LETTERS | More memories of the North Esk wheat run in the 1970s

North Esk (Photo: The Chris Howell Collection)

I was sitting at home with a bunch of A4 photographs of all the ships I had sailed on as a young man. I thought I would write a piece on the back of each one telling of the life and times I had and I came to the North Esk. I thought I would look up the dimensions and came across your post.

I was a Bucko on the North Esk as an 18-year-old in 1970. We would pick up wheat from Wallaroo and Ardrossan and take it to Launceston and Hobart as you describe. One time we left to go west about from Hobart and 24 hours later we had only travelled around 100 miles and were in a terrible southerly blow. The skipper asked me to come about by giving her 20° of port wheel and she still couldn’t make her way back around as the swell would counter the helm until finally she dipped and rolled around and then went broadside in the trough.

“I would’ve dropped like a stone and no one would’ve known for hours.”

I was standing on the bulkhead with my hands on the wheel – I thought she would roll over. Every cup, saucer, and plate crashed down below and all the ABs appeared on deck with their lifejackets. We made it around and headed back up the east coast in the Lee of Tassie.

Another time as we headed south, we rounded Saint Helens. It was 2 am and I was on watch on the wing of the bridge wearing everything I owned – as I walked towards the outer bulwark, a wave hit us on the port side from behind me and sent me over the rail. Both feet were off the deck and I was staring down at the wake with my hands inside my pockets and under the edge of the rail trying to stop myself from overbalancing. Gradually she came back and I fell back on the deck – couldn’t believe my luck, I would’ve dropped like a stone and no one would’ve known for hours.

They were great days – terrific induction to a life at sea for a young lad….. those days are lost and gone forever

All the best.

Philip Eley


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