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 Post subject: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#1  PostPosted: 10 Mar 2011 08:18 
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Rochester castle
Found my old steering certificate off the Rochester Castle. I sailed on her from 1st June 67 to 3rd Aug 67, joined her in Cardiff sailed to Liverpool to unload the rest of her cargo of fruit. Then down to Port Elizabeth for another load, we spent 1 week alongside before being sent out to anchor for another 2 weeks whilst we awaited our cargo to arrive from the orchards then another week loading for the continent
Ive read much about the Rochester in her heyday being one of the ships to successfully arrive in Malta in the pedestal convoy. But that was 20 odd years ago and a lot of water had gone under her keel since them. She was a rust bucket in 1967, time had not been good to her, and rust was everywhere, big clumps of it. When we lowered the sticks over the drum end in Liverpool, we where showered in large lumps of rust from all over the masts everybody was ducking and diving for cover.
She was all hand steering with a magnetic compass, no flash gear on this tub. The wheel was so loose that you could rock it fore and aft by about 6 inches each way and imagine you were pulling a pint at your local back home. Whenever there was moisture in the air from spray or rain it meant you had to take your wet weather gear with you when it was your turn on the wheel. For no matter where you stood you would be dripped on, talk about Chinese water torture it made concentrating on your coarse very difficult to say the least. The reason for this was that the deck head was badly rusted and the caulking on the wooden monkey island decking was virtually nonexistent, the mates usually used an old umbrella to keep themselves dry. The once pride of the fleet was no more and I remember reading somewhere that she was classed as a naughty boys posting, (i.e. those officers who where out of favor with the company). The old man was an ex staff commander and was always well turned out with no part of his uniform out of place, when it was wet he wore his peaked cap in a plastic bag seemed strange to see a man with a plastic bag for a hat. He seemed out of place on our rusty old hulk, he never seemed to do anything except make beautiful hand written reports/orders in fancy copper plate writing. The mate ran the ship as far as we could make out and with the second and third mates forming the dynamic trio. They were all mad as hatters with the antic’s they got up to. One of their favorite games was playing cowboys and Indians, they would go running around the bridge using staple guns as their 6 shooters. This might not sound to outrageous except if you were the wheelman, one would run around and dodge behind you whilst the other two fired staples in your direction, talk about being piggy in the middle. This behavior never even stopped when the old man came on the bridge they just ignored him, one day they were having a mad session and the old man came on the bridge and went into the chart room oblivious to the mayhem, as if nothing was wrong he placed a few sheets of his copper plate orders on the chart table for the mates to see. As soon as he left the bridge the three of them descended on these reports and I could hear the three of them stapling it to the chart table dozens of staples were used it must have taken them hours to remove those staples from the chart table.
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steering ticket 2.jpg

I hope you enjoy this yarn, constructive criticums allowed th_lmao1-vi.gif :club:


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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#2  PostPosted: 10 Mar 2011 08:33 
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This is a pic of the Rochester Castle. For 10 points can anybody tell me which port she is going in to. :scratchhead: ?????? A few of you must have gone there, Brian for one and Terry


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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#3  PostPosted: 10 Mar 2011 22:38 
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Bet you have fond memories of that ship Geoff like many others we have all signed on a rust bucket at least once and in many cases many times. The thing about them is they always seemed to unite the crew so much and would give our eye teeth to have one more trip on them



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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#4  PostPosted: 11 Mar 2011 08:36 
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Hi Geoff,
I don't know how I missed this yarn,it reads very well and reminds me of some of those "chattie but happy" old tubs that I was on. I bet you've got plenty more tales to spin and I look forward to reading them,
BrianD



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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#5  PostPosted: 11 Mar 2011 13:51 
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Thanks for the votes of condifance lads, :thumbsupp:
I dont know if i have fond memories of her Les , she nearly had me paying the ultimate price.
I'll write a bit more and you will see what i mean. :thumbsupp:



