Gold Ribbon Banner
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
MS Pacheco

After gaining my Masters Certificate in July 1962, I started to look for another job on General cargo ships, but definitely not anymore tankers. I wanted to have a better quality of life, ie a better social one, to hopefully meet the right lady etc.

The influence of my old friend from King Teddy days, Mike Theocolous, pointed me towards MacAndrew Line in Mincing Lane, and I applied for a 2nd mates job.

Fortunately for me, a job came up about a week later and I found myself joining the MS Pacheco in London Dock.

PACHECO: 1,242,GRT, about 1980 DWT cargo capacity. Built 1961 by Grangemouth Dockyard Co, Grangemouth Scotland, Speed 14 knots. Four hatches/holds, with steel wine tanks located in the holds and tween decks section of the Masthouse Midships for bulk table wines.

Trading route was; London-Bilbao, Santander or Gijon Northern Spain, Casablanca, Tangier or Ceuta, Barcelona, and several Spanish ports coastwise to load fruit, potatoes (new), bagged onions, and other general cargo according to the season with a possible final call at Algeceiras for cork cargo or Cadiz for sherry cargoes. Total round trip time 21-22 days, with four days in London to discharge and reload.

Bulk wine cargoes were always loaded at Tarragona; about 300 tons of dry and sweet white wines, followed by dry and sweet reds. It took a total of six hours to discharge using four mono pumps. That was the taste and colour spectrum procedure for the discharging order of the table wines into the PLA (Port of London Authority) wine vats in Shadwell Basin, near the famous “Prospect of Whitby” pub which overlooked the locks leading into London dock. London Dock, near Tower Bridge, was a “Bonded” dock, next door to St Katherines dock. The other berth, used by Mac’s ships, was Butlers Wharf, immediately opposite the entrance to St Katherines dock on the south bank of the River Thames.

Being a bonded dock, all the wines (dutiable) were discharged there. The wooden barrels, in particular, had leaks in them as they are stowed three high in the lower holds of the ship and on their sides, so that the heads of the barrels didn’t dry out (which would happen if stowed upright). All barrels that were noted to be leaking during loading in Cadiz were recorded on what we called “an Exceptions List”. This was the custom of the trade to avoid unnecessary claims from the receivers for losses on their wine shipments. Customs and Excise accepted this as well, so due diligence was necessary on the part of the ship’s officers during loading to pick out these particular barrel’s details.

Whilst loading in Cadiz and being discharged in London, the procedure was to use “can hooks” that were linked by a length of chain to two hooks. These hooks fitted over the lip of the barrel at each end. As the barrel was hoisted up by the Dock cranes, the sudden strain could cause them to leak. The solution to that was to have a barrel cooper with a mallet and plenty of tissue paper, tapping the barrel with his mallet after inserting strips of tissue paper into any small gaps. It worked! There was also a cooper in attendance during the loading of the barrels in Cadiz/ Puerto Santa Maria.

Another interesting fact was that on the voyage from Cadiz to London, there would be some leakage from the barrels which found its way into the bilges of the holds. Unfortunately, the liquid content of those bilges had to be pumped overboard from time to time into the sea. A trail of sherry following the ship to London... what a waste! The trade was interesting and busy. It was literally one port a day whilst on the southern Spanish coastline. Discharging and loading operations during the day then sail each evening to arrive at the next port for an 8am start the next day. Barcelona was the starting port for the coasting run.

The first couple of trips were different. After discharge at Casablanca, we were to load a deck cargo of horses (into horseboxes) on the tops of our hatches as well as on the deck. Why so many so horses? Well it was the horses used in the filming of the movie Lawrence of Arabia (starring Peter O’Toole as Lawrence) including the famous white horse, along with several extras and horse minders as passengers. We sailed to Cadiz where the horses and film extras, horse minders etc disembarked.

Apparently, the movie’s desert scenes were shot near Casablanca, and scenes of the British Army HQ in Cairo shot in Seville, that’s why they all disembarked Cadiz for further filming. The MacAndrew line ships were painted “all white” and for the fruit cargoes, they used to charge an extra sixpence per ton in the old days as shippers wanted to ship their goods in cool looking ships which also had good mechanical ventilation changes of the air in the holds. A very important selling point.

