Now it has been a very busy time here at Snowbow/Maritime Memories, with so many things happening, so, here is a brief summary before we get on to the main purpose of this newsletter, which is to show you an article I wrote for Sea Breezes, but just before we get to this let me tell you about the illustrations above…. Now the artwok for these record sleeves capture me in caricature form by that great Swedish artist, Ulf Sandberg, and the reason for this is, well, apart from me prefering to look at myself as a cartoon rather than as I am in reality, is because so many of you asked if I would record some of the comedy and songs I do on stage when we’re on our special Maritime Memory Cruises… You know, when I have one of my turns and I don’t mean one of those ‘call the doctor’ turns, but turns when I clamber up on stage and try my best to entertain you….
As someone wrote to us to say the other day… Comedy in today’s world, especially on our TVs is totally without humour, and how we loved coming to your shows on the ship and leaving with tears of laughter streaming down our happy faces… Yes, it’s true that most comedy is without humour, whereas I’m told that what I do is funny, well except when people start chucking rotten veg and shooting bullets at the stage! But at least I never swear and in truth, people do laugh and that’s what it’s all about, so I’ve been and recorded a double album based on those live stage performances and as with those performances, everything I have done has been ad libbed, and the end result is two hours of stand up jokes, impersonations and lots of original songs varying from rock ‘n’ roll to country rock, ballads, folk psychedelia… Yes, I’m serious, which is probably because of the strange effect some of you more wayward ones have on me when you’re sitting down the front puffing away on that wacky baccy stuff… Makes me go all peculiar it does
Oh, and there are lots of funny songs as well, and here’s the reason for the lovely artwork, I’ve actually released one of the tracks as a single… I just couldn’t cope with trying to deal with a modern day Record Company, full of red tape, political correctness, and everything, so I just went ahead and released it myself. Then after a couple of days I forgot all about it until the other day when I got the shock of my life, because… suddenly from out of nowhere it was being played all over the world and had…wait for it…wait for it… had made it into several global top charts and… and even made it to Number One in the European Top 100 Indi Charts!
Isn’t that amazing, so if you go to our website and our new Music Page, you will be able to hear the record and see the promo film as well, and then, if you really, really like it then you might just put on a balaclava and go out in your back gardens in the middle of the night and, when you’re sure no one’s looking, you could dig up that old safe of yours and take a few bob so you can buy a copy!
And now back to Sea Breezes and the article wat I writ for them, which is all about Maritime Memories and gives away all your personal secrets, secrets that you thought you could trust us with, and ones that you never imagined would ever become public!
No don’t end it all, I’m only joking, but it was written in response to emails and phone calls from all over the world, asking so many questions about ships and the sea, and especially of the golden age of shipping and in particular, asking if I could I tell them what the main differences were between going away to sea back then and going away to sea as it is today.
Now I know that if we had this conversation when onboard one of our Maritime Memory cruises we’d still be discussing it a month later, but here now is that article in which I do my best to give a brief and hopefully clear understanding of just how huge those differences were and are. Oh and by the way, something I believe to be very pleasing is the fact that most of the people asking these questions and especially this one are young teenagers! Isn’t that good to know.
I hope you enjoy the article below, which will appear in Sea Breezes in all its glory soon, so get a copy for yourselves and if you want me to sign it then of course I will, but if you don’t like the article and want me to +”*%@¬*=O then I might decline the request!
Welcome to the Snowbow/Maritime Memories April 2020 Newsletter
So much is happening in our world at the moment, and little of it is nice, well other than showing our doctors and nurses how much we appreciate them, along with all the other public service people and everyone else that have done so much for us all in this Coronavirus epidemic.
Showing these people respect and how much we really do appreciate them is something that we have advocated for a long time, so it really is so good to do this at long last, for when I was a young boy, I remember the respect we all had for our doctors and nurses back then, as we did for everyone in our hospitals and nursing homes, plus the police, firemen, posties, bus drivers, milkmen. Binmen and women, delivery drivers, shop staff… it goes on and on, so isn’t it really heart-warming to know that although times may have changed, all in all, most people haven’t and beneath the surface they are really nice, genuine people, and we include you lot here, because of all the people we have ever known, you rate right there at the very top. So, tonight, just for all of you, Ulla and I will nip outside our front door so we can clap and cheer away just for you… Please don’t worry about us freezing to death outside in the wind and rain, for you are all so worth it… And just to prove it, we have now managed to get together with the wonderful crowd at Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, to come up with some really great ocean voyages at special prices… Yes, there’s something for all of us, so read on, and then let’s all go silly and have fun again… Hopefully, my next experience of a lockdown will be when the bar staff of the Black Watch accidentally lock me in the bar overnight, hic, hic! So, read on. starting with our new first Maritime Memories cruise, which will be on October 16th, 2020…Hooooooray!
Maritime Memories Future Group Cruises 2020, 2021, & 2022
Black Watch – Islands of the Mediterranean – cruise W2109 Departs Liverpool 4th May 2021 – 18 nights Liverpool, Cadiz, Mahon (Menorca), Ajaccio (Corsica), Cagliari (Sardinia), Valetta (Malta), Palma (Mallorca), Cartagena (Spain), Oporto (For Leixoes, Oporto), Liverpool Lead interior fares from £2,949 pp / ocean-view fares from £3,049 pp Plus free £100 per person free on board spend credit & free tips – book by 3rd June 2020 https://www.fredolsencruises.com/site-search-results?searchType=site-ocean&q=w2109
Black Watch – Amalfi Coast, Tuscany & the Italian Riviera – cruise W2121 Departs Liverpool 2nd September 2021 – 24 nights Liverpool, Ceuta (Spanish Morocco, Spain), Milazzo (Sicily), Amalfi (Amalfi Coast Italy), Rome (from Civitavecchia, Italy), Sorrento (Amalfi Coast, Italy), Salerno (Campania, Italy), Olbia (Sardinia, Italy), Livorno (Tuscany, Italy), Portofino (Liguria, Italy), Genoa (Liguria, Italy), Toulon (France), Cartagena (Spain), Cadiz (Spain), Liverpool. Lead interior fares from £3419 pp / ocean-view rooms from £3,999 pp Plus £150 per person free on board spend credit, & free tips if booked by 3rd June 2020 https://www.fredolsencruises.com/site-search-results?searchType=site-ocean&q=w2121
Black Watch – Cultural Cities & Scenic Islands of the Americas – cruise W2204 Departs Callao (Peru) 22nd February 2022 – 30 nights (Fly from London Heathrow, return to Southampton) Callao (Peru), daytime transit of the fascinating Panama Canal, Puerto Limon (Costa Rica), Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), Cozumel (Mexico), Havana (Cuba), Nassau (The Bahamas), Hamilton (Bermuda), Ponta Delgada (Azores), La Coruna (Spain), Southampton Interior fares fly/cruise fares from £4,210pp / ocean-view fly/cruise fares from £4,509pp Plus £200 per person free on board spend credit & free tips if booked by 3rd June 2020 https://www.fredolsencruises.com/site-search-results?searchType=site-ocean&q=w2204
Black Watch – Latin America with The Chilean Fjords Voyage – cruise W2201
Departs Southampton 4th January 2022 – 79 nights Southampton, Lisbon, Funchal (Madeira), Mindelo (Cape Verde), Salvador (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Ilhabela (Brazil), Montevideo (Uruguay), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Puerto Madryn (Argentina), Ushuaia (Argentina), Punta Arenas (Chile), Puerto Chacabuco (Chile), Robinson Crusoe Island (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Arica (Chile), Paracas (Peru), Callao (Peru), daytime transit of thefascinating Panama Canal, Puerto Limon (Costa Rica), Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), Cozumel (Mexico), Havana (Cuba), Nassau (The Bahamas), Hamilton (Bermuda), Ponda Delgada (Azores), La Coruna(Spain), Southampton Interior fares from £8,299 pp / ocean-view rooms from £9,599 pp Plus £300 – £600 per person free on board spend credit, (amount varies depending on room grade booked), plus free tips if booked by 3rd June 2020 https://www.fredolsencruises.com/site-search-results?searchType=site-ocean&q=w2201
We don’t know what will happen in the cruising world and we’re sure there will be a lot of changes, but for us, the Important thing is to be on a great ship owned and operated by great people, and that’s exactly what we have with the beautiful Black Watch and Fred Olsen Cruise Lines. How do I know the Black Watch is great, well I have had the pleasure of sailing on her before, and she is absolutely perfect for us, both in size, comfort and food, and thanks to Fred Olsen’s we can also have a lot of fun onboard as well, and by that, I don’t mean running around the ship at midnight stark naked! No, because we’re not like that are we! No, I mean fun with a touch of class, so at least when running, try to keep your socks on! But seriously, we will have fun and we can also be serious from time to time as well, but not for too long… We will have our own guest speakers including Captain Kemp, Captain David Bray, ex-ship architect, author and historian David Hutchings and… and… Cabin Boy Cox! So what else could you possibly want.
And now we interrupt this newsletter with a short commercial break
The Lockdown Blues
Oh dear what shall we do Suffering with a lockdown blue Is there any hope for us Other than to sit and pull the flush
And then this thought came to me I’d really love to go to sea And what better way to shake off the blues Than going on a special cruise
But I don’t fancy sailing on a block of flats For that would surely send me completely bats But surely there must be a way to please And then I remembered Maritime Memories
So I don’t know about all of you But I do know what I’m ‘gonna do For what better way to lift my moral Than going through the Panama Canal.
And all those wonderful ports of call I know how much I’d love them all Yes this must surely be the way to go To bring back the smiles we used to know
So now I’m as happy as can be Knowing my smiles will be back with me No more gloomy gloom in my head For I’ll be cruising around the Med
So dear friends one and all Can you hear that ship’s whistle call As it reaches out for you and me To take us sailing across the sea.
And don’t be upset if you can’t afford to go all around South America on that fantastic cruise, because we will take you all for free on our own Maritime Memories boat! Yes, for you not so wealthy people and those that are just naturally tight, our very own five star rated boat… Great accommodation, wonderful food and the onboard entertainment is second to none, although the talks by the ex-Cabin Boy aren’t a lot of cop!
Aboard the RMS Maritime Memories… “Good morning everyone and welcome to day 147 on our ‘round South America Voyage.
We really fancy that ‘Round South America voyage, but whatever happens, we’re not going to miss out on the Panama Canal, that’s for sure and there is the alternative of joining the ship in Peru and then sailing back via Panama from there, so we have two options… I sailed through it at least thirty times, and it still excites me.
