Jack Hutchings

Sailed with Reardon Smiths from Oct 1969 to December 1975 as deck cadet on the Cardiff City, Atlantic City, Cornish City, Vancouver City, Wilkawa, then uncert. Third Mate on Wilkawa, Victoria City and Indian City.
From Smiths I did a year in the North Sea working for J.Fisher & Sons on the Vickers Oceanics a vessels they managed as Mate no ticket home trade articles transferring from them to the Albright and Wilson liquid phosphorous carriers they managed running out of Portishead near Bristol as 2nd mate with a 2nd MFG sailed on them for 10.5  years as 2nd mate and Mate leaving in August 1987.
Had a very brief sojourn in HM Coastguard then returned to sea on chemical parcel tankers becoming Master in 1990.
Emigrated to New Zealand 1997 came ashore to work for the New Zealand Maritime Safety Authority managing their Port State Control Surveyors in 2000 did that for 5 years, worked for 18 months for Strait Shipping as marine Superintendent Strait Shipping run two Cook Strait ferries, then joined my present employment nearly 6 years ago working in the commercial shipping world operating and chartering tankers. Posted on Forum August 2012.

There was no history of seafaring in my family, my father was a pre WW2 soldier who spent 9 years in Egypt and what was then Palestine, followed by 7 years in India and Burma during WW2, wouldn't tell what he did in either place so never got to know. My decision to go to sea went down like a lead zeppelin with my parents and caused lots of family disagreements. However once they saw I was serious they backed me to the hilt. I like all aspiring cadets/apprentices call them what you will obtained what ever info I could on various companies all the usuals plus this company called Reardon Smiths who advertised for deck cadet in the local rag the Western Gazette, nothing flash just an ordinary black and white half column advert. So I wrote and obtained the bumf, no flashy booklets or the like which i had received from P&O Shell etc, just some Xeroxed typed sheets which gave a two line description of each of the ships and where they were trading which was basically all over plus a pay scale none. As a school boy I spent Saturday mornings delivering meat for the local butcher and one of the customers was a retired Commander who's only child was Mate with Bibby's on finding out I had every intention of going to sea in the Merchant Navy he invited me to meet his son and see what advise I could get from him regarding what company to join as a deck cadet. His advise was if wanted to get a good foundation in seamanship and practicality then Reardon Smith's were the company to join, so I took his advise and join Smith's as a deck cadet, joining my first ship the Cardiff City in Nagoya end of October 1969, the master being one Capt. A. D.Lightfoot. it is one bit of advise I am glad I took and never regretted, though we parted company at the end of my cadetship, more due to me liking a good time too much and not studying for 2nd mates like i should have done than anything else. The training I received whilst not a lot of it on the bridge has stood me in good stead ever since and when i made the giddy heights of Master got me out of some quite nasty situations, and for that I will always be grateful. Posted on Forum 21 March 2013.

Until November last year I had been employed as Shipping Manager by a New Zealand energy company fr 7 and half years, chartering, operating and vetting ships needed to transport the crude oil and condensates to the refinery customers in Australia. However the board were getting cold feet about operating ships and were trying to pull out of the trade and sell all the product on an FOB basis. Me being me decided I would jump before I was pushed, and basically took early retirement.
However during the period of deciding to jump and actually jumping I saw an advert by the New Zealand equivalent of the UK VSO the VSA for overseas insert abroad for a volunteer to spend a year in Kiribati or the Gilbert Islands to us ancient mariners, assisting them to come up to speed with the latest IMO requirements especially the requirements of STCW 2010.

So here I am, living on the Tarawa Atoll, the main population base of Kiribati, Tarawa Atoll has a population of about 60,000 + the population of Kiribati is 100,000 unemployment about 60% and about 50% of the population is under 20. NZVSA class Kiribati as a hardship posing and insist we leave the country every four months for R&R
The strip of land which the 60,000 live on is about 20 miles long including causeways and a maximum of 300 yards wide so not a lot of room.
The infrastructure is shot, think India 40 years ago without the maintenance they carried out, Donor countries such as NZ, Australia, Taiwan, Japan EC, and Korea are pouring millions of dollars into here to try and repair the roads, water, sewers etc, which was originally installed by the same countries 30+ years ago and just not maintained since.

The job is interesting though at times very frustrating as then politics here is shall we say different than we would be used to and what seems common sense to us doesn't up here because of shall we say senior officials interests.
Still it makes life interesting and every day is different, it is definitely not a tropical paradise, though there are coconut and breadfruit trees everywhere, there are also as many dogs as humans roaming all over the place no grass cause it doesn't get chance to grow. Wally Hutchings. Posted on Forum 09 March 2015.