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 Post subject: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#1  PostPosted: 05 Apr 2011 04:00 
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This ones for you Brian, Thought id give you something to read whilst your sick.
PS dont read it to fast as im still writing it and it might have to last you a few days.(So suck it slowly)
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22nd of August 1966.
It was on a bright sunny summers morning and I had and been awake for a few hours, nursing a rather nasty hangover. My shore leave had expired over a week ago and as I was a pool man I had been living on my pool money and dole. When ever I returned home from sea I always gave my mam some extra money to cover such events as this and she always had extra housekeeping money from the allotment that I always made when joining a new ship.
At around 10am there came that dreaded knock at the front door, my mam answered it and there standing in front of her was the telegram boy, withdrawing a telegram from his leather waist pouch. It was addressed to me from the shipping federation.
I was dually summoned to the federation ASAP if not sooner. Those telegrams were never very informative just a simple line,” Report to shipping federation, Cardiff ASAP” no name of the person who sent tor why you were summoned
Still suffering from a night out with the boys the previous night. My brain seemed to go in to syronisation with the motorbikes engine as it fut.- futted. The boy drove off on his little red BSA Bantam, belching blue smoke from its exhaust pipe, which seemed to hang over the street like a foggy haze as he disappeared out of sight. Borrowing some small change from mam, I set off to the federation wondering what ship they had in store for me this time. The last one was the Hornby Grange, one of Holders on charter to Shaw Savil a ship and a trip that you would rather forget about.
Getting to the docks was a double bus trip from my home, catch the number 10 trolleybus at the bottom of Grand Avenue to the city center, then a short walk to St Mary St to catch a single deck trolleybus to the pier head terminus at the bottom of Bute St Then another 10min walk over the docks past the dock police station, with their ever watchful piggy eyed glare at everybody who came and went through the dock gates. Then on to Roath basin where the Federation building stood. As normal there were a few of the lads hanging around in the foyer having a chat, but there was nobody I knew. So up to the counter I went and presented my telegram. “Right lad I’ve a ship for you, an ore boat. Signs on this afternoon and leaves in a few days for pastures greener. Get yourself in to see the doc, come back here and I’ll have your forms ready for you to go and sign on”. The doc was more of a vet and his examination was more like a vet checking out a horse before purchase. A quick look at your teeth with his steel probe say “Arrr,” then drop your pants,” cough” ok you’ll do. Presenting you with a slip of paper as you walked out of his office, pronouncing that you were fit. Back to the counter where I was presented with few more slips of paper. Right lad she’s berthed at Roath dock get yourself over there right now and don’t stop for a cuppa, im sure they will have one waiting for you. And mind that you don’t come back this time. This was in reference to being summoned the week before for a Shaw Savil boat, only to be knocked back by the old man when he looked at my discharge book. Seeing that my last discharge was the Hornby Grange. And she was on charter to them during that bad voyage. Two of us were knocked back Billy Wilson and myself both of us had being on that voyage.
It was a long walk over to the berth dam near a mile; passed Bailey’s dry-docks and on towards the GKN steel works there she was the MV Iron Ore, a good-looking ship.
One of Vallums Scottish ore boats. At the bottom of the gangway as my mate Billy, he’d seen me walking up the road and was waiting for me to catch up. We both went up to the old mans office and dually we signed on the dotted line me as JOS, and Billy ,SOS .The mate casually asked us where our gear was? We told him that the fedederation had told us, sign on today, board tomorrow and sail in a few days. He gave us a chuckle then said, “We sail in 5 hrs!” Go and get your gear and make sure your back before we sail or Ill give you a VNC and a bad discharge in your books.
That Billy Henke, shipping officer of the Cardiff shipping federation had conned us again, he was world famous in Cardiff for getting crews at short notice. He became so famous that they named a street after him when they rebuilt the docks area.
Billy my mate being more eloquent than I explained that he lived in Fairwater. I lived in Ely and it would take us at least 2hrs each way to get home and back using the public transport, and he wangled a sub for us both of a pound each for taxi fares. We shared the taxi first going to Billy’s home and then onto mine. Lucky for me my mum had got all my gear ready so it was only a matter of packing it. We arrived back at the ship just as they were preparing to hoist the gangway, with a few beeps on the taxi’s horn we skidded to a halt at the bottom of the gangway. Paying off the taxi fare of 1. 18s. 9p we were in pocket of 1s.3 p
We were told to leave our gear where it was and go forward to start singling up. Both of us still in our shore gear me in Lee jeans and jacket and Billy who was always a smart dresser in white denims and denim jacket. We secured the tug, singled up then let go heading towards the lock gates; Billy asked if he could nip aft to get some working gear out of his grip bag. He was politely told no by the mate and stay on his station. By the time we had cleared the lock and squared away it was well passed 8pm looking at Billy’s smart white gear, it was now a dirty reddish rust colour with the odd smear of grease thrown in for good measure. His face was like thunder when somebody remarked of how dirty he looked.
We found a cabin, all berths were 2 man cabins and Billy nabbed the bottom bunk I was not game to argue with him, he being a fowl mood .A quick wash up and leaving my gear to stow away later on, it had been a long day. My stomach was protesting by growling and gurgling its anger at not being fed, it was like feeding time at the zoo and farting from last nights Brains dark beer. A this stage I should explain that I fart a lot, even as a baby my dad said I should become a tugboat captain, with a suck fart suck fart or at least represent Wales in farting championships Yes I like my food but my stomach converts most of my food into gas, it had last been fed yesterday and only receiving a cup of coffee all day today. Having a nosy around I found the mess room and a salad tray put out for the watch and I promptly made a doorstep sardie and a coffee. Most of the crew was in the mess and I introduced myself. The mess served both the deck and engine room crews. Most of us were south walian Unfortunately time has removed most of their names but I can still see some of their faces some 45 years later, strange how the memory works. The ones I can remember are Dinny Mahoney AB a big strapping guy with scars all over his chest and arms, he had been a scaffolder and had fallen off the scaffold, just before he hit the floor he had clung on to another scaffold pipe, the muscles ripping the skin as he broke his fall. There was speedy Gonzalez AB who was naturally called speedy, old, Nanta, a Malayan Ab who must have been at least 70 and had a face so wrinkled it looked like last weeks newspaper. Phil from Llanrumney he was just out of Vindy as Catering mess boy and this was his first trip, Mad Alffie from Malta AB, Fifi la Cross, A greaser with a limp wrist, and another SOS from Newport who’s name Ive now forgotten.
Nobody knew where we were bound except Lands end for further orders. We were turned too at 8am the next morning both Billy and myself on day work as we had missed the selection the day before for watch keepers. Breakfast was a good feed and plenty of it, which made my stomach, feel happy and it stopped the grumbling. The other end was still working flat out (must be something to do with the good sea air). We were put to work washing down the ship, iron ore dust was everywhere. It was an easy job; just blast everything with the fire hoses. Arriving off lands end we had our orders, Vitoria, Brazil. The ship was abuzz with the news, I had never been to South America this was going to be a new experience for me.
Next day all hands were put to cleaning out her two holds, number 2 hold first. She had tin lids, which I had never used before so it was watch and learn, I. was amazed at the size of the hold when the lids were rolled back it was like looking into an abyss. I had only been on fridge boats with their multi tween decks and wooden plugs and hatches. This trip was going to be a dawdle1. Wrong! We had to clean out all the residue iron ore from the last trip, sweeping it up, placing it in 2gal buckets hauling it up by hand and dump it over the wall. Have you ever tried to lift a 2gal bucket full of ore, I soon learnt to follow the others and only half fill the buckets. Two days later we finished number two hold, then start on to number one. By this time the weather had turned bad so that we couldn’t open the hatch covers, we had to work by cluster lights. That hold was huge with just those lights and you had problems seeing the other end of the hold. I was in seventh heaven they were perfect echo chambers for sound effects like farting and if you farted in the right place you could get it in: STERIO: Everything was perfect for a while
UNTIL!!!
Ill stop here to explain a few snippets of information on Mad Allfie and Nanta.
Mad Allfie was not called mad for no reason, if you asked him where he had been, he would readily ramble off a few ports, ships or countries then say “back to Whitchurch”. Now Whitchurch was well known in Cardiff as the long-term mental hospital. Hence his name of mad Allfie, he would for no reason start laughing in an eerie sort of way. He would howl as well, but that’s part of another story Ill tell you later on.
Now Nanta was old and I mean old he looked at least 70. He didn’t walk; he sort of shuffled along, if we walked to the focle to get our gear, we would pass him still amidships on our way back. but he was good for a skive. If we forgot something (which we often did accidentally on purpose) we would send Nanta off to get it, knowing that we were guaranteed a nice long smoko until his return.
So there we are in a dark hold with great sound effects, then from the darkest reaches comes this god-awful laugh that would put Vincent Price to shame. Then there’s a sound of running feet and muttering. Away goes Nanta and he’s running, up the hold ladder and he’s gone. I swear we could smell burning rubber, nobody had seen Nanta break into a walk never mind a full tilt run. Then Mad Allfie came out of the gloom laughing his head off. From that day onwards Nanta would avoid Allfie like he would the plague, wherever Allfie was, Nanta was the furthest position away from him.
Now that the holds were all cleaned out we had one more job to do, the strum boxes. The manhole covers were taken off and I was volunteered to clean them out. What a sh8y job. Everything was going ok; the bridge had been told that somebody was in the double bottom and to keep a steady course. Great! everything went perfect until the last box; I was having real problems down there so one of the lads jumped in to lend a hand. Then the ship leached over and tons of sh8y water engulfed us both, if it wasn’t for our safety lines I don’t know what would have happened. We were pulled out coughing and spluttering black as the ace of spades. The bosun was out of the hold and up to the bridge in no time wanting to know what the hells going on. The 3rd mate was bored and had a little play with the course settings on the iron mike, the dumb sh8
We were sent aft to get ourselves showered and cleaned being told to take our time as it wasn’t long before our knock of time. A while later we were all sitting in the mess when the bos’on came in and we were told to go to the mates cabin ,we knocked on the mates door and told to come in. There stood the mate with the turd, who looked very sheepish. The turd apologized to us both before being dismissed by the mate, he then gave us a double tot of 4 bells rum, and I can still feel that rum going down my throat. Nectar!


