Newsletter April 2019

Snowbow and Maritime Memories News Letter April 2019

Here’s hoping that this News Letter will be able to lift you from the depths of the ever plunging madness of the Brexit negotiations, and carry you back into the much nicer world most of us knew and enjoyed just a few years ago.  So, read on and we will tell you all, including great news for all you hundreds of people who have asked if we can arrange more exciting cruises.  Here’s just a little reminder of the many fabulous cruises we have taken thousands of you on all over the world.

The wonderful MV Discovery

Oh, that brings back such wonderful memories, and soon we will have more great cruises for you to enjoy, plus we have new DVDs in production and so many other fascinating things to tell you, so pour a little drink, click on the link and read on!

So many times I wish we could just turn back the hands of time to the days when the world was a far nicer place to live in.  For me personally, the 1950s/60s were my favourite decades, a time when we had so much so much we were proud of including our country, whereas today, pride is almost a forgotten word, and sometime I think that all we have left is the total insanity of our parliament!   

Life was so much more enjoyable back then and we also had so much more freedom to enjoy it with, a freedom that then we just took for granted, but oh how we would like to have it all again.   A great example of this for me was when berthed in a great port such as London or Liverpool, kids would often come riding their bikes along the busy quaysides, weaving in and out of the busy swinging cranes and Dockers, as they handled imports and exports from the lines of ships that stretched for as far as the eye could see. Some of the Dockers even took their kids to work, and not just on the quayside but even down the ships’ holds… Imagine the reaction of the old ‘elf and Safety people if they saw this happening today, but back then we didn’t even give it a second thought… Yes, we were so lucky to have had so much freedom back then, and wouldn’t it be nice if we got even just a little of it back again.   

Those docks were busy back then, but you had to be a bit careful when it was a peasouper or else, straight in the old drink! Yes, those old peasoupers were real fogs weren’t they… couldn’t even see your hand if you put your arm out in front of you, and yes, I witnessed a few wobbly seafarers drunkenly wobbling off the edge of a quayside in the fog and into the crystal clear waters of the Thames, which probably after a heavy night ashore in one of the notorious dockside boozers, didn’t taste too bad!  

But generally the docks were safe places, especially when you consider that in the case of just London alone, there were over 66,000 ship movements a year, so heaven knows how many there were around the whole of the UK, and in those pre-computer days, all administered by much more reliable pens and paper, and it worked!    Doesn’t it make you wonder why on earth those idiot politicians are making such an issue out of trying to find a way of operating the cross Irish border… Give ‘em a pencil and paper mate, that’ll do it!

I mustn’t allow myself to wander into the weird world of deranged politicians, but, regardless of all our different political persuasions, I will just say, as long as you don’t mind me whispering a bit; I think two of the nastiest politicians we have been burdened with at the moment are that awful little wife of Mr. Ed Balls, Evette Mrs Balls, Cooper, and the biggest idiot ever to enter Westminster, the one and only (thank god!) Sir Oliver Letwin!

Now I say whisper, because not many people know this, but some years ago I was approached by the Conservative constituency members for West Dorset, which of course is Sir Letwin’s seat, to ask if I would stand as their candidate, and if I would, then they would see to it that common Letwin, as he was back in those untitled days, would be deselected and chucked, for in their opinion he was absolutely bloody useless. Sadly, I decided that it wasn’t for me, but now, having seen these lunatics at work, I wish I had.

Politicians! I bet you’ve all got stories about them… I actually went to sea with a bloke who went on to become one of the greatest leaders of all time, the great Prescott…  They even made him a Lord, which just about says it all.  Well, all I can say is that I hope he became a little brighter than he was when I sailed with him, but enough of all this, although I have had the pleasure of having personal dealings with a few really good politicians in my time, so there is still perhaps a little hope left.

That’s enough of all this, now I promise to remain focused on this News Letter and not to frighten you any more by deviating  into the realms of horror!

