DITTY BOX
CHART Back to Chart
     
 

CONVOY

  A Rough Grey Sea      
  and a Leaden Sky   Written By  
  A Wallowing Ship   Michael Kendall  
  and Seagulls Cry      
         
  Fogbanks to Leeward   Daylight or Darkness  
  Icebergs Nearby   No Light Must We Show  
  Slow is the Passage   Blackout is Life  
  Decks Never Dry   Aloft and Below  
         
  Cargo Secure   Smoke from the Funnel  
  Hatches Battened Down   Thus Watch on Deck Know  
  Booms in Their Cradles   All's Well in the Fire Room  
  and Officers Frown   Engines Turn Slow  
         
  Silent Q.M's   Vital the Cargo  
  Thoughts Grim and Long   Cramming the Hold  
  Freshening Gale   More Value Than Ivory  
  Thin Nagging Song   More Precious Than Gold  
         
  Oilskins and Seaboots   Food for the Nation  
  Rig of the Day   On Which They Rely  
  Sharp is the Lookout   Our Shores Bring Elation  
  Convoy Awry   With Relief we then Sigh  
         
  Loose Line of Ships   As Over the Seascape  
  Guns Sweeping the Way   Our Land we Espy  
  Fogbound Horizon   Safe in Our Harbour Until the Next Run  
  Desolate Grey   So Remember Our Sailors When All Said and Done  

   

CONGRATULATIONS

Our best wishes go to John Munro, who has been writing poems for a number of years. Last year The Nautilus International Telegraph held a poetry competition to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania. Entrants were asked to write poems paying tribute to civilian seafarers caught up in war. John's entry was one of five winners and their poems were printed in the newspaper. Each one won a prize of a signed copy of “Lusitania R.E.X.” a novel about the disaster by Greg Taylor. WELL DONE JOHN. Here is his poem:

 
  LE DRAPEAU ROUGE  

All along the docks on the Thames

At anchorage off the port of Liverpool

The convoy waits with their Royal Naval escorts

For Tommy, from London, Jock from Glasgow,

Paddy from Belfast and Taffey from Cardiff

Young lads, having a laugh

First time at sea, from Tilbury

To the shores of France.

Soon they will sail.

“Home for Christmas”

“Paris here we come”

“Oh! La la, the Cancan at the Moulin Rouge

Ocean going ships, boats, deep sea and coastal.

The merchant marine

Waits.

“Welcome on board lads!” the captains say with a smile

But there is a sadness in his eye

For he knows of the Somme and Ypres

And looks on the lads with

Pity, no red wine, or Paris

For them, the fields of Flanders will be red soon enough

Tho not with wine.

Running silent, the U boat,

At periscope depth

“Loose torpedo” orders the captain,

The Lusitania was the target,

A nightmare was on its way

Rearing up, bow first she sank.

Over a thousand souls she took to a watery grave,

no landfall for

Them.

But still in defiance the Red

Duster flew

Nelson's blood in every sailor

And all who sail the seas

To keep the lanes clear

All hands on deck, for we will

Sail another day

Well done sailors, welcome

On board

As the Red Duster flutters in the stiff sea breeze

For we are a maritime nation,

Rule Britannia.

By John Munro

 

 

   

This poem was sent in by Bill Harrison, it was written during the maiden voyage of the Reward to Australia in 1974. He is almost certain that the writer was Jerry Long, AKA 'The Grub' who was 3rd or 4th Engineer at the time.

 
  MAGIC SHIPS  

The control room Decca Isis

Is there to warn you of a crisis

There's alarms on it galore

Most of which you can ignore


And if you chance to take a walk

Around the job, well really,

It's enough to send you round the bend.

Well very, very nearly


There's pumps that do and pumps that don't

And pumps that never have done.

And both main engines put together

Wouldn't make a good one.


There's all sorts of weird things

that work in weirder manner.

And the gearbox as it goes around

Sounds like a bag of spanners.


There's water on the tank tops

A good twelve inch or more

And the oil that floats on top of it

Must add another four.


There's filters that won't budge

And everything is covered

In a greasy oily sludge.


Down JC's hole where no one goes

The seal it leaks unceasing

No one ever goes down there

Because there’s nothing that need greasing

 

The boiler when you switch it on

May or may not start

And even when you get it going

There's more pressure in a f**t


The vibration is a problem

That you soon learn to adjust

And if you want a good night's sleep

Then earplugs are a must


These mighty vessels of which we speak

are known if not RENOWNed

For the way that they keep

Grinding everyone down

 

It's a CHALLENGE to your COURAGE

For you to sail on one

And when you finally complete your trip

You find your VIGOUR gone.