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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#2  PostPosted: 07 Apr 2011 08:12 
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We arrived at Vitoria with a nice clean ship, there was no berth for us as we came up the river and we had to anchor up while awaiting port and customs clearance. Before going back outside the river entrance to anchor and await our berth. We were going to be in the river only a few hours whilst we cleared these formalities. This temptation provided all too much for our Speedy Gonzalez. His Latin blood wouldn’t allow him to be so near and yet so far away from all those girls that plied the shore bars. He was washed, dried and ironed and before anybody had time to realize what was going on he was gone. Over the wall and into one of those little rowboat ferries that plied the river .The sad part of his plan was that somebody on the bridge saw him. . All to soon the paperwork was completed and we started to pull the pick up ready to go back down the river to anchor off, Speedy was still ashore sowing his seeds. The bridge started blowing the horn to let speedy know we were leaving, most of the crew were watching the shoreline trying to get a glimpse of him (all envious of him and wanting to know what shore side was like). Somebody let up a shout “there he is”. All eyes looking in the direction of the shore, sure enough there was our Speedy with a girl on his arm getting into one of the small ferryboats. The ferryman looked about 90 but he rowed that small boat like one of the Cambridge 8s, speedy and the girl sitting in the stern having a right old snogging session. Then the banter started, “give he one for me” and” me “ came another voice, the air was full of ribald comments, they were even coming from the bridge. Speedy ever the one to please dropped his pants and was performing like a rabbit. This proved too much or the old ferryman, he stopped rowing, stood up, turned around and started rowing again facing forward with his back facing speedy. Speedy was still at it when they reached the gangway his little white arse flicking up and down just like a rabbits tail when it runs. The apprentice, who escorted him to the bridge where he was logged 3 days pay, met him at the top of the gangway but he said it was well worth it.
We remained at anchor for 3 or 4 days, before our berth was ready .Up the river we went, all those who had never been here before were looking forward to exploring this port and the tales told by speedy were spinning around in our heads. Our berth was not a romantic setting, just the usual steel framework that carried the conveyer belts, railway tracks and a lot of tin shacks that had signs outside announcing the American bar, the Norwegian bar etc, and all covered in a red dust The main town as across the river, reached by small ferries most of them just rowboats able to carry a few people. After tying up and getting cleared away ready for loading. It was all up to the chief stewards cabin to collect our subs. I received my 10-pound sub in cresero notes a whole wad of them, there was no coinage .If I remember right I had 6000 cresro’s which was a small fortune, a quick wash and brush up and we were all ashore to test the delights of this port. The poverty of the people was my first reaction. Kids running around in what we would call rags, no shoes and the adults not looking much better. The bars were just tin shacks with large name boards wired to their tin roofs each advertising their names and what services were on offer. I teamed up with my cabin mate Billy and we were off, we tried each bar in turn to find somewhere, which we felt comfortable in. The only problem was Fifi la Cross.
Now another insight: Fifi was a greaser in the engine room, which is not a normal place to find a homosexual. He took a real fancy with our Billy and Billy egged him on more than a bit .When it was old mans inspection which was every Sunday our cabin was spotless thanks to fifi .Decks were scrubbed, everything was dusted and shipshape clothing was neatly folded and put back in the draws Only Billy’s gear I might add, when it was my turn for cabin cleaning Fifi was nowhere to be seen. Billy had Fifi well trained as he even did his dhobi’ing; his dirty clothing was collected every morning and washed, dried and ironed by the evening. He was getting a better service than at a Chinese laundry Everything was neatly pressed and folded even his work gear had creases in that were so sharp you could shave yourself with them. So it was no surprise that fifi wanted to tag along with us and we both knew what he was interested in and it wasn’t girls. Billy was on his menu, after a few of the bars we ended up in some dive with solid wood tables and benches .The next thing all hell broke loose. Billy had gone up to the bar for our drinks, next thing he’s on the mud floor a top of Fifi beating the crap out of him. The bar was fairly quiet with only a few customers .One of which was an old guy, well old to us he looked like Mr. Meldrews twin brother, dressed in a suit .He removed a pistol from inside his jacket, cocked it and pointed it at Billy and Fifi. “Police, stop! I shoot! Stop! I shoot!”. Everything just erupted; over went the tables on their sides, beer bottles clattering to the floor and everybody ducking down behind them. Thinking back it was like an old time cowboy movie when a gunfight starts in the saloon. The fight soon stopped and Billy helped Fifi to his feet trying to show the old guy it was all just good fun. Fifi left the bar, crying at being rejected. The tables and benches were soon put back on their feet and everything cleaned up. Billy came and sat down again and we all wanted to know what happened to start off the fight. Billy said that Fifi had come up and kissed him on the cheek and told him how much he loved him. I stayed for a few more beers and then left to go back to the ship that was parked up not that far from the bar. Staggering out of the entrance I walked slap bang into a side of a van What the @#$#, then a head appeared out of the window giving me a stony stare, the cops again, not wanting a confrontation with Mr. Meldrews mates I beat a hasty retreat back to the ship, which was only a short walk away.
