Category Archives: Pre-Hornby


The farther we went from the harbour the stormier it got. We didn’t know what we were heading into. Had trouble with getting around the empty ship. kept banging into walls and railings.I’ll quote from an earlier post.
“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.”
The captain relented and we were allowed to put walkways to the front. These went right on top of the closed hatches with bridges between. We now could walk (run?) from the back to the front in the full force of the wind.
Not much fun but when we got there we were able to do our work, re-stacking the hawsers, which didn’t take long then we could relax as the bosun was busy drunk in his cabin.
This was the way we spent the first couple of days. The weather was getting rougher and we learned that we were headed into a typhoon!!! Apparently the captain would get a bonus for every trip he exceeded the standard of one a month. We weren’t going into the center of the storm but just brushing it’s northern edge on the way to Vancouver.
After work I decided to visit Ron on the bridge. An ordinary seaman could get there by climbing the steps on the outside of the structure. I remember looking back as I climbed. There were two or three crew on the deck mesmerized by the sea behind us. As we went through each wave the sea would tower behind us. It was higher than my vantage point I swear! Pretty scary! I got inside the bridge, the Captain wasn’t there, it was just Ron and a mate. I had trouble understanding what I was looking at. As the bow went into a wave it would flex!. The ship was bending! Enough! I was out of there. Went down to dinner. No dinner. You could hear the dishes crashing and breaking in the kitchen. We managed to grab some sandwiches and coffee. Then it was off to bed and attempt to sleep…

-to be continued…


So, we didn’t really see much of the harbour as we left. The crew took in the ropes and spent quite a bit of time storing them. the ropes were dirty and soaking wet and heavy and thick…I could go on.

We finally got on deck but there was nothing to see! We were well out to sea and the ship, being empty, was beginning to roll. Ron and I had one more job. The Frenchman signaled he needed some help. He was holding a rope which was wrapped twice around a railing. The rest of it was dangling down into  a dark hatch. So we held the rope and waited…”Take loose” he yelled. Take loose? what did that mean? We loosened our hold on the rope and it slowly slid through the Frenchman’s fingers.  “Jesus Christ” he yelled. (Knew some English and it came out some times) We figured it out. He was hauling something up from the bottom of the hatch and he wanted us to take the slack as he pulled. There was only room for one person to do what he was doing so we pulled and held the rope as he lifted. Up came this heavy water pump. We managed to get the thing onto the deck.

Dinner time then we had a couple of beer in my cabin. Ron and my roommate was there. A couple of others I think. Everybody showed what they’d bought in Yokohama. I put on the blouse I’d bought for Midge. (a little tight so got a hilarious clap). My roommate ,the ship’s carpenter, said “Maybe you come into my bunk tonight?” He was just kidding…really!

Sleep time. Got into the bunk and noticed the roll. An empty ship rolls on the first hint of waves. It was ok but I noticed my head would roll from side to side following the actions of the boat. I was able to jam a pillow against the edge of the bunk and quietened the action down. Little did I know that this was the beginning of a harrowing experience which began the next morning…

-to be continued…


My memory is not so good so I asked Gord Bateman to fill me in on this part of the story.

I first met Gord in a pub in Marpole (one of the many pubs in Vancouver that didn’t ask for I.D.) We got together when working at the Peace River Dam. I told him the story of the bicycle robbing in Yokohama. I asked him recently to repeat the tale I told him.

“So…here’s how it was told to me by a guy who was there 🙂  After a
night of drinking in waterfront bars, this guy and a close friend and
couple other crew members decided that rather than walk back to the
ship they would  “borrow” some bicycles that were parked in front of
an all night cafe. Some one saw them peddling away and alerted the cop
on the corner, who also had a bike and he called a couple more cops
from further up the street and they gave chase, much whistle blowing
and yelling at the thieves to stop. However the fugitives had enough
of a head start to make it to the gangway, drag the bikes up and
across to the other side of the ship, and throw them into the
bay…the cops spent some time yelling and threatening and looking
around the deck, but soon realized that no evidence amounted to no
case and that there really wasn’t much future arguing with some
drunken seamen in a language they didn’t speak about stolen bikes that
couldn’t be found.
I don’t recall the story about some one dying but I do recall that the
hospitable crew of said ship decided that it would be a nice cross
cultural gesture to invite (read, sneak) some working girls they had
met in the waterfront district, ( and this was strictly in the
interest of cross cultural and linguistic studies, you understand) to
come aboard and take up residence in the crew quarters for a couple of
days until the skipper finally got wind of what was going on and
escorted them ashore. That’s how it was told to me in a bunk-house b.s. and beer session at
the Bennet Dam project in a cold January of 1966….maybe it will kick
start some more story”

Maybe his memory is as bad as mine or I was lying. Both possibilities could be true.  My faulty memory says this: I wasn’t involved in the bike theft, the story was told to me by a crewman who was there. The bicycles were stolen and the crooks were chased by a single cop who whistled others to join him. He got to the ship only to be met by a group of seamen who accidentally beat him to death. They got on board, threw the bicycles off the other side and denied everything to the cops who came along. There was no proof so the cops, after interrogating the captain and officers had to let the ship go. The captain ascertained the truth and the ship was condemned to be dry from then on.

Tomorrow we set sail for Vancouver. Be perpared for the typhoon, I wasn’t.

to be continued…


Another story-about heading back to the ship. Ron and I, after a night on the town, decided enough was enough and we should go back the ship. We’d take a taxi: checked our pockets and found we were broke. We’d spent everything on our night in town. What would we do? I suggested we just take a cab and find someone aboard who could lend us the money. We actually had to do it that way because, although the harbour was close to our part of Yokohama, we didn’t know how to get there and so that eliminated walking.


We jumped into a cab and headed home. It was dark. When we arrived. As we got out a dark figure approached. It was the purser! a dark inscrutable man who just stood there as we explained our problem. His only words “Go into the ship”. we left him there staring down at the driver. Don’t know what happened but assumed everything came out right.

Tomorrow I’ll try to document the dark part of our ship’s heritage. And the next day the ship sails, empty and light, ready for the Typhoon!