The itineraries for the Med are also great so hopefully we have come up with something for all of us, and if not, and you continue to be difficult, then our 2023 schedule will be a special Maritime Memories around Hyde Park’s Serpentine! “Come in number 27, you’re time’s up!”
Thank you so much for all your greatly appreciated help and support and we really do hope that we can all be together again in the not too distant future… Fred Olsen Lines have been so good to us and really want us to be with them, which is so important, so ladies, and also some of the men, I’ve packed me sexy speedos and flippers, and am now ready so that we can all return to a more normal world, and all enjoy ourselves again as soon as possible.
If you have any questions just give Des or Ulla a call on 00 44 (0) 1273 585391/584470 and please don’t worry about whether or what would happen if the unlikely should cause a cruise to be cancelled, because you will not be let down and will be refunded or you can choose another cruise… But enough of this…it won’t happen.
Lots of happy wishes, Des and Ulla.
To book call Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines friendly reservations team on 0800 0355 144 – Quote Maritime Memories group account code GRP0290 to book. (Open 9am – 5pm Mon to Fri). Please ask about additional Oceans Members Loyalty Club Discounts Please ask for late sitting dinner at 8.30pm each evening, to be part of the Maritime Memories group dining arrangements. Please note that bookings for the Maritime Memories group cannot be made through a Travel Agent or on line, but only through Fred Olsen Lines direct, as above.
Snowbow and Maritime Memories Newsletter
We really have had so many phone calls and emails from you, requesting that we try hard to arrange more of our Maritime Memories Cruises. It was so sad losing the wonderful Discovery, for she was for so many of us, the perfect cruise ship. Wow, did we have some wonderful days cruising on her, and really, she was our ship wasn’t she. Her Master, Captain Kemp and his crew went more than that extra mile to give us all the things we really wanted, such as: Freedom to visit the bridge and the engine room, great maritime talks from our own choice of special speakers, together with film shows. Our video series The Great Liners broadcast via the ship’s internal TV system, and if all that wasn’t enough, we also had afternoon fun sessions, where we could take over the theatre and do, well, whatever we fancied doing, including full shows by Des.
We had great food, all of which was helped by the fact that we were all seated together, and our Discovery’s Chef and Galley staff just loved having the chance to do something different, which they did by accepting our challenge to reproduce meals as served aboard the great ocean liners of yesteryear, and to do this, to work from we gave them actual rare menus from great ships such as:
We were wined and dined just as those lucky travellers were, back in the Golden Age of Ocean Travel and as they did back then, we even had special fancy dress farewell dinners. But importantly, all we did wasn’t just for us, no, we did this for all onboard and my, how it brought everyone together, we had so much fun and happiness.
The world today could well do with some of the happiness we had and shared, and all in all, those voyages of Maritime Memories just brought so much joy to so many people, and it didn’t cost a penny more… Well, it might have meant Ulla and I working ourselves into the ground, but as I said, the whole ship joined in and where else in the world would you find unique cruises like the ones we had.
Here is a little reminder of some of the places we sailed to and the amazing cruises we had:
Who could ever forget the voyage we did to Russia to celebrate the memory of the WW2 convoys, the amazing VIP send-off the Royal Navy gave us; the tremendous heroes welcome given to us by Russia, and the most memorable wreath laying service aboard.
Around Britain with a VIP reception at every port. To the warm waters of the Med, Suez, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and so on, all such wonderful cruises, packed with so much fun and so many very happy memories.
How we wish we could just turn back the clock to those magical days, but as you know only too well, our world is changing almost beyond recognition, which makes us sad, but at the same time, so pleased we have lived through an age when everything really was so much nicer, when people cared about each other, when times were friendlier and happier, when people stopped, to say hello, and even though we had so much less, we were all so much more contented. We would like to cruise as we used to again, but will we ever be able to find the type of special ship we would really love, ever again; but we will search, I promise.
Would you believe it… Great News, for after a long and difficult search for a ship to replace the late “Discovery” for our unique Maritime Memory Cruises, at long, long last, we believe we have found the perfect ship. so here for you, Ladies and Gentlemen, is that ship…
Fred Olsen’s lovely Black Watch
Wide open decks and beuatifully furnished… a tan, swim, a little drink and a really tasty meal… sound good to us!
Cabins to suit every pocket and taste, from Balcony Suites to Singles
She really is the closest we could get to our old MV Discovery… She’s just 28,613 gross tons, carries less than 800 passengers, has a service speed of 18.5 knots, is beautifully furnished with a wide choice of restaurants, bars, theatre and cinema as well as acres of open decks, just as ships used to have years ago during the Golden Age of Ocean Travel… But, she has much more, because the people running Fred Olsen Cruise Lines genuinely want to play an active part in making Maritime Memory Cruises special again, and to do so, to provide all those special things we used to get on the Discovery, even down to giving us the great, comfortable cinema for our own Maritime Memory shows, to which we’ll invite all aboard to join us, for as all of you who have been with us before, means almost anything can happen, from serious lectures, screenings of rare maritime films and, if you’re not careful, me (Des) entertaining you with my own maritime stories, stand-up comedy and comedy songs. (Well, in today’s world of endless doom and gloom, I think we’re all desperately in need of a good old laugh!)
You can just imagine how difficult it really is for us to try to select cruise itineraries that most of you will enjoy, but hopefully, at least to get us strated again, we’ve managed to do just that. So, our first cruise aboard the Black Watch will set sail from Liverpool on the 28th April 2020 on a 14 nights, sunshine voyage to the Canaries via Lisbon (Portugal), Funchal (Madeira) in port on board overnight, Santa Cruz (Tenerife), Arrecife (Lanzarote), Portimao (Algarve), Oporto (For Leixoes, Portugal), and then back home to Liverpool on the 12th May. On this cruise we have our group fares starting from £1,809 pp for an ocean-view twin room which in cruising terms is very affordable, especially when it includes so much…
The other cruise, which again we have given a lot of thought to, sets sail from Liverpool on Oct 16th, on a 9 night cruise to places that, after listening to your itinerary preferences; will take us to some really nice continental ports, places that are both scenic and beautiful, starting at Rotterdam (the Netherlands), Antwerp (Belgium), followed by scenic cruising along the River Seine in daytime to Rouen (France), and finally to the beautiful French harbour town of Honfleur, before arriving back in Liverpool on the 25th October. Our group fares for this cruise start from just £1,139 pp for an interior twin room, which is great, and should leave us with enough cash to do some Christmas shopping, making it not only a chance to buy something a little more different, but helping to turn that whole Christmas Shopping task into a pleasure, and just so much easier. So, add all this to the joy of us being able to get together again aboard a beautiful ship, then we (Ulla and Des) hope and believe these new cruises will be a great success.
Your cruise fares include comfortable en-suite accommodation, all meals including breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, 5’Course A’La Carte dinners each evening where we will be dining together as a group, late night Supper Club, meals & snacks from the room-service menu, unlimited tea & coffee at selected venues. All entertainment and use of leisure facilities, local taxes, port charges, two Captains Cocktail Parties & two Group Drinks Parties, Gala Buffet, Porterage between the UK departure port and your room. Plus, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines do not charge bar service charges, making your bar bill even more affordable!
And, thanks to Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines enthusiasm to have us with them, on top of all they offer us, we will also have our usual Maritime Memories group parties, talks and so much more and, all without any extra cost… Yes, this could be Happy Days again, so come on, let’s all get together and set sail again aboard a real ship, a ship that in this age of so similar looking floating blocks of flats, actually has its own individuality, style and charm that was once the hallmark of all ocean liners during those Golden Days.
We will get a more detailed flyer out to you as soon as possible, but if in the meantime you would like to ask any questions, or would like to book, we recommend that you do this as early as possible to secure your preferred accommodation at the best price, then just call us and we will arrange for one of those nice people at Fred. Olsen to arrange it all for you…
So, call us, Des and Ulla at: 00 44 1273 585391 / 584470.
You know, we can’t help but notice just how much stress, tension and unhappiness there is in this world today, and it’s such a shame, for most of us remember a world that was so much friendlier and nicer, so come on, let us all get together again and show ‘em that it is still possible to enjoy yourselves and where better than sailing aboard a beautiful ship, far, far away from the maddening crowds.
Full details of how-to book for these cruises are at the end of this newsletter.
Now Whats Next?
I know, yes, we have, despite all the time we’ve spent searching for our ideal Maritime Memories ship, managed to produce yet another of our Award-Winning DVDs, and this one tells the story of the great, Panama Canal, from its construction right through to modern day. But being us, although it’s one of the few, if only DVD available about the building and operating of the great Panama Canal, we had to make this very special, and so we did, because thankfully a few years ago on another Maritime Memories cruise, we went through the Canal and you won’t believe the things that happened to us, but we did manage to film it all, so, having access to this film as well as to really rare archive film and images of the building and operations of the canal, and very rare film of ships using the canal, right from its opening in 1914, all the way through to modern day, enabling us to be able to tell this fascinating story in a way that no one else could ever do..
Oh. And the title of this programme is…
The Great Panama Canal
Actually, this fits in well coming after talking about our cruises, because we actually shot a lot of this aboard the Discovery, when we arranged a special Maritime Memories transit of the Canal, and, as so often happens on these Maritime Memories cruises, something quiet, very special happened.
When we first arrived in Panama, we were put up in a great hotel, but there we had to wait for two nights before our ship, Discovery, would arrive. I wondered how Ulla and I could possibly keep all out Maritime Memories people happy, for, being Panama, the temperature and humidity was right through the roof! Then something wonderful happened… I received a phone call from a high-ranking Panamanian Government official, who, on hearing we (Snowbow/Maritime Memories) were there in this hotel, invited us all to an exclusive visit to the Miraflores Locks! Well, I had been through the Canal many times as a seafarer, but never, ever had the chance to get off the ship to actually set foot in one of the locks, so I jumped at the chance, as did everyone in the whole of our crowd.
Early the following morning, luxurious airconditioned coaches arrived to pick us all up and take us to the lock, where we were warmly greeted by other high-ranking Government and Canal officials, together with endless glasses of Champagne, or anything else we fancied a drop of. And so, started another of those wonderful Maritime Memory days that none of us there would ever forget, for not only did we get all the drinks we wanted, but also as much tasty food as we wanted as well, but the most wonderful thing of all was to have not only the most prized, air-conditioned viewing lounge…
Out special viewing lounge right beside the action
but also, the freedom to just step outside (without hard helmet, goggles and high viz jackets) and watch the great maritime spectacle of ship after great ship negotiating their skilled ways through the locks… Amazing!