Turn to in the morning was at 8 am, a few of the crew only just made it having spent the night ashore, (say no more), Billy being one of them As there was mechanical problems ashore with the loading conveyor belt. We were giving the job of painting the topsides and to encourage us along it was a job and finish. It was out with the rollers and trays the bosun gave us a pep talk saying that we were to be economical with the paint and we might be in with a bonus, we needed no more encouragement. By around 2.30 having working through smoko and lunch we were all finished just in time for the conveyor belt to start loading. Cutting in the name etc would be completed tomorrow from stages. After eating our rather dried up lunches that the mess boy had put in plate warmer, it was a quick wash, dry and iron and shore side.
It was a good night ashore I went back to the bar of last nights escapades. Teaming up with a girl of my own age of 17, as far as I can remember she was good looking not like some of the hags id seen the previous evening. We eventually ended up at her place, she thought it was a palace; I would call it a tin shack. Everything she said was hers and consisted of a rough wooden bed, table and 2 chairs, a curtain, which was her wardrobe, an oil lamp and bucket, which was the toilet. Ho and a fireplace where she did her cooking. Today we would call it rustic, she was well proud of it, it was all hers. I awoke at dawn feeling sweaty and sticky, she could see my dismay, then told me she had a baby that was looked after by her parents and she was still lactating she was so apologetic and embarrassed, that I felt sorry for her. I left her there whilst I went back to the ship for a good shower and clean up. At turn to we rigged 3 stages so that the cutting in could be finished and the ships name painted in white. Two were picked to do this work; the rest of us did small jobs and tidied up the ship. Then back ashore again the girl I was with the previous night was there and she came straight over to me and pressed something in my hand, it was my watch. Which I thought she had stolen, I never thought I would see that again or the girl. She asked if she could stay with me again tonight I told her I had just enough money for a few drinks and then I was off back to the ship.” No no” she said I pay for drinks, “I pay for everything. ”It was an offer to good to pass up. Not long after that the old bosun turned up. There where several of the crew in this bar and he went around us all. True to his word he placed a wad of notes in each our hands, he had sold the paint we had saved from the lick and a promise we had given the hull the previous day.
, Later on in the evening she introduced me to her uncle who was one of the ferrymen who plied back and forth across the river in his small row boat .The conversation somehow got around to ropes, he saying that if I was short of cash he had a friend of a friend who would possibly be interested in buying one of our mooring lines. The seed was planted and it soon germinated, it was arranged that I would go back to the ship; he would use his boat and come under our stern. I would slacken off the stern line and he would pick up the slack and attach the eye to his boat. Whilst I slowly paid out the line over the stern .I my haste to get the job done and the uncle seeming to take ages to pull the line off the ship, I let the rest of my end drop into the water. The last thing I remember was the uncle rowing like mad and the stern of his little rowboat going down. But that was no concern of mine I had his money in my sweaty hand and I was keen to get back ashore and be with my girl. It was another good night was had by all. Turn to the next day was just a tidy up of the ship, shoveling the spilt ore that was on the deck into the hold. Number 2 hold was now full and we started to seal her up everything was going fine, until Billy swinging the sledgehammer to knock in the dog wedges, slipped and the hammer ricocheted off the wedge and smacked himself in his ankle. He went down like a sack of spuds letting out a cry of pain. Everybody came running over to see what all the fuss was about Billy’s ankle swelled up like a balloon you could actually see it swelling .We helped him off the hatch cover onto the deck by this time the mate and chief steward arrived with a first aid kit. Cutting off his boot everybody agreed that he had broken his ankle and needed an x ray. As I was Billy’s mate I was selected to go to the hospital with him. We were ferried across the river and the ships agent had a taxi waiting for us this was the first time we had seen the other side of the river close up and what a contrast to the shantytown we had been drinking in. This place had an air of permanency, stone and concrete buildings proper roads and even the people dressed smarter. Gone were the shabby tin shacks and people dressed in rags or near to it. There were also no street urchins! even the soldiers and cops that seemed to be stood on every corner looked cleaner and smarter. All the civil buildings were in a large square complex that reminded me of a castle, to reach the inner courtyard you had to drive through a large gateway guarded on each side by machine gun posts complete with sandbags they were even on the roof of this building and everywhere where you looked were soldiers armed to the teeth patrolling around this complex. The taxi driver explained that the town was under marshal law and if we knew what was good for us we were not to do anything or say anything, just leave it all to him. The taxi driver was good for his word, Billy was treated in no time for a badly bruised ankle and was given 7 days sick leave, and the taxi driver then gave us a guided tour of the town. We asked if he knew of somewhere where we could get some butterfly trays to take home with us, I ended up with 2 trays and about half a dozen wall places that cost me virtually nothing I still have one of those trays. Arriving back at the river we gave the driver what spare money we had left over and a few packets of fags. His eye’s lit up on seeing English smokes and he gave us back our money.
Back aboard just in time for our evening meal, we were sailing that evening around midnight so it was ashore for a few hours, a few beers and saying goodbye to my Pascalina, shore leave ended at 10pm.
Stations were called at 11pm, lucky Billy stayed in his bunk to ill to work, but not to ill to hobble to the shore side bar earlier on that evening. The order came to single up??? We were already singled up, as it seems the uncle must have had a few more contacts than me. Everybody had their eyes down, nobody was looking at each other even the mates had a sheepish look about them; nothing was said about the missing mooring lines.



