temperamental at times but otherwise great Chief to work under. Had some amusing twists of the tongue with his English into the bargain.(LOL)
without a doubt those trips to Brazil and Peru were the best times of my life like yourselves.
Just been looking through my discharge book...Boniface Sept 1964/Dec 1964...I was Second Mate, think Mackereth was Master
 

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...The reason for including this is that I believe the engineer sitting in the middle looking round, is the Geoff Laws mentioned in posts above.
Great to see Geoff again, although he was a bit older when I sailed with him on Viajero, on what was then his second sortie.

We were together for a year in 1966/67, initially as 3/E and 4/E until Frank Stinchcombe went home after six months, and Geoff moved into the Second's cabin and I became 3/E. It was quite an experience sailing with Geoff AND the irascible Frank Stinchcombe with his Casey Jones cap, National Health Specs and his rolling West Country accent. No one could make a Cuba Libre like Frank.
 

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Good News

I am pleased to report that www.bluestarline.org* is alive again. (Applause)(Thumb)(Pint)

Jim Blake the custodian and webmaster may have to carry out a few tweaks in the background so it may be off ocassionally in the month, but from what I have seen there are no scavenge fires or trailing anchors and the gyro is running true and it appears to operate quite smoothly.
So we look forward to some sea stories from the roaring 20th century, you have written them on SN, why not repeat them on BSl.

This website is not just for BSL, but L&H and Booth Line.
 

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As an undeserving receipient of a bursary provided by Booth Line for the years 1948 to 1952 my family was able to have the fees they would need to pay to see me through four years at the Nautical College Pangbourne. reduced by about L75.00.00 p.a , or approximately L300.00.00 in all.

This has always weighed heavily on my conscience throughout my life and before I finally 'pay my dues', I would like to return this money. Who is the successor company to Booth Line.I am afraid it would have to be paid in 1948 pounds and not 2020 ones after allowing for inflation!

Nick
 

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Nick,

I am sure that post was Tongue in Cheek, shipping companies were not known for their generosity, so if you got a freeby, good for you. If you had joined Booth Line or any other shipping company following your studies at Pangbourne ( its just up the road from where I live in Thatcham) you will no doubt have paid it back with interest. It would have been a charitable tax dodge on their part.
Don't let this weight of £300 weigh on your conscience. In those days I am sure a volunteer was much better than ten pressed men ( read pool).

Booth Line was sold to Blue Star in 1946 which predates your bursary.
http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/lines/booth.shtml

Looks like Booth Line and Blue Star were passing ships to and thro prior to 1946 and when they were beyond their sail by date sold to the Greeks in several instances, who no doubt after a year or two had a claim against their insurance company over a mysterious sinking with a full load of cargo, reclaiming the full cost of buying the ship from Blue Star. And thats business.

The Blue Starline website is back on line, so if you wish to add your experiences in the Log book, it is open for business.

Like SN you will have to 'sign on articles' to contribute which is par for the coarse with forums but reading the rest of the site is open.
 

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Nick,

I am sure that post was Tongue in Cheek, shipping companies were not known for their generosity, so if you got a freeby, good for you. If you had joined Booth Line or any other shipping company following your studies at Pangbourne ( its just up the road from where I live in Thatcham) you will no doubt have paid it back with interest. It would have been a charitable tax dodge on their part.
Don't let this weight of £300 weigh on your conscience. In those days I am sure a volunteer was much better than ten pressed men ( read pool).

Booth Line was sold to Blue Star in 1946 which predates your bursary.
http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/lines/booth.shtml

Looks like Booth Line and Blue Star were passing ships to and thro prior to 1946 and when they were beyond their sail by date sold to the Greeks in several instances, who no doubt after a year or two had a claim against their insurance company over a mysterious sinking with a full load of cargo, reclaiming the full cost of buying the ship from Blue Star. And thats business.

The Blue Starline website is back on line, so if you wish to add your experiences in the Log book, it is open for business.

Like SN you will have to 'sign on articles' to contribute which is par for the coarse with forums but reading the rest of the site is open.
Yes, there was a little tongue in cheek in my message but I find myself heading rapidly towards my nineties with a healthy balance in my bank account, so if Booth Line's successors are not to benefit please recommend a worthy marine charity in the UK I can help.I am a bit out of touch with such things!

