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…