Cardiff City (1)

Comments from the forum - 4

Just to share a little salty tale about Macgregor single pull hatch covers which, at the time in the early 60's, in my view were a big improvement on the old hatch boards/tarps on the main deck.

The 'Houston' and the 'Cardiff' from 1962 and 1963 were the first in our fleet to be fitted with Macgregors on the upper deck although they still had hatch boards and beams in the tween deck. The slightly earlier and also Doxford built 'Devon' and 'Orient' of the very same design as 'Houston' and 'Cardiff', still had hatchboards, beams and tarps on the main deck.
My first trip on the 'Cardiff' in 1965, I really thought the Macgregors were so much less hassle than what I had heard about the hatch boards and I was always glad that I never had to serve on the older ships.
Anyway, sometime on that 14/15 month trip on the 'Cardiff' and we had been on the ship for quite some months, we 3 apprentices had been working cleaning/painting No.1 hatch on a ballast voyage at sea. At the end of the day we went to close the hatch lids and to do that we had to pull the wire runner down from the topped derrick and through a snatch block on the break of the focscle and then back to the folded hatch covers in their stowage position at the after end of the hatch.
This particular day at sea (and we had done this procedure so many times) Peter Baverstock, who was the middle apprentice, aged 18 at the time, and I were balancing on the after end hatch coaming (possibly 8 inches wide) over a completely open hold. In order to secure the runner to the hatch lids, Pete was taking the weight of the wire runner, I was there with the shackle and pin to secure it, while at the same time with my left hand trying to help him take the weight. Pete was struggling and called out to the senior apprentice who was, out of sight, on the winch on the deckhouse above us to "Give us more slack" . The senior apprentice spun the winch control to fast but very carelessly put the winch the wrong way i.e. the winch 'pulled' very fast instead of 'slacking'.
I have this lifelong memory of poor Peter being wrenched backwards off into the void and me, horrified, on the coaming with the shackle in my hand. We were light ship and there was nothing between him and the bottom of No 1 Hold, a completely open hatch, a long way down to the tank top. I can still see his shocked face.

Two things saved his life as he would certainly have been killed had he dropped. As he went backwards off the coaming he had the presence of mind to hang on valiantly with both hands to the wire runner and he swung like a big pendulum into the hold. The other lucky aspect that saved him was that while the after end of the hatch was completely open down to the bottom, no beams or anything, we had actually left the beams and hatch boards at the fore end of the tween deck, i.e. two sections of the tween deck hatch covers.
So as I say like a pendulum he swung out and under the two sections of hatch boards at the fore end of the hold, he managed to hang on and was lowered carefully to the tank top of the hold. He realised he had survived and recovered very quickly but came up that hold ladder extremely quickly and .....well shall we say he wasn't very happy with the senior apprentice, either then or for the rest of the trip!
I was so glad to see a few years ago on this site that I found out he was still at sea, but has probably retired by now, I'm sure he must recall that incident when he nearly didn't make his 19th birthday!

As we all know, these things had to be done and and there was no official 'Elf and Safety' in them days although we always abided by the old adage "One Hand for the ship but one hand for yourself!" That was very good RSL seamanship training as well as being a lesson for life. The times of putting up shifting boards and the feeders carrying the heavy wooden boards across the beams, while the ship was rolling often heavily, also come to mind. Graham Mapplebeck. Posted on the Forum 18 March 2017.

Disclaimer: The statements on this page are the views of the person who posted them on the forum. The events took place many years ago and in most cases rely on those people's memories, and so we cannot guarantee the accuracy although every effort is made to check it.

Cardiff City. Page [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]
Memories from RSL staff. Page No. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]