Thanks,

Nick
 

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Amazon Rains

Been thinking a lot about the Booth ships I served in on the Amazon and how this latest virus is affecting the people in Brazil so badly....In my experience I found the average Brazilian to be very kind and generous as well as being very Loyal, especially the Brazilian crews I sailed with. Being in my eighties now I find it hard to remember what I had for dinner last night but.......experiences during my seagoing time are so clear. This morning I started laughing uncontrollably...my wife asks what the matter was. I had to explain what I was laughing at. Ex Booth line stalwarts will remember the awnings that we used to rig up in the hot weather....especially on Cyril, Cuthbert, Crispin. I also remember in the torrential rains of the river how the awnings used to fill up and become like giant balloons hanging down....it was usual practice to take a broom an push up to clear the water (I am laughing typing this) This particular morning must of been in Belem or Manaus and went out on deck picked up the broom and with the head pushed up to clear the water...followed by screams from below I had only soaked the stevedores coming onboard up the gangway with gallons of water. I was not a very popular person I can tell you.
 

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I remember (I think) the heavy deluges that seemed to arrive in the early morning. The cool wind was refreshing at the time. The loads of insects deposited in the scuppers, some the size of dinner plates, (a slight exaggeration).
When we carried passengers, the Cpt at the time Johnny Needham, would find any excuse for a BBQ. Yes, the awning was there, with the appropriate broom.
Happy days even with the mossies and ‘Limecol’
 

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m.v.Berwell Adventure....ex "Bernard".........January 1974 to August 1974( Special re