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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#6  PostPosted: 12 Mar 2011 00:24 
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Continuation. Near miss (one)
As I said previously when lowering the sticks in Liverpool we were showered in rust partials from both fore and main masts. It was like confetti being thrown at a wedding only this had some big lumps of rust for good measure. When outward bound and heading for the cape, we were ordered to paint both masts, no chipping or red lead just a coat of white paint. We started on the main mast first; a bo’sons chair was rove through the topmast and stages rigged under the crosstrees. All was going well until the man who was selected to do the topmast was hauled up to the truck using the drum end of the winch. On reaching the truck, he let out a panicked yell! Something like %$#$#@ get me @#$#@# down now, the winch man reversed the electric winch and down he came still muttering and cursing, the air around him was turning blue. It was lucky for him that the winch man had reversed the winch rather than let the gantline slide over the drum end, which was normal practice to lower a man in a chair. The crew gathered around him to see what all the fuss was about, it must have been his lucky day for he told us that when he reached the truck he saw that that the block sheave was wobbling about and the shackle holding the block to the mast eye was rotten, being about 2/3rds rusted away. A new block, shackle and gantline was prepared, volunteers were asked to go back aloft to rig this new set up using another gantline rigged to one of the other truck eyes. Everybody seemed to take one step backwards at the same time, leaving one of the older AB’s standing on his own. Ah! A volunteer but it was only because he was slightly deaf that he didn’t hear the the bo’son had said. He might have been old but he was a cunning old bugger, it was going to cost the bo’son a good tot of rum and an easy job afterwards. He climbed up to the crosstrees and there he got into the chair, he bowsed himself into the mast so that if something gave he was tied onto the mast and not dependant on any of the rigging, up he went to the stays where he quickly passed his line above the stays and bowsed himself in again, he soon had the job done and was back on the deck in no time, everybody was amazed at how simple he made the job look. The block and shackle was examined and sure enough it was rotten, somebody had installed a wooden block and the sheave pin was dam near gone also the shackle was in the same state. That man who first went up the mast was so lucky that the winch man reversed that winch, instead of dropping him over the drum end.
A near miss (two.)
That bit of excitement over we all got down to do our nominated jobs, mine was painting the underside of the crosstrees from a stage, which we had rigged earlier on.
Everything ready I held my paint pot and brush in one hand and holding onto the steel coaming with the other I slid over the side, feet firmly planted on the stage I reached to hang the paint pot. Then I was balancing on the stage, paint pot in one hand the other holding nothing more than a big lump of rust that had once been the coaming. My mate saw what had happened and grabbed my by my shirt front, pulling me back to safty. I was off that stage and down the mast in no time, telling the bo’son to shove his job where the sun don’t shine and there was no way I was going to do any rope work on this wreck that was called a ship. The bo’son was not a happy chappie he took me to the mate for logging for refusing to work aloft. The mate gave me a bollocking and I told him that if I was logged I would be going to the union to get it quashed and also report it to the BOT as an unsafe ship. Fair enough he said you don’t have to work aloft I’m sure the boson has some deck work for you to do and Ill give you a warning this time. He did giving me the job of chipping the deck heads in the freezer access ways, (I think they were called ulage spaces). Well that job didn’t last to long as the first hit with a hammer and the whole deck head came down around my ears. Giving me a gash on the back of my head. Next stop was the steward’s cabin for a clean up and a plaster. The mate walked past asking what had happened so it told him.” Ho ok I guess we’d better keep you away for rust” and he was good for his word I never saw a chipping hammer for the rest of the trip
Near miss (three .coming up in the next instalment)



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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#7  PostPosted: 12 Mar 2011 19:29 
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O.M.W ! how did you survive that?????



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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#8  PostPosted: 12 Mar 2011 23:32 
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Not every easly Tom I had to change my kecks for a start th_lmao1-vi.gif

Smack on target.
As I said previously, we spent a week along side in Port Elisabeth whilst we awaited our cargo of cape citrus fruit. This time was spent painting the hull her distinctive Union castle lavender color.
One party was shore side and an AB and myself were in one of our decked out lifeboats. We had posted notices in all of the heads, saying ‘ Do Not use’ and placed wastewater defectors over most of the waste pipes, but we made a fatal mistake we forgot the old mans toilet. So there we were enjoying ourselves in the sunshine when the peace was broken by a gurgling sound we looked at each other, then to late, we got covered in sh8. Obenities came flowing out as we called the discharger all the names we could think of. Then a face appeared over the bulwarks it was our illustrious old man! Sorry lads I didn’t see any notice you had better go aft and get yourselves cleaned up and wash that boat down. We pull our selves aft to the jacobs ladder that we had rigged, by this time some of the lads can to see what all the shouting was about. We bore the brunt of their remarks like hey! Sh8 head, sh8 face etc, having secured the lifeboat I decided to dive over the side and wash the crap off by having a swim in the harbour. Then those on deck started shouting Shark! Shark. I didn’t stop to take a look behind me I just swam as fast as I could; I was over the side of the boat and up the ladder in no time. Safely on deck the lads were in hysterics there was no Shark but they did reckon there were scorch marks over the boat and up the hull when I made my hasty retreat out of the water.



