how many members got the channels on homeward bound i no i did just been reading on ellermans lines they was away two years eg city of ely feb 1989 my god i would have got a dear john ? (Fly) (Applause)
I expect it was to do with the feeling one got after a long voyage and approaching the Englishh Channel was a sign that all would soon be relieved and go on leave .
It was a peculuar feeling as although one was happy with the thoughts that the trip was near to an end and leave was the predominant thought ( seeing ; parents ; girl friends ;wives ; kids etc ) there was also a bit of a let down as we said goodbye to our shipmates ( Many whom we never saw again )
Biggest job was to get all the Dhobi done and packed ! this was usually left to the last day or two and it was difficult to get to the washing machine !
I once stood by an SD14 being built at Austin & Pickersgill's, and towards the end of the fitting-out we managed to persuade the shipyard to provide the engineroom with a (completely unofficial) boilersuit washing machine. This was a second-hand, very basic Hoover single tub. It lived in the aft corner of the engineroom, and did sterling service, battering the dirt out of boilersuits. However, approaching the Channel at the end of the maiden voyage, I decided to dhoby all my boilersuits, as I knew the reception I would get if I turned up at home with a suitcase full of crankcase diving-suits. So, once I got things settled down on watch, I put a couple of boilersuits in, switched on, and watched the smoke as the poor old abused motor finally gave up the ghost and burned out. However, you learn to improvise at sea, so I removed the motor, cut a slot in the side of the machine in line with the impeller pulley, passed a length of cord around the pulley and the propeller shaft, wedged the machine so that the "drive belt" was tight, and we were in business. Naturally, the chief chose my watch to pay one of his occasional visits to the engineroom, and soon came looking for me to ask what the Hell was the contraption near the shaft tunnel? When I explained, he shook his head and disappeared, muttering something about "Just my luck to get saddled with the inventor of the world's first 14,000 horsepower washing machine as 3rd. engineer!"