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Author Topic: the life of a modern sailor  (Read 3597 times)

sjoormen

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Shipmate60

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2013, 02:18:32 PM »

THat seems about right for SOME ships.
Bob
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Netleyned

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2013, 03:35:21 PM »

Even P&O are registering their ferries in Nassau now

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Bryan Young

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2013, 05:20:39 PM »

That's a really horrifying story.
During my early years at sea times could be tough. I served my cadetship with the "Ben Line".
One got used to the "owners" sticking to the "Board of Trade" scale of rations. Commonly known as "One Egg Per Day, Perhaps". Or the refusal to have Tomato Sauce on the table if HP Sauce was already there. Iced water was for senior Officers only.
The shortest working week for any Watchkeeper had to be 56 hours.....and still is. So look forward to an 80 hour week, folks.
And this was in one of the top UK outfits. But at least we got paid.
But that was a long time ago during the 1950s. But the hours haven't changed. It's still a 24 hour day and a ship doesn't stop at night.
No shipowner is renowned as a philanthropist to his employees. Always has been, and probably always will be. BY.
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Colin Bishop

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2013, 05:47:57 PM »

Most ferries have mixed nationality crews these days as of course do cruise ships. With regard to the latter there is a feeling that the crews also have a pretty poor deal, many of them being recruited from the Phillipines but in practice there often does seem to be a career structure of sorts and the crew members I have spoken to have seemed to be reasonably OK with their lot on the basis that the job is much better than anything they could get at home. Many of them appeared to be doing the job for just a few years until they had saved up enough to start their own business. What we see as low wages (plus tips) can buy them a lot back home as they are in a very different economy. Imagine living in Norway on UK wages! In fact on my recent trip abroad we felt quite poor in both Singapore and New Zealand, the GBP ain't what it once was.
 
The stories in the Telegraph article are indeed appalling but it is very difficult to take a perspective on these sort of things when you only have a UK background and all the benefits(!) of living in a first world country. With shipping being an international industry then obviously the lowest common denominator effect will tend to prevail but as Bryan quite rightly points out, this has always been the case.
 
Colin
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Jerry C

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2013, 05:53:03 PM »

Bryan, 56 hours a week, luxury! I dream of 56 hours a week. My minimum is 84 hours on watch plus the skipper's always on duty. This on an ickle tug in a big oggin. 75 days across the Pacific with a 24 hour field day in Honolulu and NO shore leave. No sick pay, pension, welfare or leave pay.
Jerry.

dave301bounty

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2013, 06:33:49 PM »

Yes Life at sea for me ,as many more in the 60s ,sign on ,a/b articles and away you went joined your ship usually in Liverpool ,but the reality set in after a week ,once on ,stop on ,and B O T meals ,a dog would get more ,hours ,well 60 a week was about right if you were lucky ,but the Chief Engineer was lord and master over your time off ,field days ,in port you could be lucky and get an afternoon ashore ,if you had the energy .But I would,nt have changed it ,it was a great life ,saw the world three times over went to places you pay thousands to go to now ,but hard work ,and we played hard too . Bank line signed on the Foyle sept 69 ,singed off feb 71 ,happy ship  %% .
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Bryan Young

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2013, 07:26:48 PM »

And so we have it.
The Bishop sums it up rather well, to a degree.
Seamen are, in general, mavericks. Be they MN or RN. In days of yore when I were but a lad, I sailed with just about every class of person one could imagine. Public School boys sailing as ABs, colliery workers offspring working as Captains. Some superb, others …..well, not so good. Always interesting to me was the way the more mediocre (let us say) were generally the ones who would “rip-off” the crew whenever they could…..to the advantage of their pockets. It was all a racket, and the owners knew it. But as long as the ship went where it was supposed to be going and came back with a voyage profit, well, who cares.
Back in 1982 I was “appointed” the MoD Rep on a STUFT ship. This ship was part of the Blue Funnel Line. Oh goody, I thought. How wrong I was.
I knew the Blue Flue and had even been a passenger on one (Patroclus,1964). I admired them and was always rather in awe of that company. But joining that ship in 1982 showed me just how much things had changed. Gone were the days of “smartness”. Not just the ships, but the attitude of the “Officers”. The ship I joined had, until it was rented by the Mod had a Sudanese  (or possibly Somalian) crew. The ship and its accommodation were in a disgusting state. There’d obviously never been a “Captains Rounds” for months if not years. This crew were ejected and a crowd of Scousers came in their place. Knuckled down and took nearly a week to get the place habitable again. And this was Blue Funnel! None of the Officers wore any sort of uniform any more. “Why”? only elicited the response that nobody gave a "xxxxx" about conditions…..only profits. Nice guys all. Very professional and all that, but the “company” had put all the years of loyalty to one side.
So are you really surprised that when such an outfit as Blue Flue can just chuck out over a century of service and tradition that the “staff” follow suit?
Money, money, money is the name of the game now.Thank God I’m not a “proper” seafarer any more. BY.
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Liverbudgie

