Leeds City

Comments from the forum - 2

Memories of a twelve month voyage as Mate of the Leeds City. This trip, I remember with some clarity, in that the timing was such that we were all eligible to reclaim the years Income Tax! It was the only time I experienced a visit to the Great Lakes of North America.

I joined on April 1st 1964 in Belfast. Master, Capt. Joe Thornhill/Myself, Mate/ J.C.Lee 2nd Mate. Trevor Griffiths, C/E and one of the Towning brothers 2nd.Eng.

Vessel fixed on Charter to Statesmarine loading bagged cereals and foodstuffs for the Far East. We proceeded to Montreal to be fitted with extra fairleads etc for passage through the St Lawrence Seaway. An interesting requirement was that as the locks were unmanned, it was necessary for ships to “land” a seaman in order to handle mooring ropes and secure. This was accomplished by the provision of temporary davits fitted port and starb abreast the mainmast house attached to which was a Bosuns chair. As the vessel slowly approached the lock, this would be swung outboard with a crew member in the chair who would be lowered onto the quay and thus assume the office of Mooring Master! My Senior Apprentice, Ken "Bonzo"”Jones was assigned this task, which, towards the end, he accomplished with flair and dexterity! He was sometimes a little apprehensive that he was going to be left behind!

The passage through the series of locks was long and tedious and seemed to go on forever, but transiting the Thousand Islands- an area East of Kingston, Ontario as the St Lawrence emerges into Lake Ontario. Had to be seen to be believed. Passing close to very expensive real estate with beautiful cruisers tied up at private jetties- it seemed an incongruous place for a Smithship to be! Strict speed limits applied and oil pollution carefully monitored.

Passage across Lake Ontario was without incident and vessel entered the Welland Ship Canal, exiting into Lake Erie. The distance across to Buffalo, our first loading port required the services of an ice breaker as, at that time of the year, the ice tended to get blown into the Eastern end of the Lake. Our next port was Detroit, Michigan, thence through the St Clair Canal into Lake Huron, Lake Superior ending up in Duluth, which is about as far as a deep-sea ship, could get.

From Duluth we retraced our steps back into Lake Michigan, loading at Chicago, Milwaukee and Green Bay. Thence commenced the tedious passage back down to Montreal. Then through Panama to Ensenada, Mexico where all unused space was topped up with cotton bales. Discharge ports were Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Saigon where we went off hire.
We then did two grain trips- Sydney/ Madras/ Calcutta and Thevanard/Port Pirie /Shatt al Arab.
Finally we went on hire to Safmarine loading General and canned fruit around the S.A. coast back to London and Hull. By this time, my youngest daughter was ten months old and didn’t know what a “Dad” was, so there was a subsequent period of adjustment for both of us. John Cann. Posted on Forum 07 January 2011.

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Memories from RSL staff. Page No. [1] [2]