All at sea – Flying through the air, with, and without, the aid of a helicopter.

Originally published on 27/10/2017, this is part of a series that I promised may take a while to complete. I was right!

This is part of a recollection of “Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.

Number 2, Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by Jackstay, and 3, Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by helicopter can be recounted together because normally, when you go on a journey, you want to end up back where you started!

When I was posted to Gibraltar we (The Army) often entertained Royal Naval personnel when they had shore leave. We invited them to functions in the various messes (Officers Mess/Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess/Other ranks Mess, and we invited them to dine with us, often arranging a special dinner.

 In return, they reciprocated, and we were often invited on board ship.

 I came to know several of the Petty Officers of HMS Charybdis quite well, during 1976. I was invited to spend time at sea with the ship, in an exchange with a member of the ship’s crew, where we swapped jobs for a few days.

hms charybdis Life on board a Royal Naval vessel is unlike anything you may imagine. Space is at a premium and everything has to be stowed away to maximise space, and to ensure there are no hazards created by loose gear.

 Before departing from any port, the ship must be fully provisioned with fuel, stores, ammunition, food, and a myriad of items you wouldn’t even begin to think of. This is to ensure that, should the vessel be called upon to sail into conflict, or to aid others, it can proceed immediately, without having to stock up first. There is a good deal of manual labour involved in this, and the whole ships company (of 260 in this case) is put to work, less a few essential personnel. It is hard work, and I experienced it!

 Imagine having to stock a freezer so you can retrieve food, to feed 260 hungry people for 2 months, when you can only reach things right at the front. Just where do you put all those potato sacks, carrots, toilet rolls, extra large cans, butter, fat, oil, flour, spices. The list is huge, as is the quantity. You cannot run out.

 I shall not go into disposal of waste, recycling, or what can, under international law, be discharged into the sea. I mention it only because sometimes it flies off the ship!

 Whilst at sea it is sometimes necessary to load, or offload personnel, or materiel.

 This may be for changes in personnel, removal of severely ill, or deceased, replenishment of food, fuel, supplies, and the removal of waste for disposal, or recycling.

 The Royal Navy is supported at sea by Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessels.

The RFA is staffed by civilians, and they have a variety of ships that can supply fuel and stores, effect repairs at sea, and even supply hospital facilities. They have a helicopter on board, and also cranes mounted on either side.

 Most modern warships have a helicopter on board, or a helipad that can receive a visiting helicopter so stores can be transferred from one vessel to another by underslung load. However, there is a restriction on how much weight can be carried that way, and it is an expensive method of resupply.

 The alternative method of transfer is by Jackstay, a method of using ropes and pulleys to carry personnel and materiel between vessels.
jackstay trfs

The light jackstay, employing human power, is used for transferring personnel, provisions, and light stores with a maximum load of about 250kg. The hauling end of the jackstay is manned by up to 25 hands. The other end is secured by a grommet strop to slip in the receiving ship. A traveller block is hauled back and forth along the jackstay wire by an in–haul rope in the receiving ship and an out–haul rope in the delivering ship manned by up to six crew in each ship. Working distance limits are normally between 24–61 meters with a normal working distance of about 34 meters.

 The heavy Jackstay, uses steel ropes for transfer of heavier loads, or to support feed pipes during transfer of fuel or water. Normally a powered winch is used.

 The ropes are passed from one ship to the other by first firing a thin twine by rifle and pulling this across, with increasing thickness of twine, then cord, then rope.

 Ships are unstable platforms when stopped in most seas and it is extremely dangerous to bring two ships directly alongside one another. All transfers are therefore done with the ships steaming side by side, in to the wind, at a distance determined by the state of the seas. It is a hazardous operation and constant adjustment is needed to ensure identical speed, and to ensure the distance between vessels does nor vary. The procedure needs to be practiced often to ensure the crew knows exactly what to do when the need arises. It is the ultimate in team work!

 This is how I came to “volunteer” for my first, and only, experience of transfer at sea by Jackstay, and return by helicopter. I was one of a dozen.

