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Nautical yarns...

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Nautical yarns...

Old 14th Nov 2011, 03:51
  #21 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2009
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Nautical Yarns

My second all-time favourite book after E K Gann's, Fate Is The Hunter would have to be his book Song Of The Sirens. It is more or less to boats what the former is to aviation. A great read, which I've gone back to many times over the past 40 odd years.

Available when last I checked, on Amazon, and well worth the money.
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Old 14th Nov 2011, 06:32
  #22 (permalink)  
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One of the follow-on clips from Lon More's offering has this little gem. Presumably they are trying to anchor over the Marianas Trench!

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Old 14th Nov 2011, 09:26
  #23 (permalink)  
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My second all-time favourite book after E K Gann's, Fate Is The Hunter would have to be his book Song Of The Sirens. It is more or less to boats what the former is to aviation. A great read, which I've gone back to many times over the past 40 odd years.
Tpad, try also Joseph Conrad's "Mirror of the Sea", his only non-fiction autobiographical work. Some uncanny parallels with Gann's book. It's downloadable from the Project Gutenberg website.

As, rounding a dark, wooded point, bathed in fresh air and
sunshine, we opened to view a crowd of shipping at anchor lying
half a mile ahead of us perhaps, he called me aft from my station
on the forecastle head, and, turning over and over his binoculars
in his brown hands, said: "Do you see that big, heavy ship with
white lower masts? I am going to take up a berth between her and
the shore. Now do you see to it that the men jump smartly at the
first order."

I answered, "Ay, ay, sir," and verily believed that this would be a
fine performance. We dashed on through the fleet in magnificent
style. There must have been many open mouths and following eyes on
board those ships--Dutch, English, with a sprinkling of Americans
and a German or two--who had all hoisted their flags at eight
o'clock as if in honour of our arrival. It would have been a fine
performance if it had come off, but it did not. Through a touch of
self-seeking that modest artist of solid merit became untrue to his
temperament. It was not with him art for art's sake: it was art
for his own sake; and a dismal failure was the penalty he paid for
that greatest of sins. It might have been even heavier, but, as it
happened, we did not run our ship ashore, nor did we knock a large
hole in the big ship whose lower masts were painted white. But it
is a wonder that we did not carry away the cables of both our
anchors, for, as may be imagined, I did not stand upon the order to
"Let go!" that came to me in a quavering, quite unknown voice from
his trembling lips. I let them both go with a celerity which to
this day astonishes my memory. No average merchantman's anchors
have ever been let go with such miraculous smartness. And they
both held. I could have kissed their rough, cold iron palms in
gratitude if they had not been buried in slimy mud under ten
fathoms of water. Ultimately they brought us up with the jibboom
of a Dutch brig poking through our spanker--nothing worse. And a
miss is as good as a mile.
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Old 14th Nov 2011, 09:46
  #24 (permalink)  
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Nautical yarns...

Wool. Wool is always great for sweaters, shirts, and socks in wet weather.

Silk works too, as well as various synthetics such as polypropylene.

Cotton, not good for clothing, but canvas is the classic for sails.

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Old 14th Nov 2011, 10:21
  #25 (permalink)  
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I think there is a video of this. The tug boat lets go of its cargo upstream of the bridge, and, because the river is a bit high and fast, it gets sucked under and pops up on the other side, with the engine clearly running as it rights itself and proceeds to catch up with the cargo.

Must have made a mess of lunch in the galley.

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Old 14th Nov 2011, 12:24
  #26 (permalink)  
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Location: Sydney, Australia
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Oh, I'm not sure anyone would believe the real salty stories. Merchant seaman ashore in South America and Asia never ends up pretty.
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Old 14th Nov 2011, 15:02
  #27 (permalink)  
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In the 60s' it was always a quiet run up the road in Callao, just for a swift half. Very friendly people, I seem to remember.
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Old 14th Nov 2011, 15:29
  #28 (permalink)  
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Believe it or not a true salty tale.

