London

 

Ticket As I sat in the transit lounge at Tehran airport & scanned my ticket – it was a BOAC ticket, but the the airline was Qantas.

Boarding pass

As was the boarding pass

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The aircraft in 1968 was a B 707 /138, which had been modified by Qantas with a turbofan and they renamed their modified aircraft as V-Jets – the V from the Latin word vannus meaning ‘fan’, or to be pedantic  “thing that blows against the grain”.

Qantas Airways was the new name, because up to 1967 Qantas’ name had been Qantas Empire Airways .

The route from Sydney to London is traditionally known as the ‘Kangaroo Route’, and Qantas had various ways of getting to London in the 1960’s.

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Boarding was via a set of stair – the idea of an aero-bridge to assist passenger boarding  of the aircraft was in its infancy.

The aircraft that I was to board had arrived from Sydney via Manila, Hong King and New Delhi, and from Tehran our next stop would be Athens and finally London.

In 1966 you could get to London from Sydney via the Fiesta Route, which was via Fiji, Tahiti, Acapulco, Mexico City, Nassau, Bermuda, London.

Don’t forget at that time the in-flight entertainment was the airline magazine or you chatted with the passenger next to you, or you read a book, because movies on demand was years in the future and even the pull down public screen for everyone to watch the same film, was also in the future.

The cost of my ticket for a one-way trip from Abadan to London was $288.50 USD or in today’s money USD $2,187 (AUD $3,124). It was an expensive one-way flight in economy.

QFG seatingPicture from the internet of the inside of a Qantas B707/138 economy class seating, and the one thing you hoped for in economy was that the centre seat was unoccupied.

dress code

At that time you dressed appropriately for international travel – the above is just an illustration.

Uniform

Stewardess’ uniform for Qantas in 1968

QF menu

Once I sat down I was presented with a breakfast menu.

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Of course in 1968 smoking onboard was acceptable . . .

smokeSASand even encouraged, because some airlines created cigarettes so that the smoker became advert once they left the aircraft. Many airlines gave away matches and cigarette lighters with their name and logo imprinted on both.

We arrived in Athens at 5.00 am (05.00 hr) and as we were only on the ground for forty five minutes so I doubt that we would have left the plane as it was refueling, but we were not allowed to smoke.

ETA London was 8.15 am.

On arrival I had to transfer from Heathrow to Euston railway station in the city, to catch a train to Liverpool – I was hoping for a steam train experience of my childhood, but I’d forgotten that the line had been electrified in 1966.

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Liverpool Lime Street still had the old feeling and the ‘smell’ of steam, which could have been just my wishful thinking.

A fortnight after I arriving home British Rail ran the last scheduled steam train from Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Victoria, and then on to Carlisle before returning. This last service was in commemoration of the opening of the Liverpool to Manchester line in 1830, which was the first public railway system to use only steam locomotives.lms_5mt_45110_barton_moss_15_gns_spcl_11-08-68_edited-2

The above is the actual 1968 train, and the picture is off the internet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Khorramshahr

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With such a long time at anchor off Doha, Qatar, there was not any excuse not to write home – at least we didn’t pay for the postage. We handed our letters to the purser or chief steward, which was then handed over to our agent, along with any Company communication. The Company mail was bagged for head office in London and posted. As you see everything was what we call ‘snail mail’ today – life without the internet.

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We sailed from Doha for Kuwait after our thirteen days of hanging around at anchor and only working cargo for a day.

Leaving Doha on the 12th July, we arrived off Kuwait at 4.00 pm on the 13th and of course we anchored . . .

Kuwait from the air

Kuwait from the air – picture from the internet.

We stood anchor watches (the same system as at sea), so I was on the mid-day to 4.00 pm and the midnight to 4 am. I remember recording the temperature at 4.00 am as I completed the ship’s log  37 c ( 98 F), It was a warm night, but not as hot as the lunch time report, which listed the temperature as 45 c (113 F) mat 1.00 pm, and we didn’t have air-conditioning and everything that was metal was too hot to touch, which meant most of the ship outside the accommodation.

The following day we moved alongside to work cargo. An uneventful day of heat and dust and the smell of oil, but what would I expect being in the Gulf?

To reach our next port we would be sailing up the Arvand Rud if we wished to discharge in an Iranian port or the Shatt-al Arab if we wished to do business with Iraq. Both side of the river were ‘touchy’ as to how we named the river.

shatt_al_arabAs you see Kuwait is at the bottom of the map and our destination was to be Basra in Iraq.
Khorramshahr & Abadan are both on the Iranian side of the river.

Shah

In 1968 the Shah was still in control at that time and things did not change until Khomeini

Khomeini arrived in 1979.

From Kuwait we sailed to Basra, the plan being to call at the Iranian ports on the way south – this was our normal procedure.

We arrived in Basra on, I think, the 17th July, which was the day of the Ba’thist bloodless coup d’état in Iraq

Sadam

and this gentleman became Vice President. The photo is of when he was a very young man and became more recognizable later in life

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Saddam Hussein in 1980

From memory, the change in government did not affect us and after working cargo we sailed for Iran.

On arrival in Khorramshahr (Iran) on Saturday 27th July, I received a letter from the Company that I was to fly home because my contract for two and a half years on the eastern service had come to an end.
I don’t think I’d ever packed my bags as fast as I did that day – goodbye heat and sand!

My relief walked up the gangway and I warmly welcomed him and offered him my last cold bottle of beer. . . .what a sacrifice!

The ship’s agent drove me to Abadan to catch a plane to Tehran for the connecting flight to London.

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Iran Air B727 /100 had been in service with Iran Air for a couple of years before I flew with them in 1968, configuration was 106 passengers in two classes, I was of course in economy.
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B727 / 100 seating – I was near the back.

As I checked in for the flight at Abadan airport I was surprised at the large amount of hand baggage  that passengers were allowed to carry in to the passenger cabin considering how small the cabin was, in comparison to today’s aircraft.
I’d flown around Asia & Australia to join various ships so I was aware of the restrictions re cabin baggage, but Iran Air didn’t seem to have the same restrictions.

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One person had a small primes stove.

After we had taken off and the seat belt light had been switched off the man with the primes stove squatted in the aisle and lit the stove to make his tea . . . .

Nobody reacted near the tea maker, and as I had an aisle seat I undid my seat belt to tell the tea maker to put out the naked light. Before I had had gone two steps there was a blared movement of a stewardess (one could use this word in 1968) moving from the forward part of the aircraft to the tea maker. I’ve never seen a crew member move so fast before or since.

The flight was IR 800 and we left Abadan at 10.45 pm (2245 hr), flight time was about 90 minutes.
We landed at Mehrabad airport, which at the time was Tehran’s primary airport. The link will give you an idea of ‘yesterday’s’ travelling – it is silent. There weren’t any aero-bridges at that time.
The aircraft in the short film was not the aircraft in which I flew.
My connecting flight was due out at 02.55 hrs (02.55 am) Sunday, it was going to be a long night.