At Cadiz, we loaded a mixed cargo of cork in bales, barrels of sherry, cases of fruits, cases of sardines, bagged almonds and some general cargo and vehicles. Smallpox Scare
The 2nd trip was the traditional route, but including a call at Tarragona after Barcelona to load bulk table wines. It was quite an easy procedure, loading from road tankers and small hoses, with dust covers over the access hatches of the tanks. The tanks were all coated in epoxy resin paint, with minor maintenance between cargoes - touch up work on small pinholes of breakdown of the coating.

Fumigating of the tanks took place with sulphur buttons prior to loading. All the ships hoses in the masthouse pumproom were of plastic piping as visible sight pieces to connect to the four mono pumps. All couplings were coated with olive oil (an edible oil). After a couple of trips, Capt Mike Dunn took over as Master. He was a good Master and time and the ports passed quickly by.

Then one morning in Barcelona, tragedy struck. One of the AB’s (known only by his nickname as M) came to see me on deck. He said he had some unusual looking blisters on his neck and forearms. I examined him and noticed immediately a similarity to photographs of Smallpox pustules that were contained in the Ship Captain’s Medical Guide, which every British merchant ship had to carry in its medicine chest. I, for my sins, was the custodian of that chest etc. I took him up to see the Captain straight away, and to look at the book. Capt Dunn called the ships agent immediately to arrange hospitalization and to notify the port authority.

Within a very short time, two doctors and an ambulance were alongside the ship, with our agent. The ship’s gangway was pulled in, the cargo work stopped and all the stevedores told to remain on board whilst our crewman was examined and whisked away by ambulance. Everybody, putting it mildly, (crew and stevedores etc) were scared stiff as rumours circulated quickly. Everybody agreed that he must have picked it up in Casablanca or Tangier, etc. So did we for that matter. The book said the incubation period was about 10 days.

Within a very short time, the quayside was filled with anxious families of the stevedores wanting their relatives to come off the ship, but the police guards wouldn’t let anybody off. Later, the Port Health Authority visited the ship and all of us were examined and vaccinated, even the Spanish stevedores. They were not taking any chances, it was the sensible thing. His cabin mates were also closely examined and questioned.

After taking all the precautions, they let the stevedores off and we were all confined to ship. We were allowed to sail next morning to proceed to Valencia to load a full cargo of sweet oranges for London. Meanwhile, the ships holds were fumigated and sealed up. We arrived at Valencia later that day and anchored for a further inspection of everybody on board by the Port Heath Authority. No other persons were showing symptoms or fever etc, just lots of anxiety.

Next morning, we berthed early to start work at 0800 hours. The stevedores trooped on board and proudly showed us their vaccinations. They compared them with ours; a touch of light relief and shared humour. A fast loading was completed and we sailed direct for London. No mention of it was made in the press, it was kept very sensibly at lowkey. No further cases were noticed on board, no symptoms or fevers etc.

Arriving off London, we were ordered to go to the PLA (Port of London Authority) quarantine anchorage at Higham Bight just below Gravesend. Again, a squad of Port health officials and doctors came to examine us, take all our personal details and issued us with little yellow cards to present to our doctors at home if any symptoms were observed.

Upon berthing at London Dock, the cargo was discharged within two days and the whole ship was fumigated again (cargo holds and accommodation). It was just before Christmas, so although the oranges were sweet, our experience had been sour. I went on leave thinking that was the end of the matter and wondering what had happened to “M”?

After Christmas, I joined the Pozarica in London Dock. Capt John Rimmington was in command for the fabulous London-Lisbon-London Express service. It was very interesting and I enjoyed it. A few months had passed by and walking home on one sunny evening from London Dock to London Bridge Station I saw a familiar smiling face approaching me. It was “M” from the Pacheco. He looked well and told me he had been in hospital in Spain for several weeks, then returned to the UK. He was now back at sea again. The biggest surprise of all was that he had contracted the disease in London, not Casablanca or any other place. He had been infected by a girl from a pub in East London.

