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Hi,

I am looking for information relating to safety measures for those working in the galley? I am aware of the metal bars that could be placed on a stove to prevent pots sliding off when the ship rolled, but the metal bars would not have prevented liquids sloshing over the rims of pots... Even moving a container of hot liquid from one point to another must have been hazardous in difficult weather?

I never worked in a galley but did some work in busy kitchens for a time on land and even that could be potentially dangerous at times.

I guess the galley would be shut down if the ship started to roll in a storm? If that is correct, I wonder how bad the roll would have to be to close everything down? Any memories to share?...
 

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Any ship's cook would acquire great skill at working under difficult conditions. Before health & safety was invented all seamen survived by being alert to all sorts of dangers, or suffered greater or lesser accidents when vigilance failed. Certain routines such as keeping pan handles turned away from danger, and not overfilling pots, were common sense.
 

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My memory tells me that when in heavy weather, after we heard the sounds of crockery breaking in the galley, the meal menu was switched to sandwiches.

Greg Hayden
 

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Great photo in a very old book on my shelf, The Wonderful story of the Sea, Editor: Wheeler.

Cracker galley photo. Something wrong with the photo. Can anyone see the 'error'?

This book came out in Summer 1936. RMS Queen Mary mentioned in the text and a couple of photos of the building and one showing maiden voyage at New York. In the text: As a sequel to the success of the Queen Mary it was announced a few weeks later that a similar ship, to be called the King George V. which would be put up on the stocks in the same yard in which Britain's biggest liner had been built."

Interesting. KGV. Good name but QGV died not so long after the order so perhaps name would have not been such a good idea.

Stephen
 

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heavy weather, safety

Hi,
I guess the galley would be shut down if the ship started to roll in a storm? If that is correct, I wonder how bad the roll would have to be to close everything down? Any memories to share?...

An extract from a letter to the good lady.

Boxing Day 1970, on passage Liverpool towards Setubal, Portugal.

“On the first day out after departure we ran into a westerly gale just south of the Irish coast. I was seasick and poor old “cookie”, wee Billy from Carrick, and the 2nd cook were still preparing the Christmas lunch for 36 souls. I very much doubt shore people could imagine what it’s like in a ship’s galley, with the lady rolling heavily, diving into deep Atlantic troughs, trying to cook a four-course meal whilst everything is in danger of being thrown off the stoves and the galley decks awash under foot. As the weather didn’t show any sign of a let-up, I brought the lady ‘about’ for a few hours so ’cookie’ could finish preparing the lunch for all hands, a wipe down of his galley afterwards to let him and the rest of the catering staff finally enjoy their Xmas dinner seated with a couple of wee half- un’s, in relative comfort, served up by the officers in the saloon.”

Note; I don’t imagine we were conscious of health and safety measures then – common sense and good practice learned from many years’ experience seafaring was the accepted norm.
 

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#7

Liverpool towards Setubal 1970 sounds like Ellerman Papayanni. With 36 souls? Would you like to expand?

A Market-boat with passengers?

Please forgive the pedantry. The chronology is intriguing!
 

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it was Donaldson’s ‘Santona’, on a time charter for Ellerman Papayanni. A pleasant way to spend the winter months, suggested the Owners when they sent me at short notice. A nice change from the N. Atlantic or the Baltic, I’d thought in my ignorance. Still, a couple of good trips with a few nasty turns along the way. The police had lined the Langton lock that Xmas eve afternoon as we departed into the river, the only 'passengers', those recently recruited from Walton prison to make up the numbers on the A of A.
 

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Hi,

I am looking for information relating to safety measures for those working in the galley? I am aware of the metal bars that could be placed on a stove to prevent pots sliding off when the ship rolled, but the metal bars would not have prevented liquids sloshing over the rims of pots... Even moving a container of hot liquid from one point to another must have been hazardous in difficult weather?

I never worked in a galley but did some work in busy kitchens for a time on land and even that could be potentially dangerous at times.

I guess the galley would be shut down if the ship started to roll in a storm? If that is correct, I wonder how bad the roll would have to be to close everything down? Any memories to share?...
I spent many years in the galley in a career spanning 24 years in small product carriers/tramp cargo ships/ bulk carriers etc. Those metal bars on the stove are called fiddles. In extreme weather you can use 2 or 3 pots firmly enclosed in the fiddles to stop them spilling onto the stove, the danger of which meant that the spillage would hit the stove top and then skid in any direction and scald you if you were not paying attention. I never found that the ship rolling heavily was as bad as the ship pitching which meant that when the ship started to climb a wave it would start to reach the peak and a point where the focstle head would slam down on the opposite side of the wave which created a bouncing effect and cause any liquids to erupt out of pots like a mini Vesuvius a piece of wire between the pot and lid helped to avoid this. As already mentioned common sense and experience got you through with most ships crew accepting that stews curries etc. would be the order of the day. One other piece of wisdom that we learned was 'One hand for yourself and one for the ship; As you mentioned all the hazards that You experienced in a kitchen were the same in a galley but with the added addition of an unstable and unpredictable sea. Having said that it was no easier for the engine room staff or the deck department it was an acceptable part of our jobs.
 

