July 1911 ~ January 1913
Arvonian. I was then transferred to the Forecastle as Ordinary Seaman at £2-10-0 a month, the same rate I had been getting as Mess-room Steward. My brother John joined the ship as Mess-room Steward in my place, and we sailed partly loaded with coal on the 26th of July 1911 for Antwerp to complete loading Railway material, wagon’s etc., for Paranagua and Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil). The Railway material we discharged at the first port, and as this river port had no water laid on, we were compelled to clean out the two lifeboats and tow them a distance of two miles to a creek where there was a well, fill the boats with water, tow them back to the ship, and empty the water out of the boat into the ships domestic tanks with buckets.
When we arrived outside Rio Grande Bar, we found six or seven ships, partly loaded like ourselves, at anchor. Some had been there for weeks as there was less than fifteen feet of water on the bar. This was an open sea anchorage and we remained there for twenty-eight days before we eventually crossed the bar. I was given the job of night watchman, and had to check the ship’s position in relation to the Fairway buoy, and as happened on two or three occasions, when the wind became strong from seaward at night, I had to call the Master and Mate, attend the chain locker when picking up the anchor, and then to the wheel until a deeper spot had been found, the engines were kept ready at short notice throughout. Having discharged, we sailed in ballast for Galveston, Texas to load cotton for Havre, and bunkered at Newport News on the 1st of January 1912, on the beginning of the worst passage I ever had. It was a good job the old ship was loaded with cotton as some of those that left the American port the same day were lost, others like the “Margam Abbey” had derricks and hatches smashed.
After discharging the cotton, we were on our way out of Havre when the stern tow-line fouled the tug’s propeller. Our main engines had to be put astern to avoid hitting the dock gates, and so, our new bronze propeller hit the stern tug, all four blades were badly bent, but we proceeded and after a slow passage arrived at Penarth Docks, South Wales, where the propeller was inspected. We loaded in twenty-four hours, at four tips in the basin and proceeded to Devonport to coal units of H.M. Navy. We returned in ballast to Cardiff. Our next voyage commenced at Cardiff on the 16th of February 1912, we loaded coal, which was discharged into H.M. ships and depot at Gibraltar, then in ballast to the Gambia River, West Africa. We steamed over 160 miles up river and then loaded a full cargo of ground-nuts for Marseilles, we saw more wild creatures on that trip than I ever saw afterwards, hippos in their natural element, monkeys of every tribe, and crocodiles. Having discharged at Marseilles we loaded salt at Torreviega, Spain for Calcutta. We arrived at Calcutta before the monsoon commenced and the Port Medical Officers ordered our six Welsh firemen to hospital due to heat exhaustion, in their place we shipped twenty-one Indian firemen, for whom temporary quarters had to be put up aft. Previous to this our crew had all been Welsh except the three mentioned below. Master, two Mates, three Engineers, one Donkeyman, six Firemen, Steward, Cook and Mess-room boy, Bosun, three Able Seamen, and three Ordinary Seamen. The Second Engineer was an Englishman, the Cook a Maltese, and one Able Seaman was a Negro from Barbados.
We did six trips on the coast with coal, two to Madras,
two to Mandapan, and two to Negapatam. On our second trip which was to
Mandapan, the terminal port for the G.I.P. Railway on the Indian side opposite
the Northern tip of Ceylon, we went aground on a sand bank out of sight of land.
As the ship had stopped, the Second Mate was ordered to lower the jolly boat
with my brother John and myself rowing to take soundings, whilst we were away
from the ship floated and we were recalled. We got alongside and the Second Mate
and myself climbed aboard, leaving Jack to hook on the tackles, we began to
hoist but as the ship was moving through the water, she seemed to be dragging a
wave behind her, due to the shallow water, and as it advanced it caught the
stern of the boat and unhooked the tackle, which caused the boat to hang on end,
and very nearly caused John to drop into the sea. We eventually reached Manapan
and discharged into native boats, of about thirty tons each. Half loaded boats
were left alongside the ship at her anchorage overnight. One night, I found one
boat had sunk alongside and half of its palm tree mast was all that was visible,
I reported my find to the Mate who decided that nothing could be done until
morning. Next morning the engines being ready, the barges alongside were made
fast astern, the anchor was weighed, and when a new anchorage was found clear of
the sunken barge, the engines were put astern, and apparently everyone forgot
the barges made fast aft until the propeller hit one and sank it. All the blades
of this propeller were badly bent. Our fourth coastal trip was to Madras and
soon after we left the Hoogly, the Master died and was buried at sea, the old
Mate taking over for the trip until another Master came out from Nefyn. Early
December 1912 we loaded on the Hansa Line berth at Calcutta for Hamburg, the
cargo being Manganese Ore and Jute, and having discharged at Hamburg, we paid
off at Penarth on the 30th of January 1913.
March 1913 ~ November 1915
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