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In 2007 a new airport opened in Tehran for international flights. It is called
Imam Khomeini International Airport. (Picture from the internet)

 

 

 

B.H.S

 

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B.H.S = Boredom – Heat – Sand (and for my British readers BHS is not British Home Stores!)

We sailed from Muscat for Doha, but for some reason, which I can’t remember, we were diverted to Bahrain, which is 130 km ( 81 miles) as the crow flies from Doha, but a little longer by sea.

The above map shows how close most of the ports are to the Straits of Hormuz.

Before we arrived at Bahrain we were diverted again to Dammam, which is in Saudi Arabia. I have underlined Dammam with a green line. Again, not all that far as a diversion but . . .

The problem for us was that we had loaded the cargo in a set way for discharge i.e Doha, Bahrain, Dammam, but by making Dammam our first port of call we had to move the Bahrain & Doha cargo before we could discharge Dammam cargo – a small detail that had to be taken in to account.
Due to delays in Bahrain I think our Gulf agency was trying to avoid further delays by unloading Dammam before Bahrain.

Dammam was, and still is, an oil port, so there was little incentive to go ashore, plus Saudi Arabia was ‘beerless’.
We had to contend with sandstorms mixed with dust and the overpowering smell of crude oil. I thought I’d left that particular perfume when I left tanker life in 1963.

It was not a happy stay because we had to constantly check the cargo being discharged. The supervisors failed in their jobs to identify cargo destined for Dammam, as against Bahrain or Doha.
With a language barrier (supervisors were expected to speak & understand English but didn’t), and the heat and dust, while  standing on the wharf sweating pints to get the labour to reloaded certain cargo was a ‘trying’ time.

I was told by one supervisor that he was a fine fellow who had worked on many British ships . . . biting ones tongue so that we were not in this port any longer than necessary, was a huge effort.

There was a suggestion made that we should ask Australian exporters to write the contents of each box in Arabic, because this might stop the labour breaking in to as many boxes as possible to find something worth stealing.
We had cartons of tinned peas, and other vegetables, which were broken in to, and the cans were opened by the labour, who then drank the liquid and threw the rest away. The pictures of peas & vegetables on the cans didn’t mean anything.
Cartons of liquid detergent were also broken in to and the detergent consumed, at least the thieves would have been ‘regular’ thieves. . . .

I think we were in Dammam for two long days before sailing to Bahrain and anchoring off while waiting for barges to come out to us.
Bahrain did have berths for deep sea ships, but the only time I was on a ship that went alongside was on my first ship in 1962, which was a tanker. So, I think the berths were tanker berths, not general cargo berths, which is why we anchored.

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Arad Fort Bahrain – built in the 15th century, before the Portuguese arrived in 1622.

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Manama Bahrain in the late 1960’s – Manama is the capital.

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Manama today – Picture is from the internet.

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Another shot of Bahrain in the 1960’s – we liked Bahrain because it allowed us to buy Red Barrel beer legally. Buying a beer in the Gulf was always ‘hard work’, unless you had access to private clubs such as the British Club in Basra or you went ashore (via dhow) in Bahrain.

It was very pleasant to sit ashore and drink a cold beer, a different feeling than drinking the same beer on board ship – small pleasures.

Our next port was Doha, and we arrived at 4.00 am and anchored. We hoped that we would begin discharging cargo at daybreak, but we just sat at anchor all day. To keep cool we would shower, but not dry off but just stand in the shade on deck allowing the water to evaporate to cool down.

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Doha in 1968 – picture is from the internet

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Coastal strip in 1968

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Today . . .

Qatar, the capital being Doha, gained independence from the British in 1971, after being a British protectorate since early in the 20th century.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Thani signed a treaty with the British in 1868 that Britain recognised Qatar as a separate status at the end of the Qatari – Bahraini war of 1867–1868.

In 1867 the ruler of Bahrain sent his brother with 500 men and 24 boats to attack Qatar. The attack was joined by a force of 200 men under Ahmed al Khalifa, and the Abu Dhabi ruler also sent 2000 men in a further 70 boats.
Doha was sacked and basically wiped off the map, the houses destroyed and the people deported.

The following year, 1868, a Qatari force counter attacked Bahrain, and destroyed 60 ships and 1000 people were killed.

Lewis

British Resident at Bahrain Lewis Pelly – Lt General, KCSI (Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India) awarded in 1874. Click on the link to read of an interesting life.

Lewis Pelly, accused Bahrain of breaking maritime law by attacking Qatar in 1867 and he fined Bahrain 10,000 Iranian Tomans.

One Iranian Toman was the equivalent of 10,000 dinars or about £740 British pounds at that time.
So the total fine was around £7 million (GBP) in 1868, which allowing for inflation, is about £125 million (GBP) today. A large sum for a small area like Bahrain that had yet to find oil . . . .

The official currency of Persia was (is) the Rial and 10,000 rials would equal one toman, which itself is a Mongolian word due to the Mongolian invasion around 14 AD, but spelled as tomen, which in Mongolian means ‘unit of ten thousand’.

The current Iranian currency can be referred to in two ways as rials or toman, which for a foreigner is confusing, but the actual notes and coins are the same.
In 2019 the Iranian Government passed a Bill that the currency would change from rial to toman and this would take place in May 2020, and the change over will be phased in over the next two years.

Back to 1968 . . .

We sat at anchor for days waiting for labour to come out to us and discharge the cargo. With temperatures around 40 c (109 F) at 4.00 pm in the afternoon, life was a little tedious to say the least.

We did have one high moment – a group of us where outside around 4.30 pm having a beer (in the shade) when we heard a loud shout from the Chief Engineer – he’d just had a telegram from England that his wife had given birth to their first child – it was party time!

We lay at anchor for thirteen days, the sea like a mirror and our position was sheltered from any cooling breeze. It was hot!

We did experience a ‘small’ distraction when another BI ship anchored near us – she was the MV Chyebassa.

Chyebassa

Any diversion from the heat and boredom was welcome. On the day of the Chyebassa’s arrival I was on duty, but the other officers went across to her and many stayed the night, and the following day MV Juna reciprocated the hospitality.

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MV Juna

It was a pleasure to rekindle friendships with two cadets that I’d sailed with when in MV Bankura, in 1966 on the India to New Zealand run and the second engineer I’d sailed with when in MV Pundua in 1967 on the India, Hong Kong, Japan run. It was have another beer, and ‘remember when’ time . . . . a very pleasant interlude.

Bankura

MV Bankura

Pundua

MV Pundua

Thanks to the heat during our time at anchor I think we were Allsopp’s best customers in the Persian Gulf,

beer

and when we eventually sailed for Kuwait we didn’t have any regrets leaving Doha, even though Kuwait was not on our holiday list.