Latest DVDs:  

Even though we have produced a staggering 44 x 70 min DVDs, I still try hard to ensure that we never repeat what we have done previously,  and that every single programme is different, and episode 45, The Great Panama Canal,  is no exception,  Once again,  with the use of more rare film, we use our own unique way of looking and telling the programme’s story, which in this case is the story of the Panama Canal, and to tell this story we use as our foundation an actual transit of the canal today, from the Pacific to Colon and then, after a hot, heavy night in the Dog House Bar, out into the then wonders of the Caribbean and on into the Atlantic.


Charts Showing Panama and the Atlantic

We had about 180 of our people on this transit of the Canal, which we did aboard the beautiful MV Discovery on one of our Maritime Memory cruises.  The Discovery used to be Princess Cruises Island Princes, which a lot of you will remember as one of the Love Boats from the famous TV series, and this transit was especially arranged to enable us to be able to make this programme.

When we arrived in Panama we had had for a two night stop before joining the MV Discovery, which gave us a rare opportunity to walk the streets of Panama City in search of old memories, but sadly most my old dives had long disappeared beneath the foundations of an almost futuristic city that now towered high into another world.

Old Panama City with just one maiden left
and the new, unrecognisable Panama City

On the second day there, we arranged with the Panamanian Government for our crowd to visit to the famous  Miraflores Locks, and were they excited.  Coaches arrived to collect us and off we all went on what we hoped would be a ship enthusiasts dream, but there was to be even more.   When we arrived, not only were we gifted with ringside seats to view the ships, but they had also laid on a party for us, which meant all the food we could eat and all the booze we could booze.

How strange it was to find us in the locks, but instead of standing out on deck of a ship looking down, we were down there looking up.    The activity was continuous, with ship after ship entering and leaving the locks… Not one person with us will ever forget that amazing day… Yes, this was Maritime Memories at its best, and that’s not counting the routine of… “Another scotch & beer please mate!”

So the oh so happy day mellowed into evening and still the great ships came and went, as did the booze, but not one person was anything other than calmly merry, for there was just so much to enjoy in this amazing maritime spectacle.  As evening took its way into night, so not a single soul wanted to leave, and as one of the crowd said, as he sat there sipping from his glass, his eyes, mind and thoughts deeply immersed into this magical maritime pageant. “This must be the 8th wonder of the world!”

Sometime after midnight, with the help of a little friendly persuasion, we left our wonderful experience to return to our hotel, but such was the excitement that once there, no one wanted to go to bed. So, we just sat there talking and drinking, and trying to keep our very special day alive for as long as possible.

The following morning, with many an enjoyable hangover in tow, launches came to collected us from the Panama City quayside, to take us out to join the Discovery, waiting patiently for us out in the bay.

As we approached her, we wondered what sort of welcome if any we would get, but we needn’t have even thought about it, for as we neared to come alongside, her Master, Captain Derrick Kemp, sounded Discovery’s whistles in welcome.

The Discovery waited for us in the Bay

Much needed liveners were also waiting to greet us, and as we all settled in, so her engines came alive and her bows turned towards the entrance of the Panama Canal. Then Captain Kemp hoisted our collection of  rare old shipping company House Flags up the main mast, the first time many of them had been flown for fifty years or more.  This was the largest collection of these flags ever seen flying from one ship, and what a fantastic sight they made… You know, there are a lot of things that old seafarers can get teary eyed about, but few more meaningful than that of seeing your old shipping company House Flag flying from high again, showing her old colours with pride.

MV Discover commencing transi of the Panama Canal.   The world’s biggest display of old shipping company flags. (Click on the images to enlarge)

Then as we sailed on into the canal, passing serenely through scenes that many of us knew so well from our own sea going days, we knew this transit was going to be even more special, all helped by the fact that this time we were all one big crowd together, and as we passed  ships of all shapes and sizes including great big cruise ships, we couldn’t help but feel more than a little moved after ship after ship, on seeing the famous old flags flying from our masthead, sounded their whistles as a mark of respect to all on board, and to our great maritime history… Yes, this was something that money really couldn’t buy.

