Bill Thompson

I served my time as a deck apprentice with Smiths in the late 50's early sixties on the Atlantic City and New Westminster City (three years on articles on that ship without a day off as I recall). My family were in Australia and there was nothing for me in the UK, plus I wanted to get my sea time in for second mates as quickly as possible.

My wife and daughter did a trip with me in the Fresno City around 1974. After that it was bulk carriers on the Australian Coast. Big on $$$ low on job satisfaction.

Anyway it's good to see a few old familiar faces,and read yarns from yester-year.

When I served my time my home and family were in Australia and after Smiths I spent a few years on the Australian Coast.I'm seventy now and retired from seafaring.Except,,,,to keep myself amused I drive a cruise boat on Lake Macquarie, NSW,,,, Luncheon cruises, dinners, weddings etc etc...keeps me out of mischief.

Last year one of our passengers was a guy who was responsible for winding up RSL back in the eighties, he was ok to talk to, though I did find the subject somewhat depressing as I have always referred to myself as "a Smith's man" as many of us did. It has been a festering sore for me,and I'm sure many many others that such a fine old company should end it's days as it did.

I remember our days on the Fresno City. My wife Anne says hi and also my daughter Jo.Jo was nine at the time and she is now forty-six and nursing at the Royal Hobart in Tasmania

She still talks about those days like they were yesterday, and why wouldn't she?, you guys spoiled her rotten! Actually she was given a lot of help with her tuition from our shipmates which was greatly appreciated. The three of us had a wonderful trip. I seem to recall Anne and Jo gathering blackberries with the apprentices in North Vancouver and the ships cook cobbling up some excellent blackberry pies. The little things are important don't you think ?

Geoff Garlick was indeed the o/m and what a great fellow he was.I sailed with a chap called Tom Sawyer in the Atlantic City about ten light years ago and he and Geoff were apprentices together on a previous ship.Tom (Yorkie) was always telling yarns about Geoff and saying what a great shipmate he was.How very true,he was an excellent shipmaster and a warm and friendly man.It would be difficult to forget John Hewson,a Smith's man through and through,friendly and welcoming,I wish that the rest of my seagoing days were as happy and carefree.

I was chatting to Jo this evening (lol I forgot to mention that she has a twenty-one year old daughter). She remembered you guys buying her a teddy bear, which is still with us, also saving beer bottle caps for a smiley face. She still has that.She cant remember how many beer bottle caps,probably about a million.

She was hazy with names, she said Sludger who I think was the third engineer, and Mel who was the electrician. One of the young deck apprentices, Gary I think,who fell between the deck cargo in BC and broke his back. We took him back to the UK with us,though he was in his bunk all the way and in considerable pain. I wonder if that was the end of his seagoing career.I hope not,he was a nice young man.

The radio operator was Graham Thomas his wife was on the UK coast with us,Margaret.Margaret and Anne got along famously and they corresponded for years.The mate was called Derrick (correct spelling) what else could he do except to go to sea. He came from Harrogate and was determined to make a fortune with a home dish washing service (because according to Derrick that was the one thing people hated doing most,,,the dishes...) I hope he made it,but somehow .......

Joe Sanday was the chief steward, Joe was one of the old time chief stewards and was almost on his last voyage. He told me that Geoff Garlick said to him, "keep giving them as many chips as they can eat and you will never have any complaints about the food". A wise man.

June 2011.