There was no doubt in his mind that the routine smallpox vaccination he had before he became infected had saved his life. I was very pleased he was okay and still alive. I recalled that the journey time to Barcelona from London was about 10 days and the penny dropped. Why didn’t we suspect, that day in Barcelona, that it might be London as the source?

Read the rest of this article with additional pictures in Sea Breezes Magazine - April 2017 Issue
Click here to subscribe

Subscribe Graphic

Latest Issue - Look Inside!

Boudicca

Most Popular

  • First of Giant New Container Ships is Handed Over +

  • Alan Sinclair to Nova Star +

  • Billionaire Arthur Blank has his own Dreamboat +

  • From Fjords to Fiji +

  • Two Gulf Tankers Set on Fire in Attacks +

  • 1
  • 2

Latest Products

Maritime Log

  • Admiral Bellingshausen +

    Admiral Bellingshausen A 24m YACHT carrying members of an Estonian expedition arrived at Lerwick on Aug 14 on a voyage to mark Read More
  • Two Rescued by Lifeboat +

    Two Rescued by Lifeboat TWO local fishermen were rescued after their fishing vessel caught fire off Land’s End on the afternoon of July 16. Read More
  • First Task of Shell Bunker Barge +

    Shell Bunker Barge SHELL’S first inland waterway LNG bunker barge carried out her first bunkering operation at Rotterdam in June. Read More
  • A Special Surveyor Joins the Humber Estuary Fleet +

    Special Surveyor A NEW £600,000 vessel has joined the survey fleet of Associated British Ports (ABP)’ Humber Estuary Services. Read More
  • Denmark Sails into Fifth in the World +

    Denmark Sails into Fifth in the World DENMARK has now moved into fifth position in the list of the world’s largest shipping countries. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • Operation to Salvage Three Tugs +

    Tug Salvage THE US Coast Guard has launched an investigation into the sinking of three vessels in the Illinois River near Hardin, Read More
  • Terminal Being Made 'Big Ship Ready' for 2021 +

    Terminal Being Made Big Ship Ready WORK has started on the expansion of Seattle’s Terminal 5 so it can handle container ships of up to 18,000 Read More
  • Record Set by Largest US Ship for Hawaii Service +

    Lurline The largest combination container, roll-on, roll-off ship ever built in the United States was formerly named in a ceremony at Read More
  • $293mn for Port Projects +

    Long Beach port The United States is to invest $292.7mn in the country’s ports through a new Port Infrastructure Development Programme. Read More
  • Facility Exports First Cargo of Propane to Japan +

    Sumire Gas The first marine export facility for propane in Canada has been officially opened. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Asia-Pacific

  • First of Giant New Container Ships is Handed Over +

    MSC Gulsun THE SWISS-based Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) has taken delivery of one of the world’s largest container ships, the MSC Gulsun, Read More
  • The Last New Magnolia Ship in Series +

    The Last New Magnolia Ship THE Singapore-based container shipping company Ocean Network Express (ONE) has taken delivery of the 14,000 teu capacity ONE Cygnus, 138,611dwt, Read More
  • Line Adds Automated Power Kite to Propulsion +

    Airseas The Japanese shipping company Kawasaki Kisen KK (K Line) aims to cut ship greenhouse gas emissions with automated power kites. Read More
  • ONE Express to North Sea and Baltic +

    ONE Apus The Japanese shipping line Ocean Network Express (ONE) was due to start an enhanced North Sea Baltic Service with Russia Read More
  • MOL Links with Russian Uni for Crew Training +

    Makarov University The Japanese shipping company Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a Russian university on co-operation Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • USS Cincinnati to be Delivered to US Navy +

    USS Cincinnati US News USS CINCINNATI is the latest member of the expanding littoral combat ship fl eet to be delivered to Read More
  • Scorpene Sub Snags +

    INS Khanderi indian News The troubled Scorpene class submarine program hit another snag in June. Read More
  • US Navy’s Frigate Program Passes Significant Hurdle +

    USS Minneapolis-St Paul US News The US Navy has unveiled its plans for the purchase of a new frigate known as FFG(X). Read More
  • Fourth Dreadnought Named HMS “King George VI” +

    Dreadnought Class UK News The fourth member of the new Dreadnought class of nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines will bear the name Read More
  • US Navy Orders Flight II Landing Platform Dock +

