i sailed on the Rubens in 1968 as galley boy, loved that ship. Chief cook was a fella called Jimmy Bennett. The second steward jumped ship in Santo‘s and I saw a ghost in the cold veg store and everyone had to search the vessel to make sure it wasn’t a stow away. Loads of boiler trouble on the this trip, sailed out of Liverpool in Gale force winds across the bay of biscay in gale force 9. I loved it.I sailed on the Rubens as 2nd mate for five trips from 1968 onwards. The master was MacNeil, known to all as 'Black Mac' originally from Barra but long time resident in the Merseyside area. No doubt some of you will remenber him.
This Rubens was a transfer from Austalasia line ( I think that is correct ) and not exactly in the first flush of youth when we joined. However as with other L&H ships I sailed on it was a good crew.
How many of you remember the fire on the Rubens, which broke out when we were a 100miles or so off Recife? Unfortunately I do not have the exact date, but I do remember the time which was just before noon, as when I heard the alarms I assumed it was noon and I had missed the midday position which would have been a fate worse than death. We were later informed by those that knew about these things , who said the probable cause was a dockers cigarette from Liverpool in a bale of smouldering material which a change in ventilation had ignited. At one stage it was quite concerning with the ship's side red hot and steaming at the waterline. The damage to the cargo was extensive, including whisky, and the usual mix, fortunately no livestock on deck.
We did all we could to contain and made best speed for Recife which was not a lot. What followed in Recife over a week or so was a complete farce with different fire brigades competing to give assisitance. When I look back on it Black Mac handled the situation very well and eventually we continued the voyage. A loss adjuster was sent out from the UK and I learnt a lot from him about general average and such. On eventual return to Liverpool the only questions I was asked, other than a snide comment on my claim for gear damaged fighting the fire was that my bar bill ( and all the others ) was unusually high.
I would be interested to hear from anyone on the Rubens at that time as it was certainly one of the more memorable voyages.