Analog goes Digital

Father? What's a father?

What are fathers for... well to teach their kids stuff and being there when things go wrong or actually go right too.  I was not so lucky, my father was a Master Mariner.  What the heck does that mean?  It means that he had his Masters Certificate and was the Captain of a merchant vessel. 

I was once told by my grand-father, my fathers father, that my father was torpedoed by a sub-marine and his ship was sunk 3 times during convoy duty in World War II.  He was picked up by the same Dutch escort tub boat each time.  His experience and hard work and being a shortage of ranking officers after the war earned him his ticket he was supposedly the youngest person to earn his Captains ticket at the time.

We were a post war family.  My sister, Yvonne, is 5 years older than me which makes her a real post war child.  But where was our father?  He was at sea, in those days, and still today, there are three officers who sign up for a ship and usually a 5 or more year contract.  That means that where ever that ship goes so do they.  Who are those officers you ask... the Captain, the First Mate, the Chief Engineer.  Any other member of the crew can basically jump ship at any port and pick up another ride whenever they feel like it.

Anyway, back to my childhood and relationship with my father.  I have no idea who the heck he was as I said being a Captain he had to stay with his ship and they only gave him 2-3 weeks holiday each year.  I barely even remember that, as my only recollection was a picture on the mantle piece over the fireplace.

He finally gave up his ticket and took a land based job... in Rotterdam, Holland!  He went to work for the Merchant Navy and Airline Officers Association (MNAOA).  At the time they were the kind of union for merchant navy and airline officers.  I have no idea what he did in Rotterdam, but it does have the largest port in Europe so he was near the ships he loved.

I remember staying at his apartment a few times as a very young boy.  I used to look out of the living room window at a wonderful world of canals, barges, and cobblestone roads.  There were electric trams and bicyclists, lots and lots of bicyclists.  I remember the nights especially well for the lights reflecting off the canal that ran outside his apartment.

My fist time flying was on an airplane flight from London, England to Rotterdam, Holland airport on a visit one day.  I must have been 7 or 9 years old.  We flew on an old DC3 that was the noisiest thing I had ever heard.  But it was my first time on an airplane so I was thrilled.

I do remember the Rotterdam Mission to Seaman, as that is where my father dumped me off each day with the missions priest.  The priest was a nice guy as I remember.  He pretty much let me have the run of the place, not that there was much to do except play snooker or drink at the bar, which of course I was too young to do but I did enjoy lots of sodas.

These holidays were usually short in duration.  My fathers schedule while working in Rotterdam was to work 4-6 weeks, then be home for a week, and back to Rotterdam again.

My father spent about 5 years in Rotterdam as I remember it.  Then he transferred to a new job at the MNAOA's head quarters in London, I have no idea what his job was.  Where he ended his career with the MNAOA as the General Secretary a pretty high up position. 

The organization was global and once he had got promoted to the London office he was sent out to any big navel accidents of merchant shipping as a consultant.  A job he continued to do until well after his retirement.

So you can see that my father was true to his name "Seaman" throughout his lifetime.

When I went full time into working as a roadie in rock 'n roll my father would constantly ask me "When are you going to get a proper job?"  To him, since he never wanted a child in the first place and yes I know I was an accident as was my sister, nothing I ever did was good enough.  So I ignored him and went about being me, which I have to say my mother supported anything and everything I ever did.  So was great, thanks mom for letting me be me.  Even in the latter years when I was a programmer it was never good enough for him.  The only time I believe he even thought about me as doing something acceptable was after years of telling him I was going to sail across the South Pacific to New Zealand I actually had the boat and I asked him to get some British Admiralty Charts for me.  He realized I was serious then and actually took an  interest in me.  That is now in the history books as "The Adventure for Two - Mouse Pad - Cruise 97" which you can read all about over there.  Of course once I decided to NOT keep going around the world and stupidly followed Jerry back to American he again lost all interest in me.

To give you an example of how much he disliked me... every couple of years he would take a trip around the world, he would fly to New Zealand to visit my sister and continue all the way round for the same price.  Anyway; I was the FREE 72 hour stop over in America as it was considered a re-fueling stop and he could get off and get the next flight out at no extra cost.  He would stay with my sister for 3-4 months where I got 3 days!  That was usually long enough for me anyway.


 

Created by Phillip Seaman
Modified 11/13/2015