 Having watched others being hauled across from Charybdis to another visiting Frigate, it was soon my turn. Apart from a little dampness from sea spray I arrived safely on the other ship and was hurried along to the stern to jump into the helicopter for the return trip. This was only my second flight in a helicopter. The whole procedure took less than 30 minutes, but was very exhilarating!

 Flights by small helicopter are normally from, and to, a stable surface, and the take off pattern is normally a vertical lift into the air, transferring into forward flight whilst gaining height. Larger helicopters use a running takeoff and landing whenever possible.

 Taking off from, and landing on, a ship at sea, entails a helipad moving at quite a speed, often with buffeting wind, and large chunks of solid metal very close by. It is a very specialised skill!

 On take off, the aircraft has to rise off the pad and move to the left, or right, immediately moving away from the vessel.

 Landing is the more difficult skill. The helicopter must approach the vessel from the rear and then fly, at the speed of the ship, slightly to the left or right of the helipad. It then has to move slowly across so that it is hovering above the pad, but is, in fact, still flying forwards at the speed of the vessel. It must then drop down on to the moving deck, immediately ceasing forward flight.

 Naval pilots, I salute you!

 To the crews of both vessels, Thank you for not getting me wet!charybdis.jpg

 

HMS Charybdis was affectionately  called “The Cherry B.” Hence the cherry tree on the ship’s plaque.

 

 

 

Light Jackstay information courtesy of: MacFarlane, John M. (2013) Jackstay Transfer (Replenishment) at Sea. Nauticapedia.ca 2013. http://nauticapedia.ca/Articles/Jackstay_Transfer.php

Travelling down the Rhine on a duck

Originally published on 25/10/2017, this is part of a series that I promised may take a while to complete. I was right!

In the Summer of 1962, at the age of 14, I travelled to Germany, with the Combined Cadet Force from my school, for a Summer Camp.

It was quite an adventure to get there. We travelled by military steam train, with the carriages being loaded onto the ferry for the channel crossing. It must have been very nearly the last such journey.

We eventually arrived at 2 Division Signal Regiment, in Bünde, West Germany, a Regiment I was later to be posted to as a regular soldier.

2 div.png

The Crossed Keys of 2 Division

 

 

There were still National Servicemen who had been conscripted into the forces for 2 years. These were the last of a dying breed as the last National Servicemen left the armed forces in May 1963.

I well remember that the soldiers took great delight in plying us with beer, probably at our own expense. That Summer, far from home, was the first time that I became extremely drunk, and extremely unwell.

We obviously overdid the cigarettes too. When I returned home I suffered, for a few days, with what was diagnosed as nicotine poisoning!

During our 10 days there we went out on exercise with the Regiment and did all sorts of, what was to us young boys, very exciting things. We helped camouflage vehicles, laid large capacity cables, helped put up radio masts, slept in abandoned barns and spent a day with the German Army.

It was during this “exchange day” that I encountered the DUKW (duck) that was to transport us down the river. (For the technically minded, more information here)

Ten very excited teenagers squeezed into the restricted space at the back and were driven down a ramp, into the water, where we progressed at a very sedate pace for 20 minutes or so, driving back up another ramp to dry land.

dukw

To be honest it was a bit disappointing, certainly not as exciting as the next half hour when we were transported at some considerable speed back up river, sirens wailing, in a fast patrol craft.

We then experienced a German Army lunch, for many, the first ever taste of “foreign” food. Tepid cabbage soup, cold würst, sauerkraut, black bread, and a strange pudding of yogurt. A new experience that was not repeated until it became more commonplace in the UK.

Postscript

In fact the river in question may not have been the Rhine. Memory being what it is, it could have been the Mösel, or even the Wëser. I have travelled on all of these, but, at the time, it seemed to be a very wide, and busy, river.

Part of the series Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t!

Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.

This is a reblog of a series I started in October 2017. I thought I should resurrect it in order to attempt to get it completed. Perhaps it could take the place of my Lundi limerick series.

