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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Shah died in 1980 – he was 60.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Bay of Bengal

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Upon sailing from  Colombo we cleaned ship – the crew hosed down the decks and all rubbish was thrown overboard (well before it became un pc), the smell of the land fell away and we could unlock our windows and doors, we were free of petty thieving and the smell of industry, our destination was Chalna in East Pakistan (now called Bangladesh).

Each cabin had two doors – an outer door that was a thick solid door that was only closed when in port, and an inner door (only a couple of inches between each door) which was a louvered door. When opening the main door we could lock it open by the use of a hook attached to the bulkhead in the passageway.

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The door was similar to the one in the picture, but on the ships in which I sailed our inner door was not full height, but about three quarters high of a standard door, and the slats could be moved to allow more air in to the cabin or to close it off completely.

One seldom locked the inner door so if one wanted to sleep or a quiet time, we would hang a bath towel over the top of the door and people would respect your privacy. We never locked our cabin doors when at sea because we felt that trust of ones colleagues was paramount.

The feeling that the ship is ours again after being in port is a definite feeling of ownership.

Once again, I was on the ‘graveyard’ watch – mid-day to 4.00 pm and midnight to 4.00 am, I loved that watch – peaceful, and particularly at night one felt in total command.

There are certain nights that I can remember and the short voyage from Colombo to Chalna has been in my mind for a long time.

The weather was perfect – cloudless sky, about 29 c (84 f) with a light breeze that took the sting out of the sun. The waves were small with very few white caps, and the flying fish were – flying, and visibility must have been about twenty miles.

Sunset was dramatic with shades of blue green yellow orange purple grey and red beams that reflected off the sea. As the sun set the sky became silver as the moon took over from the sun.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t have a camera at the time of the sunset but have used the above which I took during a cruise. of course the sunset was not during my watch times, but later when we would sit outside – feet on the lower bar of the ship’s rails and a beer in hand and all was well with the world.

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The gives you an idea, but the deck space on a cargo ship was a small area and we didn’t march around the ship for exercise as people do on modern cruise ships.

As we approached the coast of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) we were looking for the light vessel that warned of sand banks and other dangers.

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This is not the Chalna lightship, but I posted it to show those who may not be aware of a light ship. The lightship would be moored at a designated spot, and its light would flash at night in a certain pattern to warn vessels of danger.

We arrived off the lightship at around 5.00 pm (1700 hrs) and anchored and waited for the pilot to guide us up the Pasur River the sixty miles to Chalna.

Once again we waited and waited and finally, we heard that the agent didn’t even know that we were due in to Chalna. The added problem was that the date that we arrived was the 12th March, and we had to be out of the river and in to the Bay of Bengal no later than the 14th March because the water in the river might drop so low that we wouldn’t be able to cross the bar (sandbanks) at the mouth of the river.
I must admit that there were times when I was glad I was not the Captain, and this was one of them.

When the pilot did arrive to guide us up the river we could only cross the bar at high water, and when we sounded the depth we had less than two metres (seven feet) under the keel of the ship as we crossed the bar in to the river.

We moved up the river in the evening and moored to a buoy off Chalna.

Chalna at that time was the main seaport in the area (second only to Chittagong) having been created in 1950, but due to difficult currents in the Pasur river it was decided in  1954 that the anchorage should be moved nine miles south towards the river mouth to a place called Mongla although in the 1960’s it was still referred to as Chalna, but now it is known as Mongla, due to the port’s expansion.

Chalna

Warehouse style barges came out to us and using our cargo derricks we unloaded / loaded cargo. I took the above picture in 1968.

The flat land on both sides of the river were just mangrove swamps, the main town of Khulna was thirty-two miles further up river, which was the regional administration centre. At our anchorage the river was about five miles wide.

We were due to load 1500 tons of cargo and so had five gangs working flat out because we had to leave the river while we had enough water to cross the bar at the river’s entrance.

We managed to load our cargo and cross the bar, although we were later than expected, the water was deep enough for us as we entered the Bay of Bengal on the 16th March.

Destination Trincomalee in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), a destination which is on the north east coast of Ceylon.

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One of the finest harbours in the world, which was of great importance to the British during the colonial period. It was a safe harbour, and an ideal base to protect the Coromandel Coast, which is the south eastern coast of India.

