The Great Sea Rescue
It was a cold September morning in 1838. The fog lingered along he cobbled streets of Hull like a veil of damp silk. I walked into a dingy hut, which smelt of stale tobacco smoke, musty and damp.
There was a middle-aged man sitting behind a small desk, his eyes, grey and
Piercing, though friendly looking. He spoke in a low husky voice. "Can I help you?"
"Umm, yes," I replied nervously. "I'm here to sign on the Forfarshire." The man opened a drawer in his desk and took out a book. "I just need your ~e and your position, then you can have a look 'round the ship"
I was so excited. "I'm Tom, Tom Jenkins," I said, "and I'm a sailor." As I watched the man write down my details I noticed that there were some twelve or more sailors who had signed on just like myself: what an experience this was going to be.
"Come, young man, I'll show you 'round the ship." came a stern, strident voice. I turned around and saw a very tall, well-dressed man. "This must be the captain of the ship," I thought to myself. I hurried to where the man was waiting for me and as I neared, I looked up at his face. I then felt more relaxed than I can ever remember for he had the kindest eyes; his face was big, round and weathered. I followed him down an alley, where there were cats scavenging in dustbins trying to find scraps of food.
The fog seemed to separate, like someone opening the drapes, then,
I saw it, there it was, 'The Forfarshire' It was a big ship and, attached both sides in the middle, was large red iron paddles. There were scores of portholes that sparkled like diamonds in the sun, which was just breaking through the fog. I had never seen such a glorious vessel.
We walked up the gangway and onto the ship. The deck had lovely wooden boards that had been polished to a shine. There were slatted wooden chairs available for the passengers to sit on. We carried on along the deck and down a 90mparrionway, into a corridor where there were lots of doors.
At the end of the corridor were some more stairs that led down to the hull of the ship. It was dank and dreary with big boilers all around. They were empty of coal for now, but would soon have blazing fires within. One of the boilers caught my eye. It looked as though it had been leaking so I asked the captain what had happened. "We experienced some difficulty with that boiler," replied the captain, "but the temporary repairs should hold out until we get to Dundee." I wondered just how temporary the repairs were, but said nothing. I didn't want to sound as though I was questioning the captain's judgement.
"The ship sets sail tomorrow morning at II o'clock sharp. Will we see you then?" said the captain.
"Oh, most definitely," I said, as we shook hands.
That evening I stayed in some local digs run by a pleasant family, where I had a good hearty meal before I retired to bed around nine o'clock. All night I tossed and turned. I couldn't help but think that I should have said something about the boiler....