Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Blue Star Line 1974 - 1978 (Post 2)

Wellington Star, Columbia Star, Ulster Star (1974 - 1975)

Blue Star Line sent me to join a Pre-sea course already in progress at Sydney Tech. Navigation  School and following that I was appointed to Wellington Star, joining on 10th. June 1974 in Wellington NZ.  After discharging general cargo from UK at various New Zealand ports and then taking a full load of wool bales and frozen lamb at Timaru, NZ, Wellington Star sailed for Sheerness, UK via Panama Canal and Cristobal (for bunkers). The ship arrived in Sheerness on 17th. September 1974 and after a full discharge in that port, sailed overnight to Antwerp, Belgium for dry-dock, arriving on 10th. October. A week later I was sent to Fleetwood Nautical College in UK for a short course then I was appointed to the containership Columbia Star in Tilbury on 23rd. October. She called at numerous Northern European ports, loading cargo for West Coast USA ports. I left her in Liverpool nine days later and was then sent to work by Ulster Star in Southampton, loading cargo for South American ports. On 4th. December 1974 I was sent to London Docks to rejoin Wellington Star for her upcoming voyage back to NZ, again via Cristobal, Panama Canal and Pitcairn Island. After discharging cargo at Auckland and Lyttelton the ship proceeded to Timaru to load for UK. I left her in Timaru on 25th. February 1975 and flew home for leave.

As a deck cadet, aged eighteen. I know the hair looks ludicrous now, especially when in uniform however that was the fashion of the day. Blue Star Line captains, much to their understandable chagrin, had been instructed by head office in London to not push the issue of hair length with their officers and cadets.
Wellington Star in Lyttleton, NZ, in July 1974.

At anchor (above) off New Plymouth, NZ and alongside (below) in July 1974.

Transiting Panama Canal, en route UK in August 1974.

Me with Second Mate, fellow Aussie Steve Pelecanos from Brisbane. I was Acting Third Mate at the time. Taken aboard Wellington Star in Auckland, January 1975.
Columbia Star at Tilbury (Photo: WSS Vic).

Ulster Star (Photo: Chris Howell -

Canterbury Star (1975)

This was the most fun of all my voyages working on ships. Given her ports of call, the young age of most of her officers (I had my 19th. birthday mid-Pacific) and the fact that being a conventional cargo ship, we had lots of time in port, rarely working cargo at night, Canterbury Star was quite a wild-party ship. I joined the ship at Inner West Princes Pier, Port Melbourne on 21st. April 1975. The ship was loading chilled apples and pears and frozen lamb for her last run on the East Coast North America trade. From Melbourne we called at Portland (VIC) to load one hatch of bagged milk powder for Central America then Sydney, Acajulta (El Salvador), Panama Canal, Tampa (Florida), New York, Philadelphia and Norfolk (Virginia). From there we crossed the Atlantic to Cardiff (Wales) where we went into dry dock for six weeks. After that we loaded bagged fertiliser in Rotterdam (Netherlands) for Puerto Cabello (Venezuela), calling at Bridgetown, Barbados for a crew change (the crew were Barbadian).  Following several weeks in Puerto Cabello we sailed to Esjberg (Denmark) to load for the Middle East. I disembarked the ship in Esjberg on 7th. November 1975 and flew home for leave.  

Canterbury Star in Cardiff, post dry dock.
A typical beautiful day at sea, crossing the Pacific Ocean.

At Acajutla, El Salvador.

Discharging the bagged milk powder loaded in Portland.
Transiting Panama Canal.

New York City in 1975.

The boys 'up the road'. (L-R) 'Taffy' Jones (3rd. Mate), me, Nick Hamer (the other deck cadet) in a favourite pub in Philadelphia
In dry dock, Cardiff, Wales in July 1975.

Setting up for a party that night on the boat deck. (Photo: John Rendle 2nd Mate)

A few of us became friendly with the captain and mate of the Cardiff tug, Lowgarth so were treated to many outings on the tug.

Our 2nd Mate (now Lyttelton port pilot and good mate of mine) John Rendle at the helm of Lowgarth. The other deck cadet, Andy Hillier (L) and Lowgarth's captain (R).

The mate of the Lowgarth owned a lovely old yacht called 'Tune'. (L-R) Our second mate and our second engineer Dave Payze sailing on the Tune.
En route Bridgetown, Barbados.
Alongside Puerto Cabello, Venezuela October 1975.
In one of the ship's lifeboats in Puerto Cabello harbour.


  1. Excellent photos, Tim. It must have taken you ages to scan them and clean them up as the quality is excellent and these are (obviously!) pre-digital camera age pics...
    Look forward to seeing more photos of your career in the merchant navy!

  2. I suppose these lovely photos bring you back many happy memories, Tim.

  3. Hey brings back the memories..thank you ..i went to sea 1966 an retiring this year '16 . 50 years ..thas enough!