By Willie Watson
As 3rd engineer aboard the DEV Lochfyne
It was the middle of July 1967 and I was sitting at home reading the Glasgow newspapers. I had signed off articles on the 27th of June in the Royal Docks, London. I had been 6th engineer aboard the NZSCo. motor liner RMS Ruahine and had returned after a voyage out to NZ on the London-Wellington service via Panama. I had been home for a couple of weeks. Home was Atlantic House, the Glasgow sailors home, at 47 York St., Glasgow C2 – my parents managed the place. It was just off Argyle St.
My marriage was looming and I did not want to sign on for another deep sea voyage (yet) but wanted a job for a month or two.
While reading the vacancies/jobs column in the Glasgow Herald I read stand-by 3rd engineer required apply at the office of David MacBrayne, Robertson St., Glasgow C2. This was luck indeed as Robertson St. was the next Street east of York Street and only a 5 minute walk away from my home. Both streets ran parallel to the river Clyde near the Anderston area. The next morning I walked around to the David MacBrayne office taking my testimonials from NZSCo and my discharge book No. R 843260, and after a short interview, I was told that I had been given the job and it would be aboard the vessel Lochfyne berthed at Greenock. Her destination at that time was unknown by me. David Macbrayne was a Highlands & Islands ferry service company and I imagined myself in Stornoway Barra or Mingulay. The job would be for approximately six weeks while I replaced the ships 3rd engineer who was going out to Australia to stay with family. I signed on as 3rd engineer aboard the DEV Lochfyne on the 31st July 1967 at Greenock. I was up at 6am that day to get the 7am train for the 40-50 minute journey to Greenock and then a 10 minute walk to the harbour and the ship. I had taken all my deep sea gear with me not imagining that I would be lugging it all the way back to Glasgow the same day. I did not know then that the ship left Greenock at 8.30am each day and returned at 5.30pm the same day – six days a week (Mon-Sat)!
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