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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#9  PostPosted: 12 Mar 2011 23:42 
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I see no takers on the photo of the Rochester Castle going into a british port.
Its Cardiff with penarth heads in the background.
Bit of info
ROCHESTER CASTLE was built in 1937 by Harland & Wolff at Belfast with a tonnage of 7795grt, a length of 474ft 2in, a beam of 63ft 4in and a service speed of 15 knots although she attained 19 knots during trials. Delivered on 29th April 1937 she was the first of a class of four ships, which were slightly larger than the earlier 'R' class. She made her maiden voyage to Port Natal on 12th May and was subsequently deployed on the South Africa - UK refrigerated fruit run.
That made her 30 years old when i was on her and she was'nt scaped until 1970.



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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#10  PostPosted: 13 Mar 2011 10:17 
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at least it lasted loger than Titanic



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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#11  PostPosted: 14 Mar 2011 09:14 
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After our first week alongside we were sent out to anchor in the bay about 2 miles out, to far for a liberty boat to take us ashore. There we continued to paint ship and hide all the rust stains, same thing applied no chipping just clean off the rough stuff, apply red lead, undercoat, then top coat. We started on the bridge .The mate gave explicit instructions that if we were to find any chart paper we were to leave it alone and just apply the paint. It wasn’t long before somebody found some chart paper under unknown layers of paint and curiosity got the better of him. In he went with a long handled scrapper, there underneath all those layers of paint were bullet holes about the size of an old 2 bob coin, rows of them. The more we looked the more we saw, there were strips of chart paper everywhere the whole center castle was like a colander the whole ship seemed as if it was held together with chart paper and paint. That also answered the question of why the mate had a bucket in his cabin when it was raining. Water dripped through the monkey island deck onto the wheelman, then through to the old mans cabin, through to the mates cabin and he collected it in this bucket. I well remember that bucket as I tripped over it when giving the mate a 7 bells call when I was on the 12 – 4 watch.
When the mate saw what had been exposed he was none to happy and that we had to cover up the holes with new chart paper and build up the paint layers until it matched the level of the surrounding areas. The mate was a good man and he then told us how she came to be riddled with bullet holes. During operation pedestal she was strafed quite a few times and had a torpedo in number 3 hold, but because she was a fridge boat she was airtight which made her watertight as well.
Whilst at anchor somebody had the bright idea of having a complete abandon ship this was down graded to two of the four boats being launched and catering staff preparing meals were excluded for the exercise. My boat station was number three boat, the one we had used to paint the hull when in port. Despite reporting that the lower boat fall block was wiggling about in its sheaves we were told it was ok and a new block had been ordered and would be rigged when we next went alongside. I didn’t mind so much it was just only my job to unship the block as part of the two-man boat crew. The boats were lowered without incident as there was only a very slight swell running and on wind except for a gentle breeze with the boat pulled forwards to where the pilots ladder had been rigged over the side and the rest of the crew climbed in. The second mate asked how the block was and I reported that it was still very loose and wiggled around. (The only way I can describe wiggled is if you put both palms together and rub one against the other). He was satisfied and we let go under oars. It took us a while to settle ourselves down and get the hang of rowing again I hadn’t done it for over two years and some hadn’t done it in donkeys years. We waited about 200 yards off the ship for the motor lifeboat to join us. They were having problems of their own as the engine would start up and they would motor a few yards before it would splutter and die, after a few splutters and stops it joined up with us. Then some silly Pratt said lets have a race! You under motor and us under sail.

Now ill ask you all a question, how many of you have actually sailed a lifeboat??????? OK those that answered Yes, remember your answer.

The motorboat was off and we silly buggers were trying to remember the theory of sailing, after a lot of cursing and knocking each other about with masts and yards etc we had the sail rigged and then we were off sailing before the wind. We soon overhauled the motorboat as its engine had stopped yet again amid a load of obscene remarks and gesturers were given to them as we passed them. We were well ahead, with the motorboat plodding along behind us. This was great fun, then somebody posed the question where’s the #$#%$ ship! HO #$#%$!! We were having such a good time nobody realized that we had sailed down wind and had traveled about 5 miles from her she was now a speck on the horizon.