Would sign on with great ZEAL

But when your mark is made

You find that your REWARD

Is not a voyage but a CRUSADE


I APOLOGISE FOR THE ENDING

But this I cannot avoid

I just can't think of another word

That rhymes well with CONCORDE.

 

 

   

 

 

FOR ALL SEAFARERS

 

Even in peace, scant quiet is at sea;

In war, each revolution of the screw,

Each breath of air that blows the colours free,

May be the last life movement known to you.

 


Death, thrusting up or down, may disunite

Spirit from body, purpose from the hull,

with thunder, bringing leaving of the light

With lightning letting nothingness annul

 


No rock, no danger, bears a warning sign,

No lighthouse scatters welcome through the dark:

Above the sea, the bomb' afloat the mine;

Beneath, the gangs of torpedo-shark.

 


Year after year, with in sufficient guard,

Often with none, you have adventured thus;

Some reaching harbour, maimed and battle-scarred,

Some, never more returning lost to us.

 


But, if you 'scape, tomorrow, you will steer

to peril once again, to bring us bread.,

To dare again, beneath the sky of fear,

The moon moved graveyard of your brothers dead.

 

You were salvation to the army lost,

Trapped, but for you, upon the Dunkirk beach;

Death barred the way to Russia, but you crosst;

to Crete and Malta, but you succoured each.

 

Unrecognized, you put us in your debt;

Unthanked, you enter, or escape, the grave;

Whether your land remember or forget

You saved the land, or died to try to save

 

John Masefield

 

 

   

 

 

OLD SALFORD

Ordsall Park, near Dock gates.
Charlie Camilleri. Breakfast plates.
Men on bikes going to Metro-Vicks.
Johnnie Mac Brown on the Boro flicks.
Taxi rides from The Clowes.
Dockers with cardboard in their shoes.
Ladies of the night gave their permission
By Broadwav and the Central Mission.
Green buses and Austin cars,
The Ship Hotel, Cross Lane bars.
Al Reid's pies that fed the masses,
And cheap underwear from George Glass's.
Old prams in a coalyard queue.
A pint of Wilson’s with Billy Donoghue.
Characters on every street -
Cliff Evans and Piccolo Pete,
Dancing nightly on Regent Road,
Freddie Webb of no fixed abode.
All nationalities in The Fox,
At closing time you could learn to box.
Cobbled streets and horse manure,
Debt collectors whose knuckles were sore,
Kids playing hopscotch and ticky hit,
Dirty-faced men from down the pit.
Sunshine in August
And fog in December,
A piece of old Salford
I shall always remember.

 

When this poem was originally submitted to us we were informed that it was written by Dennis Wilson who was brought up in Phoebe Street off Regent Road, Salford and now lives in Canada. However we have since been told that although the title appears to have been slightly altered the words of the poem were written by Frederick Bernard Doherty and has been previously recorded and credited to him by GMR (Greater Manchester Radio) as “Once Upon a Time in Salford”, and that there are many other references to the poem by its correct title and credited to him.

     
   
 
Piccolo Pete at the Ship Hotel, Cross Lane, Salford
 
 
Photo: Stan Yates
 

 

   

 

 

LITTLE MIXED UP

Just a line to say I am living,
That I’m not among the dead,
Though I’m getting more forgetful and mixed up in the head.

I’ve got used to my arthritis,
To my dentures I’m resigned,
I can manage my bi-focals, but oh God, I miss my mind.

Sometimes I can’t remember
When I’m standing by the stair
If I should go up for something or have I just come down from there?

And before the fridge so often
My mind is filled with doubt,
Now did I put some food away - or come to take it out?

Sometimes when it’s night time
With my night cap on my head,
I don’t know if I’m retiring or just getting out of bed.

If it’s not my turn to write dear
I hope you won’t get sore,
I may think I have written and don’t want to be a bore

So remember I do love you,
And wished that you lived near,
But now it time to mail this and say “Goodbye” my dear.
-------------------------

At last I stood beside that mailbox
And my face it sure got red –
Instead of mailing this to you, I opened in instead!

 

Thanks to Pat Humphrey
We know exactly what you mean!