m.v.Berwell Adventure....ex "Bernard".........January 1974 to August 1974( Special request by David Lorimer)
In early 1974 I was warned by the Booth office that I would be required to fly out to Gulfport MS. USA to take command of the "Berwell Adventure" ex Bernard. So about the middle of the month saw myself, Bashir Chowdrey Chief Officer, Les Collins 2/0. Bill Halewood C/E and a Second Engineer whose name I should remember, and last but not least Alfie Boyce Catering Superintendent and ,Billy Deary Cat Officer, on a flight to New York and down to Gulfport on Eastern Airlines.
The previous year a deal had been struck between Booth America and an outfit called Overseas Marine Inc, Panama for a long term charter of the ship...but the ship was arrested in Gulfport for not paying its way..And had writs on the wheelhouse windows amounted to over 2.5 million dollars. We were put up in a motel just over the way from where the "Berwell Adventure" was berthed, and after a night's sleep we walked down to the ship in the morning. The ship was rat infested, filthy as all the rooms were covered in soot from the fires the crew had been burning wood in their rooms to keep warm, the galley stoves likewise were buckled from being used as wood burners. Nothing in the Engine-room worked and the bilges were full of oily water up to the plates...hatches had been left open and the remains of the fertilizer that had been part loaded and then discharged had rusted all the hatches, none of the deck winches worked...I could go on and on but the ship was a complete mess. The crew had not been paid and left, leaving only a Greek mate who promoted himself to Captain and his belly dancer partner, who lived ashore: and a stowaway Costa Rican who could not leave the ship. The Greek Captain and his partner arrived in the afternoon arrived in the afternoon and handed over the keys to the room and safe....he handed me a 22 calibre revolver, which I told him he could keep as British ships did not carry firearms. He did not like it when he found we had changed the locks on the Bonded Stores...getting quite agitated, saying the bond did not belong to us but to some Mr Something or other in New York, until I had to throw them both off the ship. It became quite obvious that he was taking cigarettes and booze from the ship and selling them ashore, or how otherwise could he, the belly dancer and the stowaway survive. That night the police phoned up to warn me that the Greek had purchased a revolver that afternoon. The local agents seemed to have the impression that I was some sort of Company Trouble shooter....but we heard no more from the Greek, we bumped into his partner one day in the Supermarket and she shot off like a scalded cat.
So we had a plan of attack what we had to do to get the ship ready for sea....as I had been advised that we were to load a full cargo for Iquitos Peru as soon as possible. First thing was to get the ship fumigated, which meant asking permission for the stowaway to go ashore for a few days. Over the days we made arrangements for the crew to join, putting them up ashore. Slowly the days passed into weeks the ship was being cleaned up and repaired. Stores being ordered and delivered. The Stowaway was still living on the ship and I had made a deal with him, for a weekly allowance that he would look after my interests on the ship whilst we were not there. One night a gale blew up and I had a phone call from the Police on the gate that the stowaway had been there, and he needed me at the ship. I woke Bill Halewood and we walked down to the ship in the wind and rain. As the ship had been moved a few times and with no power on the ship, the ropes were only hand tight...so the wind had blown the ship off the quay side.....so the guy had climbed down the mooring ropes called me and climbed back up. Away the ropes were all secure and we thanked him and walked back home again.
A month or so passed and we were ready to move onboard but first I had to fly up the Atlanta and get the ships transferred at the British Consul there. The hotel we stayed at decided to throw us a farewell party that night and hopefully I should be back in time for that. Eastern Airlines got me safely to Atlanta and I was finished quite handy at the Consul Generals and back in the airport in plenty of time for the flight, which would get me back for about 1900hrs. Plane took off and I was settling down to the flight enjoying a drink before we came in the land at Mobile....next thing we are banked over flying round and round the control tower were there are people looking up at the plane with binoculars...what's wrong now says I. Next thing we level off and fly away from the airport and the Captain comes on the public address system to advise we are going to Pensacola Fl to make an emergency landing as the port landing gear will not lock down. Well there were people fainting and crying..The cabin crew were marvellous in handling the situation, all the hand luggage was stowed in the after toilets and anything that moved was secured. Trust me to be sitting by an emergency door, so I was given instructions how to open it in an emergency. Time came for the landing in Pensacola, more crying and screaming..we were all in the brace position, heads down as we came in to land....I just popped my head up to look out of the window as we came in the land...the runway was covered in foam and the fire tenders and emergency vehicles were running alongside us. The cut a long story short the landing gear held up and we landed safely. I had made friends with this big Texan on the flight and we both went into the restaurant for the free meal we had been offered, we just tucking in to a nice juicy steak and we got the call to board our flight....they had given us an earlier flight, more or less given us the flight other people were booked. We had the same crew as before and the drinks can thick and fast....got back to Gulfport at midnight feeling no pain, hotel driver picked me up and drove me home....everyone except Bashir was in bed so I missed the party...but what a story to tell my grandchildren.