Now for the 2nd question how many of you that answered yes. Have actually tacked against the
Wind in a lifeboat.

Everyone was throwing suggestions as how to come about and tack into the wind, Racking their brains trying to remember when they were taught in the Vindy Etc. after a while we managed to turn around and go on a tack, but we seemed to get no nearer to our ship. I think we all had visions of us sailing into the sunset never to be seen again. In the end we gratefully accepted a tow form the motorboat. Eventually we arrived back at the ship, our tow was cast off and under oars we managed to get our painter and pulled up to the ladder. Now the fun really started. When we left there was no swell and a slight breeze. When we got back there was a strong wind and a 3 to 4 metre swell was running, great just what we needed to unload the boat. One by one they got off by standing on the bow waiting for it to lift on a crest of a swell and jump for the ladder. Only a greaser had problems, he jumped to early as we were still rising and the stem caught him up the jacksie
Lifting him up by at least 4 rungs he did walk funny for a few days so it must have hurt.
Now empty we drifted back to the falls this is going to be fun I thought to myself. We waited for the right moment and hooked on the falls as a swell went underneath us, we were hooded on great then the swell disappeared from under the stern and my block couldn’t take that the strain, next thing I remember I was hanging on as my block disintegrated and I was getting slammed about as the stern went over every crest. The hoisting crew worked hard and lowered a winch runner wire down to me to hook on. Eventually we got to deck level and had to be helped out of the boat as I was black and blue from all that bashing about I was sore for days afterwards. Later on one of the lads came up to me and said how much of a lucky lad I was, err come and have a look at this we walked over to the wall and looked over, “ can you see him” I sure could a bloody great hammerhead shark. 'Well he was hanging around the boat waiting for you to fall out', %$#$#$ hell. That’s why we told you to hang on and got you up as quick as we could.
It’s nice to have good mates around you and it’s the one thing I missed being shore side
This is the offending lifeboat, taken when we were painting the hull.
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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#12  PostPosted: 15 Mar 2011 05:44 
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Revenge is sweet.
Each night when we were at anchor most of us would go fishing off the stern, but when ever a fish was caught the sharks would get it before it could be hauled aboard, we’d end up with the head and the sharks would get the best bits. One of the lads decided to get his revenge; he made up a shark line. Made up of a meat hook, which one of the greasers honed to a sharp point and closed up the other end to form an eye. A length of wire that was bent on to this hook and finished off with a brand new heaving line that he just found lying about in the bo’son’s stores. Using whatever bait could be found the line was placed in the sea, it didn’t take long and he was hooked on bringing in a 5ft shark, then another and another soon there were sharks all over the deck. Nothing large, all around the 3to 6 ft mark, most were bashed to death and a few had empty beer cans tied to their tails and thrown back. These would dive down only to come bobbing back to the surface where the other sharks would go into a feeding frenzy ripping them apart, it made me think how lucky I was not being tipped out of that lifeboat, it sent shivers down my spine.
The next night was going to be our last before going into Port Elizabeth so it was all on. After catching a few of the small ones he hooked a big one and four men were having trouble bringing it in. By this time the word had got around that a big one had been caught and most of the officers were spectators. Somebody shouted use the winch but that was not going to work as the shark might have spat the hook or even worse broke the new heaving line that the bo.son had noticed had gone missing out of his stores. Our derricks were still topped and it was decided to use one of them, a derrick was quickly swung over the side with two men on the winches the shark was hauled aboard. It was massive about 15 ft long a hammerhead and it was none to happy. 15ft of very nasty, angry and pi**d off eating machine of a shark, nobody wanted to go near it, it was snapping, wriggling and rolling all over the deck. Some tried to get close enough to whack it with a piece of dunnage but it seemed to know they were there and turned around to face them. After a while someone came with a fire axe and managed to bury the pointed end in its head. This didn’t work either there was this monster even more pi**d off wriggling around with the axe in his head. Retreat seemed to be the best answer, surely it can’t live for to long out of water and an axe buried in its head. Wrong! A while later, and it hadn’t moved it was thought save to advance on it again somebody decided to give it a poke with a deck scrubbing brush. Snap and shaking its head it chomped through the head of the brush @#@#$. Most of us decided to call it a night and went off to our bunks.
We all got an early morning shout from the bo’son, the old man was moaning about the mess on the deck and he wanted it cleared and cleaned up. As we’d made the mess in our own time he thought it only fitting that we should clean up in our time. (There’s nothing like the thinking of a company’s man). Mind you there was a mess, during the night the sharks jaws had been removed and large parts of the skin had also been flensed off. There was blood, snot and gristle everywhere, the sharks carcass was heaved over the wall and we watched as another feeding frenzy started (don’t these sharks ever sleep) the heaving line and hook was all chomped up so that went the same was as the shark. A good wash down and we were just in time for our breakfast, before our official turn to at 8am. During breakfast it was noted that the bo’son seemed to be making mental notes of what went over the side.
Later that day we upped anchor and went along side and prepared the ship for loading the next morning. Subs were being issued in the old mans cabin, just before tea time we all trooped amidships to the old mans cabin, there sitting at his desk in all his splendor he looked like some third world admiral, with all that gold braid and in his pure white uniform, standing along side was the mate.
On the desk was a sheet of paper and in his best copper handwriting was a list of items. The top of the list was headed.
Miss use of company stores.
It listed
Heaving line (1)
Meat hook (1)
Wire (1 yard)
And a deck brush, plus other things that we couldn’t see, I wouldn’t mind betting that he even charged us for the electric for using the winches
He deducted 1 Rand from each of our subs to pay for the misappropriated stores. Someone piped up that that was unfair, we should get a deduction for supplying the company with sharkskin sand paper that the chippy had remove from our shark, that just got us a look off thunder from the old man and the mate said don’t push it lads with a beaming smile on his face.
Out side the mate still smiling told us that he was going to charge you also for two burnt out drills that one of you used drilling holes in those sharks teeth.
And don’t worry ill make it up to you all.

