Homer City (2)

Comments from the forum - 1

I suppose I can blame the Homer City for whetting my appetite for the sea.
When I was about 13 years old (too long ago to remember exact dates), but it must have been in the summer of 1950, My father Alec Boyer, a chartered shipbroker on the Baltic Exchange in St. Mary Axe in the City and who numbered Sir William Reardon Smith & Sons Ltd. among his various shipowner clients, received an invitation to a luncheon on board the Homer City. The invitation included my mother but due to illness she could not go and I was taken instead. Again memory is dim but it must have been a Saturday as I would not have been able to get off school if a weekday,
The Homer City was discharging timber in the Surrey Commercial Docks and I do remember that no work was actually going on when we boarded. We were met at the gangway by a smartly dressed QM (seacunny) and a young apprentice boy in uniform and ushered up to the Captain's cabin. I cannot remember the Master's name nor the names of any of the others on board except one little roly poly of a man who I remember had hair growing from the tip of his nose. I do remember his name because the way he spoke to me was scary but this is not the place to divulge his identity.
The Captain's day room was full of ship's officers and other guests. There were uniformed bods from HM Customs, the PLA, River police and assorted suits (my father included) from the City etc.
Obviously serious discussions were pending with much elbow bending and the presence of yours truly would somewhat cramp their style. So, I was given a pair of large 7x50 binocs and escorted by another young lad who told me he was the 3/O to the upper bridge above the wheelhouse (I know now of course -the monkey island) and spent a very happy hour or two navigating the ship through the docks and it gave quite a buzz to stand at the wheel and look in the compass binnacle (the standard compass had been removed), no doubt to prevent the London dockers from lifting it)
Anyway, after quite a long time I was taken down to what I know now to be the officers' saloon and what an impression that made on me. Of course as old RSL hands will know, the Homer City was Indian crewed unlike the rest of the fleet who had white crews. Standing in this beautiful saloon, with polished wooden bulkheads and long tables with white linen table cloths and silver ware, against the bulkheads were three Indian stewards resplendent in white jackets, navy blue trousers and blue cummerbunds. What a sight! The luncheon was sumptuous and I had my first taste of a truly Indian curry among the courses. Conversation between the men was lively and funny. No doubt the serious "discussions" in the Master's quarters had been very successful!

After lunch when more "discussions" were to take place obviously, I was given the grand tour of the ship. The very strong lasting memory I have of that was being taken down to the engine room, What a palace of shining chrome and brass met my eyes with three or maybe it was five Indian greasers working diligently to maintain the excellent conditions below. I wish I could remember who the Chief was (I have a vague feeling it might have been Bertie Lester but I am not sure.)

I was shown the accommodation of all officers and crew and sampled more curry in the crew galley. Excellent stuff.

Late afternoon, the "Discussions" obviously at an end and various cars arrived to take us all back. In our car on the way back to the Tube (we lived in N. London in those days), I said to my Dad "Please, I want to go to sea."
My father said not to judge all ships by the Homer City as some of the RSL vessels were pretty grim

In a few years time (I think in 1955), I signed indentures with Sir Willie and joined my first ship the "Houston City" 1942 vintage and 40 years later walked off my last ship the TMM "Azteca I"

But that's another story. Charlie Boyer. Posted on the forum 15th December 2010.

I spent most of my apprenticeship on Homer City from 20th January 1953 to 27th October 1955 with Captains Carnaffan and Dodman, and Chief Officers J. Vaughan and M.J. Higgins and consider myself to have been very privileged to have had such great mentors. Tony Lightfoot. Posted on the forum 16th December 2010.

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.

Homer City. Page [1] [2] [3]
Memories from RSL staff. Page No. [1]