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2013, 09:17:51 PM »

 Bryan,
I presume that you are talking about those two dreadful Russian built "things" Lycaon and Laertes. I remember well when they first arrived at Birkenhead; the first job was to have the accommodation rebuilt plus many other "faults" rectified. They were indeed a disgrace and not fit to have a blue funnel with a black top. Neither lasted long after they were returned to the company both being sold in 1983. They were both scrapped during 1993.
However, by this time the "Blue Funnel Line" was not the proud company it once was. The family had ceased to have any say in the running of the company by the late sixties, early seventies and from then on it was downhill all the way. The reasons for this are many and varied and would fill many tomes, as you no doubt know.
As to the Telegraph article. I have seen and photographed many of the vessels mentioned. I feel very sorry for the crews at times,  most of them are very lonely and miss their families, they rarely get ashore simply because they have little or no money or clothes apart from their working gear.
One vessel that was not mentioned though is the Most Sky. This vessel arrived here in November 2012 and is still here. The original crew were repatriated but, were then arrested on arrival home, in Turkey I think it was, for various "offenses" at the instigation of the ship owner.
http://www.demotix.com/news/509960/most-sky-detained-birkenhead#media-509881
LB
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dave301bounty

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2013, 10:28:57 AM »

O come on L B ,this is about the 60 s and british seafarers how life was ,not this updated picts of the so called fleets now ,when ,as I have a few voyages under my belt then you can reflect on conditions ,ships and most of all the actual experience .. <*<
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Bryan Young

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2013, 09:37:23 PM »

O come on L B ,this is about the 60 s and british seafarers how life was ,not this updated picts of the so called fleets now ,when ,as I have a few voyages under my belt then you can reflect on conditions ,ships and most of all the actual experience .. <*<
Sorry about this, but after reading this post quite a few times I'm still not sure what your point is/was.
I realise that your reply was to LB, but his response was reasonable.
A "few voyages under my belt" sounds a bit nebulous to me. My "belt" has voyages from 1956 to 1994.
We were talking about crew conditions over the years....so LB was quite correct with his post. BY.
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dave301bounty

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2013, 08:28:11 AM »

o k Brian point taken ,I could give you my time at sea ,but what I was intending to say ,crew conditions can only be experienced by seamen ,serving or otherwise ,I myself served on some horrible ships ,then next voyage quite posh . %)   <*<   and have the books to show .
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CF-FZG

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2013, 06:25:06 PM »

Quote
Why were there no headlines?
Consider the reaction if 37 airliners crashed every year, or 37 trains, and if it happened every year, regular as a shipping schedule.

How many airliners crash every year?  A hell of a lot more than the headline grabbing reporter thinks, and probably more people killed too!  (a small airliner carries around 100 pax, x 37 is a lot more than 2,000)

How many trains crash every year?  A bit of a red herring as there aren't that many people killed each year on trains, but certainly more than 37 crashes per year.

As for the conditions - well, nobody's forcing you to do it.


Mark
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Colin Bishop

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2013, 06:48:38 PM »

Quote
As for the conditions - well, nobody's forcing you to do it.

I don't think that's quite true. If that is all you know then you have to take the best you can get to earn a crust which may be not up to much. In the UK you might be able to choose not to work and the state will pick up the tab - not so elsewhere.
 
Colin
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dave301bounty

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2013, 07:04:06 PM »

C F ...What are you on about ,back in the days when wages were low ,a job at sea was accepted ,no one forced anyone ,it was a persons ,,,,way of life ,we did see the world ,but heck ,deck and the black hand gang we all worked ,together too after all being on a ship for months with 43 others you had to get on well .No  no one forced us ,but it was a job ,a way of life and no doubt some of the ex seamen on here made their Masters ,and Chief Engineers ,if Jimmy James were alive ,he would give you a run ,he was exceptional in his achievements at sea . <*<   :}
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Captbearuk

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2013, 07:12:47 PM »

For my sins, I sailed on Blue Funnels ''Laertes''. Built by Russians for arctic conditions, poor A/C, communal showers built over the engine room to keep warm and insulated bulkheads. Where did we sail.......Tahiti, south Pacific.
 
An interesting aside is that about 5pm most days the vessel would slowly turn to port, despite being on auto-pilot? We finally discovered that the main gyro was water-cooled off the domestic system and when the engineers finished for the day, then took their showers, it was enough loss of water pressure to the gyro so that it over heated and tracked over to port; taking the ship with it.  O0
 
Glyn
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Bryan Young

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2013, 09:42:43 PM »

