Cadet Williams, with a complexion officially described as « fresh », has joined the Merchant Navy. Too small to steer and see where he’s going at the same time, he’s already aroused the ire of the training officers. It isn’t his fault that he’s only a slight fellow…
On another occasion we were manning longboats. These are very long rowing boats with huge oars, and 2 rows of 5 rowers. This time there was another training officer in command. The problem was, as I was only 7st 12lb, the oar felt heavier than me and was a lot longer than I was high.
I managed to keep up rowing with the other cadets until the order was shouted: “Oars!”, which was to bring the oars to a horizontal position: No problem, and then: “ Toss Oars!”, which meant you then put them in the vertical position.
(At this point I must remind you that these oars are spelt with an O!!)
All of the other cadets managed to bring them up in perfect unison except of course yours truly who was struggling not to fall overboard because of the weight of the oar. The cadet behind me reached forward, after yet another scream of: “Williams! What the ……………..?” , and put his foot on the end of my oar while I grappled with the rest of it until it too was upright.
Again, I didn’t win any popularity contests with the trainers, and worryingly, it looked like a pattern was starting to set in…
Part 3 next week.