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Kuwait maybe on certain people’s holiday list today, but I doubt that it was a holiday destination in 1968.

 

 

 

Muscat, Oman

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Muscat means ‘anchorage’ in English, and it is obvious why it got that name being protected by a rocky island. The above photograph is from the internet – it was taken in 1970, two years after my visit.

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This is Muscat harbour in 1903, the fort that can be seen is the Al Jalali Fort.

In the 15th century Muscat was a minor port, but once Vasco de Gama had rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1497 in his attempt to find a way to the spice islands things began to change.

In 1507 a Portuguese fleet under the command of Afonso de Albuquerque, which was on its way to attack the island of Hormuz, sacked Muscat.

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The island of Hormuz controlled the straits of Hormuz, (even then), the island is 8 km (5 miles) off the coast of Persia (now called Iran).

The Portuguese attacked and captured Hormuz in October 1507, which allowed them to control the trade in to and out of the Persian Gulf.

The importance of Muscat for the Portuguese was due to the safe anchorage and that they could replenish their water barrels. Barracks and warehouses were built by the Portuguese in Muscat, but the Ottomans attacked, so the Portuguese built a fort in 1550 at al-Mirani, but the Ottomans attacked again two years later and the town fell and the fort destroyed.

The Portuguese regained the town two years later and this time they built another fort on Fort al-Jalali on a headland, and rebuilt the twin Fort al-Mirani, both forts had cannon so commanded the anchorage.

Fort

I ‘doctored’ a modern map to illustrate how the two forts commanded the harbour.

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Fort al-Jalali which I took in 2016

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Fort al-Mirani one of mine from 2016

Later the Portuguese built walls around the town as a defensive measure, but the expense of occupying and defending Muscat was a strain of Portugal’s finances. Trade was not as prosperous as they thought and by 1630 the British & Dutch dominated the Persian Gulf. The local Omanis captured Muscat in 1650 and that was the end of Portugal’s rule.
The new rulers became a colonial power themselves by taking over certain Portuguese colonies in East Africa (Swahili coast), and then became involved in the slave trade based in Zanzibar, which was ruled by Oman. It was not until 1970 that slavery was made illegal in Oman.
When I arrived in 1968 the ‘Secret war ( 1962 – 1970)’ still had two years to run, not that I saw any of the fighting, just that we were aware that British troops were involved alongside the Omani troops fighting communist rebels.

We arrived off Muscat on the afternoon of the 10th June, and it was hot! Cargo work was to start the following day, and we were to unload in to barges. From memory Muscat didn’t have a dock facility and all ships worked at anchor in to barges.
We didn’t have anything to do (except an anchor watch) so those of us who were off duty decided to go for a swim. With borrowed flippers and a face mask I was able to enjoy another world. All kinds of coloured fish and plants waving at me as I slowly moved through the water. It was calm, quiet and peaceful as I checked out the multicoloured coral, it was if they had been painted recently.turtleI was fortunate to see a turtle who was paddling along with all the time in the world heading out to sea. Picture is of a turtle in Muscat harbour.

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Found the above on the internet, and it is a photograph of the sea around Muscat, although I have a feeling that it was a lot clearer and more colourful when I went swimming in 1968 – pollution perhaps?

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But I do remember very colourful sea creatures.

I borrowed a spear gun and thought that perhaps I could spear our dinner. So I aimed my gun at a large looking fish with plenty of meat on it – pulled the trigger and the harpoon shot out and hit the fish in the side, but the harpoon just bounced off the fish and I don’t think the fish was aware of being attacked . . . so much for the great fish hunter.

I should have stayed with the others in the boat because while I was experiencing armoured plated fish they were fishing and caught so many that the there was just enough room in the bucket for the water to keep them fresh. We were all looking forward to fresh fish for our evening meal. The fish were multicoloured and looked quite ‘plump’.

We had little knowledge of fish and just to be safe we asked the carpenter (who was Chinese) as to the best way of cooking the fish. In our experience we have always found the Chinese to be knowledgeable about fish and the cooking of the same.
All the Chinese (carpenter and engine room fitters) were from Hong Kong and they were all called ‘John’ and they were referred to as ‘the Johns’.

This was not derogatory term, because it has a link to history. In the late 1700’s a Chinese seaman who worked for the British East India Company was given the job of looking after Chinese seamen in the Limehouse area of London. He had a partner, who was English, and his partner had a daughter who this Chinese seaman wanted to marry.

After they were married the Chinese male wished to buy a property for him and his wife, but could not buy property, because he wasn’t English.

So he used part of his fortune that he has amassed over the years to pay for an Act of Parliament to allow him to become British. This was passed through Parliament in 1805 and he became the first Chinese to be naturalised and he called himself John Anthony .

This is why Chinese crew members were called ‘John’ in general terms, but once one learned to pronounce their individual name correctly then we used their correct name.

Unfortunately, John Anthony died some months after being naturalised. There is a restaurant in Hong Kong called John Anthony . Check out their menu.

Back to the bucket of fish as we stood around while carpenter ‘John” surveyed our great catch. He managed to keep a serious face as he studied the catch but eventually he just burst out laughing. Every fish that we had caught was poisonous – so they were returned to the deep.

Later, after showers we were on deck with a beer in hand (of course) when all of a sudden, we saw a whale very near the ship. The whale surfaced and blew continuously. I never expected to see a whale in such warm waters, and I’m not sure what type of whale it was, but I found this piece of film of  Muscat whales .

whale

Without air-conditioning the only place to sleep at night was on deck – for me I preferred the monkey island, which usually had a wooden deck.
When off duty and siting outside many of us would wear a large bath towel in the form of a lungi, which is a southern India / Sri Lankan dress for both males & females. A lungi is much cooler than trousers or shorts.

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This is not me . . .

To try and sleep in the Persian Gulf heat I would obtain two very large bath towels, soak them in water and place one on the wooden deck on which I would lie, and then pull the other over myself in the hope that I could sleep before the towels dried out and became stiff.
The day time temperature was around 41 c (105 F) and the night time temperature would drop to 34 c (94 F) – lime juice and salt tablets helped.

For my sins of yesteryear I now suffer from rheumatism, which I blame on sleeping on and under wet towels on wooden decks.  . . . any chance of compensation I wonder.

It would be forty eight years before I returned to Muscat, but this time I didn’t have any problems sleeping because the Azamara Quest was air conditioned, the beds were comfortable, and with only 650 passengers, sleeping was not a problem.

One could fall asleep on the balcony if reading a book, how time had changed.

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Azamara Quest – in 2016 Maureen & I sailed in her from Singapore to Dubai.

 

 

Clip joint & a runner

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We arrived in Colombo on the 8th June at 2.pm for fuel and water, because our next port of call would be Muscat in Oman and it was already getting hot and summer months in or near the Persian Gulf is an experience I can do without.