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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#3  PostPosted: 07 Apr 2011 15:21 
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Hi Geoff,
You are a fabulous story teller, you made me feel I was there with you;that is a rare gift. Thanks for sharing it with us,
BrianD



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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#4  PostPosted: 08 Apr 2011 07:08 
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I have to agree with you. Geoff has a good turn of phrase and looking forward to more of the same. Thanks mate. See I can do nice.



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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#5  PostPosted: 08 Apr 2011 08:38 
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Thanks lads flatery will get you another chapter :oh:
Got your messages Brian, every Friday i go into town to see the kids.



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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#6  PostPosted: 08 Apr 2011 13:58 
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th_lmao1-vi.gif th_lmao1-vi.gif great stuff Geoff have you been taking lessons from brian, it's a good read. :golf:



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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#7  PostPosted: 08 Apr 2011 18:32 
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On leaving Victoria the watches were rotated and I was put on the 12 to 4 watch with the second mate. Now I don’t know what it is but for some reason I always, well almost always never gelled with them. I don’t know if it was them, or me they seemed to have some sort of chip on their shoulders whether it was because they held a mates ticket and couldn’t practice what they wanted, I really don’t know. Anyway I had one of them. Billy was put on the 4 to 8 watch, which is strange two men in the same cabin were usually put on the same watch so as not to disturb the other watch keepers. Mad Alfie was on the 8 to 12 watch, Watch keeping was only lookout duties, and mostly from the wing of the bridge .as she had auto steering.
Maybe this is the time to relate some of the characteristics of the good ship Iron Ore. She was built in 1959, have a service speed of 13 kts, she would roll on wet grass and there was many a time we all thought that she would not survive some of her rolls. There was many a time you would be walking along a passageway when you would have to put a foot on the bulkhead to stay upright. She even rolled when loaded. All crew’s bunks were placed athwart ship which meant you were constantly sliding up and down in your bunk. One moment your feet were trying to be compressed in to your skull and the next would be your skull being forced on to your feet, im sure sometimes we slept standing up or in handstands. The tables in the mess were in the same alignment. They were secured to the deck with large springs and hooks a strange arrangement. Now when she took on a good roll everybody would hang onto the table with one hand, holding their meal plates with the other, your chair would slide down the deck and these springs would expand as the table went with you all holding on. Then as she came out of the roll everybody would let go of the table Twang! And the table would go shooting off under the pressure of these springs. Many a time we lost our grub as the table shot off in the opposite direction and would travel 3 or 4 ft across the deck to resume its original position, leaving some of us sitting on the deck clutching an empty plate. The other characteristic was that he engines kept breaking down it seemed to happen every few days, break downs of under two hours were not officially noted down. It was part of the watch keepers daytime tasks was to haul up the not under command marker that was permanently rigged on the monkey island Christmas tree. Of a night time the mate just flicked on a switch to turn on the lights.
Everybody gave the engineers stick over these constant breakdowns and I think they got fed up of people asking them if they had wound up the elastic band today. She was one of five sister ships all named Iron ?they were the Crown, barque, age and horse, it would be nice to know if these ships also rolled like pigs in sh8 and kept breaking down.
Now as I’ve mentioned the mess I should carry on and tell you about Phil the mess boy.
He was a big lad and this was his first ship, somebody had told him that to get his jeans faded and clean, it was a good idea to attach his jeans to a heaving line and tow them behind the ship for a few hours, This he did only for the ship to breakdown leaving his jeans just floating in the sea, he was not amused when he retrieved the said jeans to find that one leg of them was completely missing. @#@#@ Sharks he yelled.
The next time we stopped it was noticed that a few of our chairs were bobbing in the sea behind us. This was also seen from the bridge by one of the mates who came down aft to see what was going on. He came just in time to see Phil throw over another chair over the wall. “What the hells going on” to which Phil replied “I saw a @#$#@ big shark and I hate them because they ate the leg off my new jeans. Needless to say he was logged and had to pay for our chairs, which he had chucked over the wall. The next thing we noticed was that we were starting to run short on dinner plates, every day we seemed a few less, One day one of the lads forgot something in the mess and had gone back to collect it. And there was our big Phil sending dinner plate after plate down the gash chute. When asked what he was doing he said he only washed the clean plates and he’d sent a dirty plate down the Shute only for it to get stuck half way down so he was trying to smash it with the other plates. He was jokingly told to use something heavier and he grabbed a handful of our coffee mugs and sent them down the Shute. It wasn’t long before we had virtually no plates or mugs left in the mess and we had to ask for another issue without dropping Phil in the you no what The sec steward issued the last of the plates and mugs from his store and were told to look after them there are no more. Phil had been given a gypsies warning not to smash or lose any more of our crockery. It didn’t last for long a few days later and the ship took on one of her rolls Phil was carrying a tray full of dirty crockery to the sink, he slipped on the wet deck and every plate and mug we had, came crashing to the deck smashing into a thousand pieces. Phil lost it! Grabbing hold of anything that came to his hand he began, throwing everything in our direction. Knives, forks, spoons, teapot, mess tins, you name it, it came flying out of his kitchen area. We all beat a hasty retreat aft and let the steward deal with our Phil. Needless to say we ate our meals off side plates until more plates could be ordered and we made mugs up from used tin cans that we got from the galley.


Last edited by x taffy 2 on 08 Apr 2011 22:30, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: spelling somebody keeps moving the keys on my keyboard



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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#8  PostPosted: 10 Apr 2011 07:53 
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Now for mad Alfie.
One night whilst going to relieve Alfie off his watch I went to the wrong wing of the bridge, thinking to take a short cut across the bridge to get on the right wing I found the sliding door locked, strange I thought to myself the bridge doors are never locked.
So I knocked the door and out of the chartroom came the third mate. He was looking real pale with eyes that seemed to be darting, here, there and everywhere. Weird! He saw me at the door and virtually ran over to let me in and then locking the door again behind me He looked even worse up close, he was actually shaking with fear.”Whats wrong you seen a ghost” No look out there” turning around looking at the other bridge wing I could see his problem. There was our Alfie , he was bare chested his shirt held aloft with both arms outstretched , holding onto the cuffs so that the shirt fluttered in the wind. Then stretching out his neck and throwing back his head he howled like some god-awful banshee Hhhhhhhhhhhooowwwwwlllllllllllll. Then he started to laugh, before starting the process all over again. He’s been doing that for over an hour said the mate, well it is a full moon I replied trying to humor him. It didn’t work. Just go out there and relieve him, what! Your in charge you do it, im not going near that mad b@#$#@#. Its your job to relieve him so do it now. Sliding the door back a few inches I called out to Alfie , OK your relived Alfie just turned to look at me then gave another Howlllllll. The next thing the door slide wide open and I received a great push in the back propelling me forwards, the door then slide back and was locked again. As if nothing had happened Alfie said” no lights, nothing to report, good night “and went off aft. Phew! A few minutes later there was a knock from the bridge door window, which was still locked. There were the 2nd and 3rd mates mouthing,” Has he gone, has he gone yet”. I nodded that he had and the door was unlocked and gingerly slide open.” Where is he?” “He’s gone aft” With that another howl shredded the air followed by laughter. The door slammed shut again still leaving me outside. Alfie stayed on the stern for about another hour howling and laughing at the full moon, whist both mates stayed locked in the bridge. Needless to say Alfie was put on day work for the rest of the voyage.
Now as I previously stated I always had problems with 2nd mates this one was no exception. His favorite game was to call you off lookout on the wing of the bridge and put you on steering despite the ship having autopilot. He would give you a coarse to steer set the alarm to so many degrees either side and pull the lever on the side of iron mike and off you would go. Constantly looking over your shoulder to see how you were doing, he would normally do this when you had a bit of a sea running and the ship would be wallowing about like a drunken duck. Of coarse the alarm would go off, and you would get a rather noisy Humph! In your ear. After about the third session of him doing this I was well pi**d off, so I developed the master plan. Alfie was mad, I farted a lot, the plan was hatched! The next time he put me on the wheel I was going to fart. Strained, even crossed my legs to hold in all this explosive eruption of gas that was distending my gut. I waited until he came up behind me as I stood at the wheel and he leaned over my shoulder. Then I let him have it all and it was a good un, melodious and with a distinct aroma, the sort that if you still feel the heat of it after 10 seconds you’ve crapped yourself. He called me a few choice words before exiting the bridge for the safety of the fresh air on the wing, and he closed the door behind him. There I was on my own with a room full of stinking methane gas mixtures, it was so bad that it even made my eyes water Pheww.That was a cracker I thought. Not long afterwards the door opened and he stood there sniffing the air like a hound dog to make sure it was safe for him to re-enter the bridge, again he called me a few choice words and what the hell had I been eating, I told him I was sorry (just to keep him sweet) he sent me away back on the wing to continue my lookout duties. I went as happy a a sand boy knowing I’d never to be bothered again. Im a firm believer in there being different types of madness.