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The light brown area marked on the east coast of India is the Coromandel coast and I hope you can see the pink dot on Sri Lanka, which indicates Trincomalee.
Madras (now called Chennai), marked on the Indian coast with a pink dot in the light brown area, was an extremely important port for the British during colonial times.

In 1812 Britain order a couple of frigates to be built in India, due to the shortage of oak in Britain during the Napoleonic wars. The ships were built in Bombay (now Mumbai) out of teak.
One of the ships was named HMS Trincomalee after the battle of Trincomalee in 1782.

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Launched in 1817, and is still afloat in Hartlepool ,in the UK after major renovations.

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Considering where she was built note the figure head.

As we sailed to Trincomalee we heard that the labour in Trinco (as Trincomalee was called) were on strike, which meant that we would not be able to load our cargo of tea.

The Company asked if we could make Fremantle without stopping for fuel – we could, but it would be a ten day voyage from our location in the Bay of Bengal, and we had enough water for fourteen days, so as long as we didn’t hit any inclement weather we should be able to make Fremantle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colombo – Ceylon

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Ceylon did not become Sri Lanka until 1972.

The country has had a chequered  history, from the Portuguese arriving in 1505, followed by the Dutch, when the king of Sri Lanka signed a treaty with the Dutch East India Company, in the hope that the Dutch would get rid of the Portuguese.

It was during the Napoleonic wars that France occupied the Netherlands, and made that country part of France, which caused concern to the British.

The British didn’t want France to have any influence in or around India, so they occupied the coastal areas of Sri Lanka. At the end of the Napoleonic war the British occupied the whole country, and it was they who called the country Ceylon.

Ceylon gained their independence from the British in 1948, but it wasn’t until 1972 that the country’s name changed to Sri Lanka.

Sirima Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike, the first female Prime Minister in the world.
She was PM three times and it was during her second period in office (1970 – 1977) that the country’s name changed to Sri Lanka.

ColomboOn arrival we were moored to buoys in the harbour of Colombo (see above) and the labour came out to us in barges to load / unload cargo.

The small problem with Ceylon is that they have 26 public holidays a year, which consist of a mix of Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim faith days.
One of the holidays is Poya Day which happens when there is a full moon they are entitled to a holiday, so little is done on the 12 full moon days in a year, plus it is not unknown for some to take the day off before Poya Day, so working cargo can be slowwww.

The slow speed of work gave us time to experience Colombo and enjoy the beautiful island.

One Sunday four of us hired a taxi to take us from the dock area to Mount Lavinia Hotel, which used to be the Governor’s house. The hotel was about ten miles out of the city and the drive would have been about thirty to forty minutes, due to traffic.

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An old picture of the Governor’s House taken around 1900 – it had fallen in to disrepair as it was no longer the Governor’s House.

The British Government sold the house in 1842 and it was bought by Rev. Dr. John MacVicar, the Colonial Chaplain and turned in to an asylum.

In 1877 the railway line was built along the coast from Colombo and it passed very close to the old building.
A developer saw the potential and restored the old building and added two wings and the building became The Mount Lavinia Grand Hotel. The hotel changed hands a few times until it was bought by Mr. U. K. Edmund in 1975 and is still in the family.

In 1957 it was used for a few scenes in the film Bridge on the River Kwai, the film was made in Sri Lanka (not Thailand) and the hotel ‘played’ a military hospital – oddly enough it was a military hospital during WW2.

Most of the British prisoners in the film were local Sinhalese made up to play British POWs.

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Above picture from the internet.

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The Mount Lavina Hotel is now one of my favourite hotels, and it took me thirty-eight year before I was able to return, this time with Maureen.

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The taxi dropped us at the hotel, and the uniforms may be a little more modern, but the ambiance of our arrival was the same.

 We booked a curry lunch; – at that time they didn’t have a swimming pool, why would you need one considering the location.

They owned the beach.

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At that time the hotel had facilities for day visitors, and we were able to get changed and be confident that our clothes & valuables etc would be safe. I kept some money in my pocket – just in case I wanted a drink.

