For the last year and a bit I have been typing up the journals I kept during my first two trips to sea while also sharing some of my seafaring journey on this blog. The people, the places, the learning, the good, the bad and the frustrating have been covered in brief, as I try to keep below 600 words per post. I am fortunate to have my journals to support my memories given that memories fade and sometimes get reimagined! There are some people I remember a lot about and some who I don’t recall at all. I still have crew lists from most of the ships I sailed on but some of the names are just names now, while others remain very much alive in my memory.
Just before Covid introduced itself to the world I discovered that a reunion was being arranged for sea and office staff from the shipping company I trained with. This finally took place on 5 May this year when forty-one of us gathered at Trinity House in Newcastle Upon Tyne. There were people there I remembered who didn’t remember me and people who remembered me who I had difficulty recalling. Two that I did remember and was over the moon to meet again were the third mates from my first two ships. I hadn’t seen Ray from the Sheaf Royal since January 1974. He was newly promoted when I joined the ship as a first trip cadet. Then there was John from the Irish Wasa. John and I have been in touch for a few years by email after he found me through this blog. It was John, who was also a newly promoted third mate at the time, who taught me how to use a sextant, take sun sights, and calculate the ship’s position using the Longitude by Chronometer method.
The reunion was organised by Mr Christopher Souter, who interviewed me in February 1973, offered me a job, and was the training manager for the company, which was founded in 1908 by his grandfather, Sir William Souter. I have many memories of Mr Christopher, as he was known in the company. What I didn’t know was that when the company found itself in financial difficulties in 1978 Christopher was made redundant by his father and was out of work for a year.
From the emails that were shared after the reunion it was evident that everyone had thoroughly enjoyed the event and meeting up with old shipmates and office personnel after so long. I had trouble sleeping that night as so much was going through my mind about the reunion. I would welcome another reunion but as attendees were aged between mid-sixties and early-eighties that might be a challenge. Many of the people I sailed with have already passed away. I have also lost my mother and a younger sister in the last couple of years. Life moves inexorably towards its conclusion and that conclusion can come at any moment. My mother and my sister were prepared for it and for what follows, and I am certain beyond doubt that I will see them both again in a reunion like no other, not in Newcastle, but in a new Jerusalem!
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:1-4 NLT)