Reviews

The Pilot

Regular readers of The Pilot will recall that I have written several reviews of the Maritime Memories DVD titles produced by Des Cox of Snowbow productions. In addition to the DVDs, a few years ago Des also started to organize Maritime Memories cruises specifically designed to appeal to Merchant Navy seafarers who remember the post war golden days of the British Merchant Navy. These have proven to be a much looked forward to annual event by many and have become so popular that I understand that this year's voyage was oversubscribed. However, retired Haven Ports, ex Trinity House pilot and Captain of the Felixstowe Master mariner's Club, David Ingham and his wife Joan were successful in booking and joined the MV Discovery for the 28 days cruise from Manaus to Harwich and David has sent me an account of the voyage. Following departure from Manaus, the Discovery called at two more ports in the Amazon and Devils Island. The cruise then took them to French Guiana after which the Discovery stopped off at six ports in the West Indies. David celebrated his 75th birthday in Barbados after which the vessel sailed to the Azores and home to Harwich. The Discovery is the ex Island Princess built in 1972 but now fully refurbished in traditional style and the cruise agenda is described by Maritime Memories as "days when we can once again enjoy ourselves as we sail through the rich blue ocean aboard a real ship with wide-open wooden decks and gleaming brass". The itinerary was enlivened by Maritime speakers and every day videos of the heyday of the great liners, general cargo and tanker companies were played on the ships internal TV.

The Discovery in the Azores photo: David Ingham

In addition to professional seafarers and the normal passengers, many others were present from various branches of shipping. Sonia Benke- Hall and Susan Hegi, for example, survived being torpedoed in the British India's troopship SS Erinpura, in the Mediterranean and former radio operator, Roger Davies, was torpedoed in an armed merchant cruiser. John Bushell had a peacetime escape from the Newfoundland, wrecked in Agenta Bay in 1961 and Rosalinda Zazzera survived the Achille Lauro's sinking after a fire in the Indian Ocean in 1994.

Captain Kemp, David Ingham and Haven pilot Steve Chapman David Ingham with Des Cox's daughter,

David recounts, "I was reunited with a gentleman who was my second mate in the 60's and also another with whom I was in the Sea Scouts the late 40's! Throughout the voyage there was a wonderful atmosphere and international interest. Two ex Trinity House colleagues were also on board, Martin Dick (Haven Ports retd.) and Alan Osgood (Great Yarmouth retd). Menus during the voyage had been taken from the big liner companies of the past and the restaurant was decorated with National and shipping company House flags for themed dinners. Wives were also well catered for since the Maritime Memories activities are in addition to the vessel's normal cruise entertainments. However, the icing on the cake for me was to be invited to the bridge by Captain Kemp for the pilotage into Harwich and it was just like old times watching Haven Ports pilot, Steve Chapman, at work after my 13 years in retirement!"

Des Cox has had an interesting career which has ranged from being cabin boy to purser with the New Zealand Shipping Company and from pop singer to actor in the film "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines". David states that he is an excellent host, entertainer and raconteur but on the serious side, his work as an archivist of valuable film and other records from this golden era has preserved much material that would probably otherwise have been lost.

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