Peter's pondering

I had this random thought that I have done a few things in my life that the average person will never experience.  I thought I would write a post entitled:

“Ten things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.” It developed a little like this:

TenElevenTwelveThirteenFourteenFifteenSixteenSeventeenEighteen Nineteen Twenty things I’ve done that you probably haven’t

I arranged them in reverse alphabetical order, just for the sake of it! Then I thought of an added one, or four. So, here we have:

Some things I’ve done that you probably haven’t

  1. Travelled down the Rhine on a Duck
  2. Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by Jackstay
  3. Transferred between Royal Naval ships at sea by helicopter
  4. Spent time in a prison cell
  5. Sat in a Harrier Jump Jet
  6. Rowed in a coxed 4 at sea
  7. Regularly travelled to work by helicopter
  8. Qualified as a helicopter…

View original post 174 more words

Rapid rhyme #33/ Melissa the mouse

I talk to them, they talk to me

in easy stages one two three

First greet them with a bright “Good Day”

and ask them if they’ve time to stay

Then if they have, ask how they are

and have they had to travel far

Are they alone or with their spouse

Do they live in a hole or house

It’s truly magic, meeting friends

the joys of walking show no ends

 

Some of you may know that I go for a walk most days.  I talk to the trees and anything else I encounter along the way.  In these days of Covid I have changed my route and now I mostly go through fields, woodland, along the river and canal.  I stay away from roads and people as much as possible!

Today I had a real bonus meeting and conversation.  Apart from the cattle, horses, swans, spiders, grasshoppers, and birds, that is.

I quite often come across a dead mouse, or vole, and that’s what I saw this morning, and then……she moved.  It was a teeny tiny mouse, and her name was Melissa.  I know that for a fact because she told me.  You may think me a little potty, nuts, crazy, or whatever.  I don’t care.

I asked Melissa if I could take a few photographs to remember her by, and she agreed.  In fact she was quite happy and so that her friends on Mousebook could see what a big girl she is she asked if I could put a Pound coin alongside her to compare with. A pound coin is 23.43mm diameter.  That is 0.922 inches in old money!

Melissa was exploring her neighbourhood for the first time but couldn’t remember how old she was.   Baby mice grow up very quickly.  After just six days, they have fur and can move and squeak.  After 18 days, they are ready to leave the nest.  Female mice can start having babies when they are just six weeks old.  They can produce 10 litters every year, with up to 12 babies in each litter.

She soon went back to the nest which was accessed by a small hole in the ground.  Another of her siblings popped his head out to say a quick hello but disappeared and didn’t want his photograph taken.

Seriously though, folks, isn’t she gorgeous.  So much so that I am not sharing her space with any other friends I met today.

Lundi limerick #105

Thinking of Acton I’m glad

so special to Mum and to Dad

It’s where they first met

and their future was set

Such a wondrous life they both had.

 

There is not a lot to be said about Acton,  a small hamlet in Staffordshire. You could so easily drive through it without knowing and yet, without its existence, I may well not have existed!

The one building that is there, an old Wesleyan Methodist Church that closed in 2003, is where my father, Charles Matthews, went to Sunday School, then to Chapel. Where he met my mother Irene Lily Matthews, née Talbot. Where they first started courting,  all very prim and proper in those days. Where Dad first qualified for his  75 years as a Methodist Local Preacher.

I will add some photographs to a later post, and give a little more detail. I thought it appropriate that for the last of my two years worth of Lundi limericks (Lundi being french for Monday, for those who hadn’t noticed!!) I should write about somewhere extra special.

Thank you Acton. Thank you Mum and Dad.

 

 

 

A Beautiful Day

Today, as most days are, was a beautiful day.  It doesn’t have to be sunny, or warm, or special, it was just beautiful.

I was alive when I woke up, that’s always a good start.

I ate breakfast, hung out some washing, fed the cat, washed the dishes, had a (please pardon the expression;  it is crude, but adequately describes nearly every morning, and dates from army days) shit, shave, shower, and shampoo.  I went for a walk. Talked to the trees, to spiders, to dogs and cats, and to a couple of humans.