Next thrilling installment.
Never trust a deck boy who spent his time on a tug in the Manchester ship canal



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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#13  PostPosted: 16 Mar 2011 05:49 
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Thank you Geoff for telling it as it was unlike another site that I know of where the story's go way over the top to be sheer fiction but then again you can rely on deck crew to tell it as it is. I bet there are many that can recall similar incidents like this and hope that they leave this one alone for those of us that are really enjoying your exploits mate.



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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#14  PostPosted: 16 Mar 2011 09:21 
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good'n geoff



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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#15  PostPosted: 16 Mar 2011 18:34 
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Thanks lads , I try to tell it as i remember it.

Why not have a go yourselves, you'll be suprised on what you remember

Just a thought did any of you actually sail a life boat???????????????????????????

Those guys during hostilities that were sunk and had to sail their boats, sometimes 100s of miles to reach safty. Im full of admiration for them from my experience they were never ment to sail.



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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#16  PostPosted: 16 Mar 2011 19:11 
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Great stuff Geoff. In answer to your question, I did once briefly sail a lifeboat. It was back in 1960, in Sydney on the Orcades, when I was taking my lifeboat ticket. Did alright for a while and even managed a couple of tacks, but made a complete nonsense of coming alongside the gangway , "kerrrunch", just as well it was one of the steel boats. :oh:



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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#17  PostPosted: 17 Mar 2011 00:55 
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Next installment.
Never trust a deck boy who spent his time on a tug in the Manchester ship canal