Swimming in the waves can make one tried so I decided to take a walked along the beach away from the hotel and the distant city of Colombo. I came across a lady selling fresh pineapples, so I bought one, and found that the taste was out of this world,
I’d only ever had tinned pineapples in the UK, funny how some memories stay with you.
We had the use of showers and it was time for a pre-lunch beer, before entering the dining room for our lunch.
We ate under giant ceiling fans that moved slowly enough to cool, but not to make the food cold – all very ‘pukka sahib’.

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I took the above picture in 2014 and I don’t think it was all that much different than in 1968, I think that now they have air conditioning.

After lunch we sat on the lawn and chatted or just doze – the lawn has gone and it is now the swimming pool.

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Now guests have a choice . . .

I took the photograph at the beginning of this post from the end of the pool at Mount Lavinia Hotel.

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At the end of the day it was back to Colombo and the ship,

Loading tea onto a freighter. Colombo Harbour, 1960’s

loading chests of tea.

I can remember that the exchange rate between the UK pound and the Sri Lankan rupee was 14 to the pound and the black-market rate 25 to 27 to the pound. Today it is about 236 rupees to the UK pound.

Next stop Chalna in East Pakistan (now called Bangladesh)

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chalna

 

 

 

 

 

Rule 303

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Breaker Morant

Rule 303 a quote supposedly said by Harry “Breaker” Harbord Morant at his court martial in 1902, he was found guilty and shot by firing squad on the 27 February 1902, 118 years ago this week.

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Morant was played by Edward Woodward

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The film was released in 1980.

We loaded the last piece of cargo in Karachi at 4.30 pm during which time the ship had been prepared for sea – the pilot was on the bridge and our mooring lines had been singled up (one line forward and one aft), time was of the essence after the trouble with the previous deck crew. Our next destination was Bombay (now Mumbai).

On arrival in Bombay was on the 24th February at 6.00 am, we were told to anchor in the explosive anchorage, we were to load 303 ammunition.

I’m not sure if the Captain was aware that we would be loading the ammunition before we arrived or if he found out as the pilot boarded. We were told of our cargo and that it was safe, but few of us smoked on deck – just in case.

We all knew of a tragic fire that took place in 1944.

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The SS Fort Stikine (7100 gt) had sailed from Birkenhead UK, in February 1944 and arrived in Bombay in April.
She was berthed in the Victoria Dock, and her cargo consisted of cotton bales, gold, and ammunition, which included around 1,400 tons of explosives. She also carried 238 tons of sensitive “A” explosives, torpedoes, mines, shells and a Supermarine Spitfire.

In mid-afternoon on the 14th April a fire in number two hold was discovered. The crew and dockside labour were unable to put the fire out, even after pumping 900 tons of water in the the ship. The water boiled due to the heat.

The ship was abandoned at 15.50 hr (3.50 pm), and sixteen minutes later it exploded.

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The ship was cut in half, windows were broken 12 km (7 miles) away. Later there was a second explosion which registered on a sensor reading in Shimia 1700 km (1020 miles) away, a town which is north of Delhli.

Showers of burning material set fire to slum areas, and two square kilometres (about a square mile) was set alight. Eleven other ships close to the Fort Stikine were sunk. Burning cotton bales fell all around and much of Bombay’s developed and economically important areas were destroyed by the blast.

Overall it was estimated that more than 800 people were killed and being war time, the explosion and aftermath were not made public until some time later. Some figures have the death toll as high as 1350 people. Of those who were killed 500 were civilians. Over 2500 were injured, sixteen ships were lost or heavily damaged (see below) and 80,000 people were left homeless.

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You’ll be pleased to know that nearly all the gold was recovered . . .

So this is why we didn’t smoke outside of the accommodation.

We loaded the ammunition safely, and we weren’t too bothered because we didn’t have any other explosive cargo on-board.

After loading other (normal) cargo we were told that we had to go to Chalna, which is  in East Pakistan (now called Bangladesh).

Nothing is easy, because the relationship between Pakistan and India was not all that cordial in the 1960’s.
So now we had a problem – we had Indian ammunition on board and we were required to visit East Pakistan, but we couldn’t visit East Pakistan because we had a cargo of Indian ammunition on board.
Cable London!, and all we had to do was to remember the opening lines of Casablanca &  wait and wait and wait.

Finally, the powers that be came to a decision – carry the ammunition to Cochin and unload it to make room for tea out of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and then sail for Chalna.