I returned home, had a coffee, and started to read the blogs that I follow.  Now, I follow far fewer blogs than (supposedly) follow me. I do, however, attempt to read every single post of every single person that I follow.  I like every one of these, but choose fewer to comment on. It is very time consuming, but I enjoy it, and that, surely, is what life is all about!

On one of my regular reads,  Ann Koplow’s The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally, Ann’s post was entitled It’s a Beautiful Day. It was, as all of her posts are, very positive.  I shall leave you to explore her blog, if you so wish, but that is not my main purpose here.

Ann included a most exquisite piece of music by Tohpati (featuring Moonlight Project), and she commented that ‘It’s a beautiful day to share “It’s a Beautiful Day”, also that It’s a beautiful day when I find out about an Indonesian jazz guitarist and songwriter whose “most significant influence came from Pat Metheny.’

Do you know what, she was absolutely right. (and if you listen to the very end you will also discover that the musicians had a beautiful day too)

I aint no hippy!

Over on Weekly Prompts the site shared by GC, themainaisle.com and SueW,  nansfarm.net the Weekend Challenge is Flower Power!

I’ve never partaken in these challenges, but when I saw the post today it triggered an immediate poem that, under normal circumstances, would have ended up as one of my Rapid Rhymes. Since I’m here, the poem is writ, and I saw this earlier today: (which I’ll leave to Sue to explain!!!)

I thought that I would offer you:

I aint no hippy

I missed the swinging sixties

with jeans and beads and hair

They say if you remember them

it proves you were not there

Well I was wearing uniform

no jeans or hair allowed

Each day was fully occupied

we couldn’t join the crowd

At least I got past 27

there’s many folk did not

Succumbed to sex and rock and roll

and drugs including pot

Still, p’raps I made up later

or p’raps I was a saint

Afraid I am not telling

A hippie I sure aint!

Rapid rhyme #26

 

I’m feeling a little light-headed

My beautiful tresses have gone

I managed a barber’s appointment

Since March there have simply been none

 

 

When younger I served in the army

so never had long hair or curls

At the time it wasn’t important

the uniform attracted the girls

 

but later I wished I’d been able

to mirror the hippies and groups

to see what life was in the sixties

instead of being part of the troops!

Song Lyric Sunday – May 10 2020 –Happy Together

song-lyric-sundayJim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday gives us the chance to share familiar, and sometimes not so familiar, songs.

If you fancy sharing one of your favourite songs you can find out how to participate, and also listen to all the great entries, here.

I knew immediately which song I was going to offer this week. A song that meant a great deal to me in 1967 as I was trying to ensure that my first REAL love was not lost to me, even though I was going to the Middle East and would not see her for at least 9 months.

Released by The Turtles as a single in February 1967, Happy Together knocked the Beatles’ “Penny Lane” out of the number one slot on the US Billboard Hot 100 and remained Number 1 for three weeks. It was the group’s only chart-topper in the United States. “Happy Together” also reached number 12 on the UK Singles Chart in April 1967 and number 2 on the Canadian Top Singles chart.

I WAS going for the original version until I came across Miley Cyrus’ interpretation and, having found this,  I now have to add it to my collection. I hope you will like it.

Because The Turtles version is so important in my musical life here it is too:

Lyrics

Imagine me and you, I do
I think about you day and night, it’s only right
To think about the girl you love and hold her tight
So happy together

If I should call you up, invest a dime
And you say you belong to me and ease my mind
Imagine how the world could be, so very fine
So happy together

I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you
For all my life
When you’re with me, baby the skies’ll be blue
For all my life

Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together

I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you
For all my life
When you’re with me, baby the skies’ll be blue
For all my life

Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together

Ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba
Ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba

Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together

So happy together
How is the weather
So happy together
We’re happy together
So happy together
Happy together
So happy together
So happy together (ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba)

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Alan Gordon / Garry Bonner

Happy Together lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG Rights Management, Carlin America Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

 

 

Let’s stay together Al Green

https://youtu.be/COiIC3A0ROM