There was little for me to do so I decided to go ashore and have a haircut. The above picture was taken in Colombo about five years ago, not in 1968.

Being male, I did not go looking for a specific barber I just went in to the first barber shop that I found, which makes life a lot simpler.

I asked for a longish crew cut, because I wanted to be able to keep cool in the Gulf, plus this type of haircut would be easy to keep tidy.

I leaned back in the chair and he started on the crew cut, which did not take long, and I thought I’d have time for a quick beer before returning to the ship.

Suddenly the barber poured a liquid on my head and started too massage it in. I thought it was some sort of hair oil, but realised it was not when it started to froth as he rubbed hard on my head. I later realised that it was a type of liquid soap that he used as a ‘dry’ shampoo.

I expected him to wash everything off, but he wiped my head clean with a dry towel, and then repeated the process.

At the end of the second procedure my hair felt clean and cool, and then my head was rubbed with Bay of Rum. Only very occasional had I seen this procedure in the UK so sat back to enjoy the process.

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I don’t know how true this is but in the sailing ship days sailors in the Caribbean used to rub themselves with a bay leaf so that the bay leaf oil would hide the stink of their living conditions below decks while they waited for the sugar cargo to be ready.

A by-product of sugar is molasses and the slaves realised that it could be fermented into a drink. The local brewers took the fermented drink and distilled it into rum. The sailors fed up with rubbing themselves with a bay leaf soaked the bay leaf in rum. The rum extracted the bay leaf oils and the sailors would rub this on their bodies – hence Bay Rum.

The locals added other herbs such as cinnamon, citrus rind etc and so produced a male cologne. This was popular in the early part of the 20th century, particularly during the prohibition period.

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The manufacturer printed on the label for external use only – but at 58% alcohol people took risks by drinking instead of rubbing on the liquid.

Back to my barber – my head was massaged with the Bay of Rum and boy did he massage. It was the monsoon season, and very humid, and the shop was not air-conditioned, but the barber kept stopping and spraying my face with cool water – how is that for customer service!

The next thing is that my head is being dried with a hair dryer and this was followed by a cutthroat razor across the back of my neck and down the side of my face – I sat very still!

cut throat

Suddenly the headrest was dropped down and I am lying flat with my head resting on the dropped headrest and I am looking at the ceiling.

I think that surely he must have finished with my hair, I only asked for a crew cut – he had finished with my hair, but not with me . . . he now starts on my face pulling hither and thither and rubbing other bits until he suddenly he pastes my face with cream (hello sailor) and rubs this in before producing a machine, by which time I am thinking how to escape. The machine has suction pads and he starts working them over my face.

At last he finishes and allows the chair to be up-right to its normal position. I make a move to get up, but he holds me in place as he powders the back of my neck with talcum  powder and has another go with the razor – I still didn’t move.

The use of a lot of talcum powder is common in the East due to the humidity.

Next is the Brylcreem

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A British invention created in 1928, which I have only ever used once, and did not like.

I held his arm and said, ‘No thank you’, so not getting my head creamed entitled me to another head massage!

All the above took just under half an hour, everything was completed very fast. The bill came to Rp 5.50 (five and a half rupees), which was about 8/3d at that time (eight shillings and three pence, or £5.16 in today’s money) or $1.00 USD about $12.60 in today’s money.

A simple haircut in Australia had cost me 7/6d so for another 9d (9 old pence) I had all the trimmings, and because I’d changed UK pounds on the black market the exchange rate was better than the banks, so the barber had a 30% tip and we were all happy and I was his best mate.

I was the only European in the shop and I did not see any others enter. They missed out on a great, if unexpected, experience,

I returned to the ship only to find that we were one steward short – he had jumped ship. He’d received a letter from home (he lived in Goa) that his wife was ill so instead of taking the advice given to him by the chief steward, which was to tell either the first officer or the captain, he decided to leave immediately for Goa.

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The above map is a modern map so if you wished to drive / ferry (Ceylon is an island) / drive to Goa from Colombo, which is about 2000 km. The estimated driving time would be about fifty six hours.
In the 1960’s it was not unusual for crew members to receive bad news from home via various sources, such as friends or family, and at times the information was a lie, and all the individual wanted was to go home before the end of his contract.
If the captain considered the request genuine he would release the crew member and have the ship’s agent arrange flights for the individual to fly home at the company’s expense.

I heard that the missing steward was planning to go by train – then ferry – and finally train, but he’d left his passport on the ship, so now he was an ‘illegal’ in Ceylon.

The train service was called the Boat mail or to give it its full name – Indo-Ceylon Express. The first service was February 1914, so the steward must have been aware of the service.

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The train would get as far as Talaimannar in Ceylon and then he would require the ferry to Dhanushkodi, which is in India.
The problem that he would have is that Dhanushkodi was destroyed in the 1964 cyclone.

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Some of the remains of Dhanushkodi. The town was abandoned by the survivors and the remains are still visible today.

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The remains have now become a tourist site.

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I’ve marked in red on this modern-day satellite photograph where the town was located.

The ferry service in 1968 terminated at Rameswaram, which is on Pamban Is. about 40 km from Ceylon. (check the above map)
From Rameswaram the steward would have to arrange a train to Tuticorin, which is near the southern tip of India, where he would have to change again for a train to Goa.

From the mainland of India to get to Rameswaram there is a bridge, called the Pampan Bridge which was built by the British in 1914 to encourage trade between India and Ceylon, it is still in use.
The track is a single line track and the train moves slowly because of the wind. The bridge is 2.2 km long and the train in the video has twenty-two carriages. You can hear the wind in the above video link.

The bridge is a metre wide and has 143 piers. Trains are stopped operating if the wind exceed 58 km per hour.
The centre bridge was built by  a German engineer called Scherzerit, it opens to allow ferries and other vessels to pass.

Without his passport I’d be surprised if the steward even managed to leave Ceylon. We sailed without him at 7.30 pm, and we were in port for only about five and a half hours, but this would have been long enough for the agent to book air tickets, if the captain considered that the steward was telling the truth.

I never knew if he made it to Goa or if he ended up in gaol in Ceylon.

Being a train lover from when I was a child, particularly steam trains, I thought these links might be of interest.

Bridge from the air   aerial views of the most dangerous rail crossing in India.

Inside a train crossing the bridge  click this link and fast forward to three  minutes to see views from the train, and see how narrow the rail support is above the water.

anziqry5jeq21 Pampan Bridge at sunset.

 

 

 

 

Take the needle

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Considering the current pandemic I thought I would throw in a comment or two about a visit to Fremantle to load cargo for the Middle East, but before we could leave port a number of us had to have our vaccinations updated. This happened periodically to protect us from ‘catching’ something dangerous from yellow fever to smallpox.

Vacs

For the record I’ve been jabbed in Liverpool, HMS Conway (North Wales), London, when I was a cadet in M.V Dunera, Singapore, New Zealand, Dubai & Australia.
I always had a glass of beer afterwards to make sure I was still waterproof. (The older we become the worse the jokes).

