20 July 2005

Sea Life 1951. Modasa Maturing rapidly.

First draft:
Yes, maturity came rapidly. I soon learnt what a gin sling was on the Modasa, a favourite cooling and partying drink. Socialising with the passengers on the deck below us was encouraged and it soon became a enjoyable experience when off duty. By this time I had begun to smoke as most did during this era. Cigarettes were very cheap on-board attracting no duty when at sea. Alcohol at sea fell into that category too.

It was not as though smoking and having a drink was new to me, it wasn't. During my time at South Shields more than once I had slipped into a pub underage with older friends for a beer but that was not too often due to lack of funds. It was the same with cigarettes.

I found that my manners were a little rough around the edges, too. I soon adapted and learnt quickly. During this period I used to use quite a lot of Brycreem on my hair and plastered it down. A couple of girls a little older than I soon set me straight. Fingernails were now attended to and no longer left over long with a hint of black at the base. Yes, I quickly learnt the social 'do's and don’ts'.

Leaving Aden we passed round the horn of Africa and hugging the coast of Somalia down to Kenya. The sea in the Indian Ocean in1951 was rich in sea life. One day lounging over the ships rail I spotted a giant turtle paddling along happily oblivious to our large vessel only metre away. On another occasion, a large whale sporting in the water perhaps 500 metres distant, again oblivious to us. Gigantic would be a better term for the animal for as he came out of the water, steeply upwards at speed and then, before diving again, it seemed an age before his tail appeared.

Again on another day our ship gave way to a large sea-going dhow, triangular sail billowing in the breeze, low in the water with tied down cargo and the 3/4 crewmen sitting lounging on top. I was told that it was probably coming down from Arabia or the Persian Gulf carrying cargo to the African ports. These dhows were just the same and following the same routes since biblical times and before. I can only picture it as large. These dhows are said to be upwards 25 - 30 tons in weight and a capacity of 300 gur... an old Babylonian measurement... upwards to 90,000 litres capacity.

About 5 days sailing found us close to our next destination, Mombasa in Kenya.

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