The next day we moved from our motel to the ship..The day of reckoning had come at last, still a lot of work to do about the accommodation but at least we were stepping in the right direct. Whilst we had been living ashore a lot of the single crew members had struck up relationships with the local, and I was advised that money was changing hands that we would breakdown and have to return. So a few days later we had stand by Engines, the old Doxfords started up, the tugs nudged us out of the dock and we headed west to New Orleans. Picked to pilot up at the South Pass and proceeded on our way upriver........our speed was not to terrific but considering the current I suppose it was not bad...approaching New Orleans our speed was very slow and we had to change pilots. Eventually we docked in New Orleans and I was glad of the rest.....it was only then that Bill Halewood, informed me that they had isolated three cylinders on the way up, I had not told me in case I worried.....so we made it against all odds and things were looking up. Next day we received our stores as usual our New York Catering Superintendent, delivered the dreaded "Embassy" branded goods, nobody liked to stuff but that was all we got for years.....considering the cir***stances we were living in I thought it was disgusting. One thing I had forgot to mention was the first night I slept in my cabin...I awoke to hear this scampering noise and scratching noise, put the light on no sign of anything in the room, but the noise was coming from the deckhead..The dreaded rats. Next day Chippy and I cut holes in the deckhead and placed rat poison inside and sealed the holes up again......after a few days the noise abated but there was a smell in the room for ages.
We started loading oil pipes and drilling mud for Iquitos and after a couple of days were ready to sail again. One little incident happened whilst we were alongside one of the engineers mistakenly opened the wrong value and pumped some oil into the dock...Coast Guard were not very pleased, but after I accepted responsibility and offered to pay for the oil to be cleaned to matter was settled. Sailed that evening got clear of the passes and headed West again to Houston, the ship whilst under the new owners had been fitted with a Loran C receiver, which was a bit complicated to set up but was very handy in navigation in bad weather....so fog and mists at least were heading in the right direction. We were soon sailing up Galveston Bay, passed the Battleship Texas and up the Buffalo Bayou to our berth, and at least the weather was warm now getting into March. Quite a few oil companies were involved in the shipments to Iquitos notably BP, Occidental and a few others I cannot remember, the manager from Occidental had made himself known in New Orleans and explained what he needed in loading order. Loading progressed and myself, Chief Officer and Second mate were kept busy each day during loading. Apart from a complete Oil rig for BP, we loaded oil pipes, DC 8 Caterpillar Tractors, complete Sleeping, Kitchen and hospital units on deck and lots and lots of item all requiring careful stowage in including a small box which contained radioactive material which we stowed on top of the poop deck. We were at least two weeks loading in Houston, New York Managers did arrive and spent a couple of hours on the ship but did not take part in any of the loading or give any advice. We lost Bill Halewood and 2nd Engineer who did not want to make the trip with us......The new Chief Engineer was 73 years old, and advised he was only here for this certificate...a new second engineer also arrived. On the last day of loading the Chief Stevedore came up to my room rather sheepishly and said that they had been ordered not to give us a bonus which was usual in these cir***stances, maybe that's why the New York Managers came down for the pickings.
Glad to be clear of Houston and back at sea heading for Pensacola to load explosives. We arrived at Pensacola early morning and started loading, seemingly the explosives train had travelled through the town at night...we finished loading late afternoon and the Coast Guard ordered us to sail immediately. Anchored off Port of Spain to bunker and then proceeded to Belem, Manaus were we loaded extra cargo, certainly wanted their monies worth out of the ship. Passage up the Amazon was a lot faster on the "Berwell Adventure" as she was a lot faster than the regular ships....frontier was passed with no problems and we arrived Iquitos in good time. We had to anchor off due to the explosives, the agents wanted us to anchor opposite the town to show off the ship, this was not our usual safe anchorage but it was no use arguing. Anyway it was pandemonium, I think all the small boats in Iquitos were coming alongside to pick up their cargo; in the end it was like a small island round the ship. Anyway I went down for breakfast and was just settling down to eat, when I noticed the river bank going past. On the bridge I realized that we were dragging downstream, by now all the small boats were breaking clear with David Lorimer shooing them off. Got the engines going and just at that time the Peruvian Navy and Air force pasted us travelling upstream....what a situation. Still I managed to get the anchors up although we had the two cables fouled in each other. Steamed down to our usual anchor point....got the second mate to hold the ship against the tide whilst I shot forward to help the mate clear the anchors. Once that was done we anchored safely and it was time again to have a bite of well earned breakfast. What a morning.
Discharge went on daily it took a day to discharge the explosives, a Peruvian Army Major(Explosives unit) came onboard to oversee the discharge...the receiver had only one barge so the explosives and detonators we had loaded separate, were loaded on the same barge. The Major was doing his nut and we were all glad to see the barge leave late afternoon...Gracias a dios says the Major. Next day when he came back to get me to sign some papers he was none too pleased said that the barge owner had tied up and spent the night close to the city centre. The Occidental guy arrived and helped with the discharge of his equipment...and a few days later the BP contingent arrived...by now we had berthed at the pontoon. Barges were coming and going daily to load equipment for the journey upstream to Pucallpa.......took us over two weeks to get discharged.
Eventually discharge was completed and we left Iquitos and headed downstream:
The homeward trip is another story and I really have not got down to writing it yet. Needless to say we arrived back in Liverpool...with all the debts cleared and the ship was sold
Special request by David Lorimer




