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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I did time with Holyhead Towing back when they were a deep sea operator. I see that they have diversified nowadays and end up all over the place - good on 'em!

I sailed on the 'Afon Goch' - ex 'Schelde' (photo on my member info), on the 'Afon Wen' Ex 'Tasman Zee' and on the venerable 'Afon Las' ex Plateau which has just gone for scrap as the TH Dev (though massively re built).

I also did the odd job on their barge 'Llandwyn Island' and on the small shiphandling tugs 'Carmel head and 'North Stack'.

I'd like to get back in touch with William 'Billy' Davidson, who was a Master there. I have been in touch with him before but jlost his e-mail address - anyone help? If so, send me a PM!

Some good blokes on those tugs and they were perhaps the best and worst of times - but they were good ships and I learned a lot.

Jonty
 

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Hi Jonty,

We had Afon Cadnant (dredger) in Teignmouth for a weeks this year to assist with the docks redevelopment. From there I think she went over to either France or Belgium to do some work.

It was nice to see a North Wales shipping firm's ship in the deep South of Devon.!

Rushie
 

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Holyhead Towing have just taken delivery of the AFON CARADOG, the only tug built in the UK this year.Well done Holyhead Towing. (Applause) (Applause) (Applause)
 

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Where was she built.?

It's a great shame when you think of all the previous tugs built at Hessle and along the Humber.

Rushie
 

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Hello gentlemen, any information you would like about any of the Holyhead towing vesssels just ask me, as I'am a skipper with the company, im a local Holyhead man and i have been with Holyhead towing for nearly 8 years. IO have so many photo aswell.
 

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Hi Jonty, nice to here you used to work for the towing company, im working for em at the present im on the Afon Lligwy as skipper and she is base in Kuwait.
 

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Hi Pingu,

Where abouts do you operate from.?

Seems like the company is in all places these days...apart from Holyhead.!

Do you know where the Afon Cadnant is these days.?

Cheers,

Rushie
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ah, HTC!

In the old days, when you were laid alongside, you had to work as and where they wanted you. Most times it was doing something like taking the 'Norsemaid' (an ex THV cutter) out as pilot boat (some hairy moments there for a young AB!) or work on the 'Llandwyn Island' doing all sorts of stuff. If there was no deep sea work you got to go coastal on the 'Afon Las' - and she had a crew that defied description but each of them characters.....!

Or you ended up in the boatyard, doing things like shotblasting - old JM could never stand an idle man! I do recall one of the engineers shotblasting the hull of a boat and as the Marine Super walked by the other side, he let the nozzle go down.....which had the MS doing a meerry dance and using a lot of strange language! Could tell so many stories!

One thing they did do though - every Christmas, you'd get a turkey and a small hamper from the owner himself, as a way of saying thank you. When you de-stored after a deep sea trip, the contents of the freezer were shared out to the crew too. Personally, I enjoyed working for them.

The old 'Afon Goch' and 'Afon Wen' were ex Smit Salvage tugs. Beautiful sea boats and we did some great long votages on them and some pretty good salavges too.

I see the outfit has diversified now and has quite a fleet, all over the place. Good to seee they are still keeping the name and colours going.

Only person I knew who is possibly still there is Roger Price Jones? He made skipper - and deserved it too - but I had other fish to fry and after they left 'Afon Goch' in Jeddah and flagged her out, I went to the Northsea.

Jonty
 

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Hey there Jonty, the towing company has rapidly expanded its fleet in the past 3 years, theres no deep sea tugs anymore just shallow drafted twin screw workboats/tugs. The biggest of our tug fleet are the three sister ships, Afon Alaw, Afon Braint and Afon Caradog. They are 26.5m loa and with a beam of 9.0m, Total bhp, 2,600 bow thrusters are 150 - 200 bhp. Mark Meade has done very well for the company. The vessels are all over northern europe, west coast of Africa and the middle east, where im at on the Lligwy. But im on leave at the mo.
 

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Where was she built.?

It's a great shame when you think of all the previous tugs built at Hessle and along the Humber.

Rushie
Hi Rushie,

According to Jack Gaston's report in the Oct '06 Ship Monthly, she was built by Hepworth Shipyard at Paull on Humberside.

Bob
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Roger's with Klynes? Hmm.....a few of the 'old stalwarts' went to Klynes - some have happy memries of them, some have pretty awful ones. A Holyhead man who was C/Eng with HTC lost his arm on one of their tugs, I believe.

Good to see that Mark Meade has opened the business out - good for him. Is Frank Maudsley still there?