I joined a vessel in a certain port in Asia, yonks ago, and there was a large hole in the forecastle at the very pointy end.

What happened was the ship was departing a nearby port and there another British ship was at anchor waiting for the pilot. For some reason the Old Man didn't like the Company that owned the ship.

He steamed round the ship once then rammed it, caused quite a bit of damage, but above the waterline. He then went astern and was going for another ramming when the Mate reached the bridge and they missed it on the second attempt.

We then went to dry docked for repairs, Old Man left. He was, I believe, overly fond of certain beverages.
Never heard anything more, but I was only a lowly Apprentice at the time.
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Old 14th Nov 2011, 22:41
  #29 (permalink)  
I'll mak siccar
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One was an aviator, with wings to prove it. They were right there on my bosom, hard not to see, because I was wearing an RN battledress.

The Lords Commissioners decided it would be good for Davaar to spend some time at sea, so to sea one went. The Lords get what they want. The sea was not very deep, mind you; South coast.

Our trusty vessel was the junior ship in a flotilla (squadron?) of four tasked with pretending to sweep mines out of The Solent. I was the navigator. The captain was not an aviator.He was what some called a "Fish-head", which I never did, not to his face anyway.

He had a preference, which he voiced, for the No 5 Reefer over the battledress. Puddling to and fro in The Solent he asked me for a course to steer, which I gave him, right swiftly.

"Subby!", he said, to me, "How did you work that out so quickly?"

"One in sixty, Sir", I said.

"What's that?", asked he.

"For small angles, Sir", I said, "The sin of the angle equals the angle. One takes one's thumb and ..... " I could see I had lost him, and I was right. He liked his ship navigated by a big brass ruler on rollers on a flat table. That, he told me, enabled them to steer to half a degree.

"Well", I thought but did not say, "You lot could not steer this tub to within half a degree in a month of Sundays!"

He indulged his wit at the expense of aviators and the one-in-sixty rule. He may have mentioned keel-hauling. I did not much care for him nor, I suspect, did he for me. However, he had several rings and I had but the one (if I were wearing the No 5 Reefer; on the battledress none at all). All the same, I paid him great respect, throwing an occasional "Sir" into my repartee.

The payoff that day was to be a trip to France; Rouen.

When we had swept The Solent clean of mines it was time to go, save that the senior ship had lost a dan-buoy. That is a channel marker-buoy. It fell to the junior ship to find said dan-buoy, and only then go off on the jolly to France. When I say it fell to the junior ship, I mean it fell to the navigator in the junior ship.

Every one here will know already that the Solent is odd in that in every day it has four tides, unlike most coastal waters which have but two. Everyone here knows that.

The senior ship claimed to have a positional fix for where they had dropped iff their dan-buoy. Maybe the anchor cable had been too short? Dam' right. Must have drifted in the tides. They were all fish-heads who understood such things.

I laid off a series of the courses the tides would have taken over the eight hours the buoy had been loose, changing every thirty minutes to allow for those four tides. Then I worked out a resultant, off-set the current tide, and gave the Captain a course and time to steer for the dan-buoy. Off we went.

The time to steer elapsed. Should be about here? Needless to say there was no sign whatever of the dan-buoy. The captain was looking far ahead through his binoculars like Nelson at Copenhagen. Not a thing. The officer-of-the watch was doing ditto through his binoculars. The navigator, namely self, was doing much the same.

Not a dan-buoy between us and the horizon. This was the cue for the captain to launch into a tirade against the navigator.

The navigator laid his binoculars down on the chart-table and walked over to the starboard (I can see it now; it was starboard) wing of the bridge. Hark! What do I hear? What can be this strange bumping noise against the side of the ship? Down looked the navigator. Yes! 'Twas even so! We were neatly alongside the senior ship's dan-buoy.

"Oh Sir"!

Last edited by Davaar; 15th Nov 2011 at 14:22.
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Old 14th Nov 2011, 22:53
  #30 (permalink)  
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Posts: 320
I trust you were accorded a bit of respect Davaar....