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Maureen & I visited Cochin (now called Kochi) in 2016 on a cruise ship and as soon as I saw the harbour I recognised the shoreline and the 1960’s flooded back in to my mind.

DSC05667rChinese fishing nets can be seen. Sometimes ‘Time’ seems to have stood still.
The picture is not very clear due to early morning mist.

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A clearer picture of the fishing nets from the internet.

At home I have four pictures on the wall of my dinning room – I watched the artists in Cochin paint the final strokes of the multicoloured painting – I’d already bought the three sepia pictures, and I could see the scenes that he’d painted – all are painted on thick paper.

One

Three

Four    two

They always remind me of Cochin in the 1960’s . . . .

To end this post as I started with Edward Woodward, but this time he is singing Soldiers of the Queen after the execution of Breaker Morant, the piece of film also notes that their defence advocate died in 1945.

Map

Next stop Colombo in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mutiny?

What do people think of when they hear of a mutiny? Perhaps cinema’s effort to re-enact a mutiny helps us to think of –

Mutiny

the mutiny on HMS Bounty, in April 1789 might come to mind. .

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or would it be the Indian Mutiny of 1857. .

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or a later mutiny aboard the Russian battleship ‘Potemkin’ in 1905.

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Perhaps fiction comes to mind ‘The Cain Mutiny’, and Captain Queeg, played by Humphrey Bogart Cainemutinybook

 

We sailed from Bushire in Iran for Karachi in Pakistan oblivious of the future.

Our deck and engine-room crews were from Pakistan and mainly from Karachi and the surrounding areas.

So of course they would be expecting the opportunity of going ashore to see their families, once we were alongside and they were off duty. The system was that time ashore would be split between the crew so that we would always have enough crew on-board to man the ship.

The plan was to be in Karachi for twenty-four hours, it was to be a quick ‘turn around’, discharge and load cargo at the same time.

Of course, all the best plans can go astray if someone doesn’t do what is expected. Our agent in Karachi was supposed to arrange for shore side passes for all of the crew so that they could go ashore and see their families – he failed to arrange the passes, and even Pakistanis were required to have a pass to exit the dock or return to their ship. In the 1960’s security was not as ridged as it is now.

When the crew were informed that they were not allowed to go ashore because the passes were not available, they became very upset – and that is putting it mildly.

The Captain & the Chief engineer were told by the deck & engine-room crew, that if they didn’t receive the passes, they would walk off the ship, and she would not be able to sail.

I suppose a mutiny alongside is much more preferable than one in the middle of the ocean, at least the officers would not have to sail an open boat over 3600 nautical miles to get help, which Captain Bligh managed after the HMS Bounty mutiny.

The passes eventually arrived and as they were handed to the deck crew, who had been particularly aggressive, they were told to pack their bags and not to return to the ship, and that they would no longer be considered for a position on any British India Steam Navigation Company vessel.
I don’t know for certain, but I assume that their discharge books would be stamped DR – decline to report – which any future Captain hiring a crew would not entertain anyone with DR in their discharge book. A discharge book is the work record of sailors, and most would have VG or G stamped alongside the ship’s name – Very Good or Good, either is acceptable to allow a sailor to gain a berth and ship out again in a decent ship.

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The bottom of the Discharge Book is not clear so I cropped it and highlighted the title.

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The above is what the inside of a Discharge Book looks like  – ship’s name on the left, date and port of joining and date & port of the end of the voyage, description of voyage (British Coastal or Foreign), and report on ability (VG) & general conduct (VG).

The Pakistani seamen would have received at least DR in ‘conduct’, not sure what the stamp would have been for ability, considering they all left under a cloud of ‘mutiny’.

The engine room crew had not been as belligerent as the deck crew so the Chief Engineer decided to give the engine-room crew a second chance. The Captain would still have to sign all of the engine room’s crew’s discharge books at the end of the voyage.

Of course, we had to sign on a new deck crew before we could sail, this we did, and we managed to sail on time.

BL

Some years earlier, when I was a cadet, I’d stayed at the Beach Luxury Hotel in Karachi for eighteen days while waiting for a ship.
I’d signed off a ship because she was remaining in the Far East and I was to join a home bound ship, because I was due leave after a year or so out East.

