Victoria City (3)

Comments from the forum - 1

Just had a peep at the 840 Victoria City on the RSL web site, on its maiden voyage, you have listed Stan Whitmore as the R/O.  I also sailed on that maiden voyage as 2nd R/O leaving the Clyde on Christmas Eve, my first voyage with RSL, I signed on 16/12/1970 Glasgow, and signed off 25/1/71 at Rotterdam.  Jim Harrison put me as 2nd for a round trip USA and back to get me used to RSL ways, having had 5 years ashore in Southampton.

One night while I was on watch, while way out to sea about level with Wilmington, we had a distress call close by, the ship was reporting being attacked in the radio room etc, Capt Lindsay after a while of studying the charts, spotted the lights of another ship, called them over the VHF and discovered it was the same ship, the bridge was not aware of what was going on in their radio room, they investigated and it went silent on 500 KHz, the other ship found the R/O had gone off his rocker, so we ended up relaying their messages over their VHF to the USA coast guard and their owners.  Oliver Lindsay may remember greater details. Reg Smith. Posted on forum 14th February 2010.

I next went back to Victoria City 7 Feb 1972 at Le Harve to BC and back, paying off 1st May 1972 at Cardiff, Jim Murray was OM, he had his wife and daughter on for the voyage. 

 When almost to BC we had a distress at night, from a ship hard aground who did not know where he was.  We joined the search trying to find him using his main transmitter as a beacon and us, plus others, using direction finders trying to get a cross, eventually he was found by think local Canadian ship who spotted his search light signaling in the air.  It was a ship that had loaded in Japan with cars etc, had came across the Pacific solely on his magnetic compass, thick fog most of the way, its Capt was about 24 years old, and completely lost.  They ended up well and truly nose stuck on a small island think might have been called Austin Island, in Barkley Sound, southern Vancouver Island.  We got a coast guard visit when we arrived around at Nanaimo.  They discharged the ship with a floating crane, and think it could not be got off the rocks.

On our way south to the Panama Canal now fully loaded, during the mate's (John forget )afternoon watch, way off about Salina Cruz,  he saw a strange shape on the horizon ahead, after discussions with Capt, diverted slightly to investigate, and we came across a survival rubber dingy with a chap in the opening waving his arm, we did a circle and came back to them, dropped the lifeboat and picked up about half dozen and brought them back on board. Capt Murray's wife was a nurse, so she took charge of the patients medical conditions, we informed the USA coast guard by radio of our findings, and proceeded to Panama Canal, where we handed them over to the local authorities.  It appears they were on a delivery voyage of a small yacht from New Orleans area to San Diego, hit a big wave, and sunk almost immediately, their rubber raft floated off and they all clambered into it with only what they had on.  At the time of mishap they could see the shore town lights, but had drifted way out to sea into the shipping lane when we found them.  Think they were over a week in their rubber raft with just dew water to survive on and any fish one of them caught from swimming over the side. Reg Smith. Posted on forum 17th February 2010.

Following up from Reg Smiths account of events during that voyage.
I was 2/E on the Victoria City that trip, George Cuthbertson was Chief Eng and "Jumbo" Coombes was 3/E. I think Dave Jennings was 4/E.
I remember the ship going on the beach at Vancouver Island. There isn't much I could add to Regs' account, he was much more involved than I was. The off duty engineers and crew were told to keep a lookout for any flashing lights. As Reg says, the ship was found hard up on an island, full of cars.
I know all this happened a long time ago, but my recollection of the incident in the Gulf of Tuantapec differs a bit from Regs' account.
We had loaded forest products in British Columbia and we were on our way back to Europe via Panama Canal. I was discussing something with John Porteous in the wheel house. John happened to be using the telescope ( there was a telescope on the bridge) when he spotted a life raft in the distance. There was movement in the raft so the master was called and the ship altered course towards the raft. When the ship neared the raft the port lifeboat was lowered,( that's another story) and three survivors from the raft were transferred to the ship.
The three survivors were in a pretty poor condition when they came aboard. Luckily, Jim Murray's wife Marge? was a trained nurse and she knew exactly how to cope with their injuries. The skipper who was not expected to survive recovered due to the expertise of Marge Murray. The other two, the engineer and the deckie recovered reasonably well after a few days. The deckie was a truck driver who had hitched a lift on the boat.
The story I heard about the boat and the survivors are as follows.
The fishing boat was being delivered from the Mississippi area to San Diego. On the way North they had very bad weather in the Gulf of Tehuantepec and they lost the fish hold hatch and water filled the fish hold. The bulkhead between the fish hold and engine room was supposed to be watertight but it wasn't, hence the engine room was flooded and they lost the engine. The boat was sinking so they took to the life raft.
There were originally four people on the boat and on the liferaft. They had been adrift for what they thought was about ten days. During the early days in the raft, they could smell and see ships passing quite close to them. They used the flares that were available but no-one spotted them.
Their fresh water supply ran out quite early on and their only supply was dew. One of the crewmen couldn't cope and disappeared one night after he tried to sink the raft. The engineer was floating alongside the raft one day when a turtle came up and bit a chunk out of his thigh.
After a couple of days of recovery the deckie/truck driver was fit enough to walk around the ship. Of course, he found the smokeroom/bar quite quickly which he was happy about.
The three survivors were landed while passing the Pedro Miguel Locks at Panama and taken into the care of the American authorities. They had to walk across the lock gates in their poor condition for the paramedics sent for them wouldn't cross the gates. Trevor Graham-Russell. Posted on forum 18th February 2010.

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.

Victoria City. Page No. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]
Memories from RSL staff. Page No. [1] [2] [3]