The anchor dropping episode appears to be from a new ship. New ropes, lots of new paint and no rust,the anchor chain looks new and shiney. I wonder if it was the first time the anchor was dropped. I reckon it was caught on the brake otherwise it would have disappeared out of the pipe.
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Old 14th Nov 2011, 23:04
  #31 (permalink)  
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Perhaps they were taking a sounding?
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Old 14th Nov 2011, 23:44
  #32 (permalink)  
I'll mak siccar
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Location: Tir nan Og
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Do you want the rest of the story?

I agree that my bit was luck, but not I like to think wholly luck. I certainly would not guarantee to repeat it every time.

Since we had saved "loiter and land" time, the captain decided to practise "going alongside" the dan-buoy, and for a while, we did.

Then the inevitable happened. We wrapped the mooring cable round the screw, and there we were, anxiously looking for "ship not under control" cones to fly from the signal hoist.

It seemed to me that we had no chance in Hell of unwrapping the cable and I hinted that we might drop the anchor and radio Southampton for a tug. Not a word of it.

The chief buffer's mate stripped down to his y-fronts and went over the side with, believe it or not, a hacksaw blade. He was able to stay down for a very few seconds only, and the cable was of steel. Needless to say he made no headway. I repaired to my cabin for the old naval tradition of "getting my head down". Great ocean-going ships were hooting majestically as only they can. I awoke when it was long dark. We had, Yes!, a tug and lights, we were firmly anchored for the divers with the cutters, and we set off for France next day.

Last edited by Davaar; 15th Nov 2011 at 13:58. Reason: sp.
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Old 15th Nov 2011, 11:20
  #33 (permalink)  
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Seems like the Old Man was duly rewarded, i imagine his report was interesting reading....
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Old 15th Nov 2011, 12:49
  #34 (permalink)  
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The Old Man probably wrote your name in the back page of the log book then drew a line through it Mr Davaar, and added the comment 'Uppity Youngster' underneath it.
Once in the Log Book it can never be omited,erazured/overwriting later entries, never permitted,the worst sin under the Red Duster was to be logged.

Most of you will have read his story of a man overboard of good navigation and good luck but tiz worth a re read.

Last edited by tony draper; 15th Nov 2011 at 13:01.
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Old 15th Nov 2011, 13:29
  #35 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Dorking
Posts: 471
I'm only a yachty, but the following has always made I larf.

Reminds me of a Cowes Week race back in the mid 90s. A bunch of us were sailing a 1720 (open-transom sportsboat with a cockpit running right to the mast) while the owner schmoozed some clients on a stinkpot he'd borrowed. Typical Cowes Week start, off the Squadron with about 8-squillion knots of tide taking us towards Ryde, and almost no wind. Race committee decided to send everyone off down tide (which was also downwind) so as to get each fleet away from the start before the next one.

Our plan was to kedge uptide of the line, pull the hook up just before the gun and zoom off, downwind and down tide. So far so good. Then one of the guys pipes up "Hey, if we anchor stern-to we'll be pointing downwind, and we can get the kite up before the start..." Sounded like a good idea. A really, really good idea...

The anchor warp gets tied onto the transom and we chuck the hook over the back. The owner is hovering at a sedate distance in his stinkpot. There is also a RIB in the vicinity, with a commentator reporting live for Cowes Week Radio.

Those of you who are more awake will recall that I mentioned an open transom.

Just as we're starting to think about the kite, the hook hits the bottom and bites. The boat slows down, stops, and the transom sinks. About two feet. And's that's just to start with. Within a couple of seconds the entire crew are stood on the foredeck apart from me. I'm sat on the gunwhale, up to my waist in water, steering backwards with both hands, as the water comes past at 8-squillion knots. The owner is looking on from his stinkpot. His clients are taking photographs. Cowes Week Radio are commentating, live, to anyone who doesn't have a good enough view. The anchor line, attached to the transom, disappears into the water at 45 degrees. We can't even let it out, because it's attached to the boat with a bowline. From the foredeck a quiet voice announces '1 minute...'