This time is was TAB (not the Australian betting system), but protection against typhoid and paratyphoid A and B infection, and another smallpox inoculation. I realised that it was all for our own good, but I often wondered if the needle was also used for sewing buttons on a shirt . . .afterwards my arm ached and for some reason it put me in to a ‘bad’ mood, and on returning to the ship I realised that I was not the only bad tempered crew member ! The mood change lasted until the following day, after which all was back to normal.

During my off-duty time I’d catch a train to Perth, which took about 40 minutes.

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Fremantle was ‘quiet’, except for a few pubs.

The above is from  https://westonlangford.com/license/ a website that is a full of old Australian train pictures.

Trolly

Upon reaching Perth I was surprised to see trolley buses, because they had passed into history in many UK towns – and in 2020 being reconsidered as a ‘cleaner’ form of public transport. History repeating itself I suppose.
The above picture shows the trolley buses parked outside Perth Railway Station.

The visit to Perth and Fremantle as a ‘tourist’ in the late 1960’s was entertaining and interesting, and an easy run ashore at least I could understand the language – well most of the time.

We still stood ‘watches’ so because I usually had the ‘graveyard’ watch Midnight to 4.00 am, I was on ‘nights’, which was from midnight to 8.00 am, because we worked cargo during the night.

I was not the only crew member awake, we also had the duty engineer and his crew in the engine room, because our engine produced power for the cargo lights, the deck equipment and of course the ship’s accommodation.

In addition, the helmsman who was usually on the bridge with me when at sea, was now in charge of the gangway during the night.

We sailed in late May for Colombo Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). I can remember that as we sailed from Fremantle, we kept turning the TV aerial to maintain a good reception and we managed to just finish ‘Till Death Us do part’ before the signal became too weak. I doubt that this program would see the light of day in today’s PC world.

I took over the bridge watch at midnight 31st May and read the Captain’s night orders, stay 15 miles off the coast of the Cocos Islands, which are close to halfway between Fremantle and Colombo.

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Ceylon is the small island that can be seen at the southern tip of India, and Cocos Island is the red circle indicated.
The Cocos Islands are in the southern hemisphere and is only five metres (16 feet) above sea level.

Being so low, and mainly coral, they did not give a good signal return when using the radar, which is why I was to stay far away from the islands.

The islands were discovered by Captain William Keeling in 1609, who was British and in the employ of the East India Company. He came from Southampton

The islands have been called the Cocos Islands, the Keeling Islands, the Cocos–Keeling Islands and the Keeling–Cocos Islands, but now just the Cocos Islands.

The islands were annexed by the British in 1857 and later became the responsibility of the Straits Settlement Governor.
The Straits Settlement consisted of Penang, Singapore, Malacca, Dinding (which is in Malaysia now), and Christmas Island, Indian Ocean, which is about 845 km (525 miles) from Cocos Is.

Later Cocos Island became important because in 1901 it was a cable station for the underwater cable that started in London and connected Australia to the UK.

In WW1 a landing party from the German ship SMS Emden landed on Cocos Is. to cut the cable. The locals managed to send out a distress call and the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney was sent to investigate.

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SMS Emden in 1914 (SMS = HMS, in the Royal Navy)

A battle took place and SMS Emden was damaged so much that she was beached, after which HMS Sydney chased the Emden’s collier.

After the collier scuttled herself, the Sydney returned to the Cocos Is. and saw that SMS Emden was still flying her battle ensign, which implied that she was still willing to fight. The Captain of the Sydney signaled Emden to surrender and to lower her flag. The signal was sent in plain language so there would not be misunderstanding.

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The SMS Emden failed to reply so HMAS Sydney fired two salvos, at which point the German flag came down and a white sheet indicated their surrender.
The crew of the Emden burned their battle flag rather than allowing it to fall in to the hands of the Australians.

If you would like to know more of SMS Emden click on this link which I posted in April 2017.  https://silverfox175.com/2017/04/

In WW2 it was thought that the Japanese would occupy the islands, but they didn’t, but the Cocos Is. did receive shell fire from a Japanese submarine.

After the fall of Singapore, the island came under the control of Ceylon.

Later in the war the islands were used by the Royal Air Force so as to bomb enemy locations in South East Asia.

After the war the islands once again came under the control of Singapore and in 1955 the islands were transferred from British control to Australian control.

In 1984 a UN monitored referendum was held for the people of the islands to choose their future – they chose to become part of Australia.

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The above is the current flag of the island, and the population estimate in 2019 was 555.

It was a calm night, with clear skies, so I was able to get a faint signal on the radar, which gave me the distance, so I duly wrote this information in the ship’s log.

 

 

 

 

 

Death at sea

map-of-rip

The gap at the mouth of Port Phillip Bay is called the RIP , or The Heads, which can be very dangerous. The gap between the two points of land is just over three kilometres, so of course to pass into Port Phillip requires a pilot.

It is said that this stretch of water is the most dangerous in Australia the tidal flow from Bass Straits into Port Phillip can be around 15 k/m per hour (9.5 miles mph) through a very narrow channel.

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The above picture is downloaded off the internet

The pilot boat that came out to a ship had to fight the Rip outbound, and after leaving the pilot to board the inbound vessel it would return to the relative safety of Port Phillip.

We had sailed from Sydney and arrived off Port Phillip Bay on the 24th April and were slowly making out way to seaward of the Rip to pick up our pilot.

We regularly practiced emergency signals for fire drills, man overboard, collision  etc so as we approached the pilot area for Port Phillip, which was around 11.00 am the alarm bells sounded and the ship’s whistle blew long blasts and kept on sounding three long blasts. At first, I thought it was another drill until I realised it was a genuine emergency. The three long blasts indicated a man overboard.

As I ran on deck, I saw a warship racing towards us and our manned motorboat was being swung out to be lowered to the water as we slowed.

As I reached the bridge I was told that an engine room fitter had gone mad and thrown himself overboard.

I was ordered to the mast head so grabbed a powerful pair of binoculars and climbed the foremast in the hope of spotting the man in the water.
The problem was that the sea was covered in ‘white horses’ or breaking wave caps due to the wind  The above picture from the internet illustrate my meaning. The boat in the picture is one of the Port Phillip pilot boats.

Every available advantage point on our ship was covered with crew trying to spot the ‘jumper’.

The warship called in a spotter plane, but from memory it was a jet and at the speed it travelled, even though quite low, it had little chance of sighting anyone in the water. I thought I saw him once waving, but as I tried to focus the binoculars on him, he or what I thought was a man in the water disappeared.

My own ship, the warship & the spotter plane spent two hours looking for the missing man, but the only things we recovered were our own lifebuoys that had been thrown overboard in the hope that the man would use them to stay afloat.