I’d enjoyed my stay in Karachi, and the hotel was the first time I’d experienced a real ‘nightclub’.
I’d never seen a real floor show in a hotel or restaurant, except via the cinema, courtesy of Hollywood. The nightly show guaranteed at least one person in the audience.
Talk about being star struck, I was entranced with the nightly shows of singers or dancers during the evening meal.

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Another shot of the hotel – the picture was taken about the time I was staying there.

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The city at that time was a mixture of modern and traditional.

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In the early 60’s they still get around in a ‘garry’, which was the name of this type of horse drawn vehicle, and of course the tuk tuk.

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During the eighteen days waiting for a ship, the two things that I do remember about Karachi in 1964 was visiting the zoo, which I found to be a disappointment, because I saw a three-legged jackal (it wasn’t born that way), and I was not impressed with the poor conditions of the remaining animals.

I also visited a horse racing meet and noted a horse called Solomon Star, and in brackets (formally Woodland Star).
Never having been very good at gambling I thought the last horse to bet on would be an animal linked to me (Woodland) – so I didn’t bet on Solomon Star, but of course it romped home, thus confirming my lack of gambling skill.

The next tine I put money on a horse was in 1982 in Melbourne (Melbourne Cup) and I won $5, the last of the big betters. Haven’t had the urge to lose money since.

Karachi early 1960’s  check this small piece of film and note how they used to load certain cargo.

 

 

 

A taster weekend of pictures . .

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The advert was attractive for a weekend cruise that was classed as a ‘taster’ – a cruise that people might take to see if they would like cruising for their next holiday.

The ship was Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas and we hadn’t sailed with Royal Caribbean before, although we have sailed with two other companies in the Royal Caribbean International Group.
We thought it would be a nice break after the madness of the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

We made a mistake, because the ‘taster’ should have been titled ‘booze party’, but to be fair we should have realised that a three day cruise over a weekend (Friday to Monday) would not be a true ‘taster’ that we expected.

Regardless Maureen & I and another couple enjoyed ourselves, but we were glad that we were in company as we were ‘slightly’ older than most of the other ‘tasters.’
Plus, we felt a little out of place, because none of us had thought of getting tattooed before we joined the ship.

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Royal Promenade and shops

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A lovely library area, but not a large choice of books, and many were not in English, but German and other European languages.

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We had a balcony cabin, the balcony was smaller than we were used to, but the cabin was one of the best sized cabins that we’ve experienced on any ship.

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The above is from the internet, my photograph didn’t come out as clear, due to the light.

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The above came out a little better.

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A walk down the Royal Promenade & shops.

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The local pub was open of course.   :- o)

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Inside the Pig & Whistle.

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A short distance from the pub  . . I don’t think the phone box worked, as for the car I’m not sure.

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The casino area was one of the largest casino areas that I’d seen on any ship – slot machines, gaming tables, private tables, there was little chance that you would not be parted from your money if you chose to use the facilities. We had to walk through casino to get to the bar that we preferred.

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The Schooner’s Bar

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The Schooner’s before the daily rush  . .

The ship offered plenty of outside attractions, from pools, to surfboard riding, a helter- skelter, and for the more mature, put-put golf.

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Adults only –

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The Pool area was quite large.

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Or you can go surfing (costs about US $19 a day)

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On the other hand, perhaps not . . .

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But then when someone can surf he makes it look easy . .

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Some fancy rock climbing . . . the rock ‘face ‘ was the outside of the funnel.DSC06490r

Others may prefer a water slide with a difference –

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The end of the slide can just be seen – I expected people to come out like a shot from a gun, but they didn’t.
I was told by a lady who tried the helter-skelter that she was not travelling all that fast and at the end of the ‘run’ there was a flattish bit that slowed you further. None of the people I saw ‘shot’ out as I expected.
On reaching the exit that can be seen in yellow, they came to a dead stop in a large ‘bowl’ area of water, and the slider had to climb out, most did so on their hands and knees.

Before using the slide one had to be under a certain weight (but the weight in question was quite high), and over a certain height (small children couldn’t use the slide), and the user had to take in to account various medical conditions, bad heart, high blood pressure, joint problems etc.
If you had any medical condition listed you couldn’t use the slide.

