We had almost a week at sea without seeing land. The days were taken up playing quoits although it was hot on the weather decks. Henry, a young black labrador, was carried as live deck cargo. He was heading for Singapore where his owners, an Army family, were already resident. Henry too had been delayed by the shipping strike. Two of the young cadets had been given dog feeding and exercise duties on the boat deck twice a day and they let sister Linda do the ‘walkies’ most days.
The ship had regular film shows about every five days to break the monotony. We saw a Bob Hope film and the new Bond film Thunderball.
We spotted thousands of flying fish on this sector and every time Bendoran’s grey bow crashed into the swell scores of them scattered left and right and glided many yards before flopping back into the sea. One day I spotted a couple of large sharks in the water maybe only twenty or thirty yards away. I mentioned this to the captain who said he had seen them too but he thought they were dolphins. If they were, they were damned big ones.
This was the only sector in which we suffered rough weather but it was more of very heavy swells than anything else. There was no rain or squalls but we were lucky as in another week or two the Indian Monsoon would have arrived making life very unpleasant. Unfortunately I parted with my lunch on more than one occasion within minutes of consuming it, one of them being a particularly tasty Lancashire Hotpot as I recall.
Several days later Bendoran turned right and, leaving the Indian Ocean behind her, headed into the Straits of Malacca. I was truly in Asia for the first time in my life.
Another two days later shortly after breakfast the tall buildings of Singapore came into view in the distance. They looked massive to me but were probably only about eight storeys high. How puny they would have looked against the glass and steel behemoths of the Lion City today.
I couldn’t wait to get ashore but I was told that clearing immigration and port health authorities would take some time and that we would be lucky to be ashore by lunchtime. I was appalled. It was about noon when we finally tied up alongside a berth.
‘Woof woof! Woof woof!’
It was Henry the Labrador getting excited about something. And then we spotted them on the quayside, Henry’s family coming to meet and collect him! There was a man, his wife and two girls aged about ten I guess.
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