Early Days

wells-next-the-sea harbour

Wells-next-the-Sea Harbour

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

8 Ships Wells-next-the-Sea Quay

Eight Coasters at Wells-next-the-Sea.

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.

national sea training school indicatrix

Vindicatrix Pre-Sea School

Vindicatrix - Xmas 1964

That's me on the right.

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.