I’ll tell you what, those ships don’t half look big when you’re standing alongside them down on the quayside, a view so different from the perspective of a seafarer looking down from the decks above. It really was one of the best maritime experiences we have ever had, so much so that we just got totally carried away and didn’t leave the lock until the early hours of the following morning to return to our hotel… What a day it had been, and all captured on film, some of which we used in the making of this unique programme, which we hope you will all enjoy.
The following morning, after little sleep, but with everyone still feeling cheery after the wonderful day we had at the Miraflores Lock, we were taken down to the quayside in Panama City, where to be taken out to a beautiful ship waiting for us at anchor in the middle of the bay. She looked great as she rested in the morning sun that lazed across her turquoise sea, and as we approached her, so we wondered what sort of welcome, if any, we would get, but then as we neared her side, so she hoisted the whole collection of our rare Maritime Memories nautical flags, and as we came alongside, she blew her great whistle in welcome, and as we looked up so we saw the smiling figure of her master, Capt. Derrick Kemp, waving down to us from the bridge, and we knew then that we were in for many more great maritime days.
That whole voyage through the Canal and all the way back to the UK via a myriad of fantastic ports of call, was absolutely magic, especially our transit of the Canal, which was amazing, but I’m not going to write much more about it here as you won’t want to buy the DVD, and that would be disaster for us, for we totally rely on the sale of these DVDs in order to allow us to do this work, so do order a copy because it really is so important to us.
We were welcomed aboard by a whole army of crew, who were all singing our Maritime Memories Hymn, “Always Look On The Brightside of Life” then after a really tasty lunch and a few more liveners, Discovery’s engines came to life as she turned her bow towards the distant entrance of the Canal, and the start of our transit.
Most of this was captured on film, allowing us to show us transiting the Canal in modern times, but with the help of rare old film, to also turn back the hands of time to yesteryear as well, showing ships of old also transiting the Canal. The rare old films show ships of every shape and size, ships that we all once knew so well and even some I actually sailed on.
By editing the films together in this way, it created a strange and almost eerie effect, especially when the rare old films take us aboard those old ships, allowing us to both experience transiting the canal as it is today, and then by careful editing of the archive film, as it was all those many years ago, and you know something… it’s hardly changed at all.
To add further interest, we also take this opportunity to show you the Canal being built, so as we pass through say the Miraflores Locks or the Gaillard Cut, we not only show film of us passing through but again, rare old film of the old ships passing through them as well, again, creating a strange effect. We also show more rare film of the construction of these marvels, right on to the opening of the Canal in 1914… I am in serious danger of writing too much, but then so much happens in this video that you will like, including showing you extremely rare film of some of the Canal’s first visitors including Cunard’s great Mauretania 1, and White Star Line’s Georgic… Imagine the excitement amongst the passengers and crews aboard those great ocean liners as they neared what was then, one of the wonders of the world.
This is a really good programme and one you will watch over and over again. You can order from our website or from us direct on: 00 44 (0) 1273 585391 or 584470, and the DVDs are still the same price as when we first started making this series over 24 years ago…£18. 95p UK, £19. 95p in Europe and £20. 95p for the rest of the world. Unfortunately, since we started making these unique programmes, the cost of postage has gone through the roof, but no matter how tough things get, we will continue producing them for as long as we possibly can, for we know from your emails and phone calls just how much pleasure you all get from watching them.
As for our happy Maritime Memories crowd, well they just loved every second of the voyage and when we eventually returned to our home port, Captain Derrick Kemp had to make a personal plea to all, saying: “We’re sorry folks, but sadly you do have to now leave the ship, but don’t worry, just talk to Ulla and Des and we will soon all be back together again… And you know something, it wasn’t just ex-seafarers or ship enthusiasts that were with us, no, many of our crowd hadn’t even set foot on a ship before, but those same people have now been back with us time and time again… Isn’t it nice to know that there are still nice things we can do in this often not too happy world we dwell in today!
Now to that great artist Robert G Lloyd and his latest book and works:
Robert Lloyd’s new book, In Deep Water
Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2, crossing the Atlantic together
This magnificent book is a masterpiece in itself, and if you’re a fan of Robert’s then it really is a must to have. Even if for some strange reason you’re not familiar with his work, do get a copy, for the maritime art displayed within is just mind-blowing. They vary from magnificent paintings of some of the world’s great ocean liners, both past and present; right through to the smaller cargo ships and even todays Box-ships. There are also exciting paintings of ferries and even offshore platforms etc. so if you want something special, then we thoroughly recommend this unique book, and just for the record, we don’t handle it, but did manage to get a copy and it really was something to cherish, and something we, and you, will want to look at over and over again.
The Waterfront in New York circa 1957
MV Benstac offloading cargo in the Far East
Supply vessel Portosalvo leaving Aberdeen in the teeth of a gale
There is just so much in this wonderful book, varying from ocean liners to classic ships, Box ships, Bulk carriers, tankers, off-shore vessels, rigs, ferries, naval ships, tugs… It’s a book you would enjoy forever… Sadly we don’t handle sales of it, but you can get it via: Ferry Publications @ 01624 898445 or through their website @ www.ferrypubs.co.uk
We are so honoured to be able to exclusively handle the sale of Limited-Edition prints of all Robert’s work, and what’s good about these prints, as well as their remarkable art, is the fact that the editions are very low, often no more than a 100, and the quality of them is sublime, and something that if you have one in your home or place of work, will be admired by so many, but most of all, by you.
If you want one of these masterpieces then give us a call of: 00 44 (0) 1273 585391 or send an email to: email@example.com
We really ought to dedicate a whole News Letter to Robert and his amazing work… I know; we’ll try to film him at work in his studio and then put a link to it in our next Newsletter, because between you and me (Des) I’m just in awe of his work and would love to see him splashing the old paint about, just to try and see how he manages to get such detail, such feeling, such true nautical magic.
Des in Venezuela aboard the Saga Rose.
I know I look just a little younger in this photo, taken when I was a lecturer on the Saga Ruby for her world cruise… I loved that ship, and she was a lot of fun to sail on. Just a little personal information… When in Venezuela back then in circa 2003, on our voyage around the world, there was a lot of trouble with rebel armies trying to overthrow the government, so security was at a maximum… An onboard announcement was made, informing all passengers that because of the dangers they must not on any account venture ashore on their own, especially beyond security and into La Guaira itself, the port we were in. Instead, they would be taken in safety under armed escort from the ship straight to Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, and warned them to remain with the main group at all the times, because of the dangers from the vicious armed rebels.
Well, I never enjoy guided tours and such, and I really didn’t fancy going ashore with a whole crowd under armed escort, so no, I just wanted to do what, as an ex-seafarer, I have always done, which was to just wander ashore and to do whatever happened. One problem I had though was that on that voyage Ulla couldn’t join me, so I took a good friend along as company, and that good friend was Michael, whom I always used to call, Plate! Now had Plate got wind of any kind of danger and he would quickly have insisted that we go with the armed escort, but thankfully when the relevant announcement was made, he was happily singing away in the shower and missed hearing it, so it wasn’t difficult to persuade him that he and I should just wander ashore and enjoy ourselves on our own.
The town of La Guaira was a bit of an uneventful, dull place, with just beaten up old cars, small, dodgy looking shops, and rows of old men just sitting all around, smoking strong, strong tobacco, so we soon got fed up with it and Plate wanted to get back to the ship, but I couldn’t help but notice the almost mountainous hills that surrounded the town, and that at the top of them was the edge of the mighty Rain Forests, which I could see so temptingly, thickly rich and green, beckoning to me…
I pointed to the top of the hills. “Let’s go up there to the rain forest, Plate.” He got all excited. “Rain Forest… where?” He looked in the direction I was pointing and, not knowing that it was probably a favourite hiding place for rebel army camps, enthused. “Yeah, let’s go there, that sounds great, but how do we get all the way up there, those hills are far to steep and high for us to climb on our own.” I gave a knowing smile. “Don’t worry, Plate, leave it to me…. Wait there, don ‘t move, and I’ll be right back with a cab.” He wanted to come with me… “No Plate, stay there, it’ll be… It’ll be much easier and a whole lot cheaper for me to get a cab on my own.” With that I turned and hurried off towards the town centre, for the last thing I wanted was for Plate to even get a hint that going into the Rain Forest might be a little dangerous, for even though he was an ‘always in the gym man, and many times stronger and fitter than me, in reality he avoided all danger like a plague, and would always walk and even run away from even the slightest sign of danger.
Plate in Venezuela aboard the Saga Rose.
I hurried off down the main drag, back to the town centre where I had noticed previously that there were a few taxis parked. When I got there, there were three old bangers parked up with Taxi scrawled on them, so despite them all looking more than a little dodgily rough, I asked the drivers if they would take me up the mountain to the Rain Forest, but all three just gave me strange, frightened looks and mumbling things like…’No, no, too dangerous… guerrillas kill you.’ And even at the sight of a hefty wedge of dollars, they still flatly refused to budge…
I was just about to give up when just up a nearby street I saw this foreign looking man parked up in a really, really, beaten-up old land rover, so, with nothing to lose, I thought I’d ask him. He looked and sounded as if he were perhaps a Jamaican, and by the state of his repose, was well off his head on something smellily strong, but the only alternative I had was for us to return to the ship, which I really didn’t fancy doing, so I knew that I had to at least ask… He swayed about a little as he took in my request, his somewhat vacant eyes rolling slowly around as he attempted to respond… Then, with his gaze now upwards towards the forests, he slowly turned and in a high, squeaky voice, slowly responded. “You want me to take you up to the mountain top to the rain forest…” He rubbed his chin. “Hmmm, no, no, man, that’s very dangerous.” “I’ll pay you good money,” I said, and waved some of my US Dollars in front of him. His eyes opened wide as he saw enough cash to buy him many stashes of whatever he was on and, with eyes rolling back and forth between the money in my hand and to the long winding track that appeared to go up the steep, steep side of the mountainous hills, he slowly unwound himself into the driving position. “Come on.” I half pleaded, “It’s a lot of money just to go up a hill.” He nodded. “Okay then, but if I sense trouble man, then we is coming back down here again very quickly, you understand!” I smiled. “Yeah, I understand, no problem mate… Hang on a mo, while I go and get my mate. With that I hurried back up the street to a waiting, Plate… “Come on Plate, I’ve found this nice local man who wants to take us up to the Rain Forest… He reckons its great up there.”
