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SS Lakemba 1965 Victoria to Sydney

... The probability, although I don't have the actual dates, this was in regards to the voyage, that the Ship had a fairly major Engine Room fire, and of necessity, fresh water was very limited for all hands. ... Entering the Harbour of Nukaloffa ( Spelling is very suspect !! ) the Capital of Tonga was really tricky as it lay behind Coral Reefs, and threading our way through the channels with very tight turns, with the ship being very very light, with the fresh water tanks virtually empty, a high deck cargo that was saturated, and the Fuel bunkers low, stability was "tender" to say the least........ The harbour didn't have docks as such, so it was a case of anchoring to discharge what cargo there was for Tonga, onto Barges, and take on fresh supplies before proceeding to Fiji........ Instead of dropping the anchor and going astern to set it, even so,the ship still took an alarming list to port, as the starboard anchor was lowered before she righted herself. Something like a quick 21 or 22-degree list and the harbour's water was flat like a Mill Pond! ( I was stationed, to observe and note, the Ships Inclinometer, the aft side of the Officers Bridge Accommodation ) To say things were a little tense would be a huge understatement ! ... David K
 

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That foolish lad you might remember

On its last trip, I was that foolish 12-year-old who managed to insert both hands into that roller device above the washing machine in the laundry room and watched in horror as it began to shave skin off my lower arms. I was told my screams were heard throughout the ship and the captain hurled himself against the machine to free me, sending me flying backward at untold speed into a bathroom stall. Yup, that was me. Anyone recall the event?
 

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I was on the voyage the summer of 66, but I can just picture your shock of what was happening to you, and of you flying back. Do you have names of the captain and mates on that trip? I still need to put some of my photos on the site, if I can figure out how to do it.
 

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Ss Lakemba

Hi
there was a thread some years ago on this site from DR or DKR
that person was Third officer on LAKEMBA in 1965
He lives in Canada
If you can contact him he will be able to fill you in on vessel particulars
Regards
Alan
 

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.. As Allan stated, I was Third Mate aboard the "Lakemba", signing Articles in Sydney 17 December 1964 and signing off Vancouver 08th March 1966. .... Seeing News coverage of the recent Cyclone damage to Fiji, reminded me of the Cyclone that caught the Lakemba just a couple of days out from Suva, bound for Honolulu, en route Vancouver. Being held virtually stationary, and fearful of being blown astern and dangerously close to what we knew were low-lying islands, and being unable to get anything but a couple of very poor sights to fix our approximate position, light ship, very heavy seas, and waves crashing over the foredeck, a trying time all round. With the constant pounding, concerns were held that we'd "spring" the bow plating, and going forward to check the forepeak was "interesting" to say the least. Our fears were proven groundless, and the Lakemba came through unscathed, and I think, looking back, that we arrived in Honolulu just a couple of days behind schedule! .... A seaworthy design, well handled and well built despite starting to show her age! ..... David
 

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Hi Luella,
I'm pretty sure that I was on that journey, being one of the kids with the beautiful Nanny. Her name was Ginger Gordy and she was a family friend brought along to look after me and my brother and sister. I was eight at the time, but still have very vivid memories of the trip. Flying fish, seeing a hammerhead shark come along side, crossing the equator and the appearance of king Neptune, the canvas swimming pool built among the timber. What a way to travel. My parents were Mike and Mairi Naughton, both now passed away. We left Australia in 1972 and came to Scotland (by plane, how boring).
I was very happy to find this thread, ain't the internet great!
Bruce - I was also on that ship with your family. on arrival, after we all found accommodation, a group of us had get-togethhers for about 1 year. Your parents invited us to their place in Mosman for a party. So neat - we could hear the lions roar as the zoo was nearby. I now work as a volunteer at the zoo. May Conder
 

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Hi am new to this site, my husband paul singh was on the lakemba in 1965 and66. He was a steward first then a bartender. He ended up jumping ship in sydney, just interested in reading who was on rhe ship around that time, liz
 

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..... Yes indeedy that was me, although, I was Australian, not Canadian at the time. And that situation has since been rectified ! ... PM Sent . .... David K
Hi David, I just landed on this site accidentally. Just amazing how many people were acquainted to Lakemba. I don't know if you are aware, that many of the ex-Fijian crews are residing here in Vancouver. One of them is my farther in-law, Francis Kumar who was the bar tender, who later joined the cable ship Retriever, and then Norwegian merchant ship Thor. One of my uncle joined Lakemba in the early 50's. I was so exited, thought I post this bit of history. Take care.
 

