Houston City (3)

Comments from the forum - 1

Victualling. I am reminded by a colleague regarding the change of Ownership of the above vessel. At the time, she was under charter to TMM. My instructions were to join the ship in Mexico, take her over to Japan where she would be handed over to her new Owners.
On the strength of that, our Chief Steward, Evan Sefton decided to let his hair down and began feeding us steak twice a week plus other unheard of delicacies!!
We all now know what the outcome of THAT was-!! RSL retained management- and we were on strict BOT rations for the rest of the voyage in order to bring the Victualling Rate back to reality!!
Strange how one forgets these incidents! John Cann. Posted on forum 20th November 2009.

Cabbage leaves for the mules at Panama. ...and taking the lead from Capt.John Cann's mention of Capt.Picton-Davies' penchant for Sunday services, and my own recall of the innocent, but quite often complex tricks that were played on first trippers, reminds me of being first trip 3/0 on the Houston early 1969...at sea early in the trip one Sunday off West coast Africa, beautiful calm day nothing happening, I casually mentioned to one of the apprentices who was on watch with me in the morning that the Master liked Sunday services(Capt. Mark Higgins.) at 1100 and that therefore he had to find the bibles etc to set it all up. "No you're having me on" he says and after a few more straight-faced elaborations of the story by me, including that "The Master liked to play the organ for the service," thinking he had the answer he said "OK so where is the organ?" "On the Monkey Island" I said and took him up to see the red painted steam organ, with all the pipes going into it, fitted with its own padlock (and the key specially kept by the Master) which of course in fact was the Kidde-Riche smoke detection system. Sorry, (but I must have been so persuasive in those days!!) it was swallowed hook line and sinker, and the poor lad spent the next hour or so asking just about everyone on the ship, including the Serang where the bibles were, until it finally dawned on him. Back he came to the bridge and wasn't very happy as he said "I knew it,you were having me on after all!" ( or choice words to that effect!!)"Well," he said "You'll never get me again this trip!!"....well actually we did some months later...but that's another (and hopefully even better) story.
If you're reading this, my apologies to whoever it was and sorry I cant remember at this length of time, but I have dined out on that story (and several others!!) for years! Graham Mapplebeck. Posted on forum 2nd February 2010.

Houston City. Joined 02/11/1970. Left 02/05/1971.
Captain: Tony Thomas, C/O: Tom McNulty, 2/O: Clancy Collins, 3/O: Charlie Starr, R/O: Andy Vost, C/S: Joe Wagner, C/E: Ian Taylor, 2/E: Larry Williamson, 3/E: Alan Fisher left part voyage - not replaced, 4/E: Kel Blunt, J/E: John Elliott, J/E: Clive Greenwood, J/E: Dave Ricketts, Elec: Tom Thompson (???) left part voyage replaced by John Gardener, Eng Cadet: Dave Jellyman, Deck Cadets: Dougie Cumming, Tony Stockman, Alan Skilton.

It was a a good trip joining in flying out on 02/11/70 to John NB, Houston, Oran, Mostaganum, Toulon (for dry docking), Marseilles, Savona, Madagasgar, various ports) the Comores, Reunion, Lorenzo Marques and Rotterdam paying off on 02/05/71. David Ricketts. Posted on forum 9th April 2011.

After my first posting on this website I was amazed at the number of quick responses, including one from Dave Ricketts whom I sailed with on the Houston City on one memorable voyage in 1970/71.The first part of the trip seemed to go quite smoothly, until we arrived in Mostaganem with a cargo of "food-aid" grain from the USA. There were no proper unloading facilities at this port and the grain was discharged mostly by hand. We were stuck there for ages with very few attractions ashore. Boredom and frustration got the better of some and this lead to a few unfortunate incidents:- The smoking in bed incident.  I remember the accommodation filling with smoke after one of our number set fire to his mattress whilst smoking in bed. Fortunately he was (just) sober enough  to drag the mattress into his shower and douse the flames. He was subsequently relieved of his duties and sent home.  The destruction of the Chief Stewards door. What was that all about?Trouble with the local Bobbies. I remember a great commotion outside my cabin and saw Capt. Flash Thomas being led away by the Police. Apparently there had been some trouble ashore and several bottles thrown at the local Bobbies.Poor old Flash was held responsible and arrested. Anybody remember what happened or how Flash managed to sort things out?The only good thing I remember about that visit was that we had a great Christmas party with Clancy Collins singing his heart out and some welcome female company in the form of a couple of officer's wives and also a delightful French couple called Bob and Genevieve. Does anybody else remember that night? Andrew Vost. Posted on forum 12th April 2011.

Yes Andy I remember. Vividly! Poor old Flash holding the meeting in the Smoke Room and telling the police that British Officers don't get involved in such a fracas. It was new year's eve 1970. I remember the couple who came on board but not their names. I went down (as youngest) to sound the alarms at midnight and the girl came down with me.
The modern discharge machinery we were promised for discharging the grain turned out to be a single portable conveyor belt that didn't quite make the top of the hold as cargo was (slowly) discharged. Plan B was to hire quite a few locals to go onto the holds and bag the grain and use the ships derricks to discharge.
Then on to Toulon for dry dock and that little bar with two blonde mine hostesses who took a shine to Clancy and Clive Greenwood. Incidentally I met up with Clive a couple of times in 2008. He still has those boyish good looks.
The charterers put one of their guys on for the trip south. His name was Pierre with a very big moustache. He seemed to enjoy himself with us and stood a dinner of crayfish for us before he left (and beers of course). David Ricketts. Posted on forum 13th April 2011.

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.

Houston City. Page [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]
Memories from RSL staff. Page No. [1] [2]