raysstory

MASTER MARINER
The following is the beginning of an account of a life at sea written by Captain RAYMOND STORM (1892-1971). His first ship was the SS Kildale owned by Messrs Rowland & Marwood of Whitby, and he joined her in 1909. Captain MILNER was her master. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The people of Robin Hoods Bay used to own sailing vessels used mainly in the Baltic, North Sea and Mediterranean trades. These vessels were mainly brigs, brigantines and schooners.

I started in steam as a premium apprentice. Others started as ordinary seamen with no premium to pay. My first trip started with a 10-hour train journey to Barry Dock in South Wales, and my first impressions of that place were coal dust and the rattling of steam winches. I was a bit scared of any machinery.

I made the train journey in company with one T. FLETCHER who turned out to be the hardest man I was ever shipmates with. But what a sailor! I was used to short trips like Whitby and Scarborough or Middlesborough, and I thought we were never going to arrive; but we got there in time for a breakfast seasoned with coal dust. I have come across a few since that time who changed their minds about a life at sea under such a beginning. The ship was lying in a waiting berth and she shifted next day into her loading berth.

The Bristol Channel was very busy in those days with ships of five to seven thousand tons down to small coasters of five hundred or so. Barry was full of ships. Other apprentices were C. TURNER, who only had six months to go, D. GOWDY of Sunderland, and H. REDMAN of Robin Hood’s Bay, both with about 2 years to put in, and one called SPENCE from Redcar who had done about a year. (Raymond met Capt H Redman 40 years later in Liverpool when the latter was a master in the Palm Line. ‘Tommy’ Fletcher was of the same family as Capt Will Fletcher who commanded the ‘Margaret Nixon’ for 40 years. This was the last brig registered at Whitby)

The crew had not yet come aboard but the riggers were busy, and there was a night-watchman called PENGELLY who did the cooking, the Donkeyman, MURPHY, who had been fireman in the Company’s ships, and an engineer or two.

We were several days loading, and the crew eventually signed on to join five minutes after midnight before sailing time. My first job was to clean the brasswork which was very green, like me, and then we scraped decks, cleared all cargo gear away and washed paintwork.

I was seasick and there was a long trip ahead across the line to Montevideo and Durban, and back to Cardiff. I saw much of the high winds and heavy seas…Karachi, Hamburg, Finland….. Rajah and Cardiff again followed. An old sailor advised me to take little sips of salt water for the sickness. It didn’t help; nor was working four-hours-on and four- hours-off much use either.

My indenture was for four years. I was to serve the master, his executors, administrators and assigns and to obey their lawful commands and keep their secrets and, when required, to give a true account of their goods and money. The frequenting of alehouses and taverns, and the playing of unlawful games was forbidden. In consideration of these commitments I was to be taught the business of a seaman and to receive meat and drink. The customary arrangements for laundry and washing, amounting to a soap allowance of a shilling per month was crossed out, but medical treatment was allowed for. In the first year I was to receive 7, in the second 8, in the third 10, and finally 15. The indentures differed little from my grandfather’s in 1850 (JACOB STORM 1837-1926) except that he served for 6 years.

I remember liking Montevideo. We lay in the bay and, because there was no shore-going, we fished, and patronised the bumboat. On leaving we went straight into horrible weather.

Odd things stick in the memory. I remember buying shirts for one shilling each in India, and messboys hired for sixpence per day.
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. IN MEMORIAM

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