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Hi all,
my name is Sarda, and I was a Fijian/Indian crew member on the Lakemba when the ship hit the reef back in 1967. I would like to correspond and find other passengers and crew members that would have been aboard at the same time. Bula Vinaka
Hi Sarda, I know few of the ex-crew members who are residing here in Vancouver. They are, Francis Kumar, David Prakash, Alfred Saud, G.Mani, David Khan, and Joe Nair who lives in San Francisco and many more. Hope this might interest you. Take care.
Raj
 

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I found this signed menu. I don't have any history with it and wanted to share it with you.


View attachment 682903 View attachment 682904 View attachment 682905
What are the chances? I traveled with my parents from Australia to Vancouver via Fiji in 1953. A thought came to mind about the name of the ship and I remembered it so thought I'd do a bit of research. That desire and the internet brought me here to this thread. Interestingly, I was curious about the menu on board and then scanned a few names and there was my mother's signature "Phyllis Taylor" and in another column, my father's signature "Fred W. Taylor ". I was about 7 years old at the time and do remember some very happy times during that very long journey. I have a photo somewhere of me and my parents disembarking from the ship in Vancouver. I needed to say a very big THANK YOU for the wonderful memory of my mom and dad by posting this menu. It means the world to me. Deni
.
 

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1953 voyage on the Lakemba

It is truly wonderful to hear everyone's stories.

I sailed on the Lakemba departing from Sydney in June 1953. First we stopped at Auckland, then Suva, Honolulu, San Francisco, and finally reached Vancouver in July 1953.

My mother was taking myself and my two sisters back home to Canada to visit her mother. Mum would have had her work cut out with three daughters aged, 10, 5 (me) and 2. For a 5 year old it was the adventure of a lifetime and something that made a deep and lasting impression.

We crossed the Equator after leaving Suva. They had a big party around the canvas pool and we were all dressed up. There was a beauty contest and my 2 year old sister was voted Miss Lakemba.

Other memories I have are that in Suva a one legged man selling brightly coloured coral came on board. It was rumoured that he had lost his leg in a shark attack. There were young children swimming in the Suva Harbour and diving for pennies.

After eight months in Canada we returned to Sydney in January 1954 on the Oronsay. The same ships, but the opposite direction to you, susansushnyk. What a coincidence.!
I was on that same ship as well. What a coincidence. I was about 7 at the time and do remember the canvas pool and the celebrations for crossing the equator. I found someone had uploaded a menu from that sailing and it is filled with most if not all the signatures of people on board. I scanned and found my mother's and my father's signatures; so touching and fond memories. We are still in Vancouver to this day. Take care, Deni
 

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I was a passenger on the last voyage of the Lakemba, left Victoria B.C. Sept/67
what a wonderful trip !
As I had elected to stay aboard as the ship left Suva for Lautoka, I’d been busy in the ((windowless) bar, and stumbled off to bed at closing.
Awoke to being pitched from my top bunk to the deck, a grinding crunch
 

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My name is Don Austin, I was a passenger on the Lakemba’s last voyage.
left Victoria B.C. In Sept. of ‘67, spent I believe a day or so in Honolulu and thence to Suva.
I stayed on board for the trip ‘round the island to Lautoka, but of course, we never made it !
  • spent the final night in the windowless, tiny bar, made my way to my cabin at closing, and was propelled from my top bunk to the deck sometime in the wee hours, with the crunch of grinding metal ringing through the ship.
  • made my way on deck and soon saw what was happening
Being friends with the Chief Purser, John Hoare, I was tasked with removing a suitcase full of do***ents &c. when the time came to get in the lifeboats and transfer to the Retriever, which I think was a British cable layer, they treated us royally.
I ended up as stated with a suitcase full of ships do***ents and nothing of my own, save a very small bag !
- we were of course denied the pleasure of sailing into Sydney Harbour, and were transported by air instead.
An incredible trip in every way, ocean travel that can’t be duplicated today, a bygone era indeed.
I have some newspaper clippings & some photos to share if anyone is interested.
- took me a while to discover this forum !!
Cheers, Don
 

