9. Fog in My Pocket With an American Touch 🇺🇸 part 2

Another clear memory I have was the fog being so thick this one particular night.  I felt as though I could reach out, grab a handful of the stuff and keep it in my pocket!

Almost funny is the next day when it was perfectly clear, I looked out to see where I thought I had been the night before and then realized; had I taken one more step, I’d have dropped straight into the icy waters of the ocean!

I remember watching too that day, as our ship was receiving the last of the load, how it had sunk half way under the water due to the additional weight!  But this also meant a better night’s sleep!  😴  How so you might ask?

We’d benefit with a smoother sail, there would be less shake from the vibration of the heavy propellers, the ship simply rolled better.  Everything up to and including food service and walking was easier to do and objects didn’t fly off the shelves as easily.

Another seven days at sea en route to Honolulu.  More of the same in that we’d get fresh water, exchange mail and whatever necessary supplies are needed.  Although the ship was docked here for 8 hours, we’d be allowed a couple of hours shore leave for souvenir shopping or whatever.

I picked up some Hawaiian shirts for the guys, candies and such for the young ones and muumuus for the gals.  Of course I just had to indulge my taste buds with a watermelon shake again and I remembered exactly where to go and get it!

⚓️  Anchor up!  Another seven days and we have arrived back in Suva.  🤗  My family is there waiting at the docks, it’s a happy reunion.  We take a cab home.  I have a full week to spend with my family.  I’d sleep at home in the night instead of on the ship and have my dinners with the family.

Of course I still had to report for breakfast, lunch and dinner shifts on the ship; there are still passengers on board who would like to have a bite to eat every now again, in case they hadn’t gone ashore!

Laboring hands would come from all over the island to load and unload the ship.  Fiji received its share of lumber and mail.  In addition to the existing load of lumber, our ship took up fresh cargo of sugar, banana and coconut and the always present mail bags for delivery to New Zealand, our next port.

And it is time again for the teardrops to roll as we say our goodbyes once again, especially my mother.

I am on board the SS Lakemba and we are once more sailing out from Suva.  As we gently ply the waters, another ship was entering the harbor; nothing uncommon but for this one, the skipper’s voice came over the intercom announcing the incoming ship as the Royal Yacht, the Gothic and it was carrying HRM Queen Elizabeth II and her Prince.  I believe they were on a portion of her  👑 coronation 🌎 tour.

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As this new year unfolds, we should all encourage one another to pursue our heart-felt dreams, don’t you agree?  Thank you once again for stopping by and sitting in on another little bit of Little Blue Masala’s beginning adventures.  Lots more to come!

9. Fog in My Pocket With an American Touch 🇺🇸 part 1

Unloading the sugar took about 3-4 days this time; it all depends upon the volume of product and how many hands were present for any specific ship.  Once the ship is cleaned, the lumber gets loaded.

Man I tell you, when I see how hard those guys worked, I was so glad that this process wasn’t part of my job.  I don’t mind saying that I was young and having fun!  In order for things to run smoothly and safely it’s common sense that everyone should have their specific duties, doing exactly what you’ve been hired for; nothing more, nothing less.

I now give a moment’s thought to fact of the United States being just within reach across a border that-a-way, and so myself and a few of the guys decided we would rent a car and cross the border for the day just so we could encounter a taste of the USA.

We departed Vancouver 🇨🇦 in the early morning, marveled by pine tree inspired wonderment throughout the scenic drive, spent the day people watching, eating, and just the basic looky-loo stuff, making our way back by about midnight.  Chalk mark my first American experience.

That next morning I saw on the planner that our ship would be making an additional pick up of lumber as there was just enough room on board; the load would come from Coos Bay, Oregon.  How about that? back into the USA and this time by way of ship!

This detour would take us nearly three days.  Now I refer to this stop as a detour because as the normal route spelled out for the SS Lakemba and its sister ships; SS Suva & SS Lautoka, they do not stop in American ports at all.  🚢 The posted route was Suva to Honolulu to Vancouver and back to to Honolulu, Suva and the various Australian ports.

In fact this stop was quite significant in that it was actually the very first time this ship touched an American port at all, ever.  That’s what I heard, it was all over the crew’s conversations  – it would seem I lucked out!

⚓️  The loaders worked ‘round-the-clock, 24 hours a day; one shift ended, another took over.  The expense is great when a ship is docked in any port and so the faster the ship can be loaded/unloaded, the better for the shipping company.

When my duties were complete I would venture into the port town, in this case it is Coos Bay, and of course some of the guys would tag alongside for a sampling of the local cuisine and well maybe a beer or two.

I can still taste the deliciously fresh, steaming clam chowder and oh yes, the hot and crispy fish & chips too, which we obtained from a food stall on the nearby pier – sensational!

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Greetings to each and every one of you followers, likers, commenters and to the new visitors as well, welcome one and all!  Please don’t be shy, leave a comment with your thoughts on any of the posts; yes go ahead, encourage us!

 

7. Diamonds & Lumber – part 1

At this time Honolulu was protected by United States but still independent from America.

This first experience I had on this job was a seven-day journey from Fiji to Hawaii; this was just the first leg.  My shipboard position placed me in the pantry, which is where we prepared the foods that were just cooked in the kitchen for the waiters to serve the passengers in the dinning room.

Even though this was a cargo ship, there would be passengers on board.  These people paid good money to be on a cargo ship instead of a cruise ship mainly because the stops in port were for longer periods of time.  Plus it’s not as crowded.

While on the ship we worked every day but we also had several long breaks in between meal times.  The routine is easy to follow and it works flawlessly.  My new friends, workmates and I would always listen to music, we’d play cards a lot and enjoy a beer or two along with lots of great conversations; life-stories and what have you.

I did my best to take my time off responsibly as call of duty was 6am regardless, there were no excuses and no exceptions; passengers were my duty, that’s it!

I will tell you some thoughts I initially had while out at sea on this very first adventure of mine. I missed my mother terribly, my sister-in-law’s cooking and my close family members and friends.

I was not scared about anything; I loved the ocean so very much.  I felt its beauty as I saw its power and in its calm and rough faces I knew I made the right choice.  I have to admit here, I did experience seasickness at a point for a couple of days, and then it was over and thankfully didn’t occur while I was at my post.

And just so you have a little idea of how the mornings went along, I share this:  after breakfast service was over, we’d clean the dining room and set up for lunch service.

Then we could order from the chef anything we wanted to eat and it was our turn to enjoy a very nice breakfast. I do recall the chef definitely took pride in his meal preparations for anyone that would be eating his food and a bonus; he was a very nice man.

After breakfast it was time for us to get into the passengers’ rooms and tidy them up.  We were multi-taskers as this ship was not staffed the same as a luxury liner would be.

The captain’s boy who had originally set me up for this position on board the SS Lakemba kept me at his side and we’d handle the skipper’s quarters.  Once all the rooms were done, we had to get our own cabins cleaned up.

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Once again I thank you for checking back with us.  I hope everyone has been enjoying the holiday season in one form or another.  The Little Blue Masala has finally set sail, tasting the open sea and different climates too!  Well, at some point we all have to get our feet wet don’t we?