There was another incident on that trip back to the continent. Denny Mahoney had a heart condition and should have never been back at sea, but some how he had managed to return. He told us that he was taking 30 odd tablets a day, he showed us his supply one day and his bottom draw was full of medicine boxes plus he had some stashed away in his locker, it was like a floating chemist shop. Denny started to notice that certain types of tablets were going missing, so he watched and waited and it turned out to be the deckie from Newport that was helping himself to the tablets. He was a strange sort of guy never really joined in with the rest of the crew, what we called a loner. But he had struck up a friendship with Fifi after Billy rejected him or her. It was a strange sort of relationship, late at night they would start arguing with each other and it would get quite heated at times. Speculation in the mess was running rife and all sorts of suggestions were put forward as to why they would be arguing. It wasn’t until someone asked Fifi what it was all about and he told them that they were both of the female gender. They both liked taking it, but didn’t like giving it, so they would argue who’s turn it was to be the male .It takes all sorts I suppose. Any way I digress from the tablet affair. Denny was a lump of a man built like the proverbial brick sh8house. Loner was a weedy guy. So when Denny went to loners cabin to tackle him on his stolen tablets, Loner pulled a pistol on him and told Denny to %$#$ off! Dinny backed off, told the rest of the crew what had happened so that we would steer clear of him and then went and told to the old man what had happened. Loner was summoned to the bridge to explain himself .The mate and the old man then escorted him back to his cabin, and confiscated the pistol and ammo and returned Denny’s tablets. Of course Loner was sent to Coventry for the rest of the trip we were all hoping he would jump ship at the next port, but I didn’t, even Fifi stopped their relationship. From what we learned later on, Loner was a drug addict and had purchased the pistol when we were in Vitoria for his own protection. There will be more of him later on.



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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#9  PostPosted: 11 Apr 2011 08:21 
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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#10  PostPosted: 12 Apr 2011 08:18 
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We received orders for our next port of call to discharge our cargo, it was Brake in Germany. Nobody knew this port, so it was going to be a new experience for everyone
The rest of the voyage across the north Atlantic was mostly uneventful, the crew had now settled down into shipboard routine .we entered the North Sea heading for Brake. We had found out that it was on the river Waser and was half way up the river to Bremen passing the port off Bemenhaven on the river mouth. We entered the river late afternoon it was a cold day with the wind blowing in off the North Sea. I don’t know if it still happens now, but as we passed Bermenhaven, which had large passenger ship terminal. The river port control would welcome any ship using the port or as us going up river, using a public address system that could be clearly heard across the river.
We received our welcome over this system. (German accent please) Vellcome mv iron whore to Bemenhaven. We were on the deck starting to get the tin lids open, there was a hushed silence” what did they say Whore?” You could hear a pin drop then came our bridge replying we are the ship Iron Ore Oscar, Romeo, echo. Nien mien heir Capitan look at your port bow its clearly Whore. Whisky, hotel, Oscar Romeo echo. Then came a shout from the bridge to the bos’on, check it out please. Sure enough whoever had done the cutting in, in Vitoria had inserted an extra WH. in our name. We were all trying to remember who did this .The bos’on was told to paint it out immediately which was done. The helmsman told me later that the old man was livid and what he was not going to do to those responsible was beyond explanation.

I never did finish off opening those hatches; Billy and myself were on the port side. Using a 4ft long steel bar to turn the eccentric axled wheels and lift the hatches up so that they could roll back on these wheels. It took quite a force to turn these wheels around, for you had the whole weight of the steel hatch sections bearing down on them. We had done maybe half a dozen when one wheel proved most difficult to rotate, both of us put all our weight behind the bar and we managed to turn the wheel around to the correct position to insert the safety pin so that it would be locked in the upright position. These safety pins normally have a short length of chain attached to then so that they cannot be lost or dropped, None of the wheel pins had these safety chains, they had most probably rusted away and never been replaced. Billy dropped the pin on the deck due to it being covered in grease and he wearing gloves and as he stooped down to pick up the pin and releasing his grip on the bar,
I saw stars!
The next thing I remember is lying on the hatch cover and feeling as though the side of my head was missing. Billy bent over me saying you’ll be ok and at the same time shouting for help! Blood was pouring out of my head and the hatch cover where I was lying was covered in it. I was quickly man handled off the hatch and up to the steward’s office for first aid treatment. I must have looked a mess as blood was coming out of my waistband of my jeans; shirt and jacket were also covered. The stewards face was pure ashen when he first saw me, asking him what id done and was the side of my head still there, he replied its only a bad cut. Yer right my head felt like it had been squashed by a road roller, I’d gone deaf in my right ear and blood trickling out of the waist band and my nether regions feeling distinctly wet and sticky too. I was watching him remove stuff from the first aid box, a couple of 4inch square pads and bandages, he then placed one pad then wrapped some bandage around then another pad more bandage. Had a look then placed another pad and more bandages? Seeming satisfied with his work he then asked me a silly question, “Would you like a cup of tea or a drop of whiskey” stupid question! There was I thinking that half of my head was missing and he offers me a cup of tea! Naturally I plumed for the whiskey and he gave me half a tumbler full.
Then he made a few remarks and more pads and bandages applied don’t worry were arranging transport for you to go to hospital,” would you like another top up” when he noticed my glass was empty, well by the time transport arrived I think I must have downed half a bottle of his whiskey and I was well hissed. The transport arrived and it was a taxi, one of the catering boys was sent with me to the hospital as he spoke a little German and was to act as translator for me. We arrive at the hospital where we were dropped at the front doors and we had to make our own way to the A & E deptment. We were getting starred at by everybody we passed, and it was not until I saw my reflection in one of the windows that I knew why, I looked like a mummy my head swathed in bandages and with only slits for my eyes, nose and mouth. We were taken through to the treatment room and I was laid out on a bed, then I saw them, these things floating about in black funny dresses and silly hats, then it dawned on me we were in a convent and they were nuns. Now somewhere in the translation of the accident things got messed up, they thought that id been in a drunken brawl over a girl. Me being a poor fornicating sinner seaman and hissed as well and they thinking I was in a fight. I was for the high jump now. Two big nuns attended to me and I could see that they were not happy, they muttered to each other in guttural German that didn’t need any translation I had been injured fighting over a girl and me a poor Salvation army lad. Off came the bandages and padding then more talking to each other, then a cloth was put over my head and a lot of pulling and tugging began, next came a searing pain and more pulling and again the pain. $#$#$# Hell! they were putting my head together again I thought, they must think Im Humpty Dumpty. Then came another voice lay still “ve cannot give you anesthetic as you are drunken,” then someone held my head in a vice like grip and another pinned my shoulders to the bed, I don’t know much about nuns but these missed their vocation in life they should have been all in wrestlers. The more I swore and cursed, the more painful the treatment became. eight more times I felt that searing pain and tugging. Then it was over and the cloth covering my head was lifted away and I could now see my assailants there were four of them and the one who had pinned my shoulders down was a big un, She had obviously never missed a meal in her life, 20 stones of her at least. I was allowed to sit up and given a few aspirins, and then told to go. But to go where we had no idea where we where and no money to get there. Then an old German guy approached us and said in broken English that he had been a German POW during the war and liked us English. How could he help us, we explained that we needed to get back to the ship but didn’t know where to go. He told us that his son was waiting outside for him in his car, if we cared to wait a while he would get his son to drive us there. Good for his word he took us back to our ship, we had a good conversation with him, and it was then that he told us that the hospital was the sisters of mercy, a charity hospital and that they were known for their bad/rough treatment of patients. Do you know he told us; the people in the waiting room were all smiling as I was translating what you were calling those nuns. And it made us all happy. As you say “no good SS nun ladies.” “But please you explain what you said about cucumbers and press-ups to me I did not really understand that part”. So I explained it to him and both he and his son laughed and said how true
By the time I reached the ship my head was pounding away I said my goodbyes to the old gent and went aboard, it was late and everybody was asleep except for the night watchman who asked me how I was .I told him my head hurt and I could do with a few more aspirin He gave me a few that he had with him and I went to my cabin Billy was not there so I just crashed out on our day couch and slept for over 24hrs.When I awoke I was in my bunk. Billy had become very concerned for me when they couldn’t wake me up, and he and Denny had looked after me. Denny bodily picked me up and put me in my bunk after undressing me and cleaned most of the blood off me. I had bled so much that I even reached my socks and boots. Fifi had washed my gear, but my shirt and bundies were thrown out, as they were to badly stained. My head was still pounding and I lived on aspirin for a few days. I still couldn’t hear out of my right ear.
The steward put me on sick leave and all I did was sleep. Only going ashore once and that was on our last night in Brake.
Now I know you are all asking what injuries I had? Concussion and 5 stitches in my ear, which had been split in half from top to bottom and the searing pain I had was when the nun stitched it, straight through the ear and back though and tie off, with what felt like a 12inch fid, pulling a heaving line behind. And I still bare the scars to this day.