On the way in after our two-week anchorage, one of the tugs, that were using our towing spring, snapped it.
Did you ever notice how many times when using the ships towing hawsers/springs the tugs would snap them? Yet when they were using their own this never seemed to happen.
Two of the Ab’s plus a deck boy were given the task of splicing the wire back together again. They used a short splice and when they had finished the splice, it looked horrible, it reminded me of those weaverbird nests that you saw hanging down from the trees, when you were ashore on the cape. Everybody who saw it remarked on how bulky and ugly it looked. Then the deck boy who said he had worked on the tugs on the Manchester ship canal piped up. “When I was on the tugs we would pull and tighten up this sort of splice with the winch, it never failed!!!” (One of the Famous last word scenarios).
The closest winch for them to use was the warping or mooring winch, which from memory was a 10-ton winch and the only straight lead from this was to the number 5 cargo winch, and the wires eye was passed over its drum end. They started up the warping winch and leaving it running the two AB’s manhandled about 4 turns onto its drum and then heaved on the wire. The wire bit into the drum and started to haul. The splice started to tighten up then came an almighty bang and as there was nobody at the controls of the winch they struggled to get some slack to release the pressure of the pull. But it was all in vain, the damage was done. (See the attached photo with the deck boy who shall remain nameless). The rest of the crew who were working nearby, all put some distance in between the offenders and themselves but trying to stay within earshot. First to come and see what had happened was the bo’son, he did a war dance, then came the mate “how the %$#$#@ hell do I explain this to the old man”. Then came the old man, face like he’d been slapped to many times with a wet plimsol (dap) and arms flailing around like a windmill in a gale.
What the $%$#$ been going on here, those three men get to my cabin NOW and wait outside. He looked around to see if there was anybody else he could keel haul. Isnt it amazing how people can blend into the background on occasions like this, you know there, there but just cant see them.
I can’t now remember what happened to the two AB’s and the deck boy, but I do remember we could hear the old man bellowing from number four hatch. I also remember the excuse the deck boy gave.
” When on the tugs, we never used a winch drum, we always used a pair of towing bitts to pull on”.
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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#18  PostPosted: 17 Mar 2011 14:18 
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Hi Geoff,
I've just finished reading your story's and they are really great. I hope you are going to write many more because I have enjoyed everything so far. What you ended that last chapter with is so true,most ex-seamen have a tale to tell but shyness, or poor grammar may be putting them off.
Well we are not looking for another Shakespeare,just someone who can string a few words together.
Keep up the good work Geoff!,
BrianD



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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#19  PostPosted: 17 Mar 2011 19:50 
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Thank you Brian
Your words mean a lot to me coming from one so talanted as yourself. This story is coming to an end, but another one is in the pipeline. The one i told you of that i lost when my puta crashed.
Thanks again lads :thumbsupp: :thumbsupp:
Geoff.
PS. will catch up with you all later on. off the see my son and g-daughter this morning



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 Post subject: Re: The Rochester castle
Post Number:#20  PostPosted: 18 Mar 2011 06:51 
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The final leg.
Having a fully loaded ship of Cape citrus fruit we were all battened down and ready for sea. Orders were for the continent via Las Palmas for bunkers then onto the English Channel for more orders. We left Port Elizabeth and had an uneventful run up to the channel. We spent about 4 hrs in Las Palmas with no shore leave whilst we bunkered up. On reaching the channel our orders were received, Southend for signing off and to be reduced to skeleton crew to await new orders. That suited me, id had enough of Union Castle, having sailed on three of their ships and doing 4 trips. All three ships were built before the war, The Roslin Castle 1935, Capetown Castle 1938 and this rust bucket in 1937. I was looking for newer ships in future with different ports of call.
Everybody had the channels on the run up and our last night saw a crew member standing on the foc’sle head dressed in his shore gear and bags packed, shouting at the bridge to get a move on he wanted off this ship and no it was not me, though I could well understand his thoughts and gestures. He stayed till well after dark keeping the lookouts company.
Pay off day arrived and the whole crew were happy I think I even saw the old man smiling. We were in the channel, everybody awaiting a shore side boat approaching bringing those lovely men with our pay offs. During breakfast the mess was a buzz with all sorts of questions. Had anybody ever paid off in southend, will they take us inshore or drop us off at the end of the pier. How long is the pier, do we have to walk the full length of the pier or is there transport. Somebody said there was a little train that runs the length of the pier and we could get on that.
Pay off was completed by late morning, wages earned, minus subs, tax, NI,allotments and bond deducted, rail warrant to your port of signing on given out. Kit all packed up, duty free fags and docky bottle plus anything else not declared to the customs boys.
We were ready for the off, all aboard the skylark some one shouted and we all shuffled to board an antiquated tug that was taking us ashore. Straight to the end of the pier we all climb the still tide wet stairs slipping and sliding on the green seaweed as we carried or gear up to the pier deck. Next question where’s the train? There is no train it hasn’t run for years. So off this motley crew began to walk, I’m not sure how long that pier is except it’s a long $#@#@ way, some one said its the longest in the world and I have no reason to doubt them. Taxis were waiting at the end of the pier. We say our farewells as we all head to the train station and eventually our main station for home, a few of us were heading back to South Wales so we shared taxi’s to Paddington station. All aboard, and the guard blows his whistle and were all going home.
It was nice to be on our way home at last :drunk: By the time we reach Cardiff :lmao:



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