I’m going to cut this story short otherwise it’ll turn into a whole book, but anyway, off we went in this truly beaten-up and dilapidated old land rover, its gears grinding as it creaked and groaned and rumbled its smoky way higher and higher up the long steep, mountainous track, which gradually became greener as all semblance of the track completely disappeared into overgrown bushes and trees as we became as one with the natural terrain,
After what seemed an age of going ear-popping upwards, we eventually made it to the very top, where we cautiously entered into the dark, humid and very mysterious thickness of the dark forest… Plate was excited at being there, but was also a little anxious at the way our driver behaved as he acted nervously, looking around him all the time for even the slightest sign of any guerrillas, as we swayingly rumbled cautiously through the humid darkness; but thankfully Plate remained completely unaware of any possible danger… “This is great” He smiled… “I can’t wait to tell my kids all about this when we get back home.” Just then the driver suddenly froze into an advanced state of rigamortis, as from out of the darkness of nowhere came a whole militia of heavily armed, and not to be messed with, guerrillas.
Heavily armed guerrillas appeared from out of nowhere.
Plate also froze as they surrounded our wagon and aimed their heavy machine guns directly at us… “Oh my God…” He mumbled… “Guerr…guerr… Guerrillas!” I was also concerned, but one thing my days at sea had taught me was to always remain calm when dangers falls, but I also knew that if I didn’t do something, then we would soon be dead… but what?! Then, almost by remote control and without even thinking about the possible consequences, I just grabbed my video camera and, as if running into some dear old friends, clambered out of the old Land Rover and hurried towards them… “Hello, hello… BBC… BBC.” I greeted them. They paused, confused at my action. “I’m from the BBC.” They looked at each other and then, would you believe, reacted interestingly to the name, BBC as if, even in this deepest rain forest, they knew of it. Now I’m not suggesting for one moment that the BBC is at all slightly, Liberal, Left, but these guerrillas even muttered. BBB, BBB C, to each other… Then, hopefully, selecting the one that was their leader, I went up to him and indicated that I wanted to video he and is merry men for BBC News. Thankfully he nodded his head and also muttered with a growing, toothless smile: ‘BBC’. He then ordered his men to lower their guns from the kill anyone stance, and then in fiery language, seemed to tell them that I was from the great, BBC. They then all applauded and smiled, and stood around me in a semicircle, ready to be videoed and to become famous.
I tried to appear to be calm, gesturing instructions as I videoed away. Then, acting like TV directors when they’ve actually managed to capture something really special, I suddenly beamed with joy as I let my camera fall by my side. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I joyed with pride and then gave them all in turn a grateful hug. Then with a final hug and kiss for the now proud leader… “BBC, BBC,” he muttered, I wished them well, and, even though my underwear must have been completely discoloured many times, I tried almost nonchalantly to walk back to the old Land Rover, turning briefly to wave to my new friends.
I can’t describe the feeling that held my whole body, but perhaps, perhaps we might just escape. I turned slowly to give a final wave, and to my relief they returned my wave and applauded as I climbed back inside the old Land Rover. I calmly asked the driver, who had now become the whitest Jamaican I had ever seen, to just wave nicely to my friends and then to drive away very, very slowly away. As if a puppet, he somehow managed to lift himself back into the driving position and then with a loud grinding of the gears, slowly, slowly started to drive back along the way we had come, through the deep, dense forest and all the way back down the now treacherously steep, steep hill. As for Plate, well he was beyond fear and completely frozenly speechless as he tried to control his nerves… then he hesitantly mumbled. “I’m… I’m… I’m never ever going ashore with you ever again”. His voice became clearer. “They were guerrillas, real, dangerous guerrillas, armed with machine guns, hand grenades and things… they could have killed us!”
Going back down the steep hill was so much more dangerous than coming up, but after what seemed like forever. we eventually got back to the town, where Plate and I, and judging by the way he was walking, also with stained underwear, creepily crawled cautiously back to the quayside and to the heavily fenced security barrier, where two security officers stepped out of their control room to question us.
The security officers, one of whom was a very attractive women, looked at us suspiciously. “Why you no on the buses with all the other passengers?” We handed them our boarding passes, then they gave us another long, questioning look. “Where you been?” The senior man asked. Plate turned and pointed up to the very top of the mountainous hills, and in a shaky voice said. “We’ve been up there in the Rain Forest.” They both looked up towards the forest in disbelief. “You’ve been up there!” The attractive female turned and leaned forward to take a closer look at us… “And you still alive!”
If I wrote this in proper detail, then I could dwell a little longer on the fear we all had, surrounded by extremely hostile guerrillas who were well known for not taking any prisoners. Looking back then, yes, it was a very frightening experience, especially standing there with me video camera, filming away for they really weren’t the sort you would probably want to invite home for Sunday Dinner! But we did survive to tell the story. “I can’t wait to see the video you shot… Wait ‘til I show it to my kids!” Plate had recovered and was now acting all sort of nonchalantly cool, as if what had just happened was an everyday occurrence in his life. I smiled. “Show your kids, Plate. Hmmm, well that could be difficult.” “Difficult, why?” “Well, what with the situation being far from ideal for normal filming, I forgot to put a recording cassette in the camera!” Plate quickly lost his new found coolness and looked as if he was about to pass out. “Oh my God, what would have happened if they’d ask to see the pictures?” I nodded. “I think we would have quickly have become dead meat Plate!” Plate went an even whiter than white, shade of Pale.
By the way, Plate absolutely refused to go ashore with me ever again, but just to show you that we really were on the Saga Rose, here is a photo of the two of taken aboard her after a drink or two at the Captain’s Party Night, with us jolly camping it up, pretending to be Husband and Wife!
Des with Plate on the Saga Rose.
The Saga Ruby voyage was quite important to me because it was only the second time I decided that instead of just doing the same old rehearsed and well-practiced lectures every time, I would from now on adlib mine so they were all individually different, and at the same time, deliver them in a comical way, the same as I had done so successfully on a previous voyage aboard the then world’s premier ocean liner, the beautiful QE2. Now that’s another very funny story, when, as I stood there regurgitating yet another same old lecture, something strange happened that resulted in me suddenly introducing both comedy and songs into my lectures, something that audiences even at the highest levels, really warmed to and enjoyed. But as I say, that’s another very strange and funny story.
This brings me to a double audio album I have just recorded, which uses extracts from shows I’ve actually given aboard those two liners, and several other cruise ships, with an end result that, (and this is according to people who have heard it) it’s one of the funniest and most entertaining recordings ever made, and the songs are pretty good as well.
A Ray of Happiness by Des Cox
My main reason for doing this recording was because, like so many of you, I am so fed-up with all the doom and gloom that seems to have taken over the happier world we once knew… In all honesty, I have never known so many deviously awful people, trying to ruin our lives, especially our politicians, who were once, would you believe, people we tended to look up to. Now when we look, it is mostly with total distrust and abhorrence, as they go to any lengths to destroy our lives. We in all honesty, have never known such mass hatred in this country and no matter if you voted in or out of the EU. their behaviour is the pits, and we are so much better than all that. It’s been so bad that many people have asked us if there is anything, we could do to bring a little ray of happiness back into our lives. Well thankfully we have now started our cruises again, so that will bring a lot of happiness to all who are able to come with us, but how to bring happiness to you all, which is difficult, but that’s no reason not to at least try, and that is why I made this recording based on my performances when entertaining aboard ships, and believe me, the only reason I ever do shows on ships is purely to spread fun and laughter, hence the recording’s title, “A Ray of Happiness. Oh, and all the audience sounds of laughter and applause on this double album are real, recorded at my live shows by people on their video cameras, who have then be kind enough to send me copies on DVDs, so as well as being completely adlibbed, there aren’t even any library effects either, just the real sounds of laughter and fun.
All of you who have seen me on stage will know that I never rehearse, in fact right up until the very moment I walk out, I haven’t a clue in my head as to what I’m going to do, which can be a bit worrying because who knows, one day I might go out on stage only to find my head is locked in silent mode, but I still do it, and do so because I want what I do to be different and completely original. So, as my whole stage performances are adlibbed, so is this double album, even to the point where I make most of the songs up as I perform them, which evidently isn’t the norm, at least, so I’ve been told by people in the music business, who are in positions of knowing, and have told me that this is the only time anyone has ever done anything quite like this and furthermore, they like it, especially the comedy impersonations, jokes and songs, songs that range from ballads to good old rock ‘n’ roll, country-rock, folk… You name it and its probably there somewhere, so I do hope you will have a little listen.
It will be out in about six weeks’ time once I have been able to master the art of trying to market records using modern technology, which I find so difficult to deal with, for as an ex1960s pop singer, I was originally signed to EMI Records, and it was they who, back in the days of vinyl, took care of all those marketing problems in an age when all records were sold in nice little music shops… It was all so straightforwardly simple back then, but now, unless you’re a computer Geek, it’s nothing short of being a nightmare; well for me it is anyway, but whatever it takes, it will be done.
I have also made several promo films to go with songs from the album, all of which we will put up on our website… They’re a mixture of various moods, and mostly shot on location around the country, plus two animated films featuring a caricature of me performing comedy songs aboard the QE2, Saga Ruby, Discovery and Aegean Odyssey… I’m pretty sure you will enjoy these, for at least they will bring a little happiness and might even have you up, rock ‘n’ rolling again!
Before this I am releasing another record, this time a single, which is one of the tracks from my double album, but a track I recorded mainly for my Children’s TV series, “The Bubblies”. This series was created by me back in the 1970s. and was broadcast all over the world. Sadly, together with my follow-up Children’s TV series. “Tugs”, all the rights to both these series were stolen from me by people in the business including one of our main UK TV broadcasters, people I thought were honest and could be trusted… If only I had known! The end result was that I was left penniless, and my only course of action was to either just give up and let the robbers win or, even without funds, fight those bastards through the Highest Courts in the land, and that’s what I did, which resulted in a legal battle that all in all, lasted for over twenty long, nightmarish years.
