Reflecting on life in the early 1950’s, the differences from the 1970’s and 80’s vessels were vast.
Here are some facts.
It was normal to go round and round the world before returning home.
There were some exceptions but generally this was a time that was notable for wha22t we did not have, i.e….
No handy boat
No wives on board
No short trips
No Sat Nav.
No bridge controls
No auto steering
No chance to get off (legally)
What we did have:
2 years onboard
Menus stuck in a fork!
Limited air starting of the engines
An Aldis lamp for signalling
A trailing log line
A deep sea lead
A ‘Bond’ depending on the Master
A ‘Sparky’ in his hut
A fan in the cabin (sometimes oscillating!)
Steam Winches on deck.
Wooden hatch covers, tarpaulins, and locking bars.
Here comes the good bit….
We had wood decks that glistened in the wet
Open rails on many ships
Long stays in port that could be weeks or even months
The sweet smell of spices and tea in cases
A variety of cargoes, bagged or bulk
Slow trawls around remote Pacific Islands
A slow, often captivating style of life
We were happy
These long voyages could be heaven or hell (as in Hotel California) but either way they left a lasting memory. For many, it was a life changing experience. On the bridge it was a good day when 300 miles was achieved. The many twin screw vessels still in the fleet often ran on one engine while the other was under repair by the hard pressed engineers.