Wednesday, 23 July 2014

An Ancient Mariner Writes ...

m.v. Pass of Melfort            photo by    With thanks

Still Going Strong ...
Today, Costa Concordia begins her sad, final voyage.  As I watched a couple of ships from Cliftonville Cliffs this morning,  I thought of those whose lives had been changed forever by that Italian disaster. It could so easily be another ship, another time on our stretch of coast. Some of those guys anchor so close inshore that I wonder if they are planning to walk ashore at low tide.
I know that I look out to sea with particular interest as it was aboard m.v. Pass of Melfort, that I stood anchor watch and took bearings from the Harbour Arm and the Lido Tower to make sure we maintained our position as we awaited a loading berth at Thameshaven. This ship too has an Italian connection.
That was in the winter of 1961 and was my first ever view of Margate. I had been at sea for several years and needed a change from supertankers, which is how I found myself as 1st Mate on this cute little vessel of just 937 gross tons that had just been handed over by her builders.
Let's fast forward to this week. I heard that the new editor of Sea Breezes could be looking for stories and my thoughts turned to the Bay of Naples which is my all time favourite location - after Margate of course!
I had heard rumours last time I was there, about a Blyth built British tanker. It was time for a little research. Thanks to the wonders of technology I discovered that she was indeed Pass of Melfort which had been sold to Italian owners in 1972 and again to another company in 1975 when her name was changed to Necom.
At a time when most modern merchant ships have a designed life of some 15 years [maybe less for hard working coastal tankers] I was happily surprised to find that Necom is still on active service 55 years after I fell in love with her as one of the happiest ships that it was ever my pleasure to serve aboard.
As Necom she is providing a weekly shuttle service between her home port of Naples and the island of Ponzo some 83 miles to the west. She still looks as pretty as I remember her, albeit a little salt streaked and rusty.
That happens with nostalgia, memories can be a little rusty and cheeks can be streaked with salty tears. Not of regret but of gratitude for those happy times when we treated Pass of Melfort  like our private yacht as we proudly sailed her along the East Coast, usually between Thameshaven and Grangemouth and sometimes as far south as Portslade or up the Humber and Tyneside oil terminals or, the bitterly cold and windswept docks at Aberdeen.
m.v. Necom    photos by Victorio Silvestri &Manne Pettersson      with thanks
email:               Author: Colin

Monday, 14 July 2014

It's been a while

I was ill.
My computer was ill.
Neither of us felt much like doing anything.
So we didn't.
Then two other blogs gave me a kick up the butt.
The first is by Don who has health issues of his own that are more than enough to contend with but still blogs on.
Then there's Dan who has just discovered this whole scene and is a pretty cool photographer into the bargain.
I shall never wish to attempt to compete with Michael at Michaels Bookshop in Ramsgate with his prolific output, nor with Simon who does it from 1000 ft. Nor even Peter who allegedly does it with no clothes on.
So perhaps I'll just meander along this road less travelled where you should always expect the unexpected.