In this DVD on the Panama Canal we then go to rare film and images showing its actual construction, a task that today’s ‘elf and safety and Snowflakes would surely just quickly pale and fade away from… Over 5,600 men died constructing the canal, and not just a close your eyes and have a peaceful death either, but ones caused by Malaria, Yellow Fever, Typhoid and other nasty full of pain and suffering deaths, yet still the work went on.

Endless digging by men working in impossible conditions and the first ship to transit the Canal. (Click on the images to enlarge)

We mix back to the MV Discovery and to film, much of which was shot from her bridge, allowing us an uninterrupted view ahead, and as we observe and absorb this special moment, so, as if by magic we cut to more rare old film  that gives us a strange effect as ships of old suddenly appear almost as if ghosts.  The effect is as if those old ships are actually there with us for real, ships such as the old Mauretania and  Britannic, with their pith hated passengers managing to cope with the high humidity and heat, and then follows more ships of the 20th century including cargo ships, tankers and some of the famous ocean liners of that age such as the Caronia, Oriana and Southern Cross, and for all you Royal Navy people, we even transit the canal aboard an aircraft carrier, filmed in WW2.

For me personally, and I know for so many more with us, my head was full of distant memories, thinking of the first time I sailed through the canal, and of all the excitement and adventure we so enjoyed when serving at sea.

We do go to a great deal of trouble to bring you both variety and things that are out of the ordinary when producing these maritime DVDs, and The Great Panama Canal is no exception.  Its informative, its full of action and things you will have probably never seen in such a programme before. In short, we wanted to bring you something not only for you to enjoy but also your family and friends as well, even if they’ve never been near a ship in their the whole of their lives, but for all ship enthusiasts and ex-seafarers, well this will be very special DVD to watch over and over again.  Oh and at the end of the transit I was hoping that we might have a night ashore in Colon, so I could revisit the house of a thousand scandals, the notorious Doghouse Bar, but unfortunately, we sailed straight on by… I wondered what happened to… Hmm, what was her name?..

The second DVD we are to make, which will be Eps 46, is basically a tribute to our Merchant Service, which celebrates its centenary this year. We are pleased to do all we can to help to bring this story to the nation and the world, for we must never forget that not so many years ago we could boast of having the biggest maritime nation in the world, and such a video programme will help ensure that a moving image record of our great maritime history will last forever,  so that if this world should last another 1000 years or more, then remarkably, adults and children then will be able to watch this film and see for themselves just what a great maritime nation we once were.

In this production, rather than do as most TV documentaries do, which is to cram in as many similar interviews as they possibly can, which is usually because it’s a whole lot easier and far less expensive than showing actual archive film.   Well archive film, which costs on average something like £40 per second to use is expensive, but this is a story that probably will only ever be told once on film, so we will spare no expense, and we will tell the story by showing as much rare archive film as we can find.  By doing this we should be able to capture the whole feeling of those days, and actually see young men joining their sea training schools, as cadets, engineers, or just ordinary seamen, and then follow them as they go to the ports all around our coasts to join their ships and then to even sail with them on their voyages all over the world.

Some joined the famous transatlantic liners, others ordinary liners, passenger cargo liners, ferries, dry cargo ships, tankers, bulk carriers, coasters, tugs and river craft.  We will look at our once great ship building industry, which also led the world, and then ask the question: how come it was all lost.  This is a question that a lot of people feel uncomfortable with, but the truth is there were several fractions to blame and sadly, it needn’t have happened at all.

TS Vindicatrix at her Sharpness berth
HMS Worcester at her Thames mooring

So, we will show the ships and the men and women who sailed aboard them, both in times of peace and sadly, also at war.  Graphic film will show convoys and the massive losses our young people suffered… Yes, it was often a hard, tough life, and without these young men and the sacrifices them made, then I doubt we would be here today, but it was also a life full of excitement and adventure, and dare I say, even romance. In short, it was a life that for most of these young men gave them the best years of their lives.


