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The Ships and Shipping Short Stories and Anecdotes Thread

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  • PoloUK
    started a topic The Ships and Shipping Short Stories and Anecdotes Thread

    The Ships and Shipping Short Stories and Anecdotes Thread

    Following our departure into literature with the Haiku thread, Nari suggests:

    "I am thinking of a short story thread - limited STRICTLY to working ships and their crew plus what goes on in ports they visit. I grew up from the age of two with old British tramps and very small ships (smaller than Lofoten) in the middle of the Pacific. There were some hairy tales about every one. Must be kept to about two A4 pages."

    That sounds different, fun, and related to our Captain's Voyage world, so here's the thread!

  • nari
    commented on 's reply
    This is a fascinating story, Ombugge. Thank you for posting it. A very different atmosphere then, compared with the colonial times where the local indigenous had good jobs and were cared for if their kids became sick. I always wanted to see Palmyra but the locals did not welcome visitors, especially after two murders done by passing yacht crew on a couple of residents. Not good policy. But the photos show a very different Fanning from the one I knew - rather neglected and slummy after all the Colonial buildings were burnt to the earth including our huge rather grand house of 40 squares...however attitudes do vary from time to time. Suicides by resident managers on isolated posts were not rare.

  • ombugge
    commented on 's reply
    An old post, but I thought Nari might enjoy this blog post I found about a visit to Fanning Island by an old former Norwegian boat:
    http://blog.mailasail.com/splashtango/35

  • ombugge
    replied
    I used to do this for a living: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/06..._weeks_repeat/
    No, not to install computers or whatever, but to mover rigs, inspect boat and rigs, or for loading and lifting operations.
    No matter, sometimes you could wait days, or weeks, for a job to start, same as here.

    One time I was met at the airport in Point Noir, Congo after 36 hr. of travel and told to return home, since the rig move had been cancelled. (They had found something interesting and decided to drill deeper)
    After a few hours sleep I was on the plane back home, only to return a week later. (Dry hole)

    Leave a comment:


  • janihudi
    commented on 's reply
    i bet you would.:-D

  • wherrygirl
    commented on 's reply
    Ooh, I shouldn't go there again, if I were you.

  • janihudi
    commented on 's reply
    nope,but i have road map the brings me everywhere i want to go.even to Bun9ay of all places

  • wherrygirl
    commented on 's reply
    I wonder how many of today's Navigators even know how to use 4-point bearings if all their electronic navigation aids should fail simultaneously?
    Probably very few. Never mind, I'll now know a Flinders Bar when I next meet one. Bet Thijs doesn't know what it is.
    Last edited by wherrygirl; July 25th, 2015, 11:14.

  • ombugge
    replied
    Today it is 46 years since the Americans landed on the Moon.
    ​On that day I was on board the Slidre and we were on the way from Honiara in the Solomon Islands to Kieta on Bougainvillea Island, which is geographically part of the Solomons, but politically part of PNG.

    We were sailing along what was popularly known as the "iron bottom sound" due to the many wrecks from WWII that was strewn on the bottom.
    (Enough to play havoc with magnetic compasses)

    We were on the bridge listening to Voice of America on shortwave radio, reporting in real time on the events at the moon.
    During a bit of a lull the reporter filled in with some "trivial technical details", like; "the navigation system on the orbiter has an accuracy of +/- 35 m. on the far side of the moon".

    Here we sat on a ship built in 1938 (i.e 31 years old at the time) equipped with a magnetic compass, a radar from 1944 that did not work, an echo sounder that was unreliable below 10 fathoms and a s*xtant with worn out numbers due to years of overzealous polishing.

    We were lucky to know within a mile or two where we were, unless we had some landmarks to take bearings of. Lighthouses and buoys with light were few and far between in the islands.

    PS> I don't know if I have mentioned it before, but to get accurate bearings you had to climb up on the Monkey Island and use the bearing ring on the Standard Compass.To cut down on the trips up there I invented a system for simple 4-point bearings by placing strips of insulation tape on the windows were, when leaning against the Flinders Bar on the Steering Compass, one was at 045 degr. relative bearing to Stbd. and one at 045 degr. to Port. Abeam bearing was by using the door frames. When in line with the target the relative bearing would be 090 degr.
    The time between the two and the speed over ground would thus give the distance off the target when abeam. Simple and effective, but of cause it only worked when you could see a target at a suitable distance away. Not much use on a dark night, or in heavy tropical rain.

    I wonder how many of today's Navigators even know how to use 4-point bearings if all their electronic navigation aids should fail simultaneously?