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The worst job... perhaps not the worst, but certainly one of the hardest is dining room stewards on large passenger ship. Thousands of passengers and they have to be fed at least three times a day, usually more. Fetch and carry! Steward will carry a tray with plates (with metal covers) as much as a dozen, six plates high. One wrong step and the whole lot will come down, not matter the weather. Even worse the cheap passengers that not think for the dining and cabin crew and they will try to stiff them for their few dollars tip. Sickening.
 

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Any ship's cook would acquire great skill at working under difficult conditions. Before health & safety was invented all seamen survived by being alert to all sorts of dangers, or suffered greater or lesser accidents when vigilance failed. Certain routines such as keeping pan handles turned away from danger, and not overfilling pots, were common sense.
Eh! Isn't that what Health and Safety is? (Jester)
 

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Eh! Isn't that what Health and Safety is? (Jester)
it's what health and safety is or was supposed to be. Now it's institutionalised and do***ented and I fear that may be displacing common sense. Thanks for the humorous query.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hi, Thanks for all comments. All very enlightening.

Hats off to ships cooks!

Thanks Johnny Walker, I had not come across the description 'fiddles', I came across another description which was 'range bars' that might have been in reference to something else or just another description for 'fiddles'.

I suppose that a Cook's work has become less difficult as ships have got bigger? less rollng and pitching? - Peter
 

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Fiddles are also the name of a rim or other contrivance to stop items rolling off a table. They can be either fixed or folding.
The name comes from the earliest makeshift devices which consisted of wooden blocks with holes through which were passed cords which, drawn taught, held the blocks to the table - the resemblance to stringed musical instrument resulted in the name fiddles.
 

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On that Firth Fisher, which was carrying coal from Liverpool to Northern Ireland when I was in her, the galley was closed down before we passed the bar and only opened again approaching Warren Point or Belfast. We ate Spam sandwiches during the passage, and more often than not, we hit the chippie for our main meal, then the pub.
Not a lot of high cuisine went on in that old tub.
 

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...the galley was closed down before we passed the bar and only opened again approaching Warren Point or Belfast. We ate Spam sandwiches during the passage, and more often than not, we hit the chippie for our main meal, then the pub.
Not a lot of high cuisine went on in that old tub.
I nearly put this down to being a tall tale when I heard that you had passed a bar. I suppose you could have nipped in for a glass or two though.
 

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I nearly put this down to being a tale tale when I heard that you had passed a bar. I suppose you could have nipped in for a glass or two though.
Regrettably, Liverpool Bar Light Vessel did not offer light refreshments to passing ships, just a group flashing light every 30 seconds at a height of 30ft above the water, visible for 10 miles. In bad visibility, it would shout at you in a low growl.
There was a very decent chippy in Warrenpoint, next door to a pub, right there on the coal berth.(Thumb)
 

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I can't recall ever not having a hot meal from the galley due to bad weather even on reefer ships which would roll on grass.
I have sympathy for ship's cook, because seafarers always complain about the food and on ships I was on in the Red Sea despite the ships having A/C there was none in the galley.
Galley work had other hazards, I remember replacing a solid element on a range on an old ship, it was very heavy but when I lifted up the element there was an asbestos sheet which was in bad condition with fibres floating around. Even wearing a mask and goggles. it was a worry. Cleaned it up as best I could without disturbing the sheet any more and replaced the element. The range was safe in normal use. The cooks were working in a dangerous similar to an engine and had much the same accidents.
 

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feeding the troops

September 1970 / on passage Glasgow towards Quebec.

Seven days steaming is the normal to where we are now, it’s day twenty and it has every man jack drained of energy, all feeling rather weak and fed-up. Day after monotonous day of very heavy rolling, pitching and some fearful pounding. Every meal sees the food flying off the table, fiddles secured and tablecloths wetted down and even with the saloon chairs bolted to the deck someone at each meal takes a tumble. Pure luck none of the catering staff has sustained a serious injury. Daren’t chance a shower for fear of an injury somewhere, anywhere, for that matter. No dhobying, no paperwork, little or no sleep, just wedged and braced into the bunk wishing the violent motions would let up. Keeping a watch on the bridge or in the engine room in these conditions is a nightmare and even worse for the galley staff.
All throughout the night it blew with unimaginable violence, this lady dancing about like a person demented. After deciding to ‘heave to’, to weather a nasty wee blow, all hell broke loose with mountainous seas and a blinding spray whipped up by the wind with many tons of water piling onto us from every direction. No matter what I tried I couldn’t keep her free off heavy seas. As they say, ‘man proposes, God disposes. We do need a little luck occasionally, just to get by. Main thing, no damage was recorded in the Log book to either the ship or cargo.
 
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