"I was on the William Wheelwright when she was in dry dock in Piraeus for 3 glorious weeks with a cracked rudder stem. Also on the Flamenco when she shed a propeller blade in the Atlantic. Also in the Cuzco when she was involved in 2 collisions - one in Antwerp and one off the Canary Isles. Also on the Sarmiento as Sr. Cadet when she lost steerage in a North Atlantic Force 10 at midnight when panic reigned. Great memories but all too short!
People I recall:-
Cadets Cliff Lowther, Peter Quayle, Josh Reynolds, Alan Bull, Pierre Le Tissier, Charlie Boer, Tom Pimbley. and 3rd Mate Lofty (Peter) Cliefe. Also fond memories of a very helpful passenger on the Cuzco named Jo----.
Left the sea after finishing my time and second mate's ticket at Liverpool Tech. but am now living in Melbourne Australia having emigrated 36 years ago and have been in IT for over thirty years."
I replied . . .
"Dear Tony, good to hear from you!
What a lot of "fun" you had with PSNC . . . and you probably even expected to be paid for all these wonderful experiences.
By the way, they didn't nickname you "Jonah" by any chance did they?
I will add your name to the List of former Officers on the web pages and perhaps, with your permission, repeat your summary above as a short humorous item on "A Cadet's Life with PSNC". Would that be OK?"
And Tony said . . .
"Barry, thanks for your reply to my rather garbled comments, all of which are true I hasten to add.
I have elaborated on some of the events for you and added one in case you go ahead with your "threat" to use them in your humorous article.
Just one thing, perhaps it would be kinder not to use the "helpful" passenger's surname in case the dear lady is still alive and by chance stumbles across any of this dialogue! My estimate is that she would be almost 80 by now. Frightening thought really!
Anyway, here is a summary:- Ex Conway. PSNC Cadet 1961 to 1964 Cuzco, Flamenco, Sarmiento, and William Wheelwright - Senior cadet on the last two.
Events as described:
William Wheelwright had a Lloyd's survey whilst in Piraeus - thus the hairline rudder shaft crack was discovered. Three weeks in dry-dock during which time there wasn't anything for us 4 cadets to do except lights and flags and enjoy life ashore. We ran out of money after 2 days. One cadet looked a little like George Harrison and busked on the beach to raise money. I read a book on palmistry and read palms. The other two did whatever they could to raise money, all in the pursuit of downing a few cool beers! Following this we visited a Blood Bank in Athens as one could sell blood. (Sounds practical eh, selling blood to buy beer!) This was unsuccessful and the four of us ended up at the Athens Hilton with enough money to share a small bottle of beer.
The Flamenco shed a prop blade when only 2 days away from Liverpool. We reduced speed to about 3 knots and 2 days lengthened to 10 or so escorted by a deep sea salvage tug. The whole ship flexed dramatically and to quote the "Old Man" . . . . "I nearly got bounced out of my bloody bath!"
Cuzco collisions were of interest: one being whilst anchored off Antwerp awaiting berthing. Again, about 3 weeks or so in dry dock. The other was a minor incident off the Canary Isles but the interest was that the number 1 hold contained about 100 tons of fullers earth, the foundation for many cosmetics I believe, and during the seawater pump out process in dock the dockside staff and sailors were coming out of the hatch with silky smooth baby bottom hands!
Sarmiento steerage. This happened mid Atlantic around midnight; force 10 been blowing for days. Steering mechanism broke and emergency steering on the poop deck was jammed. We were all at boat stations for an hour with the ship rolling beam on through 30 degrees. Very exciting! The poor young Purser was in a state of blind panic along with several others before emergency steering restored.
Flamenco again! A 12 ton sugar roller loaded in Jamaica broke loose in No 3 hatch. No apparent evidence except for a low rumbling sounding like distant thunder over a very calm sea. Roller was secured at sea and the Ford Cortinas and Land Rovers which were also the contents of the hatch were discharged as scrap compressed metal at Callao, 4 at a time in a rope sling! My role? I was the bod sitting on deck listening to the thunder thinking that this couldn't be so.
Flamenco again! Peter Quayle and I had an afternoon off at Antofagasta and decided to climb the foothills as far as we could. We were shot at and arrested by the military! Took lots of photos of the military camp children and mothers, the latter warmed to us and persuaded the soldiers to let us go back to the ship. Close one that!
Oh, and we had a small fishmeal fire on the Cuzco.
Ahhh . . memories! . . . and "No", I wasn't known as Jonah but now that you come to mention it Barry, perhaps it may have fitted! Anyway, life was certainly very exciting. The wages during my last couple of trips were £13 (pounds sterling) per month.
Not bad eh!
Anyway it was a real thrill to see the web site and photos of the old ships there.
All the very best, and thank you for your interest.