    LDP30 American News The contract for the construction of LPD30, the first Flight II Landing Platform Dock of the San Antonio Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • Alan Sinclair to Nova Star +

    Glen Sannox Those in management positions must dread the retirement of those characters who retire from their life’s work with a wealth Read More
  • Fragile Future for Calmac +

    Isle of Arran TMore and more, I am reading reports that say the media, and the public too, are well aware of the Read More
  • Oscar Goes to Italy +

    Oscar Wilde Irish Continental Group has entered into a bareboat hire purchase agreement for the sale of its 1987-built Oscar Wilde to Read More
  • CalMac Heritage +

    Columba I include a fine poster and artist’s image of the famed Macbrayne paddler Columba. Read More
  • Russian Adventure +

    Ocean Adventurer To the North East Coast and arriving at Aberdeen for the first time for many months, I witnessed a passenger Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • From Gloucester Tall Ships to Kenyan Sailing Dhows +

    Royalist Gloucester Dock is linked to the River Severn at Sharpness by a 16 mile canal. Read More
  • The Zea Servant +

    Zea Servant The Hong Kong registered Zea Servant arrived late June from Hull. She was in Campbeltown to load wind turbines for Read More
  • The Green Band of Marstal +

    Bessie Ellen The Danish Maritime Museum had the schooner Bonavista built on the island of Aero at Marstal and this year they Read More
  • Norweigan National Day +

    Thorodd I was in Montrose on the Norwegian National Day, 17 May, when its independent constitution from Sweden was confirmed in Read More
  • Port of Aberdeen Fifty Years On +

    Aberdeen Harbour Extension Project When I first arrived in Aberdeen in 1968, I couldn’t believe my luck. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • Welcome to 'Spirit Of Discovery' - Farewell to 'Oriana' +

    Spirit of Discovery WITHIN the last two months the British cruise industry has welcomed the arrival of Saga Cruises, 58,250gt, Spirit of Discovery, Read More
  • Lower Figures in the Area of Ship Losses +

    The Sincerity Ace IT WAS HEARTENING to read in a recent press release from the Allianz Global Corporate & Speciality SE’s (AGCS), in Read More
  • President Opens ‘Largest UK Ship Simulation Centre’ +

    Sir Michael Bibby With the training of seafarers being so important to safety at sea, and in particular navigation equipment and bridge procedures, Read More
  • Hands-Free Mooring at St Lawrence Seaway +

    St Lawrence Seaway I feel there are probably many readers, like me, who feel a shiver down their spine when they think of Read More
  • Flying the Flag on Merchant Navy Day +

    Red Ensign For more than 35 years, it has been my immense privilege to be a local Isle of Man committee member Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • Billionaire Arthur Blank has his own Dreamboat +

    Billionaire Arthur Blank's Dreamboat ARTHUR BLANK helped create the American home improvement store chain, Home Depot, and it seems that now, his new fl Read More
  • Boudicca Pays Tribute to D-Day Veterans +

    Boudicca Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines were proud to have played its part in hosting 250 D-Day veterans. Read More
  • Captain of a Modern Passenger Carrying Sail Ship +

    Sea Cloud 2 If you have ever wondered what qualities a Captain of a cruise vessel might need to have listed on his Read More
  • Every Ash Cloud Has A Silver Lining +

    The ash cloud crisis continues to cause uncertainty as we see sporadic closures of airspace and cancelled flights, and this Read More
  • Damen Group Superyachts +

    Amels With 25 projects underway, business is booming for Amels, the Dutch luxury yacht builder. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places

Cuba

An Unexpected Job in Cuba

In 1948, I joined the MV Yamaska Park as an EDH and, over the first few days aboard, I became Read More
Suez Canal

The Creation of the Suez Canal - Part Two

IAt the end of 1858, the company’s Works Committee convened for the first time. It included an impressive assembly of Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

Birkenhead

Women and Children First

HMS BIRKENHEAD was one of the first iron-hulled warships built for the Royal Navy. Although laid down as the frigate, Read More
MV Scillonian

The Boatmen of Scilly

The romantically named Guiding Star, Sapphire and Sea King will be recognisable to folk all over the UK who are Read More
  • 1
  • 2