Leeds City

Comments from the forum - 1

In 1957 I was on the Leeds City as a second year deck apprentice. The Master was "Ginger" Harris, Mate Harry Lloyd Evans, (later Griff-Jones), 2/O Philip Vanner, 3/O David Pratt. Sparks was Willie Cameron, C/E "Solly" Wainwright , 2/E Robertson , 3/E Wynne Evans and C.Steward John Louden. The other apprentices were Tom Sawyer, Clive Thomas and Peter Radford (the latter two were both from the Reardon Smith School at Fairwater, Cardiff), and Wilf Wainwright.

Philip Vanner had incurred the immediate hatred of Ginger when he joined by changing the nameplate above his cabin door. He unscrewed the builders original one, which listed the cabin as "Second Officer", and replaced it with a brass plate of his own which said "Sub.Lieut. Philip Hugh Greenville Vanner RNR". Ginger threw one of his famous wobblers when he saw it and from that day on P.Vanner was definitely off Ginger's Xmas list.

We sailed in early January 1957, in ballast and bound Key West for orders. I was put on the 12-4 watch with 2nd Mate Vanner. On a fine Sunday afternoon we were steaming along the Florida Keys, close inshore to avoid the strong eastgoing Gulf Stream. Just as we were passing Alligator Reef light, Ginger suddenly appeared on the bridge, in his usual rig of the day and, with without a word to the Officer of the Watch, he told the Indian secunnie at the wheel (we were in hand steering due to coastal navigation and traffic), "Port 20, steer 135". That was about 90 degs off to port of our base course of about 225. Second Officer Vanner 'politely' enquired whether Ginger had the watch, but he was totally ignored. He then turned to me "Call the Mate, Ginger's gone off his trolleyā€¯.Before I went to do his bidding he tried once again to ask Ginger why we were steering away from the Keys and heading straight for the Grand Bahamas Banks. Still totally ignored, the Second mate then decided that he would busy himself in the chartroom, no doubt writing all this up in the log!.

After about an hour on the above course, we were making about 11 knots and 115 degrees due to the Gulf Stream. Then, dead ahead I could see the white breakers and yellow sand bars of the islets and cays of the Grand Bahamas Bank, and it was then that Ginger gave the order dead slow ahead (No notice to ER!). I looked at the Second mate and he just shrugged so I rang the telegraph to Dead Slow Ahead.

Predictably, the ER telephone rang. I picked up the handset and the Third Engineers's irate voice said "what the ----!* are you playing at up there?" "Obey the telegraph " I whispered into the 'phone " the captain is up here and we are heading straight for the reef". Then Ginger tells the helmsman to come to starboard and steer West; and then he started blowing the whistle. Looking over to port I could see a small islet with buildings and a flagpole. Through the binoculars I could make out a Reardon Smith house flag, and, there was a second flag under the RSL one. I was told later, it was the States Marine Line house flag. I was also told that the island was Cat Cay, the holiday home of the States Marine Line chairman. Apparently he was on there along with our own chairman ----would that have been Alan Reardon Smith? Anyway, it appeared that Ginger had received orders to bring the LEEDS CITY down to the Banks so that the two big cheeses could admire RSL's latest addition to the fleet. I think we were on either Voyage 2 or 3.

Ginger then left the bridge again without a word to the Second Mate, and Mr Vanner brought the ship back towards our original track. Charlie Boyer Posted on Forum 11 August 2009.

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.

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