Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Atlantic Crossing

In 1959 my mother and I left Gotegorg, Sweden on this ship(Danaholm) to emmigrate to Canada. Along the way we ran into a category 3 hurricane called Hannah. I had no idea that the 10m waves posed any problem for this small ship. I thought it was simply exciting to watch the bow go under for some time and then gradually emerge, sending a huge flow along the deck. I did notice that there was nobody else out during the height of the storm though!
One of the most amazing things about travelling on a freighter, as opposed to a liner, was the freedom to roam the ship. I was the only child onboard; I could go anywhere I wanted to from the hold to the bridge.
I made great friends with the fellow who did all the "bussing" for the dining saloon. He let me set up for both breakfast and lunch. In near ASL (me Swedish, he Spanish) we "discussed" the life of a seaman. He had not seen his family for almost 2 years; I found this just too cruel. Still, I can now (still) carry a laden tray to the table on one hand and serve with the other.
One another memorable occasion,made possible by this freedom, came when the first mate invited me to take the helm on the bridge. The instructions seemed simple enough - match the course set with the actual course on the compass. I thought I was doing OK, until, after about 20 minutes he invited me out on one of the wings of the bridge to look aft. There, across the Atlantic, was carved a wake that looked like a long series of S's , stretching back for about 5 km!!!!!

I suspect all these experiences are no longer available for 9 year old passangers!

Posted by Hello


At 3:27 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Nobody else out during the height of the storm" ... does that mean _you_ were on deck while the bow was going under? Yikes.

- Barbara, posting as Anonymous

At 6:09 p.m. , Blogger ArtLife said...

At the age of 9, the whole hurricane seemed like so much fun to me; I didn't relize we were on the point of broaching (if the cargo had shifted). I would step out on the deck as the bow desended, and step inside as the waist high deck-wave washed across. Big fun!

At 10:16 a.m. , Blogger ejm said...

How times have changed. No doubt if that crossing were being made now, nobody, let alone a boy, would be allowed on deck during a hurricane. The shipping company wouldn't want to risk being sued. How thrilling for you though!

I remember a very rough ferry crossing from PEI to NovaScotia one November. Even though the ferries ran hourly until 10:00pm, because of the storm raging, our ferry was deemed to be the last of the day at 2:00pm. The storm we went through was not even close to hurricane force but huge waves crashed over the bow and onto the deck. I stayed on deck throughout the crossing to watch - it was insanely cold. At one point, I decided to go inside to get warm. I walked in and was immediately overcome by nausea. I turned directly around and escaped out to the deck. Being cold was far preferable to sitting inside and being sick.


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