Ships Nostalgia banner
221 - 240 of 259 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
150 Posts
Le Havre...Greek Ship Sinking

I was on the “Boniface” at the time, must have been in the early sixties. The ship sailed from Liverpool, Dublin and Cork the Barbados, Trinidad and then on the Brazil and back to Liverpool, sometimes Hull in the Brazil nut season (Fry’s Chocolate)
Most trips we called at Fortaleza to load Coffee for Le Havre....I remember we usually were in a rush to get the cargo plans finished and posted off before we sailed. On this particular voyage we encountered a lot of fog but safely docked at 0600 in Le Havre. We heard on the VHF that there had been a ship collision somewhere off the Cherbourg Peninsular. As usual we were on the outboard deck outside the Chief Stewards room having mugs of tea and a chat.....when this Greek ship gets towed in on the opposite side of the dock by the old U-boat pens..........as we watched the gangway came down and all these people with suitcases were running ashore....this went on for a while. Anyway we went in for breakfast and afterwards on deck looking after the discharge.....by then the Greek ship was listing badly and by lunchtime, she was a right over with only her keel showing. We sailed that night so we don’t really know what happened afterwards.
Our Agent at Le Havre was a monsieur Quacko one of the best agents I had ever met....he always came with British newspapers and our mail without fail...and then it was where is the coffee is as our cargo plans had not arrived is.
Arrival Liverpool a few days later Sam from Central Car Hire would have our rental cars lined up along the end of Queens Dock, I always had a Ford Anglia the cheapest, except one trip I had to have a brand new bright red Ford Corsair, bench seats and column gear change for a few days till an Anglia came in for the same price.....Driving out of Liverpool everyone was flicking the V’s at me. I really enjoyed driving that car.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
The Booth Line is a passion for me. The River Tyne yards, particularly Hebburn yards and the Cuthbert (1908 built, scrapped in Italy, '1931) is a link I'm currently untangling. I checked our galleries and I can't find any of this Cuthbert. I have 3 of the 5 later ones. But wondering what this one was like, or any of the ones that would have been close. Does anyone have any photos?
 

· Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
Hi David Lorimer,
Was Tom McCutcheon master on the Cuthbert? If not do you know which
Booth Line ship he served on as master
Thanks,
Caff J
I'm not sure if he was on Cuthbert 2 through 5. 1 I have a passenger list that has crew and command from 1927, which as far as I can tell was call Cuthbert (i). I don't see a McCutcheon on it. Master Barlow is listed.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
26 Posts
Hi Portuguese & Sternchallis.
Thanks for your input but the Tom McCutcheon I am trying to get information
on served as Chief Officer on the Crispin in May 1960 and later on as
Chief Officer on the Hubert
regards,
Caffj
 

· Registered
Joined
·
150 Posts
Was Tom McCutcheon master on the Cuthbert? If not do you know which
Booth Line ship he served on as master
I'm not sure if he was on Cuthbert 2 through 5. 1 I have a passenger list that has crew and command from 1927, which as far as I can tell was call Cuthbert (i). I don't see a McCutcheon on it. Master Barlow is listed.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
150 Posts
The Runaway barge and el rato
Thinking back to incidents that I experienced on the Amazon, one that stands out in my memory a lot was when I was Master on the “Cuthbert”......normally we did two round trips New York Iquitos..6/7 months. We arrived Manaus on the second trip loaded with only room for deck cargo. We were advised by Booth Manager George Clark that he wanted one of the loaded company barges towed up as well.
The barge duly was towed alongside and we hipped it to our port side amidships and off we went on our way upriver to Iquitos...We did have a full complement of passengers including Dr Ed Dunlap and his charming wife who had just finished a stint on the United States Hospital ship “Hope”, as he was one of the World’s leading eye expert on correcting squints.
First night out I just popped down on the boat deck to say hello as they were all having a drink.......next thing we had rats running around over the awning spars and on the deck..Bloody hell what’s going on?
Next morning after the 4/8 watch Martin C/O and I climbed down onto the barge to find the whole hold loaded with tinned Dutch cheese which had been ransacked and tins opened with rats all over the place. We checked the hatch covers and vents to make sure no more got out and proceeded on our way upriver. Couple of days later about noon we were steaming between these two islands somewhere around Fonte Boa, Peruvian Pilots were changing shift, I was on the bridge looking at the bank which suddenly stopped moving followed by an almighty crack and bang and the barge just kept going on its way...till all four headlines were surging round the bits....I was up the foredeck with some crew members just in time to grab hold of the bitter ends on two headlines which stopped the barges forward motion which had been slowed down by the current anyway. As the headlines held the barge swung round coming down the starbd side......swung round again as the headlines held and heading straight for number two hatch loaded with explosives. At the last minute swung round again to come round alongside at exactly the same position that it had been on the other side. We soon had it all secure again and did notice that the cast iron bollards we had been using on the starbd side of the barge had all seared off.