.
 

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Hail Foca! Finally the world will learn of this BAdventure. Isn't it the thing about small companies that we got to do sometimes pretty extraordinary things (and sometimes some rather dumb ones). And lived to tell the tale. Foca, I've already started on the follow-up!
 

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http://www.bluestarline.org/lamports/siddons3.html

Excellent account there FOCA, see email I sent you.
The link just shows how convoluted the shipping industry was as the ship changes hands then comes back.

With the funnel and long weather forcastle she could easily have gone over to Blue Star, just with a paint job on the funnel. A typical Vestey trademark and ' woe betide' if all your funnel floods were not working, especially on the land side, if he happened to be visiting that port. The OM, C/E and Lecky would be in for a rocket.

Is Bill Halewood still about?
 

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Vestey Ship Visits

Vestey Ship Visits from what I remember
It was quite common for Ronald Vestey to visit ships of Booth, Lamport, Blue Star and Act line in the port of Liverpool, whilst he was also visiting his Refrigeration plants in the area. I think I was on the “Cyril” in Brunswick dock on one occasion when I got the call to come back of leave for one such visit. I think there were five group ships in port at the time and nobody knew which ship he would visit.....so five special breakfasts had to be prepared...And I remember Dewhurst’s Farmhouse sausage had to be on the menu. He used to travel down on the night train from London and the visit would take place anytime after 0530 in the morning. So there I was five thirty standing at the gangway awaiting a visit if it came...and sure enough it did. The tour of the ship started on the Focslehead were he would point out the rust stain from driving through a gale on the way home and the rust stain coming from hawse pipe...next down all the hatches with the crocodile queue following behind, with his body guard ex guardsman not far from his side..Down the engine room, down the tunnel with the queue still behind about turn..back up on the Bridge and Monkey island, were he usually got a little penknife out to test the wood decking....then back down to a passenger cabin for a quick wash and brush up before going down for breakfast.....questions about the voyage and Brazil....then by seven he was gone...That is what I remember and latterly usually at the end of long voyage I used to be called down to Smithfield to his Offices there for questions on the voyage, which would entail travelling down by train the day before staying in a hotel overnight before arriving in the office before eight......usually over in half-hour then the staff would take you out for lunch before travelling home.
Bill Halewood, I certainly have not heard of him since the demise of Booths and Lamport... I know Della St Roas was in touch with him before Ned passed away....and was quite upset that he never took the trouble to come down and see Ned before he died, considering all the hospitality they had given him in their home in Brazil
 

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God, those photos, Foca! Surely taken after anchoring more safely downstream, after the drama. Can't recall your tremendously strong granddad ChOff to your right, but Ron and Derek from BP and Maurizio d'Achille.

Vestey visits, I remember Tom McCutcheon tearing a strip off s/n me on Cuthbert when I appeared in cut-off jeans just before a visit from Edmund in Barbados. Bless him.
 

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Hi David
Actually Pat took those pictures, I was too busy on the ship at the time....the guy you mention on my right was Les Collins from the I.O.M...He was usually part of the relief gang in Liverpool as were most of the engineers on that trip..Bribed with a bonus at the end of voyage. I did try to get in touch with Les when we were in Ramsey.....but he did not remember who I was, very sad
Big abraço
LLoyd
 

