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!

Song Lyric Sunday Theme for 12/05/2019 – Mom/ Mother/ Flowers

img_1345-3Thank you to Jim Adams, who tirelessly hosts Song Lyric Sunday and gives us the chance to share lots of favourite, and some not so familiar, songs.

The theme for this week is Mom/Mother/Flowers

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.

Obviously the theme this week is to help celebrate Mother’s Day, and today, 12th March we celebrate the most important people on the planet in the following countries:

Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas,Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan,Bonaire, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, CaymanIslands, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Ivory Coast, Croatia, Cuba, Curaasao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein,Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Myanmar, Namibia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Pakistan, Papa New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sint Maarten, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Suriname, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzinia, Tonga, Trinidadand Tobago, Turkey, Uganada, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay, Vietnam, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe

As it is not Mother’s Day in the UK, or Mothering Sunday as my Mum would always point out to me, I am going to be self-indulgent and choose a song from my youth. I might even choose 2!

If you are a Mom, Mum, Mother, Ma, Mummy, or any other version of the name that epitomises the one person in the world that we can none of us do without, “Thank You” for your unique gift of life that you gave to us all. Happy Mother’s Day to you.

Please sit back, and enjoy some flowers in the rain, played by The Move (the first pop song to be played, in full, on BBC Radio 1):

Flowers in the Rain

The Move

Woke up one morning half asleep
With all my blankets in a heap
And yellow roses scattered all around
The time was still approaching four
I couldn’t stand it anymore
Saw marigolds upon my eiderdown

I’m just sitting watching flowers in the rain
Feel the power of the rain making the garden grow
I’m just sitting watching flowers in the rain
Feel the power of the rain keeping me good

So I lay upon my side
With all the windows open wide
Couldn’t pressurise my head from speaking
Hoping not to make a sound
I pushed my bed into the grounds
In time to catch the sight that I was seeking

I’m just sitting watching flowers in the rain
Feel the power of the rain making the garden grow
I’m just sitting watching flowers in the rain
Feel the power of the rain keeping me good

If this perfect pleasure has to be
Then this is paradise to me
If my pillow’s getting wet
I don’t see that it matters much to me

I heard the flowers in the breeze
Make conversation with the trees
Relieved to leave reality behind me
With my commitments in a mess
My sleep has gone away depressed
In a world of fantasy you’ll find me

I’m just sitting watching flowers in the rain
Feel the power of the rain making the garden grow
I’m just sitting watching flowers in the rain
Feel the power of the rain keeping me good

Watching flowers in the rain
Flowers in the rain
Power flowers in the rain
Flower power in the rain

Songwriters: WOOD ROY

Flowers in the Rain lyrics © S.I.A.E. Direzione Generale, Essex Music Inc., ESSEX MUSIC INC

The bonus is the song “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” written by John Phillips, of The Mamas and Papas,  and sung by Scott McKenzie. It was released in May 1967, to promote the Monterey Pop Festival. Many young people, who would have wished to be there, were far away from the love and the music, fighting, and dying, in Vietnam. A few of their Moms will still be alive, so, today, I think of them.

 

Twittering Tale #127 – 12 March 2019

It’s time again, for Kat Myrman’s wonderful challenge, to write a story, inspired by her picture prompt, in 280 characters or fewer.

Here is this week’s prompt and my contribution.

Check out all the fabulously creative entries here and, if you’ve never had a go, why not try a story of your own? You may surprise yourself!

img_0012Photo by Pexel2013 at Pixabay.com

Jake remembered sitting in the Manhattan bar.

He remembered talking to the gorgeous brunette, whose name he discovered was Mitsuko.

He remembered calling her Mitsy, which was easier, especially after the 4th bourbon.

What he couldn’t work out was how the hell he ended up in Japan!

(278 characters)

Twittering Tales #120 – 22 January 2019

It’s time again, for Kat Myrman’s wonderful challenge, to write a story, inspired by her picture prompt, in 280 characters or fewer.

