From: Professor Alec Kenyon-Smith, Avoch, Ross-shire, Scotland
Shipping T&Y: Re January 2015, Subject: Muslim Magomayer
I wonder if I am the only one of your readers who would like to know more about this vessels passage from Tasmania to the Caspian Sea?
First, assuming the vessel went west bound (the east bound would have been logistically impossible), where did it refuel and restock stores; what were the daily average runs and in what weather conditions; what was the general reliability of the new equipment?
Second, assuming your information is correct: I can assume the vessel departed about October 5th (based on “early in October”).
Since it arrived in Istanbul on October 31st, the voyage must have taken 25/27 days including stops – that would be an interesting story.
Departing Istanbul on say November 1st this allows 14 days for transit to Baku, the presumed destination. Was the route – Istanbul; past south of the Crimea; into and across the Sea of Azov; up the Don, through the dams and reservoir complex; transit from the Don- Volga canal (close to Volvograd (Stalingrad)) down the Volga, through the Volga delta into the Caspian Sea then 400+ nautical miles to Baku.
Where was the vessel refuelled, supplies and pilots arranged. (It could not have been simple.)
This log would make an outstanding record of an epic journey. Can we expect an account to be published? What more information can you obtain to give your readers an account of an exceptional journey?
May you have continued, well deserved success with your magazine. I enjoy the mix of future, present and past, since much of the last falls in my 80+ years, some of which was at sea for pleasure and work.
From: Richard G. Jones, Teddington
A little while ago I wrote to you regarding my early days in Liverpool travelling on the overhead railway, and what a wonderful vista to enjoy as a child.
Of course in the early 50s the docks had ships, plenty of them, from all corners of the globe, long before containerisation came along.
I recall my first job in Bootle, Liverpool working at a laundry, collecting and delivering sheets, bed spreads, some shirts, (not a lot) and travelling in a small van all over the city, plus once a week a trip out to Freshfield on the way to Southport to collect from the RAF camp Woodvale, and seeing a real “Mosquito” aircraft.
During this same period, about 1958 I was called into the Manager’s office to meet with another driver whose lad had moved on and he had noted that I was good and always punctual at work.
Part of the interview was to demonstrate how far I could jump from a standing position, very odd, and I demonstrated just how athletic I was.
I was told to report to the new driver for 0600 at the laundry the following morning and I still had no clue as to the jumping exam.
We set off amongst the early shifts going into the Gladstone Docks, heading around the main basin toward the Mersey itself. The vehicle stopped just short of a very large lock, that entered into the Gladstone Complex, and I noted a vessel was under steam heading with tugs toward the lock.
Once the gates were open and the ship entered, I spotted a lot of the crew standing on the deck holding large bales, (bound sheets) of laundry that had to be thrown on to the dock as the vessel passed.
Naturally the ship was moving slowly at this point and the driver and I over about 100 yards collected the bales and loaded them into the back of the van.
Should all the laundry at this stage reach the dock all was well, but often it was still on its way up ladders and gangways and as it neared the deck there seemed less crew around to assist with the balance, so I was asked to jump aboard (Health and Safety) and do my best to throw them onto the dock before the ship reached the basin.
The whole process took about 20 minutes and as often was the case some did not see daylight in time.
The driver would therefore shout “I will collect you later once the ship had docked”, and after shutting the doors he would move off and leave me with one of the crew, as he headed back to the laundry.
On reflection this was indeed a very lucrative pre-arranged business, no doubt organised well in advance, and on some occasion other laundry companies were in attendance, awaiting their ship, so to speak.
Often the driver was waiting at the quay when the ship docked, and by then I had often had a nice cup of tea and a plate of eggs, or even a pie of some kind.
It was indeed great fun and we enjoyed this practice all along the Liverpool docks, meaning that I probably travelled (although a short distance) on almost every shipping line that came into the docks. Blue Funnel, Blue Star, Elder Dempster, Clan perhaps, but such a treat to go on so many vessels and why!!
Travelling today on commercial vessels as a holiday treat, they all have a laundry of some sort, so why would most of the ships laundry go off ship for cleaning and pressing, perhaps crew changes at the port, repairs whilst alongside I really never found out. The fresh brown wrapped parcels would always be returned before the ship sailed again.
Perhaps some of your readers may be able to throw some light on the practice, but it was big business and each week I would clamber aboard four or five vessels.
There is no doubt that from this early introduction to ships I still now have a great love of them, the smell of warm air, food, and oils is forever present.
This is indeed the first time I have mentioned this early work, and as I recall I never had to jump more than 4 ft with plenty of out stretched hands ready to catch me, so as I look back I doubt it was that dangerous or was it!!
I do recall a visit to the Empress of Canada that of course caught fire, plus a whole 4 hours on the Empress of Scotland, although this trip was arranged when I was 11, so about 1954 or so and was my first liner visit.
All my parents worked for a company called Roadcraft, Nan, Mum and Grandad worked in Bootle, with Nan and Mum cooks at the head office, whilst Grandad helped out with the crane fitters.
My Dad was a dock crane driver (all kinds) and I recall his many “Golden Nugget” weekend shifts, I think thats what the dockers called it.
My birth city, my docks, my memory just thought I would share it, perhaps it was unique who knows.
I always enjoy your magazine.
From: Lisa Hopsdal
Editor’s note: The 2,997grt Vibran was built in 1935 by Helsingor Vaerft for Skibs A/S Ogeka (O. A. Knutsen) of Haugesund. From March 1938 she was managed by Knut Knutsen O. A. S. On 23rd September 1942 she was torpedoed by U-582 at position 42.45N 42.45W while on a voyage from Cardiff to Halifax in ballast. Her 37 crew (34 Norwegian, 3 British) and her 11 passengers all perished.
I was wondering if anybody had any knowledge on the Vibran, built I believe 1935, and sunk by Germans in 1942. The reason I ask is because my Grandad, Arne Hopsdal, had sailed on this ship several times during his Norwegian naval career, fortunately not when it was sunk and all aboard perished. The picture above was painted by a close friend, M. Knudsen. If you know anyone who could shed any light on the artist I’d be very grateful.