Next thing was to get the ship off the bank and it took awhile but a few ahead and astern movements and we were free...Must have just touched the edge of the bank. On inspection the bights of wire we had been using to secure the barge were still intact..But the after stern ropes had parted......barge bits were no more.
The only problem we had now was the barge was on the wrong side for going alongside at Leticia and Iquitos.
That was solved that at Leticia by going close into the bank dropping anchor and tying up to trees....which we usually did during Low River when we stopped for the night. Agent sent a barge down and we discharged what little cargo we had for Leticia into that. Passengers decided to go on one of these Jungle guided tours and return we got the whole story from Ed..Seemingly they went by boat to a native village and they were all their in native costume...doing dances and so forth..Very impressive Ed said. On the way back the tour guide realised that he had left his bag in the village so they went back to find the villagers all dressed in jeans and western clothes.
After Leticia we proceeded to Iquitos and anchored off to let the company tug take the barge before berthing at the Jetty.
As Dr Dunlap and his wife were going on the Lima...and a tour of Peru I suggested any heavy winter gear they did not need could be left on the ship secure in one of the passenger cabins, and that we would arrange for it to be landed in the office at New York for them to pick up at a later date.
Chief Officer was down the hatches on discharge had the bilge boards up finding all the rat nests etc......I must admit he kept at it as he was always asking me to go ashore to buy rat poison..Till eventually we were rat free.
Postscript to this story is on our return to New York my wife was joining me as I had volunteered to do an extra 3 months. We ran into thick fog South of Ambrose and edged our way up to pilot station on DF bearings...as the old Mark 4 had packed up again. Anyway pilot refused to take us in without radar so we anchored in the buffer zone waiting for the fog to clear which took 3 days.
Eventually berthed, wife joined ship discharged and loaded cargo and on the last day my steward came up and said what about the Doctors Dunlap’s cases, which I had completely forgotten about...so I said just pop them across to the office. Anyway as he is walking across to the office and he gets stopped by Customs Squad...who opened the cases and found little bags of white powder on top of the case...field test positive to narcotics. I was interrogated, So I explained what had happened and they were in my room, guns and all talking to a helicopter flying overhead.....I told them straight do not do anything till you check who Dr Ed Dunlop really is. Anyway it all quietened down and all this time my wife was having a blue fit. Bags of powder turned out to be medicine for gout. Anyway I was threatened with checks every time I arrived in the States, but nothing ever came of it.
Dock Pilots were on strike so we unberthed on our own and headed on our way to Philadelphia, Miami and other West Indian ports and another trip up the Amazon.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
24 Posts
The Runaway barge and el rato
Thinking back to incidents that I experienced on the Amazon, one that stands out in my memory a lot was when I was Master on the “Cuthbert”......normally we did two round trips New York Iquitos..6/7 months. We arrived Manaus on the second trip loaded with only room for deck cargo. We were advised by Booth Manager George Clark that he wanted one of the loaded company barges towed up as well.
The barge duly was towed alongside and we hipped it to our port side amidships and off we went on our way upriver to Iquitos...We did have a full complement of passengers including Dr Ed Dunlap and his charming wife who had just finished a stint on the United States Hospital ship “Hope”, as he was one of the World’s leading eye expert on correcting squints.
What a fantastic account. Do you know what year that was? I'm still looking to piece together the adventures of the Cuthbert around Manaos and Belem.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
150 Posts
I think the Cuthbert referred too in the crew list was Cuthbert(1)...scrapped in 1930 I think.. My experience in the sixties with the carriage of Brazil nuts on the Boniface on the UK trade, we carried 6 Nut trimmers, usually embarked at Belém. Building the nut bins was quite a task and for that we had shore gangs embarked at Belém.....On the Boniface much larger ship than the "V" boats..bins would range from 500 ton to 25 ton.......occasionally we would have to build a extra bin if we had miscalculated the space required or the shipper had shipped too much. During loading each Casamba(Bin) would have a piece of wood drawn over the top to make sure in was not overloaded. Deck Officers would crack open at least 100 nuts on each lot to assess how many were bad.
On voyage home Nut Trimmers would trench bins a different way each day, pick out bad nuts etc Hatches were opened weather permitting and wind-sails rigged for extra ventilation. Often the Nut Trimmers were kept onboard in Liverpool and helped the crew on outward passage, chipping painting etc
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
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
Hi I am Keith Cederholm and have just jouied this group to add a little of my experiences!

I was 3rd mate on Dominic when we arrived at Lagos, originally joined in Wilmington NC on 4/11/1974, went to Belem, discharged and loaded for US East coast. From US we were chartered to DFDS and loaded for Libya and Egypt. Whilst in Libya it was Gadaffi's birthday and we were ordered to dress overall in "Rainbow" fashion to acknowledge the day. Needless to say my rather rude display went un- noticed by all except the 3rd engineer, Eric Carnegie, who had as a lad been in the Sea Cadets and remembered enough of the flags to read it.