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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#11  PostPosted: 13 Apr 2011 13:31 
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Another wonderful read Geoff,I could almost feel that bar smashing into your skull, keep it up mate,
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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#12  PostPosted: 18 Apr 2011 21:21 
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After discharging our cargo at Brake, our next port of call was Port Etienne, “where the hells that place “everybody was asking each other. It turned out to be on the West African coast and was formally known as The French Sahara desert. Ho that sounds exciting. We left Brake and sailed down the river past Bremahaven and this time there was no mix up with our name. Though some one remarked that they had seen the old man and the mate inspecting the ship before we sailed.
Watches were rotated again and I was now on day work, normal shipboard routines were the same as when we left Cardiff, wash down and clean the holds out. Then sugi and paint with a bit of chipping added for good measure .We started to paint the crew accommodation, starting on the port side, this was where loner and fifi resided along with the other engine room crew had their cabins. Practical jokes were still being played on everybody but poor old Fifi suffered more of them than most especially as we were painting in his area.
Now maybe a good time to explain a bit more of Fifi. He never walked, he seemed to go everywhere in a fast walk that nearly broke into a trot. He over dramatized every movement he made. Someone once said he was akin to an over wound clockwork toy that was on fast- forward. By today’s standards he’d be classed as hyper- active. When he spoke it sounded like somewhere between a young girl and an aderlesent teenager who’s nuts had not quite dropped and had a slight lisp, with a lot of giggling mixed in. Ho and he was always late.
So there we were painting outside his cabin, he always hung his coffee mug on a hook on the cabin door frame, Telling everyone that he didn’t like other people drinking out of his mug,” as you don’t know were their mouths have been”(like he should be worried). One of the lads closed up the hook so that the mug couldn’t be removed, then we watched and waited, sure enough along comes Fifi late as normal, reaches out for his mug as he trotted past, Wham! Next moment he’s sitting on his backside mug in hand, but with the mugs handle still firmly attached to the hook. The next one was, we found the door to the chiller room that hadn’t been locked and a large swede had been appropriated. This was placed under his pillows for we all knew that when getting in or lying on his bunk, he would launch himself from half way across his cabin. Fifi obliged us with the same stunt and when we heard that thump as head and swede collided we went into his cabin.
There he was flat out, he’d knocked himself out, the swede was quickly removed and we left him lying there. Later on when we were in the mess room, in came Fifi still looking dazed and announced that he must have been so tired for as soon as his head hit the pillow he was asleep, but had woken up with a terrible headache. He could not understand why we all burst out laughing. The worst one we pulled on him was the turd joke, Billy and myself were responsible for this one, We pulled out the innards of a bread roll and rolled it up to look like a turd, then making a thick paste of cocoa and water and smearing it all over this piece of bread so that it resembled a turd. This was placed on a few sheets of toilet paper, with a couple of finger scrapes on the paper to make it look authentic. This was then placed on Fifi’s bunk and we all waited for Fifi to arrive. He entered the cabin and then went into a tizzy fit, ERRRRRRRRRRRRR some dirty, dirty #@$#@# sh** on my bunk, just look at that! we all looked, I stepped forward and ran my finger along the turd then lifting up my finger I looked at it, then sniffed it and then licked my finger, then announced that it was not one of mine, Fifi’s face was a picture of pure revulsion-. Next came Billy he picked up the turd with the paper around it, he looked at it, he sniffed it and then rolling back the paper as if he were going to eat a hotdog, he then took a bite, “MMmm not one of mine either”. This was too much for our Fifi and he promptly chucked all over the deck.
I did later appologsed to Fifi for this one.
The other joke that seemed to be played on everybody was the condom one. A condom was placed on a tray and then gently filled with water, it would hold about a gallon. It was then the end tied off. This was then gently rolled of the tray into someone’s cabin when they were sleeping; the door was then slammed shut so they would wake up. Their first reactions were WTF and try to pick up the condom, which was a big mistake, Bang! The condom would burst and they would end up with a gallon of cold water slushing around their feet. Some realizing what it was and would try to roll it out of their cabins but this would rarely work.
The only other item of interest was a case of Black Draft. One of the Abs was suffering from constipation, after work he went to the steward to get a dose of black draft to cure his problem. The steward gave him a good measure of the evil stuff with the usual warnings; it should work within the next half hour so stay near the heads. Well one hour passed, then two and after three hours had passed, he decided that it wasn’t going to work and turned in for the night. At the change over of watches at 4 am it was noticed that his cabin light was on. The cabin deck was wet as was the passage deck and two sheets were hanging on a handrail. A quick look around found the AB sitting on the toilet grunting and groaning, checking that he was OK. He was left to continue his grisly task. That morning in the messroom everybody wanted to know what had happened to him in the night. He eventually arrived in the messroom. Looking like death warmed up and he explained about going to sleep and then early in the morning hours he’d been awakened by a searing pain in his guts and before he could penis his leg over the side of his bunk his ar-e had exploded and it wouldn’t stop coming, so he made a mad dash for the toilet, leaving a trail behind him.
He had still not stopped crapping and with that he was off again, doing the stiff legged walk. Needless to say he was excused work that day.
It was at that time I heard of the saying
Has the ar-e dropped out of your world or has the world dropped out of your ar-e.
I think the latter was true for him.



