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.
As told by Tony Skilton who sailed on all the cement carriers built in Leith and also on the new GOLDEN BAY II which was built in Dundee at the then sister shipyard of the then titled Robb Caledon Shipbuilders)
DEV LIGAR BAY the rolliest and most violent one of them all.
In the mid 1970's, whilst passing through the Terawiti Rip enroute Tarakohe in ballast, she rolled, then snapped back so fast that the top 8 feet of the foremast snapped off, and with the radio aerial, was never seen again!
In the very early '70's whilst entering Wanganui, a hard-a-port helm order was given but the bosun put her to stbd - she ran upon the rocks of the south mole and opened up No.s 1, 2, 3, and 4 stbd ballast tanks. When eventually she was taken back to Wellington with the stbd bulwarks awash (which they were most of the time at sea anyway, both sides), she was gently nursed into the Jubilee floating dock and stayed there for the next 3 months while her bottom was rebuilt.
One trip south from Raglan in 1977, we headed direct to Wellington empty. Copped a real hiding on the way, and the porcelain hand basins in the 3rd & 4th engineer's cabins were shattered with the continual thumping of the waves on the stbd side of our cabins. We were left with just the pipework sticking up where the basins used to be. The chief steward's (Jack Hasset from the Hutt Valley) cabin, and the 3 engineer's cabins on that side were all soaking wet - the outer bulkhead was deformed from the pounding and the porthole frames let the water in.
Diesel electric propulsion, with two English Electric 8RK Mk1 engines - in nice weather you could shut one engine down and run both props on the remaining generator and still have full manoeuverability, albeit with much less power available. Like the rest of the self-discharging Golden Bay ships, once you reached port, one main engine and generator set was kept running, but the output was reconnected to supply the power for the cargo discharge machinery in the pump room. She also had 2 V4 Paxman generators that were a real pain in the butt!
Funny thing - the ship was all Direct Current electrics (as was the original Golden Bay, and the John Wilson) for the propulsion systems and the domestics. When little 14" B&W portable television sets became all the rage, crew members would bring their new TV down, set it up in their cabin, then plug it in. PPPoooff! Sorry. Alternating current TV's from ashore don't like DC current from ship's systems. The ship had two little motor-generator converter sets on the flat just inside the engine room door - noisy little things - when the ship was on A.C. shore power, these units were driven by Ac power, but the attached generators produced 220V DC for the domestic systems.
I've still got the woven log line from this ship down in my basement - made a very handy and reliable set of rope blocks up, and this log line was perfect for the job.
If we (the engineer's) had had a major breakdown to contend with in the pumproom our overalls would become thick with cement. The trick was to get the log line and put it through one sleeve of your overalls and out the other, tie both ends of the line to something on the poop, then throw the overalls overboard to get washed in the wake. One night, Bill Brodie, the mate, stopped and anchored the ship without giving us a call first - the result was a couple of pairs of lost overalls.
Note the blue band around the funnel in the photo above - the ship was financed by Blue Circle Cement of London, who were the major shareholders in Golden Bay Cement in those days (until 1989), and in the colour photograph at the top of the page, the port of Registry on the stern is London, which shows the photo was taken between 1979 & May 1985.
Another little point - after the ship's specifications were drawn up, very late in the piece someone decided to lop 35 feet off the overall length to allow for more clearance when turning in tight spaces - hence the very blunt bow, which would slam into every wave and virtually stop the ship. She was also a pig to steer (been there, done that), as the horsepower was not great, and the single rudder was NOT very close to the props longitudinally, so therefore did not get much water flow over it.
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.
Please see page 2 for many more photographs of the LIGAR BAY sent in by Emmanuel Makarios who sailed on her as well.