When we anchored off Lagos in mid April, the Master was John Atkins C/O ?, 2/0 Jan Budowski (Polish), 3/0 me. Prior to joining Dominic I was a Liverpool Pilot Apprentice and as such became prime candidate to take the lifeboat ashore regularly for food, mail, picking up new personnel etc. Captain Lloyd-Hughes joined us after some weeks at anchor to relieve Captain Atkins and life continued in the same humdrum manner of the regular run into Apapa interspiced with the 8 - 12 anchor watch. The evening watch was always entertaining with different nationalities meeting up on different VHF channels to sort out the problems of the world and so the time passed. Occasionally there would be an attempted raid by locals in canoes but we countered that by saving up all empty beer bottles to use as missiles, and fire hoses to deter their ambitions. So days became weeks and weeks became months and we were into August. The "Old Man" had been in touch with head office about getting me off as I was due to start my 2nd Mates course in the September. The office agreed to repatriate me but were not sending a relief. Then came the problem of booking my flight home. At first teh agent was not wanting to cooperate but then after some days of arguing the agent asked why was it so important and Captain Lloyd-Hughes said, "Because he is getting married next Saturday!" everything changed in an instant. A flight was booked and accomodation ashore arranged so I could land antime during the day and fly the next. I think I landad on a Wednesday to fly on Thursday in the second half of August. Got to hotel and settled in for the night, only to be rudely awakened by some police men kicking in the door and demanding all my money plus my docking bottle and my 200 cigs. When they point a gun at you it doesn't leave a lot of wriggle room for hegotiation. I just handed over what I had and they left, what I [email protected] know was that there had been a military coup and General Gowan had assumed the role of head of state. I only discovered this when I got to the airport to be met with toat chaos. It seemed that most of Nigeria wanted to get on a flight out.
I made my way to the Nigerian Airways check in desk where I handed my ticket to the desk clerk, immediately he had hold of it he asked me "now I have your ticket what will I give him to get on the flight?"
My initial response was "Foxtrot Oscar!" Straight away he made it clear that this was not a joke so where is the money? I had given my only cash (about $25 US)t o the cops the night before so was now in a pickle, fortunately the guy behind me stepped forward with a brief case full of local currency, "The Naira, exchange rate in Lagos £1 = 1Naira, in UK not even worth using as bog paper! We haggled a bit and settled on N200. The guy in the queue gave over the cash to the clerk and his business card to me and after he stumped up another N200 on his own behalf, we made it into the departure lounge. My new found friend was an Irish business man who kept the stash just for such eventualities, he bought us a beer and we discussed repayment as if BSSM didn't cough up then we put in place a "credit agreement where I would send him £50 per month. We flew to Londan where I called a friend who lived near Heathrow who met me with some cash and I eventually flew up to Liverpool and after 10 months I was home. I was in Albion House at 0900 the following morning to explain and they immediately took over contacted my Irish friend to pay him his money also reimbursing my friend in London at the same time. Didn't get back my US$25, my bottle or my ciggy money but hey ho. I was home, went to school passed 2nd mates and returned to sea on "Alban."
There lies a tale for another day.
PS it was to be 3 more years til I married :love:
 

· Registered
Joined
·
967 Posts
I will second Franks comment. As mentioned in my IM Kieth, the BSL or perhaps we should call it the BSSM website is looking for Yarns and Tales like yours and anbody else who had anything to do with the wider Vestey Empire, even if you left but have a good tale to tell from a future or previous company, it may even be none ship related, but worth telling, as you was once part of the company. I am sure there are plenty of tales to tell from the Amazon and related ports on that run, be it Booths or L&H, or even Starman.
Just contact Jim through the website.
Jim's a 3rd Engineer turned IT Network Engineer and took over the hosting of the website just in time before Fraser crossed the bar.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
37 Posts
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
The Runaway barge and el rato
Thinking back to incidents that I experienced on the Amazon, one that stands out in my memory a lot was when I was Master on the “Cuthbert”......normally we did two round trips New York Iquitos..6/7 months. We arrived Manaus on the second trip loaded with only room for deck cargo. We were advised by Booth Manager George Clark that he wanted one of the loaded company barges towed up as well.
The barge duly was towed alongside and we hipped it to our port side amidships and off we went on our way upriver to Iquitos...We did have a full complement of passengers including Dr Ed Dunlap and his charming wife who had just finished a stint on the United States Hospital ship “Hope”, as he was one of the World’s leading eye expert on correcting squints.
First night out I just popped down on the boat deck to say hello as they were all having a drink.......next thing we had rats running around over the awning spars and on the deck..Bloody hell what’s going on?