Pat adds – “I attend the Submariners Association once monthly, only eight of us left, all deaf and over eighty. A great bunch of comedians far in advance of what is shown on television.
Hope to be at Didsbury in October if all goes well”

We hope to see you there, too, Pat!

   

 

 

MERCHANT SEAMEN

I've read about soldiers & sailors,
of infantry, airmen & tanks,
of battleships, corvettes and cruisers,
of Anzacs, and Froggies and Yanks,
and there’s one other man to remember
who was present at many a fray,
He wears neither medals or ribbons
and derides any show of display.

I'm talking of A.B.'s and firemen
of stewards and greasers and cooks
who manned the big steamers in convoy
(You wont read about them in books).
No uniform gay were they dressed in,
nor marched with their colours unfurled:
They steamed out across the wide oceans
and travelled all over the world.

Their history goes back through the ages
a record of which to be proud
and the bones of their forefathers moulder
with naught but the deep for a shroud,
For armies have swept on to victory
o'er the bodies of those who have died;
'Tis thus that the nations do battle
For country and freedom and pride.

In thousands they sailed from the Homeland
from Liverpool, Hull, and the Clyde,
to London, and Bristol, and Cardiff,
They came back again on the tide.
An old 'four-point-seven' their safeguard.
What nice easy prey for the Huns,
who trailed them with bombers and U-Boats
and sank them with 'tin-fish' and guns.

The epic of gallant OTAKI,
that grim forlorn hope Jervis Bay,
who fought to the last and were beaten
but they joined the illustrious array
whose skeletons lie ‘neath the waters,
whose deeds are remembered today,
and their glory will shine undiminished
long after our flesh turns to clay.

They landed the Anzacs at Suvla
and stranded the old River Clyde,
Off Dunkirk they gathered the remnants
(And still they were not satisfied)
They Battled their way through to Malta
and rescued the troops from Malay;
they brought the eighth army munitions
and took all their prisoners away.

And others 'signed on' in the tankers
and loaded crude oil and octane –
the lifeblood of warships and engines,
of mechanised transport and plane.
But these were the U-Boats chief victims;
What death they were called on to face ;
As men were engulfed by infernos
In ships that were 'sunk without trace'.

They were classed a non-combatant service-
Civilians who fought without guns
and many’s the time they'd have welcomed
a chance of a crack at the Huns.
But somehow in spite of this drawback
The steamers still sailed and arrived
and they fed fifty millions of people
and right to the end we survived.

And now that the turmoil is ended,
our enemies vanquished and fled,
we'll pray that the living will foster
the spirit of those who are dead.
When the next generation takes over
this country we now hold in lease
will be theirs - may they cherish its freedom
and walk down the pathways of peace.

When the Master of Masters holds judgement
and the devils dark angels have flown,
When the clerk of the heavenly council
decrees that the names shall be known
They will stand out in glittering letters
inscribed with the blood they have shed;
Names of Ships - and the seamen who
manned them;
then the ocean can give up its dead.

 

This was sent in by Capt Eric Askew – unfortunately he doesn’t know it’s origin.

   

Thought that this might bring back memories. It doesn't seem like 45 years ago. The photo really was taken on the Mariner at 30º West on Christmas Day 1960.

 
 
 
S.S. Manchester Mariner (2) - 30º West
 
 
Photo: Derrick J Howarth
 
    Christmas Day at 30º West    
 

Thirty west on Christmas Day,
We’re homeward bound or so they say.
The wind and sea come from nor-west,
She pitches deep with every crest.

Our course now altered to three-one-o,
And it’s on the bow we take the blow.
Hove to now twice in just one crossing,
This always trying, incessant tossing.

Six days to go ‘til New Year’s Eve,
That’s when we hope to take our leave.
Only nine hundred more miles to go,
This old ship doesn’t half go slow.

Christmas at home is what they said,
Now New Year’s hopes are almost dead.
Once more the course is changed to east,
Maybe our dinner we’ll get at least.

Across the decks the seas wash green,
How could the weather be so mean?
So we think of home ahead,
Blue skies, calm seas – was I mislead.

© Derrick J Howarth
Deck Apprentice
S.S. Manchester Mariner
25th December 1960

Printed in Sea Breezes January 2011


  Published

I received a telephone call on the day that Newsletter No 8 was delivered. It was from Ron Harris who lives in Leicestershire to say that not only did it bring back memories, but that he was there and could have been on the wheel. He also told me that he had checked his discharge book and that she eventually paid off on the 5th January 1961.