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Lagos Cement Queue

m.v.""Dominic” May... 1975 to November 1975...Lagos to Amsterdam
The "Dominic" had started life as the Danish "Jonna Dan" bought by the Vestey's in 1964 and transferred to Booth Line in 1967...she was lengthened in Belgium, and used by Booths to carry timber from the Amazon to UK. I had sailed on her before on a coastal voyage from Cork via Le Harve, Rotterdam and Liverpool relieving Captain Sharp over the New Year. So I was on a Nigerian Airlines flight from London to Lagos...I had met up with the new Radio Officer in Heath Row Airport....it was one of the worst flights I had ever been on....toilets were smelling before we were half way into the flight. Arriving in Lagos where was a big problem as the Company (BSSM) had not given us the required vaccination, so we had to have various vaccinations before we were allowed to enter the country. Eventually we cleared Customs and Immigration and arrived down on the Apapa docks. The ships lifeboat was there to take us out to the ship.......which was approximately about a 10 miles journey, roughly 2 hours in the lifeboat. Arrived onboard John Atkins just shook hands explained were everything was, then left in the lifeboat to catch his flight home.
The ship had been in Alexandria and them to load cement in Turkey which was the present cargo we had onboard. The cement queue in Lagos had been going on for a few years and the total number of ships waiting at the time I was there was about 360 vessels, some ships were anchored about 10/15 miles off and on the radar you could see all the ships like a semi circle around the port entrance. Settling down to life onboard I soon became to realize what I was up against...we were anchored about a mile and a half off the and the only contact with the shore was by lifeboat...phone calls through the local Nigerian Radio station were none existent as they never answered any calls even emergencies. Daylight always brought a flood of boats of all nationalities proceeding shoreward’s; many broke down and were washed up on the beach. The ships motor lifeboat was stowed on the afterdeck so that it could be launched by derricks as this was much quicker than the slower davit winches, the swell in Apapa roads rose up and down about 25 feet, which meant launching the boat very hazardous as both lifting hooks had to be released at the same time to avoid the boat being tipped up. The ship had ac***ulated a skirt of about fifteen feet of weed which used to go up and down on the swell like a skirt, which when we eventually got under way slowed the ship down a lot.
First trip I made ashore to Apapa Wharfs was with the Third Mate, Catering Officer Mr Howells, Second Engineer Sion, Fourth Engineer and a sailor...the whole landing steps was crammed with lifeboats of all Nations, some of the fibre glass boats had suffered damage....we made the trip in fine, then we walked up to the office where the charterers agents did their business...from some reason we did not have our own agents who would look after our interests which is usually the norm. The office was crammed with Masters of other ships all waiting to see the manager, which took a couple of hours, after seeing the manager he signed a chit so you could draw money, then another wait for the cashier to advance your money. After that we had to hire a taxi who had permission to enter the docks and then proceed to the local supermarket to purchase provisions, we had about four trolleys going round collecting items..After we had paid and loaded to our provisions in the cab, we went next door to the open air local fruit market to complete our list. Back down at the docks the sailor and the fourth engineer had been looking after our boat all day in the heat, welcomed us back and once our provisions were loaded and the taxi paid off we headed back to the ship arriving back onboard just before darkness set in. That was a normal trip ashore except for when there was any mail...the procedure was for the secretary to come into the waiting room with the mail bag and tip it out on the floor were all the Captains had to rummage through for his own crews mail. Third mate was due his leave and we had to take him ashore to catch his plane home...company management did not see fit to send out a replacement, so we were short handed......It was not the first time I had been left shorthanded and think the Company thought we were on some sort of holiday off Lagos. I soon realized that the Mate was not fit to handle the lifeboat neither was the Polish second mate, my thanks will always go to the Second Engineer Sion from Blackpool and the Scots fourth engineer who throughout our stay in Lagos were always with me when I went out in the lifeboat and never once let me down. Weeks went into months and on one trip ashore by the time we cleared the breakwater on the way back the wind had risen and we getting covered in spray as the waves were quite high, we eventually got back safe but the Catering Officer refused to come ashore again and used to give us a list of what he wanted. I realized that something had to be done about the provision situation...and it was decided we would slip away in the night and proceed to a port called Cotonou about 70 miles to the West, to stock up on all the items we were short of. Trouble was we did not want to lose our turn on the docking list so we had to do it without saying that we were leaving. We radio our provisions list the appointed agents weighed anchor and proceeded on our way, anchored off Cotonou and loaded our stores, only problem was the Catering Officer had ordered in lbs and they brought the same amount in kilos, so we had double what we wanted. Back again at Logos I had to manoeuvre between other ship to find a anchorage close to the breakwater....eventually anchored amid complaints that we were too close to some other ships...still we were back.
During our time at anchor we had been unable to make RT with the UK, as our radio equipment was not up to scratch, calling the local Nigeria Station also led to silence. As we were short handed I usually kept the 8/12, listening in on the distress frequency channel 16 at night was chaotic, with idiotic massages passing between ships. I seem to remember one ship in particular called "Penguino", came in for a lot chatter. It was during this time that I struck up a friendship with British SD14 which had just arrived and anchored not far away.....we were cordially invited on a Sunday afternoon to watch a film, as we had no such forms of entertainment onboard. So the following afternoon being calm all those off watch were taken across in our boat to watch a film and I managed to make phone calls home to my wife and the company. I week later the British SD14 had a new Radio Operator and they asked could we put their present Sparks up for week as there had been a delay in booking his flight..No problems and he was duly transferred onboard....and the SD14 sailed away.
Our only form of entertainment was the local Lagos TV station....I still remember the slogan for the local washing detergent "Elephant Power". Each evening we were treated to the local soap "The Village Schoolmaster"......followed by a quiz programme where to star prize would either be a Thermos Flask or a Torch.