What an odd post……
It was indeed “Laertes” that I was sent to. A pal of mine was sent to “Laecon”.
But now e must disagree (without being “nasty”)….
As far as I know, having had access to the ships drawings, these 2 ships were actually built in Poland. Built for whoever wanted to buy them. So they were bought by the Russians who made “some alterations” to the design. Primarily, the no.2 hatch was increased in length to enable at least 2 ICBMs to be stowed. The weapons specialists on “my” ship worked this one out because of the rather odd stowage arrangements that wouldn’t be usual in a general cargo carrier.
Then you say that the accommodation was “poor”. Quite the contrary.
One of my first questions was to ask about fire fighting arrangements. Always a priority when  heading into what was then a war zone.
I was shown around the ship. All compartments and cabins had solid steel bulkheads (none of your plastic covered chip-board here). Every compartment had a sprinkler system fitted.
So the answer to my question  about “what happens if there’s a fire?” was a simple “shut the door and let the sprinkler do its job”. I couldn’t help but agree.
The furnishings were “adequate” ..not Spartan, but not luxurious either.
What did strike me was the sheer solidity of the ship as a whole. She may well have been built for Arctic conditions but that was a bonus point in the South Atlantic in 1982.
There were many things to quibble about, but by and large she did what she was designed to do.If you have the time or inclination to do so, may I direct you to “Nautical, but true” on this forum. A more complete story of this period is chronicled there. Cheers BY.
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Jerry C

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2013, 10:13:58 PM »

I was working by both vessels(living at home nearby) I was expecting to go south in Laertes as second mate. I worked closely with the DTi surveyor bringing the ships "up?" To British standards of safety/equipment. I remember they were kitted out with 2 rather crude but well equipped Russian radars. Because they had green screens they were "not up to spec" and we had to replace them. We thought they were far superior to anything we had seen up to then and we argued strongly to keep them. We arrived at a compromise. They let us keep one but the other was replaced with a Decca radar fitted with the useless matchstick plotting aid. The lifeboats were fitted with six cylinder Diesel engines with electrics and battery charging. The surveyor wanted to see them started by hand. The Russian engineers started them with the aid of an ether capsule cold starting device. This was not acceptable and they had to start them without the ether. There was a big conflab in Russian then the lady interpreter said if we put three guys on each starting handle we still would not start them. The surveyor ordered them to be replaced with 18 horse Listers. They were covered in lifeboats and he ordered the doors removed. I remember the cabin furniture was a bit papier mâché. My wardrobe door came off in me 'and gov!  A lot of the kit was superior to British stuff. I didn't actually get to go south because I was a reservist and the day before departure a man from the MOD told me I couldn't go as war had not been declared and the law pertaining to RNR didn't permit our use in a "conflict". A week later I received a letter from John Nott to say the rules had been changed and I was free to go. At the time I was livid but with the passage of time maybe it was for the best. During 24 years in the Reserves the closest I got to active service was night time skirmishes with salmon poachers in Scotland while on fishery protection and, Grenada Patrol.
Jerry.

Captbearuk

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2013, 10:36:44 PM »

Ah, the radar; I'd almost forgotten  :-) . I'm 6ft 1 and the radar was so tall we had to look around it to look forward. It also had a ridiculously high setting for a navigation radar range selector, something like 128 miles. But we did manage to pick up the top of Mount Tiede when approaching the Canaries. So it worked.
As for the lifeboats, I do remember the ether capsule and instructions in Russian (or Polish?) but I also remember some Heath Robinson contraption with several personnel having to operate levers and / or pedals all connected to a drive shaft. The people 'powering' the lifeboat were positioned on lower thwarts like galley slaves. Maybe that was another quality vessel.  {:-{  So many ships, I think I'm getting that old timers disease.
Glyn
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Jerry C

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2013, 10:39:08 PM »

My recollection is they had come from Odessa but maybe mistaken.
Jerry.

Bryan Young

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #20 on: April 12, 2013, 03:51:01 PM »

Jerry. An interesting tale! You'd probably have been more fun to sail with than the po-faced 2nd Mate I had to put up with.
You don't mention the "private" radio room in the (then) Second Engineers cabin...or didn't you find that one?
As far as the building of her was concerned then we could be both correct.
I don't know who designed this class of ship...maybe it was a Russian design, but our then Prime Minister (J.Callaghan) used UK money to finance the building of (quantity unknown) them in Poland for sale on the International market. Perhaps the Russians bought some "off the stocks" and finished them off to their specs. I don't imagine that any of them had names as such at that time. Much of the equipment was Russian in origin.....mainly copies of products from other European countries. But with enough differences to make "genuine" parts unusable. The main engine (and other E/Rm stuff) and the heavy lift capability come to mind.
Check out my story about her....and the photo of a Chinook trying to land 2 nets full of cluster bombs on to a hatch top....almost a disaster!. BY.
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Jerry C

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Re: the life of a modern sailor
« Reply #21 on: April 12, 2013, 04:01:38 PM »

My experiences of soviet ships and equipment since those days is that on the whole they are atrocious but get the job done. Russian engineers on the other hand are superb, being extremely well educated, very hard working and reliable. When all falls in a heap I wouldn't want anybody else. Their skills at keeping their own rubbish working stands them in good stead when dealing with the Chinese rubbish we get now. That said, on no account let them take you to the mish for a little drink keptain!!!!! Totally fatal!!!
Jerry.
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