Has anyone ever left their home port for a deep-sea voyage on Christmas Eve? I was on "Glengarry", we left KGV dock in London on Christmas Eve 1957 and returned at the end of March, 1958. Not particularly nice!!
I got home to the family farm, near John O'Groats from my two weeks Deck Cadet Induction on 17th December. I thought, "That's it" no chance of going anywhere before Christmas, especially as a first tripper. £^<$ me (blow me) if I didn't speak too soon. On 20th December the phone rang late at 3pm (dark in Caithness at that time of year). Denholm's wanted me to join my first ship in Kharg Island, Iran. Dad was called in from the fields to drive to Wick to get my Vaccination forms stamped while my Mum washed my clothes and shoved them in the oven to dry (no tumbler drier) and I went to pack everything else. I had three hours to get ready and be at Scotscalder station to get the train to Inverness. Trains only stop at Scotscalder if there is a passenger to pickup so I had to phone the station before to make sure it would stop. Our uniform list supplied by Denholms when we joined listed everything from Duffle coats and sweater to white shorts and short sleeved shirts and full 100% wool navy blue dress uniform. I took it all, not forgetting to take a balaclava, as I had seen the film the Cruel Sea. It weighed a ton but I managed to get it and myself onto the train for the 5 hour journey to Inverness, where I connected with an overnight sleeper to Glasgow. Next morning I reported to Denholm's office to pick up instructions and tickets. "Oh, and can you take the mail?" they asked. "It will make you popular if you take it!". Blow me this proved to be more like Santa's sack!, but I dutifully took it. I was on my own. No one else was joining the ship. Of course only a first tripper would have agreed to it!
I caught the last flight out of Glasgow before all flights were cancelled due to fog and checked into a hotel at Heathrow awaiting a flight to Athens early next morning and then on to Abadan in Southern Iran. All was OK. "Santa" First Tripper got his sack and suitcases onto the flight, transitted Athens OK but the next flight was diverted due to electric storms over Abadan. Unfortunately I arrived alone in Tehran at midnight. After a 3 hour wait we got put on a flight back to Abadan where an agent was supposed to meet me. But it was 4.00 am and I was already 12 hours late and the agent had given up on me. The airport emptied and I was left alone once again with some fearsome looking Police. As I was beginning to wonder if I should sit down and cry some guy turned up and told me to go with him. "Was he the agent?", I asked. "No", supposedly he was a friend but how did I know?
He dropped me at a hotel, but I knew my flight to Kharg Island was supposed to be at 9.00 am so I only slept an hour or two before I got a taxi to the airport to discover the flight was delayed until midday.
Denholm's Training Officer had said they like new Cadets to arrive at the ship smart, so please wear the full navy blue (100% wool) uniform. Wishing to make a good start I had left Abadan dressed ready for inspection by the Captain on arrival. Well I almost keeled over as I stepped out of the aeroplane in Kharg Island. Temperature in the 90's and god knows what humidity. Not what a farming boy from the depths of a Caithness winter was used to.
But the agent took we to the oil terminal, before stopping the car. "That's your ship over there on the end of the jetty" he said as I squinted into the distance to see. And then he unloaded my stuff, got back in the car and drove off! Only the fact that I was a healthy farm lad used to flinging a fat ewe on her back made me go on. With suitcases and sack and full woollen uniform I got halfway up the jetty before I stopped two young workers and flashing the remains of my cash bribed them to carry my stuff to the ship. I got halfway up the gangway when I heard an English voice above (Thank God) and looking up saw the strangest sight...a 2/O with cowboy boots on, short khaki shorts with pink and white boxer shorts sticking out, shirt and goattee beard. It was the campest sight I had ever seen. But I had no choice....I could not go back.
And so I joined "Sevonia Team" on 23rd December in the Persian Gulf and she sailed for New Zealand the next day. And the reason I went, and no one else went? There was a first trip Engineer cadet who had decided he didn't like it at sea and wanted to go home!!!.I got my own back by saying what a tough journey I had had. He went down the gangway with my words ringing in his ears."You'll never make it!!!"
Sailed from Le Havre at 4 PM on December 24th 1968 with less than 400 tons of cargo on the Beaverpine, bound for Quebec. Submerged somewhere near the Scilly Isles and surfaced on January 2nd at the entrance to the St. Lawrence. We had people travelling from all over Canada to see this 'cute little boat' and wouldn't believe we had crossed the Atlantic in it.
yes sailed christmas eve Stirling Castle also Southern Atlantic from Rotterdam
very nearly didnt sail,a ship came from up the river and bounced of our stern,just pushed the fairleads in,not enough damage to stop us sailing,sailed new years eve from KG5 on beaverash to ST.Johns
We sailed from Swansea around 2300 bound for New Zealand on the British Baron it was a nine month voyage, there was a lot of comments being bandied about as we left the Queens dock,spent the evening prior to sailing in a bar called the Half Moon,it was run by a mother and daughter.That trip there was a crew member who was very small,and I asked in a previous thread if he was the smallest man in the British merchant marine but did not get much response.His name was Harry Wingate he was from Plymouth.
Never sailed Chrismas eve but if memory sersve me I spent my first 3 new years in the Bay of Biscay. I was the youngest for the first two trips and had to ring in the new year on the forecastle bell. As somone said Paddy Henderson were happy ships but being sober at new years was a pain.
We sailed one Christmas Eve from London Royal Docks in late 40's and as we got into the London river, one of those famous London pea soupers came down and we had to drop the hook and lay there until the day after New Years. All that time the deck watches spent on the focsle head ringing the anchor bell. We could hear the other ships around us doing the same thing, but never got to see any of them.
What was that? 10 seconds? ding-a ling every (how many minutes?) I forget now. (Ouch) I even forget which ship it was. (Ouch)
Not quite the same thing, but whilst on the Stolt Lion on a Petrobras charter in 1981,we anchored in Santos on Xmas Eve-- I'd recently joined in Belem on the 15th-- and I was hopeful of at least the next best thing, a quiet Xmas Day at anchor-- but no, around 0800, 25 December we lifted the pick and were taken alongside to immediately commence loading avgas and avkero, so I spent my Xmas Day on the deck in pouring,sub-tropical rain on cargo watch. Pretty miserable really, no Xmas dinner or pud.
On the M/T Mary Else Tholstrup we sailed Christmas day morning 1969 from Qua Nhon (Viet Nam) to Singapore, it did not stop us from having a great Christmas day feast.
We had finished discharging the previous evening, in Viet Nam at that time there was a night time curfew on and you could only sail during daylight.
When on Ashanti Palm in 1960 we loaded cargo on Christmas day in Glasgow (it was not a holiday in Scotland at that time) and sailed to Liverpool before New Years day and work cargo there on New Years day,England did not have that as a holiday then. Wow how old that seemed to be.
Good planning on their part but we the crew did not get to celebrate either of the holidays that year.
Worse than sailing on Xmas eve tho have done that often.
It was the main boast of a person called McMechan that there were no "Robertsons" ships in port over Xmas and new years and I don't rememeber that ever happening!!
In the good old days when Christmas was not a holiday in Scotland and New Years day was not a holiday in England all the Blue Funnel ships left the Mersey prior to Christmas bound for Glasgow to load, leaving there just before New Year to return to resume loading in the Mersey.
AND WE DID NOT EVEN COMPLAIN!!!!
It was the red cow janbonde the bucket of blood was in wind street the name i cant remember at the moment it will come to me as you may have gest i live in swansea 70 years on monday sailed out for 5 years then worked the jettys in the queens dock for 30 years must have seen a lot of members shipsnostalgia in my time regards graham