How can such evil, warped people exist? People who knowingly and worse still, deviously scheming to steal your creations, whilst pretending to be so honestly, friendly and helpful This is a story I will shortly write in full, telling of how I once created little characters, drew them and used them to tell my kids bedtime stories, characters and stories that went on to become two successful TV series that were shown all over the world, but instead of being decent honest people, they set out to not only steal the copyright and claim it as their own work, they also issued death threats to me and my family, (even the kids) and left us in poverty minus, without even blinking. So good were the stories and characters that the creator of the Muppets and Sesame Street, Jim Henson, would come to our studios every day when we were filming, to learn how to operate and film puppets. (I, together with my team of model makers and puppeteers, who were mostly from Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds Studios) developed a whole new way of operating them, something that Jim Henson was so keen to use, and I gave him permission to do so.
It is a heart breaking and very powerful story of evil against the bad, but already one major Hollywood film company has asked for the film rights, so perhaps those evil people will get their just rewards after all. I will also feature this story in my autobiography, “Jumping for Balloons”, Vol One of which, has already sold out but will be reprinted, and Vol Two, is nearing completion.
Hopefully you will like Vol Two, which I have sub named “Carry on Sailor” as it’s all about my life at sea… It’s full of the most bizarre and unbelievably funny things that happened to me as I sailed around the world, as was the case with most seafarers in those good old days. But it’s also rich in great nostalgia as it captures the age of the 1950s/60s, in a way that you can almost touch it and feel as if (providing you’re old enough of course) you’re actually back living again and having a happy life in an age that I believe was the best ever It also tells of how hard life at sea could be, of the dangers we faced, but also of the adventure and excitement of going away to sea in an age when overseas travel was so special in those pre mass tourist days. There was also the romance of course, but now, as a happily married man, I’m not going to tell you lot too much about that!!! Oh well, perhaps just a little, especially the hilarious things that happened to this young lad as he tried to grow up and come to terms with the opposite sex!
During the long running High Court legal battle, the defendants hid and even tried to destroy anything relating to the production of the series including the film, which meant that even if I could win, there would be nothing left for me to be able to work with and sell, but thankfully, many, years later I received a phone call from out of the blue; it was from the boss of a film library to say that they had kept safely the original film of every episode in temperature controlled conditions, which was like hearing angels sing… how happy this made me. Now I have managed to restore all of the 52 x 5 min episodes of “The Bubblies” not only to their former glory (they were all shot on 16mm film) but also to enhance and update them to allow them to be broadcast on modern day equipment. Now I hope to be able to give them their own TV station on the internet and let the series be broadcast all over the world direct, and as The Bubblies character are also a Children’s musical band, then what better way to relaunch the series than with a hit record, which is why I have recorded this new single, which is called Darlin’. Thankfully I was able to find all the artists who recorded all 52 songs featured in the actual series itself, artists such as Robb Storme, who had a tremendous voice and it was indeed an honour for me to perform with him.
I have also made a promo film using the Bubblies characters, which we will put onto our website when the record is released, so give it a try. Oh, and by the way, the actual TV version of the series, which we will also make available for you to buy, would be a great present for grandchildren, because, it was created, written and filmed in our day in the good old traditional ways; the stories are entertaining, slightly educational, but in a nice entertaining way, and each story has a worthwhile moral, but above all, they are great fun for everyone to watch
Des with new single for The Bubblies.
New Book ‘Carry on Sailor’
Des with Bubblies, Rob Stormer and Anna
The other Children’s TV series I created was titled ‘Tugs,’ and was all about the adventures of a group of tugboats as they go about their daily routines… I’ve always loved tugs and was always fascinated at how graceful and yet how so powerful they were, as they helped manoeuvre ships of all shapes and sizes in and out of port. It will take a little longer to bring this back to our TV screens, as I have to do a lot of work to get it back to the original exciting charm it had before it was also stolen from me, for one of the first things the people who do this kind of terrible thing do, is to try to disguise it to appear as if it’s their own creation by altering stories, music, voices and characters in order to conceal the true copyright. but it will come back and of course, because of my knowledge and experiences of actually serving at sea, I can rewrite the stories to reflect that unique knowledge and in doing so, produce a brand new TV series of ‘Tugs’, so watch this space.
Children’s TV series Tugs
We’ve covered a lot in this Newsletter, from cruising to books, limited edition prints, new records and Children’s TV series, all of which have connections with the sea, and all of which we do to genuinely try to spread a little happiness, although in today’s world just about everything is so much more complicated and difficult to do, especially when trying to arrange new cruises for you to enjoy, for there are now so much more red tape and regulations, so it’s not straight forward trying to do all the things we used to do, as was the case when we used the Discovery, but one thing is for sure, we will have so much more fun than you will ever get on any other cruise on offer around the world, and most important of all, we will have you!
If you are on the internet and would like to visit our Facebook page, here is the link: fb.me/SnowbowProductions So now let us say goodbye, but before we go completely, when I was at sea, even as a sixteen year old, I used to draw cartoons for the crew and passengers, and quickly learnt that by using cartoons I could make fun of everyone aboard including the Captain… That’s another story, but for now, here are some more of those cartoons, which we hope will also bring a few extra smiles into your lives.
Just to summarize: for DVDs, prints or news on cruising, please call 00 44 (0) 1273 585391 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or for our main website: www.snowbow.co.uk We need all the help and support we can get, but we also enjoy hearing from you.
When it comes to our new cruises, Fred, Olsen Cruise Lines would be only too pleased to look after you whilst we’re away, so if you like, just contact their friendly reservations team on 0800 0355 122 or 01473 742424 and quote Maritime Memories group account code GRP0290 followed by the cruise information, that way you can book as early as possible and get the cruise and accommodation you would prefer most.
Their office is open from 8am – 8pm Mon to Fri, 9am to 5pm on a Saturday and & 10am to 4pm on Sunday.
Oh, and as we are a special group, Maritime Memories isn’t bookable on line via either Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines website or our own, but only by making bookings (as above) over the telephone. Just one other thing to remember, traditionally the lowest and highest fares are the first to go, but not to worry, for the helpful people in bookings will find the closest to what you’re looking for.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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: www.snowbow.co.uk 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…
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.
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.
It’s difficult to believe that we now find ourselves in another new year, 2019. Where did all the time go, for it only seems like yesterday that I was suddenly picked up from my almost uneventful life in the then rural High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire as a young 16 year old, and parachuted into a whole new way of life as I found myself in uniform for the first time, and behind barb wire fencing that kept others out and me inside what was one of, if not the, most austere sea training school in the world, the TS “Vindicatrix”
I didn’t know what had hit me… forget going to prison for this was far, far tougher than any prison… We starved on a diet so severe that even a fishes tail of live cockroach was a luxury, and in the winter months when I was there, we had to sleep all but naked in old WW2, ice cold Nissen huts, on beds with dirty blankets, no mattresses and only hard wire mesh for comfort… To make things worse we were pumped fall of injections to vaccinate us against nasty diseases we might catch on our journeys around the world. all of which took its toll and in my case, I even went blind!
But at the end of that merciless training, I, and all the others of thousands of young boys that passed through the camp, left its gates so much more mature, stronger and capable boys, boys that from thereafter would be able to face the world and deal with almost anything it could throw at them, boys who had learnt that anything in life was possible and that whatever task given to them, they would, one way or another, get the job done.
I doubt that any kid today would be able to cope with what we had to deal with back then, but there weren’t any snowflakes back then; we just hand to buckle down and get on with it until that wonderful day came when the gates to the camp opened and we were set free, well almost.
Having past our final inspection, were marched out the gates and down the lane to the little railway station at Sharpness, where a steamy, hissy train waited to greet our pride, and to take us on the start of a journey that would open a book to a new chapters in our lives, a book that offered us the way to a whole new life, a life full of excitement, adventure, romance and opportunity, a life that would take us young kids to the far corners of the world to see countries and places most people back in those days (1950s) could only but dream about… It would be an experience that would give us the best years of our lives and days we would never forget.
I am writing the 2nd volume in my life story, “Jumping For Balloons” (part 2) which will tell this amazing story in great detail, delving into all its many attributes from those endless dreamy days of sailing through warm, blue, tropical seas, and seeing the true wonders of the world… my first palm tree, flying fish, shark, dolphin, or to play and swim on the shores of a tropical island. Mind you, we worked hard aboard ship, and we also had to learn to deal with being thrown into the middle of ferocious storms, which when just 16, really were scary, but perhaps the girls, girls, girls, all helped to make battling through any storm worthwhile! It was a way of life that sadly, young boys and girls of today will never be able to experience, and you know, 99% of the ex-seafarers and ship workers I talk to all agree that those years were the best of our lives.
On my first voyage we ran into two mighty storms, and to make it worse, they struck us just a few days after sailing from Liverpool in mid-December, 1954. I was cabin boy and wow! I never knew waves could be so ginormous, waves that were relentless as they tossed us about as if we were just a cork from a bottle… I had two buckets, one full of soapy water to scrub the decks with and the other to be sick in, and these two storms, one straight after the other, tore us apart for so many days has we battled our way across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and Panama.
I won’t write anymore about my personal life at sea for the moment, for that’s what my book is for, but I can’t resist this opportunity to recall the terrifying noise as giant wave after giant waves smashed down over the decks, tearing lifeboats and rigging away from the ship, and I certainly will never forget the morning that as I scrubbed away I heard the broad Scotch accent of the Chief Officer as he stood behind me. “Do you say your prayers, boy?” I turned and looked up at this huge man, his whole being swaying to and fro as he fought to hold his balance against the ‘Big Dipper’ like rise and fall and roll of the ship. “I do sir, I do.” I replied. He lowered his head a little and squinted. “Well tonight you’d better say a special one, because last night I thought we had lost it.” Then, as if I wasn’t already terrified into wishing that perhaps going away to sea was terrible, terrible mistake, and that I would have been far better off being a postman or road sweeper instead, he lowered his head and in a scary, frightening voice, described what had happened…
“It rose before us like a monster, a huge rogue wave coming straight at us from out of the darkness, a ginormous wave as if it were a mountain of destruction, and we had no warning or time to try to escape…” He shook his head, “Aye, we didn’t stand a chance… It just rose, and rose, higher and noisily higher and as we hit it, so it lifted us up and up and up until there was nowhere else to go, and having reached its towering peak, there it held us in a deathly still for what seemed like an eternity, before suddenly tipping us forward and downwards, plunging, crashing, deep down into its dark cavernous hollow where it took hold of us in its jaws, shaking and shuddering, twisting and turning and throwing us around as if we were just a toy. Then there was another brief moment of almost silent still, an almost silence that just for a couple of seconds gave us hope that perhaps we were safe, and then it happened… the very thing we had dreaded would happen.”