Ex-seafarers get a VIP send off from the Royal Navy as they join us on a voyage back to the same Arctic seas, where many thousands of their sea-mates lost their lives in World War Two. (Click on the images to enlarge)

It’s difficult for us to fund the huge costs involved in making these DVDs e.g.  searching for rare archive film thought to have been lost forever, and when found, then to spend often months restoring it back to its former condition, so it can be viewed again.  Now we have, after 23 years work, managed to build the largest maritime film and sound archives in the world, which even though I say so myself, it is one hell of an achievement, and in truth, if we didn’t do this work then no one else would, and then neither ourselves or future generations would ever be able to see these wonderful films, films so important to the historic record of our once great Merchant Navy and shipping industries.

We will also include are Royal navy and fighting ships, which although not part of the Merchant Navy Association, they were its protectors and back in the old day could also boast of having the world’s biggest fleet of fighting ships, but sadly today, that is also a tiny shadow of its former glory, but what we have left is still great, and hopefully it will rise to its former greatness again.

So there will be lots of ships and port scenes in this DVD, and in making it we hope it will be of great benefit to the Merchant Navy Association, and spread the story of just how important our Merchant Navy was and still is.

One thing’s for sure, all in all, this DVD will show the greatness of our fleets and service people, for they at least deserve to be part of a very special maritime memory… One final DVD request, please buy your copies, for not only will you really enjoy them, they are only source of funding, without which, we would have to stop and then there would be no more rare old films for you to enjoy.

Our Maritime Memory Cruises:

Now we promised you in the previous News Letter, that we would work really hard to ensure we would be able to tell you all about an amazing new cruise we have arranged for you all.   This is something so special, and we will be the very first people to ever cruise aboard this fantastic ship, and its owners have promised us that we can do all the things that we at Maritime Memories strive so hard to do, such as going up on the bridge, down the engine room, maritime talks and film shows, all sitting together when dining, having our special Maritime Memory Dinners, and even a special farewell fancy dress ball and dinner, so what more could you possibly want!   So, hold your breath and here goes… Ladies and Gentlemen, we at Maritime Memories are proud to announce to the world that our next cruise will be three luxurious weeks aboard one of the most famous vessels of all time, the one and only, the great…

Woolwich Ferry!

Okay, so it doesn’t have any ice rinks, shopping malls, swimming pools, discos and even on board golf, but it is British, and, although you won’t actually have the luxury of a cabin, unlike all the other cruise ships, you will be able to take with you your cars, caravans, motorbikes and even bicycles!

No, no, it’s a joke!

Actually, you’ll be surprised how many will call us wanting to book on the old Woolwich Ferry, and then get all stroppy when we try to explain to them that it was only just a silly joke.  

But, on a more serious note, we have been looking so hard to try to create a situation with a cruise line that really is interested in doing something different.   We have been approached by several shipping lines who would like us to be with them, but we really don’t want to be just other passengers and numbers, because most of us really like ships and the sea, and therefore going to sea is special.  and so we would really would like someone who understands that all important magic touch that has made our Maritime Memories cruises so special and popular, and, we think we might just have found them!

So all being well, you can forget the Woolwich Ferry and prepare yourselves for a really nice cruise, which will be the start of many, just like the ones we used to do originally…  Didn’t we have some wonderful, unforgettable  cruises, like the ones to the Antarctic, South America, the Far East, India, Africa, Middle East, America, Canada, Scandinavia, the Med and just about everywhere including our enjoyable ‘Around Britain’ voyages, and you know something, on every voyage we managed to arrange the most outrageous, joyous events, such as the amazing Arctic Convoy voyages to Russia, where we actually managed to involve the UK Government, Royal Navy, Air Force, the Norwegian Government and Navy, and what was the most difficult, but most rewarding of all, the Russian Government and Military…Wow, what a voyage that was!

