Sometimes it seems but a short while ago when I joined my first ship, Carnatic, in the Gladstone Dock, Liverpool on 28th December 1964. Before then I had spent three years on the Training Ship “Mercury” but, even so, hadn’t realised how lucky I was to be accepted as a deck apprentice with such a prestigious company as Shaw Savill & Albion Line. This was a shipping company that whose ships traded with Australia and New Zealand. Not only were the voyage destinations excellent, but the ships all had classic good looks. I returned with my 2nd mate’s certificate for a further two years before joining the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. After six years there, I joined Thoresen Car Ferries (later to become P&O Ferries Portsmouth) where I spent 16 years on their western channel routes. I left the sea, but not the industry, in 1993 to become Chief Executive of the Merchant Navy Welfare Board – a post I held for 24 years.
I have always loved those wonderful old ships with their historic, lines. Every large company was unique in their designs and each “stable” easily identifiable – even after they were sold and repainted – a marked comparison with today’s utilitarian fleets where, sadly ugliness usually prevails. I think that it was a love for these ships that lured me to go to sea, along with the chance to travel. In my days on ferries I was seconded, for two summer seasons, to a chartered freight ferry. My remit was to oversee the loading and act as the pilot, otherwise I had little else to do. I took the opportunity to begin a long-held ambition of beginning to draw and paint profiles of all those ships I had sailed on. My father was an architect so this was obviously in the genes. As this progressed, I was asked by friends to do the same for them. Gradually this has evolved and I have now completed well over 200 pictures, including some aircraft – again I love their usual graceful appearance. As you can imagine I always need to do some quite extensive research so each ship or plane takes many hours, dare I say, of huge enjoyment.