His eyes suddenly widened, emphasising his fear. “The whole ship seemed to scream as the giant monster lifted and then its angry, foaming crest broke and came crashing down all over us.” He closed his eyes for a few moments as he recalled the full horror of that moment, then with a scary frown he opened them again and continued to scare the living daylights out of me. “The roar of destruction was without pity as the full force of the sea flung itself over us, forcing our bow down and down before finally the sheer volume and weight of the water forced it to disappear beneath the surface. Aye, I thought we were a ‘gonna… I felt sure our bow would surrender as it lost its fight to rise again.” He paused once again, sighing heavily as he took a deep breath and then nodded as if to himself. “But she didn’t surrender… No, she fought back and against all the odds she slowly and bravely creaked and groaned and slowly, slowly lifted herself out of its angry grasp,.” He stood up straight again and smiled. “Aye, somehow we won and lived to fight another day.” Sensing my fear, he bent over and patted me on my shoulder, before calmly swaying off down the alleyway to continue inspect the ship’s damage.
If I hadn’t had gone to that sea training school, had I not had such a hard time there, I would never have been able to have coped with such a terrifying experience, especially as a poor 16 year old country Bumpkin, … As I say, my book will tell it all in great detail, but importantly it will also tell of all the amazing adventures and fun we had at sea in those days… The thrill of transiting the mighty Panama Canal, followed by seemingly endless days of warm sunshine and blue, blue seas as we crossed the vast Pacific ocean to New Zealand… To tell of how there were always Dolphins and Porpoises swimming immediately in front of the ships bow, where they would stay for days before being replaced by another… Today, were you on a modern day cruise, you’d be lucky to see any dolphins and porpoises at all!
Yes, the book will tell of all the wonderful experiences I so enjoyed, like sleeping out on the ship’s cargo hatches at night, lying there with just a pair of underpants on, looking up at night skies that were ablaze with stars, stars that swayed gently to and fro as the ship gently moved through the stillness of the night.
Back then hardly anyone anywhere had a film camera, so no one aboard was able to capture those wonderful scenes and moments… Oh, my mum did let me use the families old Kodak Brownie stills camera, but that only had sufficient film to take 8 photos, which was supposed to last me for the whole of the seven month voyage, so I had to be very careful how I used them…
Within a very short time I had matured beyond my years as the life at sea made me both worldly and a stronger, better person, and the things I learnt then have stayed with me all my life, and helped in me doing what I’m doing now, which together with wife Ulla (She’s a Swede, but other than that, she’s alright!) has involved us dedicating 23 years of our lives to search the world for rare film, film that hopefully someone somewhere had taken, film of scenes and maritime incident s that one day would somehow enable us to bring back in great graphic detail, all those wonder memories of those wonderful and happy years.
Well, there were such people and thankfully we managed to find them and their film, all of which we have restored back to perfect condition, thereby not only bringing all those wonderful memories back, but in a way that makes us feel as if we’re back there for real, so no matter whether you’re an ex-seafarer, ship worker, ship enthusiasts or you just love the nostalgia of those days, you will all enjoy the special Award Winning video programmes we have made of those days, days when we had the biggest and best Merchant Navy and Shipping Industry in the world.
It’s difficult to imagine today that it really was an age when the world was such a much, much nicer place, a world where it took so little to bring happiness, an age when a kiss was as wild and exciting as love could almost be, an age long before Political Correctness and ‘Elf and Safety’ were even considered let alone to rule and dominate our lives. An age when we really laughed, an age when we loved and looked forward with great optimism to every day and to the future, an age when instead of walking down the road hunched over an IPhone, we actually talked to one another…
The video programmes we have worked so hard to make show all this, and interestingly, we now get letters and emails from all over the world and pleasingly enough, also from young children who, having discovered these video programmes, have taken the trouble to write to us (Ulla and Des) to say how much they enjoy watching them and how they wish they could have been alive back then so they could have also enjoyed the same type of lifestyles as we were so fortunate to have had.
I’m afraid I never started this Newsletter with the intention of writing in this way, it just sort of happened, probably because I’m sickened by so much about the world today and especially the mindless, infantile behaviour of so many of our so called leaders! Oh, I know what I should just mention, which is something that one of our customers told me the other day… He’d called to say how much he enjoyed every one of the 44 DVDs we have currently produced, and wanted to know when the next ones would be ready. We chatted away, as we do… (You wouldn’t get this sort of service if you called Harrods or even Halfords!) and then he told me this little story, which says so much about how the times have changed, and not for the good either!
His dad used to be a London Docker, and when he was a young boy he often asked his dad as he was leaving the house for work, if he could go with him. “Come on then.” He would say, and off they’d go to London’s mighty Royal Docks, which then were the largest inland docks in the world. But not only did this little nine year old go to work with his dad in the endlessly busy docks, when they got there his dad just took him on board whatever ship he was working on at the time, and amazingly, actually take him all the way down into the ship’s holds, where he would just sit and watch as together with the other men, they would handle imports and exports cargoes as they swung too and fro on their way in and out of the holds… Imagine that happening today! Why, you wouldn’t even get past the dock gates let along down a ship’s hold!
Yes, we had such freedom them, a freedom that this world of today has snatched from us, screwed up and thrown into a bin… The disgrace of the way Brexit has been handled is as far as I’m concerned, and everyone I speak to, just so angrily humiliating and soul destroying… Politicians that have been elected by us to look after our interests couldn’t give a fig about us, for all that matters and registers with them is their own greed and selfishness… If only they had been ex seafarers, if only they had all gone to a sea training school, then I think if they had, Brexit or remain or whatever way you personally wanted, would have all be done and dusted ages ago.
It does make me angry, because the world we lived in back then was so much simpler and so much nicer than the world we have today, and you know something; when they argue how we couldn’t possibly manage without the EU, well back in those days not only were our ports the biggest in the world, London alone had over 66,000 ship movements a year, with ships coming and going from all corners of the globe, handling masses of cargoes of every type, and we didn’t have one single little computer to help us cope with that, no, it was all done with just pen and paper, and it all ran like clockwork, and we did it all on our own!
Away that’s more than enough about the state of the nation, and do please forgive me if I’ve said too much… Now back to what we are currently doing to try to spread a little happiness. The latest release is episode 44,“The Great Port of London” (Part 3). In all honesty I never imagined when we first started this work 23 years ago that we would make any more than just one little episode that would perhaps show the world just how life was back then and what a great maritime nation we once were. The 44 episodes currently available cover just about every shipping company that existed during the 20th Century, and the ships they operated. Episode 44 is actually the third DVD we have been able to make about the great port of London in its heyday, and the rare film used to make it is so uniquely rare, but when you watch it, well, that is something really, really special.
From Tilbury to the Pool of London and all the many docks in between, the programme shows them crammed full of ships of every shape and size, so if you have memories of those days or love ships, then this has to be one of the finest programmes ever made to capture those maritime, halcyon days; days that now thanks to these unique programmes will never be forgotten and serve as a lasting reminder of a time when the UK really was the greatest shipping nation in the world.
Production has started on the next two episodes, but with only Ulla and myself to do all the work, and with all the desperate applications we’ve made for funding to the various bodies rejected, it is a lot of work and although we have already found and restored the films needed to make the new episodes, it will still take many months of hard work before they’re completed… Those new episodes are 45, The Great Panama Canal, showing scenes from the initial construction of the Canal, and of lots of ships transiting it through the ages, going right back to the very earliest including White Star’s “Britannic” and Cunard’s 1906 “Mauretania,” right through to modern day. We also intend to include rare film of the Australian port of Freemantle taken in the 1960s, showing us more passenger liner footage of ships arriving and sailing from a port where so many thousands of passengers first saw and set foot on Australian soil, where to start a whole new life… Fantastic to watch.
Episode 46 is still in very early planning, but we want to show you more rare film of conventional cargo ships, and take you on them as they sail to ports all over the world. There will be ships from all the well-known companies such as Port Line, Ben Line and Blue Funnel etc., but we want to include the ships operated be lesser known companies such as the Belfast Steamship Co, Bowater Steamship Co, Reardon Smith, City Line and many others, so this should be another great treat.
Now here some very special news
At long, long, last, we have actually managed to build and open our brand new website, which might not mean a lot to some of you, but in this world of today, which is all but totally reliant on the internet, it is essential that we now shed our old clothes and get into fashion. Now I (Des) am not the best person in the world to create a new website, in fact I really am the least practical person in the world and I remember once, when crossing the Atlantic in the old “Rangitata”, I tried to rig a radio aerial from my cabin to the top of the mast, which we did back then, an exercise that meant having to climb the mainmast (no safety gear of course) but no one really minded too much, and only a few of the ship’s crew had a radio anyway, so everyone wanted them to be working and picking up radio stations that they could all huddle around during the evening and hopefully start leaping about to the sounds of old Elvis or if preferred, Victor Sylvester!
Anyway, I managed to get the aerial up and fastened to the mast then I returned to my cabin to try it out, but as I went to turn it on I remembered a warning one of the ship’s electricians gave me. “Make sure you earth it!” Well, I didn’t really understand much about electrical things, so remembering the warning, I climbed up to one of the pipes that ran through the accommodation and calmly scraped some of its paint off. Then satisfied I’d scraped off sufficient paint, I then fastened the aerial to the bare metal. in order to earth it, but when I turned the radio on, instead of Elvis leaping about it was me, for there was great big bright flash and a huge bang, as my brand new, posh radio became a smouldering wreck, but that wasn’t quite the end of the matter, for somehow I also managed to plunge most of the ship into darkness!
It took but seconds for the cabin door to burst open and there was a very red faced and angry Chief and 2nd Electricians. “I fxxxing knew it would be you.” The chief screamed… Can’t really remember what happened after that, but some weeks later, with help from the electricians I did manage to get it working, but by then we were way out into the Pacific ocean and instead of hearing Elvis rock ‘n’ rolling, all I managed to pick up was ‘The Voice of the Andes”, which as many of you will know, was a religious station that pumped out an endless diet of bible teachings, but at least it was working… Perhaps that’s why later in life I considered becoming a Monk!
Anyway, this new website is a must for you to go to, because using simple state-of-the-art modernisation, we can now offer you so much more, for example, you can go on there, put in the name of the ships, ports or places you are interested in and the computer will not only tell you which DVDs they’re on, but also if there’s a Robert Lloyd print of ship or scene as well and it and also, where it is on our film and sound archive… even describing the scenes they appear in i.e. Chusan laving Tilbury for Australia, or Southern Cross transiting the Panama Canal or the Egyptian Prince transiting the Manchester Ship Canal… Amazing.
