Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.
Show us a photo you took that you’re most proud of. Tell us about it.
Cape Horn 1980
As many of you will know, I spent all of my working life in shipping, either as a ships deck officer, river pilot or in various shore-based occupations, lockmaster, harbour master and insurance surveyor.
I don’t get much chance to speak about my sea-going career. People today think it’s boring, because so few people work at sea, there is no concept of the basics of the lifestyle, and little interest. Everything has to be explained in order for the tale to be understood. That spoils the telling.
Just for you, I’m making an exception, I’ll try and keep it simple. This is the picture that means the most to me, from all those trips.
Back in 1980, I was on a ship loading a cargo of Sulphur and Potash in Vancouver. We were to take it to Santos in Brazil. The La Primavera was a 40,000-tonne bulk carrier, just over 180 metres long.
Here she is.
I was third mate (navigator) and when we left Vancouver, we all expected to go to Santos via the Panama Canal, as it was the more logical voyage.
When we were told that it was cheaper to head for Santos via Cape Horn and to take the Straits of Magellan if the weather was bad at the Cape when we got there, it felt like a trip into the unknown.
Cape Horn is one of those places that has a sort of mystique, even though rounding it on a sailing ship is thought to be more glamourous. It’s still a place that not everyone has been.
Our Captain had a reputation for finding bad weather, hence his nickname Hurricane, which didn’t help as far as we were concerned. We all knew the reputation of the Cape, it was perfect for his storm-attracting capabilities. We were bound to go through the Straits.
To make matters worse, we were due to arrive at the Cape in mid-June, winter in the southern hemisphere. The weather was sure to be bad, we thought. We assumed that we would use the Straits, it would be disappointing to be so near and miss out, at least we would be spared several days of bouncing around.
As we got closer and kept a close watch on the conditions there were a string of storms, yet in the final days up to the point where we had to make a decision, they stayed away. We pressed on, passing the Cape in daylight and calm weather. Which was where I took the picture.
I had joined a small and exclusive club.
Two days later, as we were heading north, off the River Plate, we were hit by a Pampero, a local wind effect and encountered a day or so of some unpleasant conditions. It was the only bad weather on the whole voyage. Hurricane was having a break, his reputation had been tarnished.
After discharging in Santos, we sailed north. In fact, we then journeyed six-hundred miles up the River Amazon to load a cargo of paper pulp, but that’s another story.
Let me know what you think about this week’s subject.
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and another three including my Dual-time thriller Life and Other Dreams.
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