Diary of a Sea Cadet part 3

If you came by on Saturday for the last installment of young Martyn’s adventures and wondered where the article was, well here it is:-
We think that he’s bµckeneered off to  the UK for a bit, but in his absence the Chantimor Crew asked me to delay the publication for a few days to co-incide with his birthday on 1st April.
So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARTYN – the round’s on you when we next see you at the Bo Bar!
Sea Cadet Williams continues his story…
My other never forgotten memory was the life raft training. We were taken along to an indoor swimming pool (unheated) on the shore and much to our consternation were told to strip off all our clothes, after which we were ordered outside where a very kind officer sprayed us down with an outside hose. (The month of this training was November, by the way). We then had to run inside and there, in the middle of the swimming pool, was a 12 man life raft –  but upside down.
One by one we had to jump in and get the life raft into the correct position, which was easier said than done as the raft had a canopy which was under water. The idea was to swim up to it and then grab one of the straps which were laced into the fabric of the bottom of the raft, put your feet against the wall of the raft, then lean back so your weight would slowly but surely pull the inflatable raft to a vertical position until finally gravity would help it fall over to the correct side.
Again, it all seemed straight forward to me while I was watching the other cadets… and then it came to my turn. I swam over to the raft and grabbed a strap. So far so good; then I put my feet on the side and leaned back and there I stayed because the raft was much heavier than me and it wouldn’t budge. Eventually someone was sent in to help me get the momentum of the raft turning. That worked and when the canopy started to come out of the water my colleague swam away leaving me to finish the act. Slowly the raft came to the vertical and then – all of a sudden – it came crashing down so fast that I didn’t have time to let go of the strap. By this time I was underwater and trapped underneath the weight of the raft.
Mad panic! I thought this was it.
I was going to drown in a swimming pool under a device that was meant to save you from drowning!
Of course someone dived in and hauled me out from under the raft and as my head emerged from below the water all I could hear was:
“ Williams! What the ……..!!”
So all in all my introduction to the Merchant navy was not without a few little hiccups and it was the start of many other adventures; but next time it would be on the open seas …..




Martyn, second from right, wearing his original Merchant Navy cap, with some of his Chantimor crew-mates.

The sea-faring adventures of Cadet Williams will be continued at a later date.  §§