Eventually it was time to take the Radio Operator ashore to catch his flight, we had an early start usual team myself, 2nd Engineer, 3rd Engineer and a sailor off we go heading for the breakwater in the morning mist. We got about half way up the creek and we were passed by outward bound boats making firing gestures with their arms, still we arrived alongside at Apapa wharf and dropped Sparky off, agent was there to meet him. Off we set back to the ship arriving in good time and it was only then listening to the local radio that there had been a military coup and Marshall Law had been enforced. A couple of nights later a Swedish ship that was alongside Apapa Wharf called us to say that our Radio Operator had taken refuge onboard their ship and could we please come and pick him up. Next morning off again to pick Sparky up...and on our return we were told the full story. Everything had gone fine the agent put him on a taxi to the airport...but the Military Police turned the taxi back as it was closed and the taxi driver just dumped him back at Apapa Wharf...crew on a Swedish ship kindly took him onboard, fed and watered him till we rode to the rescue. There were a lot of regular Freighters going in and out of Logos and Apapa and we used to pass a lot tied up alongside, and one thing we had to look out for was the "thunder boxes" on the sterns of most ships, for the use of the stevedores toilet needs. So weeks passed into months still we were no further up the list of ships to dock and discharge our cargo of cement. Piracy was a big problem for ships with valuable cargoes, as the high speed canoes use to pass backwards and forwards in the night boarding unsuspecting ships and robbing containers. I think it was a week later the SD14 arrived back and Sparky was duly transferred back again. On one occasion we had to go into the outer harbour to take on fresh water as we were running out...then back out to anchor.
So about once or twice a week we made shore trips to post and receive mail and to buy fresh vegetables from the market. The West Indian crew’s articles were coming to an end and even though the Company offered them extra money to stay on they insisted that they leave the ship. So the problem was to get the whole crew ashore into a hotel and then pick the new crew up and bring them onboard. So I went ashore and arranged with our agents for a tender to come out on the afternoon before the flight and take the whole crew ashore to hotel accommodation for the night. On the designated afternoon the tender arrived but could take only five crew members, so I sent Sion ahead with the first party. Nothing else to do now but get the lifeboat ready for the morning with all the crews luggage stowed.....we were all up at four getting the boat ready I wanted to stay on the ship myself in case of emergencies, so I reluctantly sent the Second Mate in charge of the lifeboat with the 4th Engineer to keep an eye on him. The morning was foggy with a slight drizzle as we lowered to boat and the first thing the second mate managed to do was let the tiller fall overboard, this had to be replaced by one from the other boat...and off they went into the mist heading shore wards leaving myself, mate, chief engineer, third engineer, catering officer and Sparky as the only people on the ship. Daylight broke and there were no signs of the lifeboat on the beach so it looked as if they had made it through the breakwater safely. At about three in the afternoon our lifeboat arrived back safely so that was one problem solved. Next day at about 1400hrs a fast dugout canoe was approaching with Sion waving from the bow with the first replacement crew, followed later by the rest of the crew on a tender....what a relief.
One thing I forgot the mention was that our elderly Chief Engineer suffered from angina, I had tried in vain to get him ashore to a doctor but he refused....also tried to advise to cut down on drinking and to take it easy, as Sion could run things for him. On our homeward trip I managed to get him ashore to the doctors in Takoradi, who wanted him to fly home to which he refused..Anyway I had him sign the Official Log to effect he was staying onboard on his own request. On his new medication he was fine all the way to Las Palmas.....and on arrival I went up to the agents on ships business, only to return to find that he had been rushed ashore to hospital....he had only started drinking again with the Superintendents who had arrived onboard from the UK..I rest my case.
So we were back again to the old routine only one night we were late leaving the office and had to come back in darkness, at first we passed ships we knew then we passed ships we did not recognise...eventually we spotted the "Dominic" way over to the East and arrived safely onboard again. On one visit to the office I had problem with getting money and had to go to see the Managing Director...what ship he says..Oh we need you to load timber in Sapelle. So the next day saw us coming alongside Lagos Wharf to start discharge what a relief. Nearly all our Safety Certificates needed renewing and I was having terrible trouble with the authorities to get them sorted. To cut a long story short I went to the British Consuls for help and got the usual story...I did not lose my temper but I told the guy quite straight that if he did not sort it out for me them I had had enough and needed to be repatriated home on health grounds....I got my surveys completed.
I did not forget our friends on the SD14 as the next weekend I invited all those that could be spared to come in and spend a few nights at the Hotel Dominic, as we had plenty of spare passenger accommodation...this was greatly appreciated.
We finally left Logos and just before we sailed the secretary from the office who I knew well by now, came in the middle of the night with the clearance as we were sailing early. I gave her a bottle of whisky and an addressed envelope so that she could send any mail that arrived after we left. She kept her word on arrival Amsterdam my envelope with our mail arrived safely.
We proceeded East to Sapelle, and on arrival off the Benin River delta about a dozen canoes approached all flying different company house flags....we had the pilot ladder over the side and the first canoe arrived and this guy climbed the ladder and presented himself on the bridge with a book of commendations from previous captains..Looked ok, so I said yes. Then his crew proceeded to tell all the other canoes to clear off. Next process was to load the canoe on the fore deck and proceed inwards.....one stop was made at the entrance and again the canoe was lowered back in the water to pick up the pilot and crews wife's and family for the trip to Sapelle. At Sapelle we started loading logs for Holland, pilot and his family slept on the wheelhouse floor during our stay. Some of the logs we loaded had been in the water a long time and were well over the weight on the manifest... so in some cases we had to double up the gear. Soon we finished at Sapelle and were on our way to Takoradi to load further timber cargo...it was during this time that the 2nd Mate managed to over wind the chronometer and break the spring... 2nd Mate went to see the doctor ashore and was flown home on medical grounds: so it was just the Mate and myself left ....I advised the company that I was willing to proceed without a chronometer as my Seiko watch kept good time and I would be able to use that the take sights when needed. After Takoradi we were supposed to load in Monrovia but our stability was not too good as we had very little fuel in our double bottoms and a lot of free surface area...so we proceeded on our way to Las Palmas for fuel, progress was very slow due to our weed skirt making about 6 knots. During this passage the entablature on the main engine cracked, adding to our problems. Ship arrive Las Palmas with no further problems and we had all our medical problems sorted out and the engine repairs carried out...also a new third mate arrived. Metalock did a good job on the repairs to our main engines and we were on our way again....progress up the channel was painful against the tides, but we arrived at Imjgem and proceed to Amsterdam were I was at last relived and proceeded home on leave.
During our stay at Logos most of us had been ill and the local doctor had put it down to malaria...we had all been taking the paludrine anti malaria tablets. So on arrival home I was hospitalized on taking ill and it was months before I was well again...thought I should get this down as a reminder to people, what it was like to be there
 

