Working on a tanker was a great way for a student like me to make a
few bucks during the summer. No rent to pay, no car to drive, no food
to buy. Just those magnificent Lakes.
Every year, I think about this day.
Where ever they would have me. My jobs were all to relieve guys who
had ATO or vacations due, or took sick.
That put me on the Lake Shell. Several the Imperial Oil tankers, the
London, Collingwood, Sarnia.
A stint on The Arctic Trader (Shell Oil) in Frobisher- and Hudson Bays
supplying weather stations and small villages...truly an incredible
time of my life.
I spent some time on The Texaco Brave. Built in 1929, she had a triple
900 and at 250 feet with a draft of 18..it was all she could do to get
out into Lake Huron. But it got to go places others couldn't. That
engine was a museum quality piece. Quiet, clean, smooth.
My bunk had the anchor chain tube running right through it which made
for the utmost of rude awakenings. We were coming into Sarnia from a
run to Georgian Bay, and normally, when we tied up, it would be with
all hands. The method the skipper used, was to reverse the engine
enough to almost stop relative to the shore and then drop the hook and
let her swing around and then face upstream and sneak up on the dock
that way. THIS time, the buggers decided to let me sleep till skip
dropped the hook. I had NO idea what happened but got a round of
applause when I ran onto the deck in my skivvies. Payback can be a
With all the 'double hull' laws now, none of these are around any
A rough life none the less. I remember when she was lost ... I was stationed
at the Coast Guard station in Rochester New York. While Lake Ontario is
"small", a storm can kick up so fast that it has (and continues) to surprise
even seasoned sailors.
Listening to the radio traffic on that video brought back a pile of
memories, as did the song.
The thing that surprises a lot of the ones with experience at sea but
not on the Lakes is the severity of the storms--they figure that a
lake can't get up much wave action becuase of the short fetch, but
there's some kind of resonance effect that gets the whole lake to
sloshing back and forth.
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