I know about the new fleet as I am also a member of www.tugspotters.com - but the goold old days of deep sea voyaging is far gone, which is a pity for you young bucks! I did my first trip on 'Afon Goch' Holyhead - belfast (pick up ship for scrap. MV 'Climax Opal' - sail for Santander. From there to Lisbon and then to Setubal (Portugal) to pick up a three set tow of barges. Sail Setubal for Las Palmas for bunkers and water and then to La Guira, Venezuala to drop them off for a project. Back to Holyhead direct. (five and a half months away, towing bonus 4.5p per mile......good pay off!)

Other trips Holyhead to Hamburg, pick up barge with floating plant on. Sail via Gibraltar for bunkers and to land a man ashore. Via Suez Canal to Djeddah, Saudi Areaboa to work on wreck clearance at the port expansion.
(4.5 pence per mile, five months away)

She also went to Canada, most of Europe, the Bosphoros.....while the 'Afon Wen' did the States including an epic tow, in hurricane conditons, with the 'Carl Gothorn' from New York to Sweden - I believe that JM had a painting of that hanging in his office

God memories and I could write a book on the 'Afon Las'! I was once asked to join her (when I did a foreigner for bextra cash whilst on leave from OIL) to bring her back to Holyhead from Gravesend. Met with Dewi Roberts (Mate, Caergeiliog man - now, sadly, dead) Brian 'Molly' Jones (Holyhead man, also now dead) and a few others on the 6.25am out of Holyhead - and as the train pulled out of the station it was to the voice of Dewi saying 'You know she's sunk, don't you?'

She had sunk at her berth after a tow job up the Thames and we were to bring her back home. When we got there, the mud and tide marks were still in her.......but the engineers did a grand job and she was soon on her way back - while we all chipped in to clean her up!

Good days. Best of them, maybe.

BTW, I'm a Morawelon boy originally.........

Jonty
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Plasma,

I found her a damned good little sea boat. She went hrough a couple of Force 9's in her time. She also had ordinary glass in the wheelhouse windows but never seemed to ship much over her stem. no matter the weather.

One thing I do recall was that when you engaged the auto pilot, as she was hydraulic steering, if you were anywhere near the wheel when the auto pilot was correcting and you got a bit of your coat (no wheelhouse heating...) caught - she'd have you on your knees in a trice!

She was a good old girl. Scrapped earlier this year as the TH Dev - went up to Newcastle and had been stripped down to the main deck, new accom put on - but she's now razor blades.

A damned good old girl, for all her faults.

Jonty
 

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When I was on her some electric heaters were fitted in the wheelhouse with out permission. Capt. Morrison[senior dockmaster P.L.A] ordered them to be taken out as the heat would make the skippers drowsey. There were four of these tugs originally, Plateau went to Hollyhead Towing, Platina went to Greece. Plagal & Plangent were reengined and stayed with the PLA.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I think the Platina was with HTC for a very short while as spares for the Afon Las - i could be wrong?

Heaters? The wheelhouse was always unheated until HTC fitted a fierce radiator at the back of the wheelhouse. It was so hot, you'd burn on it just by looking at the dammed thing!

She was a very basic old boat. The messroom on the maiondeck retained the large table and circular seat - a bit off putting when she was nudging a head sea......the shower didn't work (you had to run around until you got wet....) and the oilskin locker used to be a toilet.....

Down below they made a veg store and three cabins. One housed the skipper and mate, one the two engineers and there were bunks for four deckies! Only problem was, the top bunks were so close to the deckhead that if you got up in a hurry, you got scalped.......

As for towing....she was hand balled in and ouit (streaming) the tow. One capstan that used to take two turns of the tow rope - the rest of the power supplied by the dckies! You would flake the lengths out up the port alleyway, making sure you put one eye on the hook as they came up in measured lengths. Then, when you had the bridle and spring close in, you lashed it down to the hook. Reverse that for lengthening tow....

We had some good times though. Funny thing was, I was on her in Amsterdam when - as we came in and me and the Mate on watch - Tony Prince of Radio Luxembourg announced that Elvis was dead......and me and the mate, Amsterdam again, announcing John Lennon was dead a few years later! Maybe it was just us two? :)

Overall though, she was a good wee boat and I did take some weather in her......imagine changing watches in a full gale......out the maindeck accom door, hand hold to the ladder, up it to the bridge for the watch - and having to do the same when the OOW wanted a hot drink!

Swing that lamp!

Jonty
 

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Hi there Jonty, Frank Mowesley has been retired for the last 6 years or so, the general manager is now James Burns, who was once a deck trainee, and became tea boy in the office and fairplay, eventually took over Franks job. The painting that you mentioned of the Afon Wen in that hurricaine is in James's office, cracking one too. Theres not so many of us Holyhead men or even welsh men in the company anymore, with the company and fleet expanding so rapidly, we have all sorts of nationalities with us.
 

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Hey there Rushie, i forgot to mention to you when you asking where the Afon Cadnant was, well she is no longer in the fleet. She has been sold, to who and where, i don't know just yet.
 
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