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We were required to recover our lifebuoys because each lifebuoy had our ship’s name printed on each buoy and the last thing we wanted was a stray lifebuoy to be found washed up on a beach, which might cause people to think that we were in distress.

At the time we doubted that the seaman wanted to be rescued so perhaps he would not have made it easy for us to find him. The wind was quite strong to he could have been blown further out to sea, plus the tidal rip would not have helped.

We eventually entered Port Phillip Bay and made our way to the docking area only to be told that because we were two hours late, we’d missed our docking time so we had to anchor off Melbourne and wait until the following day, which was ANZAC Day, so there wouldn’t be any cargo work done that day.

It was not long before some of the crew considered the ship to be unlucky. She used to be called MV Cornwall, and now she had a new name MV Juna, and changing a ship’s name is supposed to be bad luck . . .  we had had some accidents during the voyage, we had been short of water, and short of food, and now we had a death. We also had three wives on board, which is supposed to add to our bad luck.
You’d of thought that we were still in the sailing ship days, with sea monsters and mermaids.

20000_squid_holding_sailor

Picture is an illustration from the original 1870 edition of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. 

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I always see pictures of mermaids never a merman, very un pc . . . .

We worked cargo most days until we sailed for Adelaide in early May, the city of churches. Pleasant enough town, but quiet.

Sailing from Adelaide was on the brink of the southern winter (June, July & August is classed as winter), and our next port was Fremantle.
This would require us to cross the Great Australian Bight again, and this time it was a rough crossing and it was cold. I remember wearing two pullovers and a duffel coats on the bridge during the midnight to 4.00 am watch.

On the plus side the stars were spectacular due to the clean air and lack of light pollution, but it was far too cold to spend too much time admiring them from the wing of the bridge, which was open to the weather.

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This is a recent picture of the southern night sky; I was unable to find exactly what I wanted.

bridge

An illustration of part of a bridge (not MV Juna) – the helm can be seen and the engine room telegraph. The helmsman would stand on the wooden platform when required, but as M.V Juna had auto-steering we would only become ‘manual steering’ when close to shore, or when picking up a pilot.

When the autopilot was in control the helmsman would become a bridge lookout, along with the officer of the watch, but on the opposite side to where the OOW stood. We would regularly swap sides to keep warm and awake!
As usual at night, we had a seaman in the bow of the ship who was also on lookout, but he didn’t have any cover, so his night watch was only two hours.
On seeing anything (light, shape in the water, or anything unusual) he would ring the fo’c’sle bell – one trike for starboard, two for port or three for dead ahead.

bell

Picture from the internet – could not find a picture of MV Juna’s bell.

It was a pleasure to arrive in Fremantle, because we were out of the cold wind & choppy seas, and the weather was very pleasant.

 

 

 

 

 

The advantages of lockdown

During the Corona Virus lock down, I decided to do a spot of Spring cleaning of my study. All went well at the beginning until I started to find things that I’d forgotten about, so of course I welcomed the distraction by checking out my own bits & pieces, which I had not seen for years.

I found an old wallet that I’d used about fifty years ago, so instead of just tossing it in to the bin I opened it and found some money!!

50 Rials

The problem is that I cannot spend the money that I’ve found – as you see the face on this Iranian 50 rial note would not be welcome in Iran today. The face is of the Shah of Iran who was in power from 1941 to 1979 when he was overthrown during the Iranian revolution.

220px-Mohammad_Reza_Pahlavi_2

The Shah died in 1980 – he was 60.

50 reverse

The reverse side of the bank note.

20 rials

I also found a 20 Rial note

20 rials revers

I must have received these notes sometime between 1962 to 1968, and in 1965, based on the information on the internet, a USD was worth 77 rials, so if I try and cash in the two notes I’ll be lucky to get $1 or $8.19 in today’s money, allowing for inflation, but as the Shah is no longer in power . . .I doubt that the Ayatollah will offer any exchange rate.

Khomeini

Ayatollah Khomeini

I also found Bahraini money –

BAH clean In Bahrain 1000 fils equals one Dinar, now this money can be reasonably accurately dated because the Bahraini dinar only came in to existence in 1965, which was six years before they gained their full independence from the British.

BAH clean reverse

Reverse side of the 100-fils note

The use of the word ‘dinar’ is based on the Roman currency denarius, only in a word not in value.
Currently the Bahraini dinar is the second most valuable currency in the world – the first being the Kuwaiti dinar.

Prior to the use of the Dinar, Bahrain used the Gulf rupee, as did most of the Gulf States, and the rupee was issued by India at a rate of 13 & 1/3rd Indian rupees to the British pound, and ten rupees to the Bahraini dinar.

Even today there is a local ‘hark back’ to yesteryear because 100 fils is often referred to as a rupee.

So, my note was worth 2/- (two shillings) in 1965 or in today’s money £1.42 (USD $1.77).

BAH

They also issued notes that were a quarter of a dinar as well as a tenth, as in 100 fils. So, I assume that the above is worth 350 fils when combined or £4.97 (USD $6.21) today, which is about the price of a pint of beer.

BAH reverse

Reverse side of the pint of beer notes . . . .

From memory in the 1960’s Bahrain was the only port in the Gulf that sold alcohol, and in the heat of a Gulf summer a cold Red Barrel was a life saver when ashore.

watneysredbarrelbeersign

In addition to the Iranian and Bahrani currency I also found a couple of India rupee notes.

one rupe

The top one was issued in 1966 and the second on in 1967, I must admit I thought the 1966 note had been issued much earlier until I looked at the note with a magnifying glass.

rupee reverseThe same two notes reversed and if you look closely under the figure ‘1’  you will see 1967 on the cleaner note.

Two rupee

At first, I thought the above two 2 rupee notes were Indian until I realised that they are Sinhalese currency (Ceylon), one issued in 1965 (well used) and one in 1967 (the cleaner note).

Ceylon did not become Sri Lanka until 1972 when they were granted full independence from Britain.

Two rupee revse

Reverse side of the  Sinhalese currency . . .

Japan

My final currency ‘find’ was a 50 sen (Yen) Japanese note. This note was issued during the war between 1942 to 1944, but I think the above was issued around 1942/3, because of the ’96’ stamp.

Japan reverse

Reverse side

When I first visited Japan in 1963 the exchange rate against the British pound was 1060 yen, and at that time the farthing was still legal tender and there were 960 farthings in the pound sterling, so the Japanese yen was worth less than a farthing.

Today the British pound will buy 133.5 Japanese yen which is an 87.4% drop in value, but if I wished to buy the above currency note it would cost me about USD $2.00 or £1.60 or 214 Yen which is 328% increase on the stated value of the note.

The final item that I found in the wallet was a four-leaf clover . . .

4 leaf

Great Australian Bight

NZ_NorthernRoyalAlbatross01

We sailed from Fremantle on the 5th April, the weather was fine and we hoped it would remain so as we were about to cross the Great Australian Bight, renowned for rough seas and sensitive stomachs.