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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#13  PostPosted: 18 Apr 2011 23:04 
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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#14  PostPosted: 20 Apr 2011 07:31 
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Port Etienne.
There’s not a lot to say about the port or rather the lack of a port. It just consisted of a wharf to tie up to, the loading conveyor belt and mountains of iron ore. This all surrounded by sand, sand and more sand, ho plus the flies, millions of the little black buggers. They got everywhere and I mean everywhere. Open your mouth and they were in there too and the more you swatted them the more seemed to arrive.
After tying up along side I received instructions from the bridge to get changed and be ready for the ships agent to take me to the hospital to have my stitches removed. At least I was going to see what else was in this port and the simple answer to that was, just more sand and flies. There were two of us going to the hospital an engineer and myself. I tried to get into conversation with the engineer but it was like getting blood out of a stone, I just received one word replies so I gave up and just waited patently for the agent to arrive. After a while he’d finished his business and told us both to get in his car. A new Citron Safari, the one with the round tail lights mounted in the roof, then we were off zooming along clouds of dust spewing out from the wheels. This guy only had two speeds flat sticks or full stop I don’t think he got under 60 mph on that trip, hand on the horn blasting away at anything that was on he road whether it was moving or not. The road was just a wide strip of tarmac that undulated with the terrain of the sand hills, every now and again where the road dipped; wind blown sand covered the tarmac. He never slowed down for this just plowed his way through with the wheels shuddering as they pushed the sand to one side or the other and the car slowed a little. Almost all the traffic using the road was camels, some with a rickety old cart in tow ,he zoomed past them covering them in dust and blasting on the cars horn at them. It was a long drive or seemed it was, the engineer said nothing and the agent was concentrating on his driving. Eventually we arrived at this town well I thought it was a town, just a load off mud brick single story houses all painted white and reflecting the suns rays straight into your eyes, no greenery could be seen. We turned off at a side street into a nice new building and we skidded to a halt, this was the hospital. There was a man sweeping the dust around and he didn’t seem to happy when we pulled up spreading all his neat piles of dust everywhere.
In to the hospital the three of us went, the agent led us into a waiting room and told us to wait, at the same time he threw two manila folders on a small table in front of us. I picked up one of the folders and started to read ,it was the engineer’s file and it was no wonder he was not talkative for he had a dose and a good one to. Despite having treatment on board ship it had not done any thing to cure it. Of course I remarked on it and he went white as a ghost, please don’t tell anyone as it could prove very embarrassing for me if word got around, I agreed not to say anything and he seemed more relaxed.
Then in came this Venus in a white tight fitting uniform and a lovely well tanned bronzy that showed off her blonde hair and her long shapely legs that seemed to go on forever, I was in love the instant she breezed into the room. "Come with me please" and we both walked behind her like some sad forlorn puppies, I think see knew our thoughts as she wiggled her well formed figure a little more and that tight uniform enhanced it, Hooooo I was defiantly in love! She took us to the treatment room and there she opened up the files reading them both at length. Then calling me by my Christian name with that French accent she told me to sit down on this chair. Then cradling the left side my head between her ample firm breasts she leaned over the top of my head to remove the stitches in the other ear. "I’m not hurting you" , “nooooooooo” I replied. At that stage she could have ripped my head off and I would have felt nothing. With a breast within easy kissing distance and not being able to was a real turn on and she knew it too. Things were bringing to stir in the nether regions and I was afraid of ripping the stitching that held my zip on my jeans. I was in heaven. All to soon it was over and she told me to go over there and sit down, to sit, just proved to difficult for me at that moment time so I said ill stand and she gave me that knowing look in her twinkling blue eyes. She knew exactly what she had done.
Next came the engineer and she made a great showing of the kidney dish that held this enormous syringe with an even bigger needle attached to it, clanking and banging it as she placed it on the table. “Over here please,” “drop your pants and bend over that bed,” ho she was enjoying every minute of it. With the engineer bent over the bed she placed the syringe between her index and middle finger, making sure that the engineer could see what was about to happen, then she gave me a wink and slapped the backside of the engineer very hard so that he gave out a yelp of pain. Removing her hand to show the needle embedded up to the hilt in his ar--, oooooooo painful. Thank god it was not I! Taking hold of the syringe she pulled it backwards a little and then pushed the plunger in every quickly. With that he nearly collapsed on the floor and let out an ARRRRRRRRR. Ok pants up and go and wait in the waiting room for your lift back to your ship, telling the engineer not to be a naughty boy again. She just gave me a big beaming smile I was still in raptures. The trip back was just as fast as coming only this time the engineer was trying not to put his punctured backside on the car seat with a bumpy and an undulating road at speed, is not that easy and you knew full well when the two did met. as he let out a little groan. Much to the relief of the engineer we arrived back at the ship, the agent giving us the two manila folders back and closing the doors, he speed off into his own cloud off dust he’d just created. We both stood there trying to breath as the cloud enveloped us both, “bloody froggie drivers”. Loading was already well under way, and the way the ore was being tipped into our holds we should be loaded by this time tomorrow, which was none to soon for me. For besides the sand, dust and dry arid heat and those dammed flies which seemed immune to it all. We did have a completion as to who could swat the most flies that soon wore off as a bad job, even with fly spray, the more you killed the more seemed to take their places and they didn’t even sleep at night. Our cabin was sealed up tight to prevent the bloody things getting in, that proved to be like sleeping in an oven and still the little %$#$#@ got in, in the end we just pulled our sheets over our heads and tried to sleep as best we could.
By late afternoon we were ready to sail, hatches were closed and dogged down, mooring lines let go and we were of leaving this god forsaken fly ridden port behind, the frogs can keep it.



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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#15  PostPosted: 20 Apr 2011 23:05 
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Another excellent chapter Geoff, I could almost feel that queen nuzzling me with her taut frontage as she gently riffled her sensuous fingers through my hair...................I'll have to go now,somethings just come up !
BrianD



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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#16  PostPosted: 24 Apr 2011 09:21 
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The homeward leg,
We were on the homeward leg of this trip; our orders were for discharge at Cardiff, our homeport.
Watches were changed again and I was now on the 4 to 8 watch with the mate, my favorite watch. I loved to watch the rising sun at the start of the day and then to watch it set at the end of the day. Can anybody remember the green flash? As the setting sun dipped behind the horizon? It was my task to steer the ship out of that last port, the flies started to disappear as soon as we left port. Soon the Iron mike was set and I was able to go aft to have my evening meal before returning to finish off the watch as look out. Working with the mate was a cushy job and often at night he would make a cup of coffee and bring me out one as well. And if I was really lucky, maybe a tabnab or two.
The routine was the same wash down ship; clear the decks of spilt ore and then general ship maintenance. The ships engine was still playing up and virtually every two days we would breakdown sometimes for an hour or two, sometimes longer.
Routine maintenance on an ore boat mainly concentrated on sugi-ing, chipping, scraping and painting. A few of the lads were put to work painting the funnel using the bos’ons chairs the rest of us chipping and painting the fiddly top around the funnel area. Our funnel was a real ornate affair, black with a broad red band edged by two narrow white bands, then a white St Andrews cross over the top of this, a red shield bordered in white and finally topped off with a red rose, Denny was one of those selected to paint the funnel, rigging up the chairs we pulled them up so that they could start painting. Not long after they had started, we heard a thump on the deck and somebody said Denny had fallen, everybody rushed to where he was. He was sitting on the deck, still in the chair, moaning and complaining that his backside hurt, His gantline had parted and he’d hit the deck still in the sitting position and had landed on his tail bone. Denny said he was ok though you could see he was in a lot of pain. Denny was very well liked and respected by us all and from then on we tried to give him easy jobs without him becoming suspect that we were protecting him. He was a very proud man; whilst he could do anything to help us, but he would refuse help himself. The gantline was checked as to why it had parted and was found to be rotten in some places on the inside where it had been coiled up, the other lines were checked and they were in the same condition they looked good on the outside but areas in the heart were rotten. This was put down to water dripping on then from inside the funnel where they had been stored, they were all thrown over the wall and new ones made up. Denny continued to have problems with his lower back and tail bones for the rest of the trip.
On the 21st of October 1966 news was filtering through via the radios, of the Aberfan Disaster Being that most of the deck and engine room crew were from South Wales, some even knew people in Aberfan. All news was eagerly sort and there was a continous stream of people going back and fore to the radio room asking for the latest news .The whole ship was in mourning for the sad loss of all those children, their teachers and families who were killed that day.
Some remember the date of the first moon landing or the day the US president Kennedy was shot.
I always remember the 21st Oct 66. When 144 people were killed, 116 of then children aged between 7 and 10 years old
If you would like more information
, Please go to this site for a brief run down of events. And the failures of those in power, Notably. Lord Robens, Chairman of the National Coal Board (NCB)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aberfan_disaster