Derrick Howarth

       
     
 
A MODERN DAY TRAFALGAR
 
 

AS PERFORMED AT DIDSBURY 2006

 
 

The Scene is set - on the Quarterdeck of H.M.S. Victory.

Admiral Lord Nelson (played by Capt Michael Taylor) is ready for battle.

Captain Thomas Hardy (played by Capt Eoan Edwards) is ready for his orders -

BUT - the year is not 1805 - it is 2005 - and Political Correctness is the buzz-word.

 
 

 

Nelson: "Order the signal, Hardy."

Hardy: "Aye, sir."

Nelson: "Hold on, that's not what I dictated to the signal officer. What's the meaning of this?"

Hardy: "Sorry sir?"

Nelson (reading aloud): "England expects every person to do his duty, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious persuasion or disability". "What gobbledygook is this?"

Hardy: "Admiralty policy, I'm afraid, sir. We're an equal opportunities employer now. We had the devil's own job getting 'England' past the censors, lest it be considered racist."

Nelson: "Gadzooks, Hardy. Hand me my pipe and tobacco."

Hardy: "Sorry sir. All naval vessels have been designated smoke-free working environments."

Nelson: "In that case, break open the rum ration. Let us splice the main brace to steel the men before battle."

Hardy: "The rum ration has been abolished, Admiral. It's part of the Government's policy on binge drinking."

Nelson: "Good heavens, Hardy. I suppose we'd better get on with it....full speed ahead."

Hardy: "I think you'll find that there's a 4 knot speed limit in this stretch of water."

Nelson: "Damn it man! We are on the eve of the greatest sea battle in history. We must advance with all dispatch. Report from the crow's nest please."

Hardy: "That won't be possible, sir."

Nelson: "What?"

Hardy: "Health and safety have closed the crow's nest, sir. No harness. And they said that rope ladder doesn't meet regulations. They won't let anyone up there until a proper scaffolding can be erected."

Nelson: "Then get me the ship's carpenter without delay, Hardy."

Hardy: "He's busy knocking up a wheelchair access to the fo'c'sle, Admiral."

Nelson: "Wheelchair access? I've never heard anything so absurd."

Hardy: "Health and safety again, sir. We have to provide a barrier-free environment for the
differently abled."

Nelson: "Differently abled? I've only one arm and one eye and I refuse even to hear mention of the word. I didn't rise to the rank of admiral by playing the disability card."

Hardy: "Actually, sir, you did. The Royal Navy is under- represented in the areas of visual impairment and limb deficiency."

Nelson: "Whatever next? Give me full sail. The salt spray beckons."

Hardy: "A couple of problems there too, sir. Health and safety won't let the crew up the rigging without hard hats. And they don't want anyone breathing in too much salt - haven't you seen the adverts?"

Nelson: "I've never heard such infamy. Break out the cannon and tell the men to stand by to engage the enemy."

Hardy: "The men are a bit worried about shooting at anyone, Admiral."

Nelson: "What? This is mutiny."

Hardy: "It's not that, sir. It's just that they're afraid of being charged with murder if they actually kill anyone. There's a couple of legal-aid lawyers on board, watching everyone like hawks."

Nelson: "Then how are we to sink the Frenchies and the Spanish?"

Hardy: "Actually, sir, we're not."

Nelson: "We're not?"

Hardy: "No, sir. The Frenchies and the Spanish are our European partners now. According to the Common Fisheries Policy, we shouldn't even be in this stretch of water. We could get hit with claim for compensation."

Nelson: "But you must hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil."

Hardy: "I wouldn't let the ship's diversity coordinator hear you saying that sir. You'll be up on disciplinary."

Nelson: "You must consider every man an enemy, who speaks ill of your King."

Hardy: "Not any more, sir. We must be inclusive in this multicultural age. Now put on your Kevlar vest; it's the rules. It could save your life"

Nelson: "Don't tell me - health and safety. Whatever happened to rum, sodomy and the lash?"

Hardy: As I explained, sir, rum is off the menu! And there's a ban on corporal punishment."

Nelson: "What about sodomy?"Hardy: "I believe that is now legal, sir."

Nelson: "In that case ...KISS ME , HARDY".

RULE BRITANNIA..!!

 
 
 

FAMOUS QUOTATIONS

Nelson quotation
"Forgive me, but my mother hated the French"
October 1803 - from a letter to Hugh Elliot, British Ambassador at Naples.
 