Speaking of prints, we are now able to offer you exclusively the whole range of specially produced prints of work by Robert G. Lloyd, an artist considered by leading experts as the world’s best maritime artists. We have exclusively for you, the whole range of his prints, which in themselves are works of art produced to the very highest quality. Also, and I think importantly, instead of offering these prints in limited editions totalling many thousands, which is the normal practice, we have, and again just for you, agreed to produce them in very limited editions of around only 100 copies, which as well as being so stunningly beautiful to look at in your own home, they will also become very collectible. So, as well as being hung in top places like Buckingham Palace and museums, now you too can have your very own work of art… Here’s a few examples.
Just a tine sample of the tremendous fine art prints we can now offer exclusively to you, so do check out the whole list on our website… This is a unique opportunity to own a wonderful work of art that everyone will admire and one you will never tire of, so please feel free to browse our gallery of prints here
We couldn’t leave you without writing about our special Maritime Memory Cruises, cruises which so many thousands of you have enjoyed over the years, cruises that have taken us all over the world. But they’re not your regular cruises, no, for what we do it turn back the hands of time to the way things were and ships were operated during the Golden Age of Shipping. Instead of giant floating blocks of flats we use ships much the same size as they were back in those halcyon days, and we also go to great lengths to help make the atmosphere aboard as close to as it was in the days when people really mattered, and shipping companies went out of the way to make everyone and everything so special. But perhaps what makes these special cruises so full of fun and laughter and happiness, is that your fellow passengers are so much like yourselves, which in turn give us the best crowd of seagoing friends in the world.
We go to great lengths to try to find the right ships for us, not too big, but not too small, and ships that look more like real ships, as ships used to be years ago, and I’m sure so many of you will have some very fond memories of all the ships we have used, and to mind comes the happy days we spent aboard the MV Discovery , especially our voyages to South America, the Amazon and when we retraced the routes of the WW2 Arctic Convoys, taking with us many WW2 convoy veterans, and that totally amazing reception the Russians gave us when we eventually arrived in Murmansk… Truly an unforgettable moment to treasure for ever.
By the way, it was that special voyage that finally persuaded the British Government to awards those brave Arctic Convoy veterans the special Arctic Convoy Medal, so not only did we all have an amazing time, we also did so much good as well.
So many of you have asked us for information on the next cruises we will do, but at this moment we are currently looking for the right ship and the right people to work with, people who share our belief that although a great itinerary is so important, equally important is to be able to have a great time aboard the ship itself, and of course, that. with our special Maritime Memory Dinners, lectures, film shows and parties make those Maritime Memory Cruises so special for us all. So we promise to let you know just as soon as we have found those right people and ship, so we can all meet up again and just enjoy being on a real ship at sea.
We wish you all the good wishes we can fine for 2019, and hope that the world becomes a better, nicer place again, much as it was back in those golden days we once knew and so enjoyed.
In the meantime, if you would like to help us in our work, well funding is so necessary, so if you can tell others about us and interest them in trying our DVDs and cruises, then that would really help as it is our only means of funding to enable us to continue this work. You can even forward this Newsletter on to other people if you like.
Oh, two more sort of important things… Together with Village Roadshow and Warner Bros, we made a feature documentary telling the history of Scouting and to make this programme we travelled all over the world to film relevant scenes, starting from the location of founder Baden Powell’s very first scout camp on Brownsea Island to scouts all over the world; Australia, the Far East, India, Africa. Europe including Scandinavia and the most northerly Scout camp in the world. To North America, South America and then back to the UK including Windsor Castle. We interview Scouts of all ages and from all background, even including Royalty, and we even managed to interview the very last surviving Scout from that very first camp on Brownsea Island.
This 70 min film is something that everyone who is involved or has ever been involved with Scouting should watch. To make it at all was a wonder, for to get the support and funding was indeed a struggle and I think it most unlikely that there will ever be another film to tell this amazing story. We hope to be able to put the film on our website for sale in the very near future, so you can download or purchase on DVD, but really, if you have happy memories of scouting or are scouting today, then share our pride that we had in making it, for it seeks to tell the world what a wonderful job you have all done.
And finally, finally, because I am so sick and tired of all the doom and gloom that seems to have almost taken over this world of ours, I (Des) decided that I would at least try to fight back against all those moaners, snowflakes and losers that have taken up arms, and attack then with the thing they hate more than anything else in the world… the sounds of laughter and people enjoying themselves. So my first attack is by way of recording an album titled “A Little Ray of Happiness” which is all based on the stage performances I have given aboard ship on those special Maritime Memory cruises.
The album is very much the same as those on board shows, and although partly recorded in a studio, I have still ad-libbed the whole thing from start to finish… I even make up songs as we go along (another thing I do live on stage) but although I shouldn’t say this about my own work, there’s not one single song on the whole track that you won’t enjoy, plus there is so, so much fun and laughter.
The songs range from good old rock ’n’ roll to country rock, ballads, folk and lots and lots of comedy songs and stand up jokes and impersonations that I know from live reactions, will have you all laughing and enjoying yourselves. And why is there so much comedy on this album? Well as I said, I got so tired of all the doom and gloom in the world today and sadly, most modern day comedy is so far from being funny. In fact, things are so bad and people so fed up with it all that they’re actually switching off their telly, especially when the main news comes on, so that’s why I’m making this recording, and do please get a copy so you can play to family and friends and show them just how happy we and the world once was. Yes, I promise you, it might be all adlibbed, but the few people who have heard extracts have said its one of the funniest things they have ever heard, and the songs just great, so hopefully it will bring so much cheer and happiness, and you will play it over and over again.
It is almost finished and should be available on our website in a few weeks’ time, either to download or on CD… you will love it and if you don’t, then I’ll… I’ll… I’ll come round and do any maintenance jobs around your house… Oh, perhaps after telling you earlier in this Newsletter how I fused all the lighting aboard the old “Rangitata”, perhaps you’d rather I just stayed at home and did my own maintenance!
People who have heard parts have asked for different tracks to be released as singles as well, and at least three tracks will have special cartoon animated promo films made, which hopefully will both help their appeal and the enjoyment people get from watching them… Another very important thing I learnt from both sea school and my days at sea was that if in a disagreement with someone, it is so important to be able to see and understand their point of view, and at the end of the day, it would be very difficult to find anything quite as powerful as just plain simple laughter to make all sides happy again.
I promise this is the final thing I will write about in this Newsletter, but the cartoons we sent in the previous one went down so well, so we’re going to make them a regular feature on our new website, but being us, we’re going to present them in a way that has far as we know, has never been done before… This will mean that if you are feeling a little low, all you need to do is to go to our wonderful new website, click on the cartoon link and magically, happiness and laughter will be with you again, and just to get you started, here are a few more:
Thanking you all for your help and support, and as I said, if you could spread the word about what we do, especially as we do it all without profit, then please do.
After a long wait, here at last is the first of what will be regular newsletters, which we hope will keep you up to date with everything we at Snowbow and Maritime Memories are and plan to do.
Firstly, well the reason for all this new super service is that at long last we have a brand new website, and one that can take advantage of the latest technology to enable us to not only keep up with the times but also, if anything, be ahead of them.
All things relevant to shipping will be our main point of interest. But for the first time I will also let you know about the other things we do such as making Children’s TV programmes and documentaries such as “Scouts of the World”. This is a major production filmed all over the world that tells the complete history of Scouting from Baden Powell’s first camp, when he with 20 boys pitched their tents on Brownsea Island, right up to modern day. We’ll also show you music programmes featuring major names from the 1950s/60s that we were involved with and books and records we are still making. So all in all there should be a lot to write about, things that we hope will be of interest to you and which may even bring back a few memories of those once wonderful days, at a time when the world was a much nicer and better place to live in.
So, let’s now try to bring you up to date with what we are doing ship-wise and what we have planned for the future.
Our Latest DVD – ‘The Great Liners – Episode 43’
We have just completed the 43rd DVD in our video series of ‘The Great Liners’ so, if you haven’t seen it yet, then do get a copy because it is full of such fantastic footage that has never been made public before.
It has taken a long time to make this programme, but when you see the content you won’t be surprised. I guess when putting these together I put my old ship hat on and view what we do through that interest. We try hard to always come up with something that is not only totally original, but also to create a programme that will interest just about anyone, and one you will want to watch over and over again. That’s more than you can say for the average TV programme today. God, they are often so poor aren’t they, but this programme, which is 75 minutes long, has film that quite honestly made me so excited to restore and make available for you to enjoy.
Tower Bridge to Margate
We start by joining General Steam’s ‘Royal Sovereign’ at Tower Pier in the very early 1960s, for one of her wonderful Thames cruises. The voyage takes us out into the river as the mighty spans of Tower Bridge open wide to allows us beneath. We then steam down river past all those fascinating nooks and crannies and spooky little hidey-holes that back then lined every few yards of the river. As we go we pass ship after ship and sail past all the many docks that also lined the river, docks like St Katherine’s, Surrey, Canada, Canary Wharf and the then great Royal Docks, which were the largest enclosed Docks in the world.
We turn into the lock and then into the docks themselves, which are crammed full of so many fascinating ships of every shape and size, not like today’s rather samey looking giant floating blocks of flats! No, we’re talking about the age when ships were mostly of individual and original design and, dare I say, looked like real ships.
We tour the docks taking a very close look at all the ships in there, before going back out into the river and continuing our journey downstream, on past the once mighty Ford factory at Dagenham and on to Tilbury, which is also crammed full of ships including those then so handsome P&O and Orient Liners.
Our final destination is good old Margate, a favourite holiday resort back in those simple but so contented days when ‘Kiss Me Quick’ hats and candy floss was about all you needed for a great day out. Plus a cruise like this of course, navigating us through an armada of ships of every kind all the way from Tower Bridge to Margate. I wonder if kids today would be able to enjoy such a day out? They’d probably miss almost everything of interest as they bury their heads in their iPhones and tap, tap, tap away. Actually, we have started to get letters from young children who are taking a great interest in watching the ‘Great Liner’ programmes. They have written to say how much they wish they could have been alive in those wonderful days and to have been able to go away to sea and experience such freedom and unrivalled adventure and excitement.
British India’s ‘Uganda’
We leave the “Royal Sovereign” there and go back to the mid-1950s to join the beautiful British India ocean liner the ‘Uganda’ as she prepares to sail from Malta on another of her wonderful, queue and stress free Mediterranean cruises.
