On the return journey from Sydney on the Strathmore with a full cargo of frozen lamb carcases, boxed beef, canned egg yolks, cheese and butter we were on the usual 4 on 8 off. The Panch Sahib would be on the ghoster and the 1st Ref Engr always gave me the 4 to 8.
After the hand-over at 4 am I’d check the night order book, check the temperatures, carry out any jobs that needed doing and then do my round of all the 45 small ref units around the ship. Starting with the water cooler on the 1st class sports deck I’d then work my way down and end up in the galley.
My favourite part of that daily routine was, standing at the stern of the 2nd class sports deck and watch the wake disappear into the distance of a beautiful blue sea with nothing else in sight. Then the deck crew would start waking up the passengers who were sleeping on deck on camp beds (no a/c then) so they could hose down and scrub the deck.
Happy days in 1959 as a 2nd Ref Engr
Great memory Roger. It reminded me of having to go to check the steering gear and stern glands on Oriana. I used to take the opportunity to get bit of cool fresh air on the aft deck and to do this had to climb up the ladder to the crew accommodation. The smells of all the different curries being prepared in each 8 bed cabin was unbelievable and started my life long obsession with Indian food. Once on the aft deck I did the same as you, stared at the wake in awe of the power this magnificent vessel generated. This particular day (off watch) I took my super 8 camera there to capture that memory and asked Celia Cowen to join me and by chance we encountered (on watch) Dirty Harry Adamson doing exactly the same thing :-)
I too loved going to check the steering gear. I would take a few minutes (about 30) to watch the sea going past and that wonderful wake caused by the Oriana's 80,000 HP travelling at 29 Knots across the Pacific.
Reading your messages reminded me of my early morning visits to the steering gear room to wind out the sacrificial anode which was trailed out behind the ship.
It was held on a drum which had to be wound out a couple of turns each day to replace the amount that had dissolved in the sea to reduce the corrosion of the bronze propellers.
The deck was just a few feet above sea level and the sounds of the engines and the wake trailing behind us will always stay with me. Before joining the Oriana I had done two trips to India and Pakistan on the Cannanore which was sister ship to the Coromandel. With it’s single engined Doxford diesel it would do about 13 knots and couldn’t be further from the raw power of the big O. I seem to remember that I took over from Terry Bartholomew at that time and as the only electrician on board I tried to spend as much time as I could working on deck. My workshop was just aft of the bow and I did most of my repairs on the hold covers when I could.
I will always remember sailing through the straits of Madagascar when the sea was like a mill pond. Looking over the bow seeing dozens of flying fish breaking the surface and skimming before us.
High Neil Re MV Cannanore
On my first morning with P&O (Aug 58) I was sent to do Dock Staff on the above vessel. When Albert Smith the Ref Engr took me into the Fridge Flat I just could not believe my eyes, a twin cylinder horizontal steam engine in tandem with a Hall’s twin cylinder horizontal CO2 compressor and on a motor ship. It looked similar to a picture I’d seen of the Titanic’s Frig Flat. In an old notebook I still have the info of draining the steam lines and starting up that system. Later I sailed with a Ref Engr Nobby Camm who’d been on the MV Coromandel and he told me of the delights of Calcutta, etc. It must have been Heaven to join the Oriana.
All the best
Neil, I left early 1970 in Tilbury, Rod Clayburn took over from me, you probably took over from him.
Hi Terry and Roger
I joined Cannanore during May or early June 1970 after doing about 9 months on Arcadia. I left Arcadia just before she began a period of Alaska cruises.
After a spell of leave I joined Cannanore in Tilbury. I didn’t get a handover from my predecessor but your name rang a bell probably from seeing your name on paperwork on board. I know that a relief did the loading or unloading run to Avonmouth and Immingham when I had a couple of weeks leave between my first and second trip. Life was certainly a lot different to that on the passenger fleet.
Most of the time it was a case of make do because we carried very few spares. We did have passengers on board though as we could carry up to twelve and there were usually a few who wanted to escape the winter months for a trip of 16 to 18 weeks.
I always remember the highlight of the week when I would show a film on a very basic projector in the dining room for the passengers and any off duty officers.
At the end of the show I would transport the projector and screen to the Wardroom to set it up for the 8-12 watch who would have their own viewing.
On Sunday evening I showed the same film to the off duty crew. The films were quite up to date as I remember and everyone seemed to enjoy them.
Our time ashore in India and Pakistan was always an eye opener and an experience I’ll not forget. The cinemas in Bombay were really impressive with air conditioning and reclining seats and were showing the same films that were on release at home. I remember going to see Where Eagles Dare and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in widescreen and full stereo sound. Outside we would literally have to pick our way through people sleeping on the pavements.
At the end of my time on Cannanore I did a seven month trip on Oriana before leaving P & O in mid 1972. It was a life of comparative luxury compared to the cargo run but I’m glad to have had the experience at that time in my life. Unfortunately we probably didn’t realise how lucky we were.