The next day before sunrise I asked the mate if we could fly the flag at half-mast as most of the crew were Welsh and they would appreciate it. He readily agreed and found a new Welsh flag in the locker for me to hoist. I went up to the monkey island and clipped on the flag, hoisting the flag to the truck I waited for the sun to raise over the horizon and then gave a tug of the lanyard to break out the flag. Then slowly brought the flag to the half-mast position. It was a very moving experience for me and the lads did appreciate the gesture. During the day we came up on an old steamer she was only making about 7 or 8 knots, we were doing our 13 knots; we could see she was Greek from her tattered ensign flutting aft. As we drew along side her, this was lowered and on her fore mast a new flag was run up and broken out. It was the welsh dragon. By this time it seemed that everybody was watching what she was doing, she then dipped this ensign to the half-mast position and left it there, then gave along blast on her horn. Looking around I don’t think that there was a dry eye anywhere. Both ships sparkies were talking to each other and they gave their condolences to us, it appeared that two of the ships officers had welsh family connections and to this day it still amazes me of the friendship of seamen no matter which nationality, creed or colour, can offer services when needed and without cost or can just offer you a helping hand and a friendly word.
The mood of the crew changed, gone was the happy go lucky attitude. It became more sober and depressed as if a heavy cloud had descended upon us, Men just wanted to get home and offer what help was required, we all felt so helpless. They were our children and countrymen, children and adults who needed help and we were stuck out in the middle of nowhere, not able to do anything to help.
The engine continued to have breakdowns, this was considered a personal affront to our quest to return home ASAP. When the engine fut- futted and stopped it was strange to see the reactions of the crew. Some took out their frustration by swearing at the ship, its engine and doing whatever they were doing more roughly .If they were chipping they would hit the steel harder and telling the ship she was only good for the scrap heap. Others talked to her in kind words as if trying to encourage her along, Offering to give her treats like a bit of extra paint here and there or offering to kick the engineers for not listening to her needs. Then when she burst back in to life and you could hear her fut- fut –fut., as if her heart was beating, a cheer would go up and every one would be encouraging her onwards. I swear if she could have used Will Power as a fuel, she would have done 30 knots easy and never missed a beat.
We entered the Bristol Channel passing Lundy on the portside, running against the tide. Then fut- fut –fu- f, she died again and we drifted backwards again and with too much water under her keel to anchor. This time it was only about an hours stop, then we were on our way again. The tide had changed and we were now running with it, speculation was running wild. If everything went well we could still make it through the locks at Cardiff docks, on tonight’s tide. If we didn’t we would have to wait till tomorrows tides as we drew parallel to the Breaksea lightship. It happened again fut-fu- f. she had broken down again, and with only a few miles to go, Cardiff was just around the corner, and we could still make it. If those engineers pulled their fingers out!
We were still drifting in with the incoming tide. Then came the call for us to anchor, we were not going anywhere this night, it being to dangerous for us to go drifting up the channel at night with no engine. The mood became very depressive; there we were. So near yet so far. The lights of Barry island pleasure park were all aglow with its gaudy flashing coloured lights and every now and again we could hear the music of the fair ground as it drifted across to us .We could see the flashing light of the Flat Holm lighthouse ahead of us and the marker buoys with their flashing red or green lights marking the channel to Cardiff.
That was the longest night of channels I ever suffered. Others I think suffered even longer than I, There was a greaser who lived in Merthyr Tydfil, which is only a few miles up the valley from Aberfan and he had family and friends there. He’d recieved no news of them and was desperate to get home. At around 4am, the pilot boat came alongside; they had come out of Barry outer dock, which was the Cardiff pilot’s station. The lad from Merthyr tried to get a lift back with them, but they politely refused him. Instead they gave him the early morning newspapers. As it was my watch I was on the wheel, the anchor was raised and we were on our way again. Arriving a few hrs later at Cardiff docks. Tugs were secured one aft, one fore and, It seems strange on looking back that one ship could fit into that tiny space of a lock as well as fitting in our two tugs. The gates were closed behind us as the water level was adjusted with the dock level. At that time two older customs men came onboard along with one of the shipping agents. It was then that the old man told them of the problems he’d had with Loner, Next thing one of them went out onto the wing of the bridge and blew a few loud trills on his whistle. We were then through the lock and heading to our berth at the Roath dock. As we came to our berth a customs and exercise van was already parked up waiting for us. The gangway was lowered and approx eight extra scroungers came onboard. The crew was then ordered to lift the gangway again, nobody was allowed to come on board or leave the ship. The scroungers went to work searching in every conceivable nook and cranny soon there was contraband everywhere, mostly fags and booze. We all had our little stashes of smokes etc; I lost 400 smokes and some tobacco for my old man. After about 3hours of searching those guys walked off the ship with pillowcases, (which they had borrowed from the steward) Full of smokes etc. Some one told us afterwards that they found 30,000 smokes, and countless bottles, but no hard stuff. Either loner had been crafty and got rid off it in Germany or they didn’t find it. The only one that we knew of getting away with it was Mad Alfie, he was in his cabin wrapping up five cartons of smokes in newspaper, when the scrounger came in Alfie was laughing and giggling like some Cheshire cat, “do you was to look in here” looking at the scrounger with his wild eyes. “No its ok” then left quickly. (So who was mad? I ask you, Mad Alfie was the only one to get his smokes off that ship.)
The crew was enraged, not only did they loose their contraband gear we were delayed by about 6 hours. All because of a dope head who couldn’t get his own way.
Everybody was looking for Loner but he couldn’t be found, he wasn’t even present at pay off. Eventually the crew left the ship all heading for our homes etc.
The next day some of us met up again and offered our services to Aberfan and was politely refused, as they had to many volunteers already. So we did the next best thing we could think of and all made a donation to the relief fund. I just hope that, that ex union official who was now chairman of the National Coal board. Never got his hands on my 10 pounds donation.
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
A few days later, whilst drinking in one of the dock pubs that I was told what had happened to Loner. Loner was put under protective custardy by the customs men and went ashore with them when they left the ship. As the crew could not get revenge out of him, so they took it out of his gear, that was left shredded in his cabin. He was later found beaten to a pulp on the dock roadside without a penny on him.
So did somebody find him? Or was he just rolled over? whichever way it was.
Good riddance to him.




PS.
Many years later, I was walking through central Cardiff on one of the main streets There was Mad Alfie up ahead of me, looking at a shoe display rack outside one of the big shoe shops. He was still laughing and giggling to himself, like I remember him all those years before.
Then he was up and away with a two shoes off the rack in his hands. Laughing his head off all the way down the street.
But I wonder how long it took him to realize that he had nicked two left footed shoes.
As they never put pairs of shoes on display for that very reason.
HA HA HA


I hope you all enjoyed that one lads, it must be someone else's turn now, as my little pinkies are worn to the bone. :drunk: :lmao:



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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#17  PostPosted: 24 Apr 2011 17:00 
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Great story Geoff,I am awaiting your tales from your next ship. :clap: :clap:



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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#18  PostPosted: 25 Apr 2011 19:13 
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That was excellent Geoff,don't give up now ,we want to hear more of your tales,
BrianD



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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#19  PostPosted: 25 Apr 2011 22:17 
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What more can be said about your exploits on the Iron WhOre as I could relate to what happened to you and really enjoyed reading it. Took me back to sitting on number five mate.



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 Post subject: Re: The Iron (WH)ORE
Post Number:#20  PostPosted: 28 Apr 2011 01:49 
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Thanks Les.
Im trying to remember the other trips but one seems to blend into another. :thumbsupp:



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