12 January 2011

Sea Life 1951. Tynebank Middlesbrough 02

First draft:
We were to sail this evening. This lunchtime I met Captain J Betts for the first time, who introduced himself to me and also his wife. He was a large tubby fellow with a cheery smile, twinkling eyes and sandy hair, probably in his mid-fifties. His wife looked somewhat younger with blond hair and carried a fair bit of weight also. I had met most of the other officers yesterday evening at dinner. The captain kept the conversation flowing, with queries to the 1st mate and Chief Engineer mostly. Not much else was said, the Stewards served the meal and as each cleared his plate the next course was served. Everyone seemed to be in a hurry with jobs to do. I learnt that the The Captains wife would be leaving this afternoon for their home. She had been with the ship since it had arrived at its first port of call, as the Tynebank delivered its cargo to various ports around the British isles.

This afternoon I twiddled my thumbs for a while, I felt I had to do something so I went next door to the radio room, I switched on and ran up the alternator power... , tried the transmitter..., did it transmit?, I was nervous, I was now on my own for the first time. What was the radio coast station for Middlesbrough?, I quickly looked it up and saw it was Cullercoats Radio, call-sign GCC. I wrote it down ready for when we left port and I was ready to send the TR message. I tried the communications receiver and tuned to the general calling frequency, 500khz... usually a busy place and sure enough it was. I became immersed listening in to the traffic, especially when I went up on to the HF bands, picking out the various stations of the worldwide network.

The afternoon rolled along slowly, I remember the steward came with chai and sandwiches. After that I wandered round the deck and into the saloon, no one here to talk to, I suddenly thought, the aerial slung between the masts, had it been slung correctly and the down-lead dressed down correctly. As I checked the aerial a figure appeared and I saw from his dress he was the serang (boatswain, or foreman) of the deck crew. He was just checking too, he introduced himself and we talked for a little while.

Not long after this there was a rumble and pulsating below my feet, I knew that sound, the ship's engines were starting up for testing. Once the pilot was on board it would not be long before the tugs pulled us away from the wharf and turned us round in the river, if necessary and we would be ready to slowly steam down stream with the pilot in charge to the mouth of the river Tees. Once clear of the river mouth the pilot would be dropped off to the pilot boat. That could have been roughly 3 to 5 miles or more away. By this time in December darkness would have set in. I decided to leave sending the TR message to just before dinner time. To “celebrate” my first in charge ship I decided to write the TR in full into the log. Usually the date and time followed by the words “TR sent” was entered.

The TR said the name of the ship, port left, to where bound with some extra information in shortened words and coded letters in between.

I had a final watch to do after dinner... 2000z to 2200z. Towards the end of the watch I monitored GCC local traffic list and the HF list just in case there was late traffic for us. After closing down and setting the Auto Alarm to pick up any SOS messages calls I went to bed feeling pleased with myself.

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