I joined a scruffy looking Volvatella in Rotterdam in early December 1961, Captain Withers who had taken command a few days previously had a reputation for running a very tight ship but very much liked good quality food. Volvatella was Chinese crewed but with British officers and engineers, as 3rd trip Deck apprentice I was appointed ships carpenter which meant permanent day work, no watches but on stand by duties from end of passage through to full away on passage. I was responsible for the daily monitoring of drinking water for quality,quantity as well as ordering and monitoring the loading of fresh supplies. Captain Withers wanted Deck side cleared of rust and repainted, I was give the job of derusting all screws and threads on tank hatches including securing clips and the long hatch lifting threads, it was hard work, most lifting threads were badly corroded taking several hours each using a die and spanner all work was inspected each day, once all work was completed Volvatella looked very smart. Captain Withers then instructed me to refurbish the bridge decking seams with pitch and oakum, so I spent the next few weeks on my hands and knees! Over the months we sailed to Geelong,Miri,Kharg Island,Yokohama,Singapore,Bombay. On 5th February 1962 on passage from Geelong to Miri we caught a hurricane off Western Australia - boy was it rough! We left Bombay on 2nd July for Mena, en route a day or two out we were asked to stand by Venassa on passage from Germany - who had broken down in the Gulf, we one of a number of Shell tankers within a few hours steaming that evening, first light the following day we sighted Venassa and stood by waiting orders from Shell, within an hour of our arrival Achatina appeared and carried on passage after a few messages. From the moment we increased speed the previous evening it had been all hands on deck to prepare to undertake a tow, the insurance wire was hauled aft using a wire spring , as ships carpenter I protected all vulnerable rubbing areas deck side with timber as well as lining the stern panama fairlead with timber and lead sheet , 2 poop deck fairleads were braced with timber, finally anchors and windlass were made ready if needed. The insurance wire was flaked out down an aft companionway with a running pulley in the bight shackled to a messenger line and midship winch to control paying out. Finally the go ahead to tow came through and started the following morning - 7th July I think. We approached Venassa from port quarter firing a rocket line onto her forecastle from about 100 metres, as she had limited windlass power we hauled aboard one of her manila mooring lines which shackled to our insurance wire and then hauled to Venassa by her windlass and finally shackled to one of her anchor cables, our end of the wire had been lead through the midship sett of bits and secured round both poop deck winchs, the poop deck then out of bounds for the duration of the tow , a continuous watch being kept from the aft boat and bridge decks. The following day within a few miles of Mena harbour limits a decision was made to take Venassa's emergency power away from steering in readiness for harbour towing by tugs, I was on watch on the aft boat deck at the time as Venassa began to yaw and the towing cadence came higher and higher the more she moved, eventually the connecting shackle cleared the water and parted with a large spring like coil of insurance wire hurtling towards our stern for a few seconds before sinking.We were a few miles short for a full salvage payment but still received a bonus. Volvatella was probably the most rewarding hands on experience in my 6 years at sea - being in control of windlass and anchors when required , long hours with little rest 30 plus when towing , lots of shipboard DIY , and last but least good food and a very competent crew and captain
Joined Curacao March 73, left San Francisco July 73. We were carrying white oils, mainly jet fuels from Curacao to the east and west coasts of the US. Spacious, modern (compared to Plagiola that I had been on before) and a pretty reliable girl too. On the last trip to SF, we got new films at Panama City including Dirty Harry so it was pretty fitting as we were heading up to Oakland to discharge and for me to pay off.
After the Platidia, this trip was an absolute breeze. Solen was the newest and smartest Joe Boat I was ever on at 9 years old. Lovely ship, spacious and well fitted with a cavernous engine room. I did my second trip as an apprentice engineer on her, joining in Europe and carrying crude to Malaya and Singapore in 1969 before coming back to the UK in August. It was my first exposure to a Chinese crew, loved their food and still do but can't eat the anglicised versions. I remember the crew catching a huge manta ray while we were on an SPBM off Malaya. Big news rounding the Cape coming back was of the moon landing!
Hemifusus was my last H boat, joined and left in Singapore during first half of 74 after I had passed my 2nd Class Steam ticket. Nice old girl, running around the Pacific with Lub Oils and the only time I went to Japan was on her. I loved the routes but, with new ships coming on line and me only getting sent to old ones, I was becoming a little bored with Shell boats by the time I was on her and wanted something more modern so I left Shell for a challenging role with a Greek shipping company - where my Panamanian ticket cost me just 10bucks and I could have a 2/E berth and pay!
