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.
Dedicated to all the brave men and women who sailed the vessels from the Leith Shipyards.
So if you know any of the men or women who may have sailed on her, then please feel free to get in touch and we shall add the story here.
The following is from a story as told by Ray:-
Ellerman Wilson Line
I was with this company on a couple of their ships, first was the Cicero.
I sailed on this one for a few months, always found them to be very cliquey.
I was in the catering dept., galley boy was my title, probably the lowest rating on the ship.
It was my job to peel the potatoes and prepare the veg, a job some use to think 'a hardship', I didn't mind it as you could just mentally go off into another world.
I never did understand this.....there use to be this 'saying' and it seemed more used in the galley than anywhere else on the ship...
you'd be busily getting about your chores and the cook would shout....'pass that tin', to which you'd reply 'which tin' back would come, 'the tin that rin-tin-tin **** in'!
it use to be so annoying when you fell for it, you'd swear you wouldn't get caught again, but often did, you in turn would try it on others and would get equally annoyed when they DIDN'T fall for it.
I worked with the cook and the assistant cook, I got on alright with them, though they were cliquey, the cook would allow me to do certain things other than just the jobs I mentioned earlier, he'd let me do the steam pudding that was on the menu, it was a good feeling when it turned out just as good as the cooks' would have.
One of my jobs was to keep the toilet near the galley clean, a job I detested, amongst other things I had to scrub the floor, one day I decided to find a quicker way to do it, I put some Harpic in a bucket and added some (I think) soda crystals then filled the bucket with really hot water, well, the reaction that followed...it frothed up and gave a horrible gas off, I swilled it onto the floor, afraid that some-one would come and want to use the loo.
Later I noticed that the floor tiles had pit marks in them, the solution was that powerful, surprised I didn't end up killing somebody.
I left the Merchant Navy for a few months shortly after this, then couldn't settle ashore, went back and joined the Silvio, this time, along with my galley boy duties I had duties that were usually done by the pantry boy, just involved washing plates and cutlery.
Nothing remarkable about this ship.
On both ships we went to either Sweden or Norway, which I did a fair amount in my time at sea, the only really remarkable place I ever went was in 1966 I went to New Zealand, with a company called Federal Steam Navigation on a ship called the Dorset, best ship I ever worked on, most beautiful country I ever visited.