Report 40: Last leg to Hamburg
After Falmouth, our engine had enough fuel and we had the familiar menu. After two months under sail or in dead calm the delivery of our grain charge allowed no further delay. That meant to steam using the engine, sails were only set if higher speed could be reached. Therefore, we drove almost like a steamer up to Dover and from there towards the light vessel “Elbe 1”.
It was not a quiet time. During daytime, all hands were busy with everything to make the ship look good for arrival in Hamburg. Then, everyone was preparing himself for the end of the trip, especially the ones who would sign off; this included all trainees for whom it had been the second trip on board and who would not be included in the regular crew. I was among those graduates.
The business-like bustle was interrupted twice: the first time, when we crossed the Strait of Dover on a sunny afternoon. There we set all sails in order to give the many ships, yachts, boats and tourists on the white cliffs of Dover, the imposing impression of a Flying P-Liner. This was well received, as you could see from the toot-concert and much waving.
All sails were once again set at the Dutch light vessel Texel, although the wind was too weak to produce any significant thrust. Did the captain of the light vessel crew want to please us? No! The captain made the decision when it was announced that we would meet our competitors for the Blue Ribbon of the North Sea in an hour. Man, we have spared no effort to set all sails in less than an hour and trim them. Barely having managed it, the SS “United States” coming from Bremerhaven appeared on the horizon. They rushed towards us with 35 knots.
Soon we reached the Elbe River in the early dusk and began to
steam using our engine upwards on the Elbe. We sailed so that we would be near Glückstadt at mid-morning, because Sunday June 6, 1956, promised to be a sunny day. And so it was. Many boats accompanied us from Glückstadt, and from Welcome Point (Ship welcoming station) in Wedel on, where many Hamburg
residents greeted us from the Elbe-river-walk. On the pontoon bridge Teufelsbrück (devil’s bridge) I could wave to my siblings and friends. On the landing bridges near the Elbe-tunnel we were welcomed by thousands of onlookers as well as harbor launches, fireboats, customs boats and police boats. Then we were suddenly moored near a desolate grain silo.
After unloading the grain cargo, we proceeded to the Blohm & Voss shipy ard. Now I had two things in mind before I would sign off tomorrow on June 11: first pack my things, then say goodbye to some mates in the pub of Aunt Hermine. There, in the Shark-fish-bar located on the fish market, we arrived early at 9pm. At 11pm, we would be as good as alone, because then life could begin to rumble here. Aunt Hermine had so much time for us and so did we for her. We told some of our experiences and she told weird stories and diverse sailor’s fairy-tails, some of them very clever. We stuck to the truth, when she was talking she bent the ceiling beams of the bar. Much of it was simply outrageous, but after each beer, joy of listening to her increased. However she objected, rejecting our reports increasingly.
Finally, she said: “What you told me so far is pretty boring. If you cannot do better, then we prefer to leave it as it is!” So we suggested that she should turn off the music blaring in the corner and listen to our hit. So it happened that we blared, “Don’t cry for me Argentina”, first together in one voice, then two voices, and the steady filling Shark-fish-bar joined in, until 11pm. Then we had to catch last port-ferry.
For me this was ok. It would be a long day tomorrow. Signing off from Pamir. Bye! Bye! The next days had to be well used, because in one week it will be all about a large cargo steamer to Australia.
Fit for the next journey