Nelson quotation
Nelson: Well Jack, what's the matter with you?
Sailor: Lost my arm your honour.
Nelson: Well Jack, then you and I are spoiled as fishermen!
July 1801 - Nelson visiting wounded seamen when he returned to Yarmouth after the Battle of Copenhagen.
 
Nelson quotation
"The Dons may make fine ships, - they cannot, however, make men."
June 1793 - from a letter to Nelson's wife.
 
It is now less than 2 years until Nelson's 250th birthday.
29 September 1758
Another chance to publicly commerate his life as we did in 2005!!
 
More famous quotations
 
Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington became Prime Minister of England from 1828 to 1830
after his first Cabinet meeting as Prime Minister he reflected -
"An extraordinary affair. I gave them their orders and they wanted to stay and discuss them."
 
       
 
   
 
S.S. Manchester Miller (2) in ice Lake Ontario
 
 
Photo: Derrick J Howarth
 
 
 

The Ice

It is the ice that sailors hate,
It slows them down and makes them late.
It floats around in deadly hunks
And keeps them from their well-earned bunks.

On drawing near the lookout’s doubled,
It’s obvious that the Old Man’s troubled.
Not far ahead – an awesome sight
Through which a Breaker ploughs with might.

This field so vast – you can’t believe,
You wonder if your eyes deceive.
Then slow ahead and in we slice,
Following the Breaker through the ice.

It bends and breaks, groans and creaks,
It’s cracks and pools that one now seeks.
Then with a crunch, a shake, a shudder,
Our ship won’t answer to her rudder.

She follows up a crack until
With a lurch and jolt we stop quite still.
The Old Man says, “that’s that we’re stuck”.
“The Breaker’s coming back Sir – look”!

She sweeps along close by our side,
The pressure eased we now can slide.
Then breaks for us a track ahead,
And so once more we’re slowly led.

As shades of night begin to drop
The time has come for us to stop.
And when the dawn comes up at last,
Once more we see we’re held quite fast.

The Breaker sets us free again
And takes us to a well-cleared lane.
The ice around breaks with our swell,
So to the Breaker – “Thanks, farewell”.

 

© Derrick J Howarth
3rd Mate
S.S. Manchester Miller
March 1965

 
       
 

THE SEA

Those blue – green hills with snowy caps,
So smooth no man can ever climb.
Nor can be found on charts or maps,
And disappear from time to time.

Or in their place, moors cold and grey
On which no paths or tracks are found.
And as we make our lonely way,
There’s nothing but a surging sound.

And now the grey gives way to green,
Our journey’s end draws near.
Some fellow travellers now are seen
And the cry of birds we hear.          

                               

© Derrick J Howarth
2nd Mate  M.V. Cairnesk
August 1966

 
       
 

ROYAL MAIL TO MONTREAL

The dawn just breaks, the cry “Let go”.
The telegraphs ring down dead slow.
Between the ships we quietly steal,
And then we’re out and through Mode Wheel.

Barton, Irlam, Latchford too,
When outward bound they seem so few.
Through fields and towns we wind afar,
Then down the Mersey and past the Bar.

The course is set for Chicken Rock,
Then nor’- nor’ west past Belfast Lough.
Past Malin Head and Inishtrahull,
Still westwards on through the lonely lull.

The wind’s ag’in us, the bow ploughs under,
Foam and spray crash down like thunder.
She pitches, rolls, creaks and shakes,
Salt around the funnel cakes.

Across the Western we toss and turn,
For the St Lawrence and the calm we yearn.
Through fog and ice our track we trace,
On o’er the Banks and past Cape Race.

The ship ploughs on through Cabot Strait,
“Just two more days now” sighs the Mate.
Through Quebec and past Three Rivers,
Now speeding on, the wind is with us.
To Montreal which is our port,
And now the mail’s our foremost thought.

© Derrick J Howarth
3rd Mate
S.S. Manchester Miller
March 196
5

Printed in Sea Breezes December 2011

 
  Published

 

       
 

 

THE CHIEF STEWARD

The Captain of a liner is a most important man,
He's been a haughty autocrat since liners first began;
But tho' he rules upon the bridge, He's but an empty show
The C.S. is the actual man that makes the ship to go!