Here is this week’s prompt and my contribution.

Check out all the fabulously creative entries here and, if you’ve never had a go, why not try a story of your own? You may surprise yourself!

adult-coffee-shop-daylight-1081673-1Photo by Juan Pablo at Pexels.com

I have nothing to say.
My heart is empty, my mind a blank!
I can’t even post a photo of my meal because I haven’t eaten since you left.
In truth, I haven’t done anything since you left!
All I do is sit here and remember the good times.
There were lots of them.

Now there are none!

(274 characters)

Song Lyric Sunday Theme for 23/09/2018

img_1345-3I just love Helen’s Song Lyric Sunday.

It introduces me to new music, reminds me of great songs that I have forgotten, or not heard in ages, and it also makes me do a little bit of research in order to give a bit of history, or an interesting fact or two about what I’ve chosen.

I do tend to try to see if I can find a Beatles song to tie in with the theme, and this week, as we are asked to “sleep” I could immediately think of several songs I could offer. Then I started the research bit and came up with this!

On 10 November 2017, Elbow released a cover of “Golden Slumbers” by The Beatles, it was used in the 2017 John Lewis Christmas advert, titled Moz the Monster.

Here is the official video which shows a little of the making of the advert. I hope you like it as much as I do!

Golden Slumbers

Once there was a way
To get back homeward
Once there was a way
To get back home

Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby

Golden slumbers fill your eyes
Smiles awake you when you rise
Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby
And I will sing a lullaby

Once there was a way
To get back homeward
Once there was a way
To get back home

 

Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby

Golden slumbers fill your eyes
Smiles awake you when you rise
Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby
Songwriters: Paul McCartney / John Lennon
Golden Slumbers lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

 

Twittering Tale #94 – 24 July 2018

It’s time again for Kat Myrman’s wonderful challenge to tax our creative souls. Just take her photo prompt and write a story, inspired by it, in 280 characters or fewer.

statue-3520416_1280.jpgPhoto by Couleur at Pixabay.com

Here is this week’s prompt and my contribution. Check out all the fabulous entries here.

Great do last night!

Was it?

Yea, I got completely legless. Had to crash out on Ben’s sofa.

Did you see me at all?

Yea. We had a chat early on and then you went off with that weirdo.

Weirdo? What weirdo?

That guy with a huge chopper!

I can’t remember a thing. Think I lost my head a bit!

(280 characters)

A tribute to a colleague and friend

Yesterday I attended the funeral of Colin John Muge, a man who gave far more than he took, a man who served his community in so many ways, a man held in such love and high esteem that there was standing room only at the lovely secular service led by his wife, son, and two daughters.

Colin’s daughter, Catherine, played this cello music for the entrance.

All the family spoke lovingly and bravely, and two friends gave heartfelt tributes. We heard “Everyday” from Buddy Holly, “Misty” by Erroll Garner, “Heart of Glass” by Blondie, the poem “If I Be The First Of Us To Die” by Nicholas Evans, and the exit music was:

Afterwards, around 50 people enjoyed afternoon tea at Colin’s house.

Colin would have enjoyed it tremendously!

A life well lived.

Farewell my friend.

Sunday sayings #16 and a bit more

images-6

Particularly at this time of year!

However, there is always lots to be thankful for. Family, friends, a warm home, good food, and YOU.

I’m really grateful for all of my followers, and for those that I follow, on WordPress.

I love the humour, the candour, the help, the advice, the comments, the really serious posts, the absolutely zany posts, the travel, the food, the photos, the recommendations. Some blogs I read every single word, some blogs I dip in and out of, some I visit infrequently. I consider you all as friends.

Thank you one and all, and may I wish you (an early) Happy New Year. I hope that 2018 brings good health, peace, contentment and as much success in your writing/blogging as you would wish.

Happy-New-Year-2018-Images-4

AND THANK YOU