Next morning after the 4/8 watch Martin C/O and I climbed down onto the barge to find the whole hold loaded with tinned Dutch cheese which had been ransacked and tins opened with rats all over the place. We checked the hatch covers and vents to make sure no more got out and proceeded on our way upriver. Couple of days later about noon we were steaming between these two islands somewhere around Fonte Boa, Peruvian Pilots were changing shift, I was on the bridge looking at the bank which suddenly stopped moving followed by an almighty crack and bang and the barge just kept going on its way...till all four headlines were surging round the bits....I was up the foredeck with some crew members just in time to grab hold of the bitter ends on two headlines which stopped the barges forward motion which had been slowed down by the current anyway. As the headlines held the barge swung round coming down the starbd side......swung round again as the headlines held and heading straight for number two hatch loaded with explosives. At the last minute swung round again to come round alongside at exactly the same position that it had been on the other side. We soon had it all secure again and did notice that the cast iron bollards we had been using on the starbd side of the barge had all seared off.
Next thing was to get the ship off the bank and it took awhile but a few ahead and astern movements and we were free...Must have just touched the edge of the bank. On inspection the bights of wire we had been using to secure the barge were still intact..But the after stern ropes had parted......barge bits were no more.
The only problem we had now was the barge was on the wrong side for going alongside at Leticia and Iquitos.
That was solved that at Leticia by going close into the bank dropping anchor and tying up to trees....which we usually did during Low River when we stopped for the night. Agent sent a barge down and we discharged what little cargo we had for Leticia into that. Passengers decided to go on one of these Jungle guided tours and return we got the whole story from Ed..Seemingly they went by boat to a native village and they were all their in native costume...doing dances and so forth..Very impressive Ed said. On the way back the tour guide realised that he had left his bag in the village so they went back to find the villagers all dressed in jeans and western clothes.
After Leticia we proceeded to Iquitos and anchored off to let the company tug take the barge before berthing at the Jetty.
As Dr Dunlap and his wife were going on the Lima...and a tour of Peru I suggested any heavy winter gear they did not need could be left on the ship secure in one of the passenger cabins, and that we would arrange for it to be landed in the office at New York for them to pick up at a later date.
Chief Officer was down the hatches on discharge had the bilge boards up finding all the rat nests etc......I must admit he kept at it as he was always asking me to go ashore to buy rat poison..Till eventually we were rat free.
Postscript to this story is on our return to New York my wife was joining me as I had volunteered to do an extra 3 months. We ran into thick fog South of Ambrose and edged our way up to pilot station on DF bearings...as the old Mark 4 had packed up again. Anyway pilot refused to take us in without radar so we anchored in the buffer zone waiting for the fog to clear which took 3 days.
Eventually berthed, wife joined ship discharged and loaded cargo and on the last day my steward came up and said what about the Doctors Dunlap’s cases, which I had completely forgotten about...so I said just pop them across to the office. Anyway as he is walking across to the office and he gets stopped by Customs Squad...who opened the cases and found little bags of white powder on top of the case...field test positive to narcotics. I was interrogated, So I explained what had happened and they were in my room, guns and all talking to a helicopter flying overhead.....I told them straight do not do anything till you check who Dr Ed Dunlop really is. Anyway it all quietened down and all this time my wife was having a blue fit. Bags of powder turned out to be medicine for gout. Anyway I was threatened with checks every time I arrived in the States, but nothing ever came of it.
Dock Pilots were on strike so we unberthed on our own and headed on our way to Philadelphia, Miami and other West Indian ports and another trip up the Amazon.
Lloyd,
You perhaps were not fully aware of the panic on board when we stopped and the barge continued, Panic was from the Ch steward who was running around telling everyone that the captain and mate had jumped onto the barge and had abandoned us all.
The passengers, didn't the Dr ask for samples of our drinking warter (strange i never remembered drinking water on the Cuthbert) when we had to make a short diversion to pump in river water as our nirex pump had broken and wern't those samples checked back in the states with the result they were more pure than NY tap water?
There were also two young lady passengers who went on a ''jungle walk'' arranged at some stop passed Manaus, i also went with them, both the guide and myself were quite concerned that neither of them had any form of footware...
And lastly back up to NY - you said I could not take the pig into the states, (by that time I'd passed it on to the 4th eng who would walk it around the deck) It was duly dispatched one teatime cooked and inserted to the watchmens sandwitchs' . Of course we didn't tell the 4th until he'd eaten them .
I think that trip was also the time we took days to get round Cape Hatteras due to the foul weather, and the last of the spare diodes blew before we could get to NY (I hated that damned radar!)
and
Salinopolis pilots, salinopolis pilots salinopolis pilots, this is Cuthbert Cuthbert Cuthbert? repeat as many times as you can!!
 
221 - 240 of 259 Posts
Top