Here you will find the stories from the men and women who sailed on the ships, what was it really like to be working on a ship in a raging sea and in the pitch dark of night, the real stories some funny some sad, some good and some bad.
The above picture shows the KATHARINE II laid up on the beach before she was sold by the MoD
from a photo cutting supplied by Doug.
The following info is from Doug Lawrence who served as "Mate" on her after she had been sold on by the Government.
KATHERINE II was sold out of service by the MOD in 1959 and passed to H.R.Mitchell, Government contractors of Woolwich Arsenal who renamed her KATHERINE MITCHELL Off No.300925, and employed her in the carriage of explosives between Felixstowe, Zeebrugge, The River Thames, Antwerp, Rotterdam and once to Duisburg.
Mitchells removed the boatdeck and after accommodation to create a magazine abaft the engineroom and bridge for the carriage of detonators with the explosives going in the main hatch.
By this time she had two 150 Gardner engines. Everything was done by compressed air, engine start, steering and anchor windlass. She had engine room control and carried an engineer/driver.
She had a 22 foot long raised foc'sle head with a wooden deck. At the break of the foc'sle there were two whaleback deckhouses. The one to port was the galley, just big enough for a coal stove and worktop but no sink or running water. Fresh water was carried in a square 40 gallon iron tank bolted to the deck behind the galley.
The starboard deckhouse contained two toilets - perhaps going back to her time with the M.O.D ... with one for the officers and one for the men!!. One of the toilets had been covered over with a sink and that was the only wash place on board - there was no shower. With no running water in either, to flush the toilet was simply a matter of a bucket of water from over the side.
She only had one anchor and no hawse pipe with the cable running out alongside the stemhead as was common in the spritsail barges. There was a davit in the bow to raise the anchor half inboard while at sea. The main hatch was 44 feet long and 12 feet across. She had a small petrol windlass at the foot of the mast. But the cargo derrick was very short and only reached halfway down the length of the hatch so you couldn't get the last beam out.
With her after accommodation taken out, everybody lived in the foc'sle. There were four wooden bunks, wood panelling on the bulkheads. A long settee with folding table and a pot bellied stove - but the space was shared with the cable locker which was covered only by wooden hatch boards, and that area was unusable for extra living or for storage space.
Left over from her MOD days, she had a patent log and a leadline. An aldis lamp in its own wooden box in the wheelhouse, a Very pistol for signalling plus signal flags in a beautifully built flag locker.
For the "Mates" continued story see page 2.
For a story from a former Skipper of this fine little ship see page 3
Dedicated to all the brave men and women who sailed the vessels from the Leith Shipyards.
Should you know of anyone who may have sailed on her, then please feel free to get in touch so that we can add the story here.