The officers are splendid chaps to work the ship and crew,
As keen as mustard to excel, in all they have to do,
But are they indispensable on board a steamer?  No!
The C.S. is the actual man that makes the ship to go!

The engineers are clever folk, and experts in their way,
Their life is one of constant toil, with very little play,
But tho' they work by day and night, and risk their lives below
The C.S. is the actual man that makes the ship to go!

He's pushful, but he's tactful, too, he calmly goes ahead,
The kind of man who sidles in where angels fear to tread.
And I maintain without a doubt, without irreverence,
The C.S. is the man that bosses providence!

Greville E. Matheson

Printed in Sea Breezes July 1923

 

 
       

CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS?

THE CAPTAIN

EIGHT BELLS and the end of another graveyard watch. The ship surged gently through the North Atlantic swell into the approaching dawn and the relief had just arrived for the young apprentice out on the port bridge wing.

Looking into the wheelhouse in the half-light of day, the relieving Apprentice asked, “When did the Old Man come up?”

Surprised, the young Apprentice looked into the wheelhouse and he too saw the Captain standing at the centre window. He was easily recognisable as he never wore the white top on his cap.

The young apprentice commented on how strange it was that he was on the bridge at such an early hour on a fine morning. He also said that it was strange as the Captain was a real gentleman and every time that he came to the bridge he would come out onto the wing and talk to the Apprentice, and that this time he hadn't.

It was then that they remembered that he had retired at the end of the previous voyage. Again they watched him in the wheelhouse and after a few minutes he just faded away. They were not frightened by what they had seen, only saddened to think that he must have died.

Being young and ships being rife for gossip through the galley radio, they decided that they would keep this to themselves in case they were thought of as going mad.

Six months later, the young Apprentice was walking along the dock road when, in broad daylight, he saw the same Captain coming towards him. He was very shocked and on meeting, greeted the Captain with, “It's nice to see that you are still alive and kicking and not dead!”

The Captain, still ever the gentleman, mildly rebuked him for his impolite greeting and asked why he had said such. Whereupon the young Apprentice told him what he and the other Apprentice had seen that morning on the ship.

The Captain, somewhat taken aback, said that he kept having the most vivid dreams that he was back at sea, to which the young Apprentice replied, “You are Sir?”

 

EIGHT BELLS, not at sea this time, but an Olde Worlde Inn in the heart of England. It is twenty years later, a summer lunchtime and the bar was very busy. The door opened and a man came and stood behind those waiting at the bar. His face so familiar that the Landlord stopped pulling the pint that he was serving and just stood and looked at him, but could not remember his name.

The man said to the Landlord, “Cover the bottom half of your face”, as he had a beard. He then exclaimed the Landlord's name, the ship's name and the year and instantly it all flooded back as he had been the Second Mate on the twelve to four watch that night in the Atlantic.

He was as surprised to see the Landlord, who had been the young Apprentice, as the Landlord was to see him. The ex-Second Mate asked if they could have a talk as it was important. Being so busy, the Landlord asked if he had time to stay behind after closing, which he did.

The Landlord's Wife came over and joined them at the table. The conversation very soon changed to that night on the ship and the ex-Second Mate asked if the Landlord had seen anything unusual on the bridge, in reply to which the Landlord related his story.

The ex-Second Mate, much relieved, told of how he had been haunted by this apparition during his watch that night. On seeing the apparition with the four gold rings standing in the radar shack, and knowing the Captain was asleep below, to prove to himself that he wasn't going mad, he too stepped in. As there was only room for one person in there, the apparition stepped out through him!

He had, just as with the two Apprentices, decided not to say anything for the same reason, and in particular didn't want to frighten the young Apprentice who was on watch with him.

The Landlord's Wife, who had heard her husband relate the tale many times, suddenly realised that it must be true. The Landlord too was also relieved that someone else had experienced it.

Indeed it is true, for I was that young Apprentice and I was the Landlord.

Derrick J Howarth

       
 

NORTH ATLANTIC VOYAGE

We sailed away from Manchester, one cold wet winters day,
Along the ship canal, through locks, and out through Liverpool Bay..
We sailed on down the river, past the Liver Birds, and ferries,
That ply from Birkenhead, across to Pier Heads floating jetties.

Then out past coloured marker buoys, that show where sandbanks are,
Where we navigate the channel that will lead us past the bar.
When the Pilot disembarks the ship, and our voyage then begins,
The Captain rings the telegraph, “full ahead” with main engines.

