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Captain's Cocktails and Other Adventures

I love it when fellow Seadogs get in touch and share some of their antidotes about life at sea. I have regular contributors that share their stories to all. My recent experience regarding the lack of officers on deck in the evening prompted Jamie Shedden to share his sometimes tipsy experiences of Captain’s Cocktail Parties. Jamie worked for Shaw Savill but it would appear that Shaw Savill’s cocktail parties followed much the same format as those I enjoyed on P & 0 and the early days of Princess Cruises.



Jamie Shedden Recalls

Captains cocktail parties in my day, were quite different from cocktail parties on cruises I have been on. One of the Pursers, usually the junior, had to 'announce' the guests to the Captain at the entrance to the venue, usually the largest lounge.

All the senior officers in mess kit were stationed around the lounge ready to 'pounce' on the young dolly birds with or without their parents. We had two sittings for cocktail parties, as back in the immigrant ships, we had regular first and second dinner sittings.

The Captain Welcomes Guests on Himalaya


So on the first 500+ passengers, we could announce them in about 30 minutes, which gave the Captain about 30 minutes to mingle and chat. Followed by Second sitting 500+ passengers doing the same. On the first sitting, we (officers) were careful not to drink too much, as second sitting cocktails we had more time to drink. Most of the officers attended second sitting dinner, although watchkeepers may have to attend first sitting dinner.


Waiters provided a constant non stop supply of beverages to guests, and quite often other waiters provided stronger drinks to officers in the company of guests. It was at this time I became aware that some drinks had been watered down for passengers, or small amount of spirit and large amount of splits. Somehow the officers, especially the engineers, usually consumed more liquor than anyone else, Engineer Officers Chat Up The Girls

up the which of course, for some, made it easier

to make conversation at their tables.


On Island and Pacific Princess, we would retire to a fellow officer’s cabin between parties and down a few quickies before we repeated the same routine for second sitting passengers.

One of my duties as deputy purser on the Princess ships was to arrange cocktail parties for guests either in their cabins or is smaller areas of the ship. Of course, you were usually invited along to these get-togethers. It was not unknown to pop into five or six such parties in one evening. I would like to say that one was cautious at the amount you drank at each of these stops, but of course, you usually got carried along with the flow.


One story on here tends to lead to another.


Ian Lackey

followed up on the story of lost baggage.


Relating to Jamie Shedden’s blog on baggage tracing stories in Salty Dog I could relate an antipodean story.

A few years back we had crossed Cook Strait from Wellington for a week’s holiday in the Marlborough Sounds. When packing suitably –sized for yacht stowage we had selected a child’s fun bag- bright yellow with various animals

and toys boldly emblazoned all over- one would never miss it at a baggage reclaim and at Picton there it was, gloriously out colouring all other baggage items.

We duly collected that bag and pending later stowage below left it by the hatch on the yacht’s commodious deck as we took off down Queen Charlotte Sound. About an hour later we wished to retrieve some item from the bag which when opened revealed almost exclusively cigarettes and booze. Upon checking the label it showed the destination as Resolution Bay. Now at the northern arm of that bay is a Resort with cabins often favoured by school and Youth parties where it is unwritten law amongst the escorting Mums and Dads that no adult vices would be indulged for the duration, a rule usually but not always observed. Our find would therefore be… Contraband!

As we recalled there had been a large school party on board the Cook Strait ferry. Looking astern we saw the bow wave of the Cougar Cat,- a local ferry and mail boat servicing the Sounds’ Inlets and bays, coming up at speed so we radioed them to ask if any of their Passengers had by chance a yellow extensively illustrated fun bag and if so was it the wrong bag? Minutes later they responded affirmatively to both questions and although by now abeam they agreed to alter course and come alongside our 50 footer for the exchange, The identical bags were exchanged like a Cold War espionage handover with as we observed rather embarrassed faces of the Smuggler/Passengers! Apparently, they had grabbed the first bag from the reclaim as it appeared and before our arrival. We learned a lesson there too as Jamie S. has since told me stories that e.g. a bright pink label (actually printed) declaring “This bag is mine” loses its effect if duplicated or multiplied at a baggage reclaim!



David Green

Turns Green at the Thought of Oysters


Early in the Sixties the Good Ship “Athenic” was in Lyttelton loading cargo, berthed ahead of us was H.M.N.Z. Royalist, a Cruiser (I think New Zealand’s only Cruiser). One afternoon one of her officers came on board, he explained to me that they had recently been in Bluff, N.Z.’s southernmost port , where they had acquired several sacks of oysters ‘However’, he said, ‘we have no Guinness to drink with them, can you help? ‘ I told him that the ship was under Customs seal, but, I would enquire from the Chief Barkeeper. This I did, and a case of Guinness was produced later that afternoon. Just how this came to be available I did not know and did not ask. I sent my steward along to "Royalist” with a wheelbarrow and he returned with a sack of oysters - 10 dozen. The Chief Officer, 2nd Officer, Surgeon and me sat down and worked our way through the sack, I forget what we drank with it all. I was violently ill, which I put down to Divine Retribution for not including the Chief barkeeper in our bounty. I have never eaten an oyster since.


Harry Bonning Remembers


The Tourist Purser's cabin on ORSOVA was at the end of a short alleyway just aft of the Tourist lounge - in my time on ORSOVA it was always commandeered by the SAP. It had the advantage of being of good size and discrete. As a 1st voyage Cadet, it was my job to roust out the SAP each morning as he was invariably worse for wear after the night before.



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