The Great Australian Bight stretches from Cape Pasley in Southern Western Australia to Cape Catastrophe in South Australia.

There are always stories if you have just a hint of something different.

For years there have been rumours of a Portuguese ship, the Countess of Selkirk  that sank in the area of Cape Pasley.
Part of a ship was found in 1913  and what was thought was the bow still had the name Countess of Selkirk attached to the ‘bow’ by screws.

The finder, who was a stockman, employed by the Cape Pasley Station (for none Australians think a large farm) took the plate and gave it to his employer.
The station owner wrote to Lloyds of London and the Dutch shipping registry asking if they had any details of the ship.
Before the station owner received a reply he was drowned when out fishing and the exact location of the ‘ship’ was lost.

Historians have checked the screws that held the plate and confirmed that they were made after 1770, and the same type of screws were shown in an 1880 catalogue.

It is thought that the name plate was sent to the maritime museum in Adelaide, but it has never been found.

The Earl of Selkirk is a Scottish peerage, which was created in 1646 and is still in existence.

The area around Cape Pasley is an isolated area with only a dirt track, rather than a road, and the nearest  proper road is about 55 km (33 miles) away.

Cape PasleyIt is a wild area.

Just to make the ‘legend’ a little more confused there is a thought that the ship’s name was Countess Sulkaat. 

For those of us in the Juna it was a peaceful voyage and overall, it was a calm crossing of the Great Australian Bight, which stretches 1160 km (720 miles) from west to east.

1200px-Great_Australian_Bight_Marine_Park

The cliffs on our port side ranged up to 60 mtrs tall (200 ft), and behind the cliffs was the Nullarbor Plain, which is Latin for ‘No trees’, a flat landscape as far as the eye can see.
The depth of the water of the Bight is from less than 15 mtrs (50 feet) to 6000 mtrs (a little under 20,000 ft).

On reaching the eastern area of the Bight we came across Cape Catastrophe, so named by Matthew Flinders who, in 1802, was charting the coastline in HMS Investigator.

Mathew Flinders had been given the task of mapping the whole of the Australian coastline by the British Admiralty. He sailed from the UK in July 1801 and called at the Cape of Good Hope on the way.

In February 1802 he sent a cutter (small boat) with a crew of eight to see if they could find fresh water in the area.

As the cutter was returning in choppy waters it capsized, none of the crew survived. Mathew Flinders was unable to find the bodies of his crew.

He then named the headland Cape Catastrophe and the small cove in which he had anchored, Memory Cove.

We arrived in Sydney on the evening of the 9th April, which was a Wednesday, and docked waiting for the labour to come onboard the next day. The next day was the Thursday before Easter, so of course it was half day, at which time the hatches were closed and the labour disappeared shouting that they might see us on Tuesday (the Monday after Easter Sunday is a holiday in Australia).

We did not complain.

Three of us went ashore in the evening to see a bit of ‘life’.

Hickson

The Hickson Road dock area (shown above) is a short walk in to the city – short as in comparison to other city’s dock areas around the world.
The above photograph was taken in 1968, but now many of the piers that you can see have been converted in to expensive apartments.

2020

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There were three of us so we could afford a taxi to Kings Cross, the red light area of Sydney at the time.
In 1967 Sydney had been added to the list of cities that catered for US troops during their short R & R away from Vietnam.

33718813.KingsCross1966

A daylight shot, all quite until night time  . .

Cities and towns - Sydney - William Street - Kings Cross at nigh

 Overall, we were disappointed with our visit. We were looking for a beer and something to eat and ended up stairs in a packed drinking place where we were asked to buy food along with drinks. So, we thought we’d have a ‘pie & a pint’ and found an empty table. The problem was that we couldn’t catch the eye of a waiter, we had the feeling that we were being ignored as the place was full of American sailors and they spent real money and we looked like country bumpkins.

Eventually one of us climbed on the table and grabbed his chest and shouted that he was having a heart attack and collapsed and rolled off the table. A waiter ran over a looked down at the heart attack who said to the waiter ‘ A jug of beer, three glass and three meat pies before I die.’

We got our drinks and pie and as we finished were asked to leave, which was fine with us as we had lost interest this ‘red light’ district, which we couldn’t help compare to those we visited in Asia.

We walked to the famous Coca Cola sign and turn right down William Street.

william st

The Coca Cola sign is behind the photographer, (which is from the internet) so we started to walk.

When we came alongside the previous day we were all given an invitation to a weekly Thursday dance at the Royal Blind Society of Sydney, which assured us that they were associated with the British Seaman’s Society.
The address of the dance was at the top of William Street, so we decided to have a look at what was going on. I think the address was Boomerang Place, an area, which has all been redeveloped.

We arrived at what looked like an old church hall and wondered in to be greeted by a middle-aged lady at a table by the door. We produced our invitation and she smiled and offered us raffles tickets. She had three or four different colours of tickets.

I asked if we could get a beer while we had a look inside and she said, only if you buy a raffle ticket.

raffle-tickets-26653719

OK, how much are the raffle tickets – I cannot remember the prices but for illustration purposes she said – ‘The blue ones are $1, the yellow is $2, and the pinks are $5’.

‘What are the prizes?’ I asked and she said, ‘You’ve not been here before have you?’

‘No’ I replied.

‘Buy the tickets and swap them at the bar, blue for beer, yellow for wine and pink for spirits, we don’t have a licence to sell alcohol, but we can hold a raffle.’

We bought several blue and a few yellow and entered.

The place was nearly empty except for a groups of  young girls – they were mainly British girls who worked in local offices and were homesick and liked to dance and socialise with British visitors.
The place slowly filled and we had a pleasant evening. It was strange to be in Sydney and listen to a strong Yorkshire accent and to have it translated occasionally.

The idea of buying raffle tickets for beer has stuck with me for years, I hope the inventor became a millionaire.

Because the port was ‘closed’ I was off on Good Friday, so went to a beach for a swim. I cannot remember which beach, but I assume it was Manly on account of the lack of public transport to Bondi Beach. Getting to Manly is easy because of the ferry service.

Manly

Hydrofoil much faster than a normal ferry.

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A holiday weekend . . .

We took it in turns to have a day or half day ashore and I managed to get to Luna park as well as the Manly beach, and on Easter Monday a couple of us visited the Royal Easter Show – which was very impressive, it was first held in 1823.

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All things come to an end and we sailed on the 23 rd April having been in Sydney for two weeks and only worked cargo for about eight or nine days – the Australian run has always been popular . . .

 Our next port was to be Melbourne.

 

 

 

Trinco

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A radio message arrived to inform us that we were to call at Trincomalee to pick up mail and to investigate the situation before leaving the area for Fremantle in Western Australia.

This suited us all of us on board because picking up mail was one of the most important events for anyone at sea – news from home. The mail had been forwarded from Colombo.