Our South American voyage was unbelievable as was our Around Britain, with special receptions in every port of call, all arranged by us, and enjoyed by everyone aboard.  So, we should certainly be able to let you know the final information by the time of the next News Letter, which will be in May, or if you are linked to us by email, then before, or on our website, where we will be able to reveal all our plans and itineraries.  

We have taken thousands of you on Maritime Memory cruises all over the world, and in all that time I believe we have only received two complaints, which is pretty good going so let’s do it all again, and enjoy ourselves, because although we do sail to some truly wonderful places, and do have a fantastic time, the most important ingredient necessary for a great Maritime Memories cruise is simply having you with us!  

Here below are some of the ships we have enjoyed Maritime Memory cruises on, and each one special in their own unique way, which we love.

Yes, we’ve been on some great cruises and great ships, but what has made them all so great is, well it’s all of us being together, that make these cruises so special, and we are the only people in the world that do anything like this, so isn’t it nice to be a little different!   So pack up your old kit bags, Sowesters and hammocks, and get ready for some more laughter, fun and happiness at sea…   Are you sure we can’t add the Woolwich Ferry to our wonderful ship line-up!  

Great paintings of Ships:

We know that so many of you would love to own a great painting of a ship, but unless you have a lot of money, then this is beyond the reach of most of us, at least, it was until now.   Snowbow is so pleased to let you know that we have now been given the rights to offer you exclusively, the work of one of the world’s foremost maritime artists, Robert G. Lloyd.

In truth, we know a lot of really good maritime artists, but just every now and again one comes along that has that extra magic touch, that makes their work so special, and Robert is one of those rare finds.  His work is sought after all over the world by ship enthusiasts and great art collectors, and indeed, hangs in so many of the top maritime museums and houses, as well as in Shipping Company Board Rooms, and even on ships themselves such as the new Cunard Queens and P&O cruise ships. But now, thanks to the latest laser copying  technology, we are able to produce copies of such high quality that it is often almost impossible to tell the copies from the original masters, and what’s more, we can offer you these amazing copies at very affordable prices.

Normally, when you see offers for Limited Editions of prints, that usually means limited to several thousand copies, but with our Limited Editions, we’re talking about just 100/150 in each edition, thereby ensuring that your special print is not only special to you, but also very collectable as well, so not only will you enjoy and admire it for the rest of your lives, so will all your family and friends as well..

Here is a sample of Robert’s remarkable talent and work, and we are absolutely sure that he will remain an important part in the art wall of fame, and if the world is still spinning around in another thousand years’ time, then his work will still be sought after, just as the great masters of old are today.

The Three great new Queens arriving in New York together
The old Queen Elizabeth arriving in New York
The wonderful QE2’s final sailing from Liverpool for the final time

From the old to the new, from the great ocean liners and container ships, conventional cargo passenger ships, conventional cargo ships, tankers, bulk carriers, ferries, coasters to tugs and  other port and river craft, the work of Robert G. Lloyd is all-embracing and every single painting is a magnificent work of art, art that we at Snowbow are so proud to represent on an exclusive basis, enabling us to provide you with state-of-the-art limited edition prints that in all honesty, with the use of the very latest technology, gives you copies that have a quality as good as the original masters.   So, if you love ships, if you were an ex-seafarer or you or family were ever fortunate enough to have sailed aboard any of the hundreds of the beautiful ships we have in our unique Robert Lloyd collection, or just stood and watched them as they sailed in and out of nearby ports, then this is your chance to own your very own Limited Edition print, and we promise you, not only will you never tire of looking at your special masterpiece, but neither will visitors to your home, for the visually magnificence and quality of these prints are about as good as you’ll ever find.  

Because our Ltd Editions are so low in number, we only have a few copies available, so get yours whilst you can. For further in-formation re this unique offer, and all the Award winning maritime DVDs we produce, either go to our new Snowbow website at: or call us on:  00 44 (0)1273 585391 We hope a copy of such a great work of art will bring you so much joy. 