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I sailed on the Lakemba from Victoria, Vancouver Island to Fiji August 1966. There were about 60 to 70 passengers all bound for Australia, mostly Canadians and a few English and American. I was the only passenger to jump ship in Fiji. The crew were Australian, East Indian and Fijian and the cargo timber. The ships doctor a Dr. Shannon died on board about two days from Honolulu. Looking at old photographs our swimming pool was a canvas sack about 6 foot X 6 foot. I remember being covered in a sticky mess of honey and flour and dunked in it when we crossed the Equator. I have a newspaper cutting from the New Zealand Herald dated October 6 1967 priced 4c saying the Lakemba had struck a reef known as Cakaulekaleka off Vatulele Island. The cable laying vessel Retriever took all the passengers and most of the crew to Suva. I would like to hear from anyone that was on the Lakemba when she sailed from Victoria to Sydney August 1966. I went from Suva to Auckland on MV Tofua. It was a very rough crossing! Mary Tilda
I sailed on the Lakemba from Victoria, Vancouver Island to Fiji August 1966. There were about 60 to 70 passengers all bound for Australia, mostly Canadians and a few English and American. I was the only passenger to jump ship in Fiji. The crew were Australian, East Indian and Fijian and the cargo timber. The ships doctor a Dr. Shannon died on board about two days from Honolulu. Looking at old photographs our swimming pool was a canvas sack about 6 foot X 6 foot. I remember being covered in a sticky mess of honey and flour and dunked in it when we crossed the Equator. I have a newspaper cutting from the New Zealand Herald dated October 6 1967 priced 4c saying the Lakemba had struck a reef known as Cakaulekaleka off Vatulele Island. The cable laying vessel Retriever took all the passengers and most of the crew to Suva. I would like to hear from anyone that was on the Lakemba when she sailed from Victoria to Sydney August 1966. I went from Suva to Auckland on MV Tofua. It was a very rough crossing! Mary Tilda
 

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Hi David, I just landed on this site accidentally. Just amazing how many people were acquainted to Lakemba. I don't know if you are aware, that many of the ex-Fijian crews are residing here in Vancouver. One of them is my farther in-law, Francis Kumar who was the bar tender, who later joined the cable ship Retriever, and then Norwegian merchant ship Thor. One of my uncle joined Lakemba in the early 50's. I was so exited, thought I post this bit of history. Take care.
Hi Raj,
I was just reviewing this site and saw your post. I see that your father-in-law Francis Kumar joined the CS Retriever at some stage. Who knows, I may have met him as I served on Retriever for two and a half years, leaving her in 1969. I was fourth engineer and remember our Lakemba rescue well, I earlier posted a bunch of pictures on this site that I took at the time.
Regards,
Dave.
 

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... I served as Third Mate on the Lakemba. She actually carried 98 passengers and 64 Crew. Sailing from Sydney to the west coast it was seldom that here were more than about 20 passengers, BUT returning a full Complement. A Doctor was carried during the two years I sailed aboard ( Capt.Geoff Cleveland).... Owned by Pacific Shipowners, which was a subsidiary of WRC Carpenters ( "Would Rob Christ" ). After I left in Vancouver, the then 'Mate, John Ward was promoted Master,when Cleveland left, and shortly thereafter ran aground on a Reef ( Mbbenga Reef ? ) just off Suva, sliding off a shortly thereafter into Deep water... non Salvageable. I know I've very fond memories of the time served on the Lakemba, and the "Great Island Nights" held every Voyage for the Passengers Entertainment, usually the second night out from Honolulu, and well before Suva.' Learned to really love the Curries from the Crews Mess, when I could duck the more formal, Noon Meal in the Saloon! ...... David K ..... (S/S Lakemba, ex HMCS "Spurn Point" )
Interesting! I was a passenger on the Lakemba in July/August of 1966. We left Vancouver Island later than expected as there was a strike. Not sure of exact date of leaving. There were 4 of us from northern Ontario, Canada. I think we had about 65 passengers on board. We had a doctor who died shortly before we reached Hawaii. A helicopter landed on the ship to pick up the doctor. We only had a short time in Hawaii. We then went to Fiji (Suva and Latoka). I don’t have the exact date of arriving in Sydney. We travelled all around AU, mostly hitchhiking- up as far as Cooktown, the old Ghan to Alice Springs, Darwin and down the west coast, across the Nullarbor and back up the east coast.
 
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