At that time, in the late 60’s, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) was not a common holiday place for those living in Europe, so there was little in the way of holiday style facilities. The above picture is a current view of a Trinco beach scene.

We arrived at 5.00 pm (1700 hr) and anchored. Trinco was a port where we had to anchor to work cargo and barges would come out to the ships.

Work started the following morning to load tea – the strike was either over or we’d offered an ‘incentive’ to get them to work, I never knew which.

A few of us had the afternoon off so we took the ship’s motor boat for a spin.
Trinco  harbour is the finest  harbour in this part of the world and the water was as clear as could be, so clear and safe that one could swim off the side of the ship.

We found a small beach and secured the boat while swimming – the choice of beaches was unlimited.

Then we found an old small raft that still floated, so of course we wanted to tow it behind the ship’s motor boat – this is when I had my first experience at ‘water skiing’ . .

Ski

Look Dad – no hands . . .

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It was great fun and we all took turns to ride the raft and steer the boat.

Two days later I had a full day off (I worked nights) so a group of us took the ship’s boat again and landed on tropical island that was pure story books – yellow sand, lush vegetation just beyond the sandy beach, palm trees, clear blue water and a bright blue sky. It would have cost a fortune for anyone to have joined us as a holiday maker from the UK.

Late in the afternoon we went back to the ship to pick up the rest of the officers, all but the second mate and one engineer, both had volunteered to stay on board.

We collected a stack of food and of course a crate or two of beer – it was picnic time.

We built a fire in the sand and set about our B-B-Q, plus we had our own music (battery tape recorder).
The food was well cooked – didn’t wish to take any chances of the Trinco Trots. I was so concerned that my steak was more like a burnt offering than a well-done steak. We also managed to cook chips (French fries), which was a surprise to me.

I was back on board by 10.00 pm (22,00 hr) dead beat and slept like a log – my next shift was 7.00 am in the morning – I slept the sleep of the dead.

boar

One of the senior people in the agency asked the First Mate if he’d like to go hunting – of course he would . . .  wouldn’t we all if we had the chance?

The First Mate was supplied with a rifle, and along with his host went wild boar hunting.

He was successful and arrived back on board with his bounty of wild boar. It was given to the cooks and that night we had wild boar for dinner. It had a strong pork taste, which isn’t all that surprising.
The comment was made that it was a pity we didn’t have it on a framework over the BBQ.

I went to the internet for a picture of the Sri Lankan wild boar (see above) and on reading of the history of the boar I realised that shooting wild boar was illegal in 1968 (the time I was there for the shooting) and had been since 1964, although to be technical the actual shooting of the boar was legal if the boar had invaded farmland  . . .  it was the moving of the remains, which was illegal, and perhaps the eating of the same in a restaurant (which was very popular). So, the First Mate had not broken the law by killing nor by removing the remains (the agent did this) it was like all of us on board, it was the eating of the beast.

Small roadside shops who usually sold coconut and corn products, would at times have boar meat for sale, and the locals would ask for ‘dadamas’, which in the local Sinhala language means ‘bush meat’ because it was illegal to sell boar meat.

Currently the boars have become so prolific that the current Sri Lankan government is considering allowing the shooting in certain circumstance.

We arrived in in Trinco on the 18th March, and should have sailed with our cargo of tea on the 21st March, but we were delayed (for reasons that I can’t remember) but I do remember that every three hours we were told that we’d be sailing, but didn’t, and these three hour delays added up to three days in the end when we finally sailed on the 24th March for Fremantle in Western Australia.

Once out of the shelter of the island of Ceylon the weather began to deteriorate as we head on a south easterly course for Western Australia.

Punduastorm2 The storm that we encountered was not as bad as the typhoon off Formosa (Taiwan), but overall, we found it very unpleasant. The above picture is a from the start of the typhoon, so I used it as an illustration.

The main difference being that the storm in the Indian Ocean caused the ship to pitch up and down, which one can get used to it and compensate.
In a corridor outside your cabin one minute you are climbing up, and the next minute you are running down.

The other movement is that the ship will roll, and again you can get used to the ship rolling, (watch a sailor walk down a street).

The problem is that when the ship rolls and pitches at the same time the movement, called corkscrewing, will cause the brain and stomach to be out of sync causing a very unpleasant feeling that goes on for days . . .you still have to stand your watch and do your job.

Punduastormcrop

Another from the Pundua to show that pitching will bring tons of water over the decks.

Of course the storm slowed us down, which was a concern for the chief steward, because we were getting low on meat and potatoes.
He’d bought an extra 200 pounds (91 kilos) of potatoes in Colombo and paid an extortion price of 2/- (two shillings) a pound (the average cost in the UK was 2d (2 old pence) a pound. or 1100% more expensive than the UK retail price, never mind the wholesale price. Our chief steward was not happy.

A couple of days out from Fremantle we’d ran out of potatoes & meat – the wild boar had long gone, and we were low on water.
All we seemed to dream about on watch, as we scanned the horizon for the first sign of Australia, was an Ozzy steak.

bbq-grilling-steak-590-740x480

The simple things in life are only missed when you don’t have them such as – fresh meat and fresh crunchy salads – from memory we made a pig of ourselves on arrival in Fremantle.

British India Steam Navigation Co.’s ships were known as good ‘feeders’, we seldom went without and we always had plenty of good food unless circumstances out of our control caused a shortage. It was not unknown to order a steak and eggs and chips (French fries) for breakfast. I only did this once after a very long night shift and slept well after.

We had three good meals a day – breakfast, lunch & dinner, plus I used to have a plate of sandwiches wrapped in a damp cloth on a tray that contained cup & saucer, milk and sugar and the ‘makings’ for either coffee or tea – we had a kettle on the bridge.

I’m surprised that I didn’t put on more weight, but we did work hard particularly when in port.

Lunch62

This has been posted before, but it is an illustration of a lunch menu on a BI tanker (my first ship),
I know it states Christmas menu, but overall, it was similar to most days, but without the Christmas feel.

Breakfast62rc

Each day we had a menu for each meal, and the main courses changed every day – breakfast was of course eggs to order, with sausages & bacon, and most days we had a choice of fish.
If you were hungry you could start at the top and work your way through, but this was not common.

Food wasn’t wasted because the evening roast was the following day’s curried lunch, and the Goanese curries were very good, and were one of the choices for lunch.

I thought all ships ate like the BI, until I met up with several old Conway cadets who put me right.

WA

Fremantle 1968 – the white ship is not the one I sailed in . . . you can see the cranes on the left of the picture, which is how cargo ships were unloaded at that time before containerisation became the norm, which was just over three years later.

Loading

Loading cargo – all my yesterdays . . . .

At the same time as containerisation became popular in 1971 the Juna was sold to the Great China Steel Enterprise Company to be scrapped in Kaohsiung.

Like at sea was about to change

Juna

 

 

 

 

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