We try to make these News Letters a more personal correspondence rather than a sales rag, but we know most of you will enjoy these presentations, and that you want to know what we have to offer, especially when its new… I’ve got a couple of these wonderful prints and I can tell you, they look great.

Now on with the show, although I have just about worn me fingers out typing this lot up… My fingers were a normal length when I started, but now they’re little more than stumps!

My record Album, which I think I mentioned in the previous News Letter, is now finished and ready to be released, which I hope will be within the next few weeks.

The artwork for the sleeve is a caricature of me on stage, and don’t I look silly!  Still, it is mainly a comedy record so its only right I should make fun and laugh at myself.    It’s a double album based on performances I have done on most of our Maritime Memories cruises, and like those performances, it is all adlibbed, which I am reliably told by people high up in the record business, has never been done quite like this before.

Like my performances aboard ships and cabaret ashore, everything I do is totally unrehearsed and adlibbed, which although perhaps very risky, I like to do because I want it to be real and full of fun and laughter.  Even so, the songs I perform vary from good old rock ‘n’ roll, country rock, ballads and even folk, and all as you will have never quite heard before, plus there lots of really funny stand-up comedy and very funny comedy songs.

One of the things that prompted me to make this recording was something that happened during one of our Maritime Memory cruises.  A couple came up to me and said.  “You know, Des, when you appear on stage we all come to see you, but no one has the first idea what you’re going to do, and we suspect, neither do you… You just come out on stage and for the next hour or so it just sort of happens, and then when it’s all over we all leave with tears of laughter in our eyes, and one thing we all know is that when we come out, we all come our feeling so much better than we did when we went in.”

That meant so much to me, especially as I am so sick and tired of all the political shenanigans, professional moaners and Snowflakes we have to put up with in this world today, that’s why I decided that I would record this in the hope that it will bring back to us all some good old fun and laughter… Mind you, as I’ve  adlibbed it all, then probably I’ve come out with the odd thing here and there that is bound to upset a few, but there again, we live in a world today where it’s difficult to say anything that doesn’t upset someone, so I expect the ‘Thought Police’ of today are already speeding towards me front door even as I write this, so your next News Letter could come to you courtesy of HMP.

I’d better finish writing this, because a few more pages and we’ll be in book mode!   Lots more things to tell you, but that can wait until the next News Letter,

We still have our special offer on the DVDs, whereby for every two you buy, you get another of your choice for free!   Actually, I don’t really understand the wisdom of us, struggling for sufficient funds to enable us to make the DVDs etc., to come up with such a generous offer.   In truth, our (Ulla and mine) reward is being able to do something to bring you happiness, and there are few things more rewarding in life than to get a call or email from say Australia, America, South Africa, Finland, Canada, the Far East, India, South America, New Zealand etc., from someone wanting to say how much pleasure the DVDs bring them… I know, you think I’m making this all up, but hang on, let me look at the latest emails… Hold on…

Here’s one:

Ship Society of South Africa and Cape Town.

Good afternoon Des,

I hope I am not repeating myself.  We have been very fortunate as one of our members who is British but lives out here, presented us with three f your new DVDs i.e. Episodes 42, 43 and 44.  To say we were thrilled to get them is putting it mildly.  In any event whenever we had a programme to organise for a month and run out of suitable DVDs or programmes off the internet etc., we always put on a Snowbow from the past and they still get enjoyed by all present.

Congratulations to you and your wife for your continued enthusiasm which brings so much pleasure to all.

Best regards

Pauline Brueton

Hon. Secretary

It won’t help our funding situation but it makes us very happy.  We used to have a lot of people collecting the DVDs in South Africa, but unfortunately things have really gone downhill out there in so many ways, and whereas just a few years ago we could mail stuff there without a problem, today it never reaches its destination, so we don’t begrudge all those society members the happiness that our DVDs bring them.

To make sure we leave you smiling:

Thanking you all for your help and support, it really means so much to us.

Best wishes,

Des and Ulla.