Credit Dave S on Sailing Anarchy.
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Old 15th Nov 2011, 14:16
  #36 (permalink)  
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We had a cabin cruiser when I were a lad. At least me Grandad did. He built it from a retired ship’s lifeboat, fitted it out with a full deck, berths for six forr’ard, saloon aft and engine room/bridge midships with galley to port and heads to starboard. The galley was a tiny worktop with a miniature sink, hand-pump tap and a two burner stove fuelled by a Calor Gas tank. The heads were flushed with a hand-pump and had to be primed with half a pint of water before one started pumping. It was the custom for the men folk to crew the “Dandylion” for the trip down from the Tees, first to Whitby for a fortnight , then to Scarborough, where she’d lie up for the summer while we used her as a holiday home.

Now, Grandad always took his teeth out at night and on the good ship Dandylion he kept them in an old baked bean tin, next to the sink. We were tied up to a mooring buoy overnight, by Paddy’s Hole, next to the South Gare at Teesmouth, waiting to set off for Whitby first thing in the morning. Uncle Geoff got up in the night, used the heads and pumped them clear. In the morning, the Skipper called all hands to the bridge. “Where’f me bloody teef??” he demanded. “Own up! Which one of you thkurvy thkum hath hidden me teef??” We looked at each other. Who was it? “I had ‘em in me tin by the think” he said ."..and now they’re gorn! – Where are they?” Uncle Geoff turned paler than a pale thing. “Oh God!” he said. “I’ve pumped them overboard!” he gasped. Aye; the daft bugger had used Grandad’s false teeth container to prime the pump.

We waited for the tide to go out and when we’d settled on to the mud flat, over the side we all went, knee deep in mud (and, no doubt, the contents of yesterday night’s pumpings from the heads) looking for the missing teeth. They were never found and Grandad took us back up the river while he had a new pair made at great expense. We left for Whitby two weeks later but Grandad’s new teeth forever after rested overnight in their own special container screwed to the bridge ceiling, just above the windscreen.
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Old 16th Nov 2011, 03:12
  #37 (permalink)  
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I’m not really a frequent sight on the oggin, but I did sail with the British STA on the Malcolm Miller twice. This isn’t a big story but still goes down as one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

A few of us were standing up forward as we’re heading out of port for the first time. Moderate wind, light chop, a little motion on the ship. Up to now, everything but the bottom of the hull is desert dry.

One bloke hands his camera to another and says “Take my picture, will you?” as he steps backwards and leans up against the rail. For about 2 seconds, while the cameraman is sorting himself out, our hero is standing against the rail holding his smile when, completely out of nowhere, one tiny bit of wave, no more than about 3 bucketfuls, sneaks up the hull and throws itself right on top of our man. Nothing else got so much as a fine misting.

One second he’s standing there fully dry, smiling, half a second later he’s in the same position, drenched through and still smiling, drops of seawater now hanging on the ends of his eyelashes.

How that wave knew he was there in that spot at that time is still a mystery to me, but it nailed him with military precision, and no collateral soaking.
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Old 16th Nov 2011, 19:36
  #38 (permalink)  
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Had a similar experience, Basil. My second voyage was as a watch leader. Mid-cruise and in some rough seas, we were cleaning the ship (field day, is it?). I was standing in the lifeboat doing something and one of our trainees, a retired guy, in fact, was between the boat and the rail, swabbing the deck. Mid-swab, he simply leaned over, fed the fish, then went right back to swabbing. If I'd blinked I'd have missed it entirely. As you say, respect!

As for me, when I'm feeling sick like that, I'm a complete girl's blouse - useless to man and beast!
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Old 17th Nov 2011, 10:33
  #39 (permalink)  
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When he retired my grandad sold his fishing boat to a bloke who did a complete restoration job on her. Eventually grandad was invited over to see the completed job.

I asked him how she looked: "Great, the whole engine was done in Hammeroid paint".
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Old 17th Nov 2011, 10:50
  #40 (permalink)  
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LC: it's POR-15 you want for that job.
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