Being born in the small but busy North Norfolk port of Wells-next-the-Sea and watching the coasters arriving and departing influenced the rest of my life. Ports like Amsterdam and Rotterdam were the other side of the world as far as I was concerned and I knew that visiting them and other ports on a ship was all I wanted to do.
With a bedroom window overlooking the harbour and being lucky enough to own a small rowing/sailing boat when quite young the sea was already in my veins. I was not the greatest academic and combined with missing a lot of school time at Fakenham Grammar School through accident and injury I never obtained the qualifications necessary to join the Merchant Navy as an apprentice officer
Instead I joined the sea training school Vindicatrix in Sharpness, Gloucestershire as a trainee deck boy. After three months of training and feeling constantly hungry I completed the course and returned home to await instructions to join my first ship.
Waiting for the telegram to arrive allowed me plenty of time to wonder about what type of ship I would be joining and where it would be taking me. The telegram duly arrived and I was instructed to join the RMS Rangitoto in the Royal Albert Dock, London.
Arriving at the ship two days later I was overawed by the size of the ship compared to the coasters that visited my home town. The Rangitoto was a passenger/cargo ship on the New Zealand run and was due to sail the next week.