Hemicardium was my one and only full trip as a 5/e. I joined it and left it in Curacao during 1971, in between we did lub oils around Europe and Africa and drydocked in Bremerhaven. With the Hemidonax, she was quite unique in having Thomson Lamont forced circulation boilers which were not in good shape when I joined. Our drydock in Bremerhaven was only pretty uneventful, I remember a stripper doing amazing things (to me) with a snake in a nightclub and that I was on duty one night, walking around the top of the boiler room when I suddenly heard a stream of Glaswegian expletives (I had done my Phase 3 there so understood the lingo a bit). He had been burning out air heater tubes and some slag got inside his collar guard. It turned out he lived round teh corner from the girlfriend of one of my fellow apprentices. We did a hell of a lot of work during the dock and the ship was not too bad by the time we returned to Curacao for our next African run. There were a few issues but by and large we coped quite well and I and a couple of others asked if I could return for my next trip. No answer from Shell but I believe they considered sending out a psychiatrist as everyone before had been desperate to leave her. Hard work, but one of my best trips!
I joined the Axina in Honolulu in January 1972 as 4/E. We flew out a few days beforehand and had a chance to go round Pearl Harbour and swim on Waikiki beach - "this is the life" I thought. She was a good ship in so many ways, well maintained, smart, decent accommodation, good food (Chinese crew if I remember correctly) and carrying white oils when I was on her. We ran on Shell Eastern routes, including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and various Pacific islands all from Bukom. Happy days. I paid off in Singapore after just over 4 months a happy man. That was soon to be overturned when I got my next posting!
I joined the Acavus for my final trip as an apprentice engineer August 1970 but I can't remember where that was. I completed the required total of 18 months sea time as we apprentices did in those days on her. We were carrying white oils (quite a change after bitumen on my first ship and crude on my second) and we were often discharging up the US west and gulf coasts. She was the first vessel on which I came across a sewage treatment plant which had been fitted in preparation for trips up the St Lawrence Seaway although I never did that route. The Hamworthy system used to get blocked up with cigarette filter tips thrown down the heads and hammocks for hamsters quietly disposed of by any young lady on board. As the E/A doing the 12-4, keeping it working was delegated to me - perhaps that's why some said I was full of sh!t. My only trip to Punta Cardun, Venezuala was on her, where we almost lost a 1st trip 5/E who fell in love with one of the girls at La Estrella - the innocence of first trippers versus the experience of an apprentice almost out of his probationary time ;-) . I became a fully fledged 5th engineer on her March '71 on passage to Halifax, Nova Scotia where we discharged a cargo of Stove Oil and I paid off. Nice flight home with TCA (long since gone).
My father R.S. Datema was the first captain on this vessel . My brother and I were on the maiden trip . Good memories . Litlle boys ... a lot of vanilla icecream .
This was my wife's first trip to sea with me, was a short voyage as broke my right wrist trying to start emergency fire pump down the fore peak. 2nd engineer and I did not know it had been under water!! we paid off on Middlesborough
My mum remembers that her father, Philip Sharer, captained this vessel. I don't know of any dates unfortunately bit if anyone out there crewed with him and could tell me anything about any journeys, places or anything about him I'd be really grateful. I have memories as a kid spending time round his house and all the seeing souvenirs he collected from his travels. He also had a Shell flag desk ornament that i used to love raising and lowering. I never got the chance to know him as well as I'd have liked to and would've loved to have heard him tell of his time at sea. Any information... good or bad (!) I'd love to hear it.
On a routine Main Engine Crankcase inspection in 1999 I found extensive cracks in some of the main bearing support girders. Repairs were not feasible the only remedy was to fit a complete new Main Engine bed plate. In the last quarter of 2001 Myrina entered Sembawang shipyard Singapore to have this work carried out Phill Williams was the Engineer superintendent and I was also there as a temporary Engine Superintendent due to the amount of Main Engine work involved. This was completed and the vessel sailed with the Main Engine fully operational in November.
Prior to handing the ship over to its new owners in March 2004 she spent 3 months in Sembawang shipyard Singapore fitting a new Main Engine Bed plate due to the original developing cracks in the bearing housings similar to those found in Myrina where the bed plate was changed 2001.