    Leave a comment:


  • ombugge
    replied
    Copra has been mentioned several times in the above,but not much explanation of it's production and merits as a trading commodity.
    I'll just throw in this link to an article about copra production in the Solomon Island which my answer any question not asked:
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-1...conomy/6630008

    Leave a comment:


  • ombugge
    commented on 's reply
    Crystal Cruises is announcing a call in 2016

  • ombugge
    commented on 's reply
    A little anecdote from Karumba.
    On the way there one of the Indonesian crew members were diagnosed with Gonorrhea. No problem, a high dose of Penicillin first and 7 days of pills.
    The problem was that we did not have any large gauge syringe needles, only the thin kind for intravenous injections. Trying to pump 1mmu of Penicillin into him with that tool was a painful process. (Not for me, for him)
    In Karumba there was a Nurse but no Doctor. I took him with me to see the Nurse and explained what had happened. She was a big girl with a sense of humor, so she brought out one of those big "syringes" used to wash out ear wakes and told him to drop his pants.He just took off out the door without a word.
    Luckily I had brought the 2nd Mate with me, also to see the Nurse for something. He run after him, managed to convince him that it was a joke and brought him back. Meanwhile, the Nurse just cracked up laughing. The story was first page news on the verbal circuit in Karumba for some time.

  • ombugge
    replied
    A short history of Karumba can be found here: http://karumba.qld.au/history
    The existence of an "Airport" on a salt pan at Karumba Point is mentioned. It is no longer in use, but is where the planes bringing in officials for clearance landed an took off. On a sightseeing trip with the Major of Karumba I was taken to see it. We stopped near the radio mast and windsock and he declared; "This is the Airport". "Where is the airstrip??" "Anywhere you like".
    PS> Not sure about the date of the picture in post #43

    The place was full of transient workers that stayed in their campers and VW Transporters on a camper lot near the Prawn Factory. A lot of the sorting and handling was done by the girls, while the boys were sitting in the campers smoking pot. The road to Normanton was only passable in the dry, so for two-three months of the year they were stuck there.
    Here is a recording of two of the people that worked in the Prawn Factory at the time, talking about the adventure: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-05-0...-about/6203540
    When we came in the customs officer asked me if the crew, being mostly Indonesians, had brought some pot with them. I took him out on the bridge wing and pointed out the blue cloud hanging over the campers. "If you are looking for pot, go there".

    There were no stevedores and the terms were "Free on Board" (FOB), so it was up to the Shipper to supply workers to load the prawn. I agreed to supply Foremen (Ship's Officers) and winch operators (Ship's crew), but they would have to pay them whatever they demanded. I could advise them on what we used to get at Gove a few years earlier.

    Stowing prawn cartons in the reefer holds were done by hippies hired from the campers. The temperature in the hold were maintained at -20C and checked regularly by the Health Inspector.
    Air temperature on deck during the day was above +30C, for a difference >50C. A bit of a "cultural shock" for the Hippies. (Not the temperature, having to work)
    They were given heavy jackets and hoods, but no shoes and socks. Kind of comical seeing long haired and bearded Hippies dressed for the occasion, but barefooted (or with slippers at best).

    We loaded 400 tonnes of Frozen Prawns and received the necessary Health Certificate and Port clearance so we could leave after some 4 days in Karumba.
    Now with a bit more draft we could only cross the bar at High Tide. I got the man with local knowledge on board to help guiding us to the deepest part and left on the rising tide.
    As we approached the river bar I slowed down to a crawl until we lightly grounded. Giving slow ahead to the engine room we inched across the bar as the tide was high enough to slip across the shallowest spot and into deeper water. (The river and bar has been dredged since then)
    Why not wait for highest tide? If we had grounded at highest tide the ship would have been sitting on the sandbar on low tide. With cargo in the Fwrd. and aft hold and nothing in the middle that could cause severe damages

    That was my first and last visit to Karumba, but a place I have always remembered.
    Last edited by ombugge; May 18th, 2015, 07:51.

    Leave a comment:


  • nari
    commented on 's reply
    One of my many nieces worked on the trawlers in the Gulf during her teenage holidays and loved it. Very good pay but long hours. According to my cousin who lives in SE Queensland, the state is full of Norwegians who escaped Norway's weather in the 19th and 20th century. As his mother was Norwegian, it should be true....

  • nari
    commented on 's reply
    Yes, you can call me too chicken to try "floating" photos in the ether - one day I will get over it.
    The two photos showing cows on the grassy fields is pre-war - I think around 1930 or earlier. Some bright spark
    must have thought it would be good to have walking beef and milk, which is fine in principle but simply naive.
    The low rainfall, poor grass of low nutrition and lack of any supplements meant they did not survive.

    The NOAA photo show the entrance to the lagoon with a strong tidal current (up to 7 knots) which mad navigating interesting. Our house was on the far side beside the passage and it got interesting when Hawaii had bad weather and we copped heavy surf coming up over the raised beachhead and flooding.

    The two white houses shown belonged to the Cable station folks and were abandoned when the station was closed down.
    They are still there, 50 years later, according to what I have read, and must look totally dilapidated.
    Fortunately we never copped the NCL's monster ships but they did assist the locals by raising money for a school and improved their welfare. Then NCL decided to opt out and not waste fuel for no good reason (three days in, three out) and if it rained, a waste of a day for the tourists. Holland-America now goes there once a year or so.

    Anyway, thanks for posting a bit of the Pacific which is about as isolated as it gets, in terms of getting there and back.
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