Category Archives: Hornby Island BC

Little Bum

Fraser’s mother, Jo, and I attended a class for couples with newborns. They learned I was a photographer so asked me to do a series on caring for a baby that they could put in slide format with explanation on procedures.

This is one of the Photos; Fraser!


The ship was Norwegian and the cook was Norwegian and the food was Norwegian. Do you know what Norwegian food is? Fish! That’s right, fish. You may remember how much I used to like fish. It didn’t really dawn on me until a few days into the menu that this was the base of every meal. Breakfast was something like fish cakes: lunch a kind of fish casserole and for supper, you guessed it, more fish. Oh, I ate it, never fear, but I can’t say that I ever really enjoyed the cuisine. It was healthy and certainly not fattening. (Upon my return I weighed 135 pounds, which, at my height was probably all muscle)

The ship was heavily laden and the first morning, although we were off the coast of Vancouver Island and into the Pacific, there was only the slightest perception of wave movement. I thought to myself “at least I don’t get seasick”. Haw-haw, the best was yet to come. There were three other crew members who had never been to sea. One was just another kid like us on an adventure like us. The other two were older, Hungarian refugees, new to Canada and beginning again. One of them turned out to be a typical statistic. In every crowd there are some people who don’t get seasick at all and there are some people who get really ill. At the first hint of wave action this poor fellow hit his bunk and didn’t come out until Japan two weeks away. He couldn’t work, couldn’t eat and when asked how he was he replied that he just wanted to die. In Japan he was taken off and flown home, never to sail again.

One more day, learning the ropes, so to speak, as we traveled up the West Coast of Vancouver Island. The ship followed a great circle route to Japan, which would bring us through the Bering Sea, and close to the Aleutian Islands. This was October, the days were dark and the weather was typical of the north in winter, heavily overcast with visibility quite low. After a while the coast disappeared into the dark gray surrounding and, except for a brief glimpse of the Aleutians, we didn’t sight land again until Japan.

I got seasick. It wasn’t bad. I didn’t feel like dying but I wasn’t a happy puppy. For one day my interest in anything was non-existent; couldn’t eat and didn’t want to work. Fortunately, that was my total experience with the affliction: even on the return trip I didn’t have a replay. Ron’s experience lasted a little longer but he came out just as I did and we both became working members of the crew


Soon after the trip I enrolled in an English class at University. The professor asked us to write a short essay/story on some past experience. 

Have you ever noticed the way sailors walk, with their hard rolling gate? I did but paid no heed to it. I realized, of course, that their sense of balance was more acclimatized to the sea than the land but that’s as deep as my thoughts on the subject went. I had a chance a year ago to fully explore their wonderful sense of balance.

I had signed on to a merchant ship leaving from Vancouver to Japan. The reason for this was not monetary but for pure adventure. Upon leaving the coast of Vancouver Island the ship began to hit some fair-sized waves and, consequently, began to roll. I noticed that the regular seamen, even those who hadn’t finished their liquor supply, seemed to be able to walk straight and narrow whereas I, completely sober, had trouble staying on one side of the ship, let alone the gangway, when it rolled. However, in time, I began to make reasonable progress and soon told myself that at last I had mastered the art of walking on a ship. What a letdown I had in store!

Five hundred miles off the coast of Japan the ship ran head on into a typhoon that buffeted the ship bow on. Sixty to seventy knot winds screamed through the radio and mast wires and caused huge waves to wash across the deck.

I was told that we were going to work up in the forecastle that day and consequently had to run up the full length of a wet, windy, slippery deck with the ship alternately seeming to roll over to 45 degrees from port to starboard. Well it’s obvious that I made it was, beyond a doubt, the most frightening experience of my life. I was forced to run a few feet when the ship seemed level and then grab frantically onto a hatch when the ship heeled over, tending to throw me over the rail and into the mad sea, and then, when she came back, to rush into the wind swept spray, trying hard to keep my balance on the slippery deck. When I reached the bow I was shaking from head to toe in exhaustion and fright.

It was, what you might call ‘a difficult’ walk, but I gained experience from it and after that I had no trouble with the ship’s roll. I learned how to walk on a ship and I will be the first to say “I learned the hard way.”


I felt kind of ‘grownup’ after that trip and the professor recognized it. He told me that it was a pleasure to have someone in his class experienced in life instead of all the educational newbies that dominated. 


The Army and Navy store was operating on Main Street and at that time the majority of their goods were surpluses from the various wars Canada had finished. We bought clothes that appeared to belong to the sailor’s life: Thick wool sweaters and shirts, Heavy-duty oil skins and, yes, cute bell-bottom trousers. After we discovered how much moisture these pants could suck up we stuck to blue jeans. We came out of the store with two genuine W.W.II duffel bags stuffed with genuine sailor outfits.

Then, my first passport. I was beginning to feel like a real seagoing swab and my status was growing as more and more of the gang discovered the trip. My girlfriend, Midge, didn’t seem all that excited. She was part of the contingent that believed we were fools.

The Norwegian Consul told us that the ship would dock in Port Moody and we were to join sometime in the beginning of October. We learned that it was a coal carrier and it traveled regularly between Canada and Japan. It was obviously taking part in the re-invention of Japan; on it’s way to becoming a major economic force in the world. The ship, although Norwegian, hadn’t seen Norway in three years and this was the reason that they had to hire Canadians as this was the cheapest way to replace workers. Actually, they had to replace lots of workers every trip and this should have given us a clue. We also learned it’s name; the Belnor.

Finally we were on our way to the great adventure. The truth was that we were two frightened young boys going off into the great unknown. With duffel bags, passports and the heebie-jeebies we were driven out to Port Moody one Sunday afternoon. There was our ship lying alongside the dock. It truly was a coal carrier and, just about fully loaded, it was dark and grime streaked. There was still time to turn back but honour wouldn’t allow that. We said our good-byes and climbed the gangplank to our new home for the next 60 or so days

to be continued…