"Captain's daughter, Moraned Jones"
My life on a sailing ship, Langdale.
I was born on a sailing ship ‘The Langdale’ on January 26th 1909 on the passage home from Australia to Falmouth. I was christened Moraned, the Welsh for "Born at Sea", the birth was registered at Hamburg, but I had a British citizenship, having been born of British parents on a British ship. My mother was hoping to be home before I arrived, but the ship was in calm water, no wind, as you know there were no engines in ships in those days, everything depended on the weather, and the speed of the ship depended on the force of the wind.
I spent about five years of my life on the ‘Langdale’ going from one country to another, on the South American run and to Australia, loading cargoes of coal and saltpetre chiefly.
The accommodation on board was very spacious, we had a huge cabin, as big as your sitting room and dining room together, with four separate cabins leading from it, which were our bedrooms with bunks in them, incidentally I never had a cot, only a big hammock, which rocked me to sleep with the movement of the ship.
I am one of the few women who rounded the treacherous ‘Cape Horn’, my mother rounded it several times.
Life on a sailing ship in 1909 was a very hard life, the voyages took several months, only the captain was allowed to have his wife and family with him, his quarters were aft of the ship and the crew forward. On the Langdale there was the Captain, Mate, four Officers, a butcher, cook and a sail maker (to repair the sails if they were damaged by storms) and several members of the crew. The Captain had to be a very strict disciplinarian, to keep order on the ship, and if a man misbehaved he was put in irons in the hold of the ship, and kept on starvation diet for a few days. My father had a large medicine chest, as the ship carried no doctor, if anybody died at sea, the sea burial was performed by the Captain, on one voyage a man fell down the hold and broke his back.
"Moraned and her father"
There was no ‘Deepfreeze’ in those days, so you would see, a couple of pigs and a few hens roaming the deck, until they were ready for slaughter by the butcher. There was always plenty of fresh fruit on board, father had hands of bananas hanging from ceiling (Deckhead) these were bought when very green, and eaten as they turned yellow, and oranges were brought in crates.
We didn’t have any fresh milk, so instead of ‘Readybrek’ or baby food, I was given hard ship’s biscuits soaked in condensed milk.
My mother told me that on one occasion, two sailing ships passed within seeing distance on the Atlantic, the weather was very calm, so the captains signalled to each other, they both had their wives on board, so father told the officers to lower the lifeboat, they rowed mother and father to the other ship for afternoon tea! I had been left on the Langdale, a steward looking after me, this was a very risky procedure, as a storm might have blown up any minute, then the ships would be miles apart and no hope of lowering the boats for the return journey, but all went well, and my mother enjoyed a chat with another woman, having not been in female company for several months. Mother always said she enjoyed her life at sea, looking after the two children, and making good use of her sewing machine to put a womanly touch in our quarters on the ship.
Three Welsh Master Mariners and their wives at San Francisco, Capt and Mrs, Griffith Jones, on the left.
The officers used to ask us to tea in their quarters, but father had to give his permission for us to go. The sail maker made me a dress in sail canvass, (a very stiff material, I couldn’t sit down in it, but I was very proud of it) The officers made a terrible fuss of me, I didn’t want to go back to my parents quarters! When in Australia, they presented me with a beautiful doll, I called her Sydney. (I was seven years old when I went to Australia, mother and I went on a passenger liner from Liverpool to meet father in Melbourne.)
On one of our voyages, which, was a very rough trip, my father called mother and I on deck, he had sighted an Iceberg – which was projected several feet out of the water, and was very dangerous, if we had struck it, the ship would have sunk. By midnight we had passed through seventeen icebergs, and a very clever piece of navigation got us safely through.
In 1914 we had to give up our travels, as I had to go to school. My father had a new ship ‘The Grenada’ during the 1914-18 war. The Germans boarded the Grenada in the English Channel, told the Captain and crew to abandon the ship, and take to the boats, then the Germans went on board and took this lovely ship to Germany as prize money, they probably changed her name and flew the German Flags.
My father then joined the Navy during the war, and my mother stayed home with John and me, after the war was over father went out to Brazil and was Captain of a passenger boat out there.
My next bit of traveling was in 1928. John my brother had decided by now to make the sea his career, he joined the Blue Funnel line, trading out to the Far East, mother and I went out to Brazil, it was a great experience, I was old enough to enjoy it. I have traveled all along the coast North and South of South America, Rio de Janeiro being our headquarters, where we stayed for two years, but that is another story!!
Copyright © Rhiw.com