BI vessel S.S Ellenga
As a first trip cadet – I’d been at sea for about three months – it was Christmas at sea – we left Mina el Ahamadi in Kuwait at 3.00 am on Friday 21st December – it would be Christmas at sea for the five day voyage to Little Aden in what is now Yemen.
We were not all that sorry to leave, because I doubt that an oil refinery in Kuwait would be on many people’s ‘bucket list’, particularly at Christmas time.
Even though it was Christmas at sea the watching keeping officers and crew still had to work on Christmas Day.
Christmas breakfast menu, on board the Ellenga in 1962.
The one thing we didn’t worry about was being hungry – couldn’t fault the British India Steam Nav. Co for the standard of food.
Certain cruise ship today think that they invented breakfast menus . . .
For those of us who didn’t have to work on Christmas Day,
after a beer or two we all had lunch.
A quiet afternoon for the cadets and at 7.00 pm it was time to eat again . . .
It was Christmas dinner!
Cover of the Christmas dinner menu – signed by the officers.
All the time were ‘eating’ we were steaming down the Persian Gulf towards the Straits of Hormuz
The view of our destination – Little Aden- of course we were not allowed ashore. If for some reason we had to visit Aden, it was about a 45 minute road trip, and HOT!
The above is from the internet and thanks to Taff Davies in the UK.
Aden and Little Aden were still Aden colony in 1962 – the British having captured the area in 1839 to secure the route to India, control the entrance to the Red Sea.and to dissuade pirates.
Until 1937 Aden was governed from India, but in 1937 it became a Crown Colony.
Its location is equidistant from Bombay (now Mumbai), Zanzibar & the Suez Canal, so it was a very important strategic location.
We now jump forward four years to 1966, when I experienced another Christmas at sea.
I’d passed my 2nd Mates ticket and had been appointed 3rd Officer in the Bankura.
BI ship M.S Bankura 6,793 gt, launched in 1959.
We sailed from Chalna in East Pakistan (the name changed after liberation to Bangladesh in 1971), after loading in the Rupsha River from floating warehouse type barges – the photograph below will give you and idea. We used our own derricks / cranes to load the cargo, After we completed loading we sailed for Colombo in Ceylon.
I was once again at sea for Christmas, but only have the dinner menu as a souvenir.
This time I was third mate in a cargo ship running between Calcutta to the Australian & New Zealand coast. The round trip would take us about three months, unless we were lucky and became strike bound in Australia . . . . for the dockers in Australia this was their main hobby in the 60’s.
Although I was ‘at sea’, we were not sailing the oceans at Christmas, but anchored in Colombo harbour in Ceylon, (now called Sri Lanka). We arrived on the 20th December and worked cargo until Christmas Day, which was a holiday, not just for us, but Colombo as well. While we at the buoys another of the Company’s vessels arrived and moored at a buoy close to us. She was the Carpentaria.
I think we were left at buoys because it would have been cheaper than going alongside due to the downtime, because of Christmas.
Carpentaria 7268 gt Launched 1949
We had company and a change of faces, and the ability to swap books. The Carpentaria carried eleven passengers so their Christmas was going to be ‘posher’ than ours, not that we had any complaints. The menu for our Christmas dinner is below
Front cover of the menu – once again signed by the officers.
I have a letter that I sent to Maureen detailing the high jinks that took place between the Bankura & the Carpentaria officers – but that is another story.