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Most interesting Foca. You certainly went through the mill on that voyage.
The Lagos cement anchorage must have been one of the worst compared to the other ports that had long anchorages around the world.

There was one at Piraeus in 1976 at which we stopped for a couple of days as we were collecting personel effects to take to Melbourne but some ships had been there a while awaiting discharge. Later in the voyage full of frozen meat they sent us up to Thessalonica in the north to discharge and prevented the wait.
Then there was the Shat-el-Arab one for Khoramsha, that one was a long one for some.
I joined the ship at anchor and it was at least 6 weeks before we went along side, but the ship had been @ ¿ a while beforehand. Being a Reefer we got sort of preference, but you wouldn't have known unless you spoke to other ships.
In late 1981 we had a full load of chickens for Alexandria, Egypt and joined the anchorage there, but we were in and out of the port discharging for 4 hours often at night, not knowing when you might shift ship until he pilot came up the gangway, one time leaving the Leckie ashore when he went to post a letter.

We would often discharge next to the cement berth, so everything down below got a coating of cement powder which is not conducive to moving parts.
When you saw the piles of sand at these places with a 2:1 mix, you realised how much cement they needed and reasons for long waits.(Jester)

Well done Foca.
 

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Funny really how things come back after all those years, we were in the checkout queue in supermarket I think the name was Queens...Sion asked what the queue was on the other side of the shop..its for beer..can we get some beer? With what you are spending you can have as much as you like...so to the annoyance of the locals, we went to the head of the queue at got our beer..happy days.
 
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