View Single Post
Old Jul 02, 2010, 07:59 AM
herrmill is offline
Find More Posts by herrmill
Shanghai'd Expat
herrmill's Avatar
Xiaoshan, China
Joined Jun 2006
4,732 Posts
An update from another fireman who was on GM:

I joined Cunard 10 years after your Dad, though I did spend four years on cargo boats from London to Canada and later New York, down the East Coast and into ports in the Gulf of Mexico before joining the Mary.

Obviously I was quite familiar with being tossed around in the North Atlantic in 1959 and was introduced to the idea of stuffing the lifejacket under the mattress. It wasn't a case of being thrown out of the bunk, but it did make sleeping easier, rather than rolling from left side to right.

The stabilisers on the Mary did not completely banish the rolling, but they did reduce the rolling immensely. On several occasions she would roll so that the stabilisers would break surface, causing them to be less affective.

As for the "pitching" when it got so bad there was no alternative but to reduce speed. The waves in the North Atlantic can be huge, if you can picture the MARY climbing up a wave and then down, causing tremendous vibration throughout the ship. It can get a little nerve racking in the Engine Room and boiler Rooms watching the steam pipes bouncing around. Did I say a little?

Your Dad mentioned the gauge glasses on the boilers. I had never seen that type on the cargo boats which were built later than the MARY. It really was simple science. Each glass had a vertical strip attached, coloured green and red, water bends light, so that the water was shown as green. The water levels in the boiler rooms were watched at all times by two of the firemen.

I hope you don't mind my inquisitive "mind", but I don't recall the Engine Room telegraph ringing at noon, which one, there was four? For an Engine telegraph to ring at sea, would bring the Engineers rushing to the manoeuvering platform. It could be an emergency stop.

I did spend some voyages in the Number One Boiler Room and If I was on the 8 to 12 watch would get a call to drain the whistle steam line a few minutes before noon. Yes every day at noon it was time to check your wrist watch. If the line wasn't drained, there would be the worst gurgling sound on the planet.
herrmill is offline Find More Posts by herrmill
Reply With Quote