How long it takes, we know full well, depends upon the weather,
This Ocean, who’s reputed fame, for granted you take never.
Huge rolling swells, and gale force winds, will get the white caps boiling,
A recipe that’s guaranteed, to get ships rock and rolling.

It can be very pleasant, sailing over the “Big Pond”
That’s what we used to call it, a nickname of which we’re fond.
We’ve seen it calm and sunny, and we’ve seen it when it’s rough,
We’ve been “hove to” and static, when things got really tough.

As the Grand Banks pass beneath us, quilted lookouts man the bridge,
Keeping watch for growler icebergs, and small trawlers netting fish.
We soon pass through the Belle Isle Straights, and encounter heavy snow,
When ice starts scraping along the hull, it gets very cold below.

After watch, when you step out on deck, you fill your eyes with glee,
To see the ice that stretches, just as far as one can see.
A better sight is hard to find, for beauty and for grandeur’
The far off hills, capped with ice and snow, create a vision splendour.

Still, we work our way upstream, until we get to Montreal,
And in our wake a line of ships ensue, at no more than a crawl.
We unload cargo, load back up, and let go fore and aft,
Then back we go, to Manchester, and people think we’re daft.

Dave Lawton ©2003


 
       
 

ALL THINGS NAUTICAL

While sitting on a jetty, watching harbour traffic flow
My mind drifts back to day’s gone by, and ships of long ago.
From ocean liners, tankers and bulks, brand new ships to rotting hulks
Old steamers burning sooty coal and belching lots of smoke
To noisy diesel motor ships with fumes that makes you choke
There’s nothing like a sailing ship as quiet as can be
Drifting along with sail and wind, across the briny sea
From sailing ships with great tall masts, that carried lots of crew
To modern streamlined monsters that require just a few
The crews still study hard today, to gain certification
But skills of old are far from lost on the modern generation
Men sailed off on tramps back then to wonder ‘round the world
With weeks in port and time to spend on grog and fancy girls
On modern style container ships you’re in and out of port
A thousand boxes changing place and bunkering to sort
Just time to check machinery and take on food and water
The bosun, mates and engineers all working at close quarter
I still look back with fondness at the different variations
From crossing freezing stormy seas to balmy glass smooth oceans
I know I can’t put back the clock, to days when I sailed yonder
I’ve done my time , with no regrets, and am happy just to ponder

Dave Lawton ©2003

 
       
 

OCEANS OF FEAR

The noise of the sea in the fo'csle
as the ship plunged again and again
made even the hardest of sailors
look askance at his mates through his pain.
 
The noise of the sea in the fo'csle
as the ship plunged again and again
made even the hardest of sailors
look askance at his mates through his pain.
 
Their fear was very apparent
by the sweat on the brow and the smell
of men close confined and in anguish
as for days they had suffered this hell.
 
For the sea can be violent and vicious
so relentless in some of its ways
and the omens had not been propitious
with the lowering of skies in past days.
 
Many on board were now thinking
of billets ashore safe and warm
and praying their time was not ending
in this, the most violent a storm.
 
But just as the seas reached their apex
and winds of intolerable force
seemed to claim yet another poor victim
the storm veered at last from its course.
 
The ocean had tried its true damnedest
to prove its great power o'er man
but relented when all seemed near finished
to allow the great ship a new span.
 
Though battered and scarred beyond measure
both vessel and crew were released
from the terrors that just had beset them
as both wind and the waves so decreased.
 
Thus back in the dripping damp fo'csle
where fear had abated somewhat
and its “My God but that was a close one”
and “This time I thought t'was my lot”
 
The ship continued its passage
as almost if naught had occurred
and tales will be told for years after
embellished no doubt as they're heard.
 
For sailors face danger at most times
and this episode is not new
each ship and each man know the problems
of battling the seas, it's so true.
 
Thus men will never relinquish
the challenge of taming the sea
and strive though they may in this manner
Believe me, it rarely will be.

Michael Kendal ©2013

 
     
       
 

AWARENESS

Think of your breathing,
And you will be aware of me.
Think of your heart beating
And you will be aware of me.
Look with your eyes seeing,
And you will be aware of me.
Listen with your ears hearing,
And you will be aware of me.
Look and listen to the cosmos around you,
And you will be aware of me.
For I, alpha and omega, who
created the Universe in six days,
Are all around you,
And I am aware of thee.

J F Munro ©2013

 
     
       
 

Back

Next