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This was more my style, but I never even got to have a go – on the first day at sea the wind was so strong that this put-put area, the surf ride, helter-skelter & rock climbing were all closed for safety reasons, and we were not allowed into this area of the deck either. I’m not surprised because the wind was quite strong.

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The ship had an ice rink and at certain times they had a show.

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The ship’s skaters were very good, and the show went for about 40 to 50 minutes.. . .

They must be very fit.

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At the end of the show they would have about an hour’s break before repeating the show.

The theatre (a different area than the ice rink) was over three decks and could seat many passengers.
On other cruises we usually found a seat about 30 minutes before the show started to make sure we had a seat, so of course we did the same on the Voyager of the Seas.
It was a surprise to us that people didn’t arrive for the show until about ten minutes before the beginning, and there were still many empty seats once the show started. Perhaps the casino was a bigger attraction.

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The show was excellent and very professional.

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There were some very powerful singers, both male & female.

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and slick dancers.

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The scenery complimented the singers and dancers.

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What disappointed me was the price of the beers – all in USD, which included an 18% tip (for your convenience).
To take Corona (considering the current global problem, why not?) at USD $7.75 or AUD $11.92 at the exchange rate offered by the ship.
At a local liquor store near my home, I can buy a bottle of this beer for AUD 2.16, which includes Australian taxes.
I expect a business to make a profit, and my local liquor store is doing so, but cruise ship companies buy the beer tax free, and in such bulk that AUD $5 or $6 would give a decent return on their investment.

With my evening meal I like a glass of wine –

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The above is part of the red wine list – USD $9 to USD $14 per glass (AUD $13.85 to $21.54) perhaps you’d like to buy the bottle, which is cheaper than buying by the glass. USD $31.00 to $49 (AUD $ 47.70 to $75.38).

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Let’s use the NZ wine Kim Crawford at USD $12 per glass (AUD $18.46) or by the bottle USD $42 (AUD $64.62), as against my local wine shop at AUD $14.60 a bottle, and he is making a profit after shipping it from New Zealand to Australia.

The cruise companies buy wine in such large amounts, which will be tax and duty free, because it is being exported and drunk in international waters, so why the huge price increase?

When we booked the cruise we were given AUD $55.50 each ‘cabin money’ to spend on board by Royal Caribbean. If we didn’t spend it we lost it, which is normal for many cruise companies.
The ‘cabin money’ was appreciated and only because Maureen doesn’t drink alcohol our drinks bill at the end of the weekend was ‘acceptable’

The soft drinks were USD $3.50 (AUD $5.38) and a ‘mock’ tail was USD $7.00 (AUD $10.77).

On the Saturday & Sunday morning around 10.30 am we four attended a game of trivia, which we have enjoyed on most cruise ships.
On Saturday we were well down the success ladder, but on Sunday the Team Shire won! Team Shire being Maureen & I and our two friends.

Trivia is a popular game on most cruise ships and is always well attended for the social side of meeting other ‘cruisers’ rather than for the prizes.
Some cruise companies offer prizes of company logo pens or pencils, or a voucher for coffee or an ice cream, or even drinks at the bar, nothing expensive or elaborate.

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The above four signs were our prizes for winning. Whale done, Smarty Pants, I am a Clever Cookie, Our team is a-merzing at Trivia.     

We split our winnings, and I have Whale Done & I am a clever Cookie for my young grandsons.

In my opinion the cruise company made a big PR mistake during this weekend – the cost of all cruises from Australia / New Zealand include gratuities (tips) because the culture in each country is to pay people a decent wage, and we only tip for service over an above what is expected when buying a drink or a meal in a restaurant etc

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On the last night of the cruise envelopes were left in cabins – we had three nights on board, and we had paid the gratuities in our ticket price, which is to cover all those that we have contact with, plus the staff who support the system behind the scenes that we don’t see or meet.

Plus, we mustn’t forget the 18% drinks tip. . . but they still had a final squeeze, which left a bad taste.

Anyway, overall, we had a pleasant weekend, but I doubt that Royal Caribbean will be our future cruise company of choice, unless they offer particularly ‘sharp’ prices and destinations that we are keen to visit.

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Sydney at 5.45 am on the day that we returned. . . .