I don’t know if you’re familiar with the ‘Uganda’, but she was just 14,430 gross tons and accommodated 167 1st Class and 133 Tourist passengers. Quite different from modern day ships with 6,000 plus! What a beautiful difference it made to be able to just meander along, taking our time as we sail to uncrowded places (The Uganda’s passengers are generally the only tourists there) without a sign of a queue and, to just simply enjoy being on a real ship at sea.
We travel the whole of this Med cruise aboard her, and it helped me to appreciate, even more, the wonderful days that all us seafarers used to enjoy in those ‘Good Ole Days’. I won’t write too much about this for it’s something you really need to experience for yourselves. Something that this beautiful film we have used enables you to do.
At the end of the cruise we go back in time to the mid-1940s and with the help of more very rare film, which like all the other film used in the making of this unique programme, has never been made public before. We travel to the Ocean Terminal in Southampton, where we find the magnificent ‘Queen Elizabeth’ about to set sail on her first commercial voyage since the end of WW2, to New York .
We then take a look at more rare film showing us the wartime service of the ‘Elizabeth’ and the ‘Mary’, and how they, in the words of Winston Churchill, took two years off the war. Incidentally, the war time footage shows the ‘Queen Elizabeth’ making her secret dash from the Clyde to New York. She had been scheduled to go to Southampton where preparation had been made for her to finish outfitting. However her orders were changed en-route, sending her at full speed to New York and taking along with her some very surprised John Brown shipyard workers, who weren’t too well equipped for a transatlantic crossing!
This piece of film was given to us by the daughter of the then Chief Engineer of the ‘Queen Elizabeth’; how great and exciting is that! Do you know, the ‘Queen Elizabeth’ hadn’t even had any real trials at that point, so anything could have happened. As Hitler had ordered her and the Mary’s sinking a top priority, she could now have easily been rusting away somewhere deep in the Atlantic Ocean with all hands aboard. However, she made it and, so great were her speeds, that the paint on her bow and sides was worn away.
The whole Nation seemed to be cheering her as she spectacularly pulls away from the quayside to start that first commercial voyage and such an illustrious career.
Now we travel forward in time to cross to New York in September 1967, where the magnificent ‘Queen Mary’ is readying herself to say her final farewell to the city that had become her second home.
After she sails on her final voyage we are so fortunate to have been able to pick her up again as she arrives off the Solent and prepares to sail into Southampton to embrace the huge reception waiting for her from the thousands of sad yet somehow joyous well-wishers, who have come from across the nation to show their admiration.
Of all the film I’ve ever seen of the ‘Queen Mary’, and to be fair, there isn’t too much around, the footage seen here has to be the very best. She looks absolutely magnificent as she makes her way through the gathering noise and proud sightseers. I could watch just this film alone over and over again. It makes me so proud to be British and reminds me of the thrill and excitement that filled my every feeling, so I’m so pleased that we have been able to bring this for you to enjoy.
The crowds were both excited and sad as the wonderful ‘Mary’ made her way through the orchestra of sounds as she showed her magnificence and supremacy to all. Only too often when you manage to find actual film of such an important maritime occasion, it is spoilt by bad weather or the film is now so old and faded. But for this most important of arrivals this film is in absolutely wonderful condition and shot with so much care from an escorting sightseer’s pleasure boat. This gives us the rare opportunity to see this great ship from sea level, giving us an unrivalled view of her splendour. I can say in all honesty that this must be the best film I have ever seen of the ‘Queen Mary’, and as you watch you can’t help but get caught up in the celebratory atmosphere as we follow her in from the Channel all the way to the Ocean Terminal.
For the life of me I sometimes have to shake my head in confused wonderment at just how we have managed to find and restore all this amazing film. This particular programme is far from over as we now return to the most handsome ‘Queen Elizabeth’. It’s December 1968 and she’s setting sail on her penultimate cruise before her last and final Atlantic crossing.
Crowds are lining the banks of the Solent to see the ship I personally feel was perhaps the most handsome of all time. We hear the sound of her whistles as the Southampton tugs manoeuvre her ready to face the open sea. Again the film has been shot from a sightseeing boat, allowing the film to capture her magnificence and grandeur in a way seldom if ever seen before.
I will never forget those times when, as a young boy, I would be on the Waterloo to Bournemouth express, and as we slowed on the approach to Southampton, almost everyone would be up at the windows, eager to glimpse the great liners all proudly displaying their importance as they lined every quayside of that great port. And if ever the shout was heard, “Look, there’s one of the Queens!”. Well that would be sufficient to cause a mini stampede and, for young ship loving boys such as me, a smile and sense of pride almost a mile or more wide… I loved it!
We end the Southampton story with film of the two Queen’s young sister, the ‘QE2’. We ‘miraculously’ see her launch and then leave Ocean Terminal on her maiden voyage to New York. I say miraculous because on that day the weather was absolutely foul, thereby killing all the carefully laid plans to capture this moment on film. But once again, those ordinary ship loving Brits are there, and if armed with a cine-camera then nothing could prevent them from capturing the majesty of the whole occasion.
Once again, much of the film covering her as she leaves her berth and heads out into the Solent, has been filmed from a sightseeing boat. So, although duller than we would have liked, we must be grateful for small mercies that this moment was captured on film for us all to enjoy.
You know, I really didn’t mean to write so much in this newsletter. It’s a bit like waiting for a bus in a way, for its been months since I’ve been able to do one and then four of them come along at the same time! Oh well, we’re almost at the end of writing about the contents of episode 43. We move into the finishing straight by returning to New York in the 1950s. We join the Grace Line cargo passenger ship the 1946 built ‘Santa Cecilia’ on a voyage to Chile via the Panama Canal and all the way down the West Coast of South America .
Grace Lines ‘Santa Cecilia’! Again this is very rare film and not something we would expect to experience, but we have it and how enjoyable it is. It really is all back to basics and the real joy of being back at sea (for me at least). She was one of four sisters and only carried 52 passengers, yet all had their own luxury cabins with air-conditioning. Only the Americans could have done that. When I first went to see I had to either stick my head out the porthole or to sleep on the hatch covers at night to keep cool. Anyway, the film lets you just relax and capture the moment of a timeless voyage. No planes to rush to catch, no security to battle your way through and no one seems to be bothered about having to entertain their passengers (You know how it is aboard a modern day cruise ship, with the PA system blasting out around the clock, urging everyone to go to lectures, shows, rock climbing, ice skating, golfing or surfing etc.). No, on the old ‘Santa Cecilia’ those 52 passengers made their own entertainment. I know what I would prefer!
It’s another fascinating passage through the Panama Canal as always. No two transits are ever the same, but what helps to make this film so interesting to me is just seeing those South America ports, which in the main seem like a collection of old mud huts and little else. And oh! wait until to you witness how they got the passengers ashore! Hopefully you will get this DVD and see for yourself, but I’ll tell you what, if any of our ‘Elf and Safety’ people watch it then get ready for a few severe coronaries. I doubt many, if any of you, have seen anything quite like this.
Halfway through this voyage we go to San Francisco in the early 1980’s to join a much more modern ship, Delta Line’s 11,221 gross tons ‘Santa Maria’. She’s the modern version of the ‘Santa Cecilia’, and we’re joining her for another voyage to South America but this time on a cruise they promote as “The Circle of Dreams”. A very apt title it is, as she will take us all the way around South America, starting off with a West to East passage through the Panama Canal in which our Captain gives us a running commentary on the running of the Canal.
With just a 100 passengers, once again it’s very much a ‘being at sea’ experience, with those lucky passengers making their own entertainment and, in turn, getting to know just what it’s like to sail aboard a real working ship.
Once through the canal we sail down the East Coast of South America, calling at ports such as Buenos Aires and on down to what for all, including me, was the highlight of the voyage… A transit of the often volatile Strait of Magellan. I wish I could have done this transit for real, but this is certainly a very good second best and, believe me, once again they have managed to capture the true awesome wonder of that strait. I’m so pleased that this film has allowed me to experience this transit, and enabled me to be able to imagine just what it must have been like for Magellan and his crew to have made that first transit back in the 1500s.
At the end of the Strait we sail into the Pacific, and again, you can just imagine how Magellan and his crew must have felt when in their tiny little boat, they felt the freshness of the wide Pacific they had been searching for.
The ship then takes us back up the West Coast of South America to San Francisco, where we position ourselves on her bridge for a fascinating entrance to that great harbour, passing beneath the great Gold Gate Bridge in swirling fog. All in all, yet another great experience and what better way to sign off one hell of a DVD.
If anyone should wonder why we would use American ships in what is essentially a UK based production, well no doubt you will be pleased to learn that we get tremendous help from the States. They just love to see films of our merchant and Royal Navy, which we welcome warmly. So it’s nice for us to show some of their ships whenever we can, which will make them love us Brits even more!
In the next newsletter I hope to be able to reveal the content of our next “Great Liners” DVD, which we will have ready nice and early for Christmas. These DVDs really do make the perfect gifts, and image having something really nice to watch over Christmas. That would make a nice change wouldn’t it!
I will also write about the our attempts to bring a classic ocean liner into the UK, to berth her as a reminder of our once great maritime industry and to use her as a hotel and entertainment centre. We could have achieved this, but you won’t believe what we had to put up with from the various authorities and those supposedly in charge. You really won’t believe what became the final straw. Forget the EU and the arguments about an Irish Customs Checkpoint, for all that is so silly and infantile. I will reveal something so much sillier that, after many years of detailed negotiations, the London authorities suddenly produced to destroy everything, well you really won’t believe it.
So hopefully there will be lots of interesting things in future newsletters. This one is already quite long, so I need to stop before I turn it into a large book. Before I take my leave, please let me express how grateful we (Wife Ulla and myself) are for all your support. For as most of you know, we receive no external funding at all, not even from our Heritage funds, whom we really thought and hoped would be overjoyed at all we have done over the past 23 years to ensure the history and stories of our once great shipping industry and Merchant and Royal Navies last forever.
Yes, they turned us down for any funding, basically telling us that in their opinion “There was little interest in these subjects”. So now, as we have done for 23 long years, we have to really struggle to fund all the work involved. Our only income is from the sale of our DVDs, without which, we would have no alternative but to cease, so in giving us your valuable support you are also playing your part in making sure we keep our maritime history alive.
Oh, and I have to admit that doing this work is also so rewarding, for it would be difficult to think of any other way to be able to spread so much happiness around the world.
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