Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Duff first cruise (Raymond Pollard)

John Swallow deploying the echo-sounder fish (Mac Harris looks on)
I first sailed on Discovery as a raw (and probably upstart) postdoc in Jan/Feb 1971. Cruise 38 leg 1 was out of Barry, ending at Plymouth. The cruise was led by John Swallow with Mike Harding as Master. We were working at the shelf edge, so not that far from port.

Temperature, Salinity Depth (TSD) probe)
This was just as well, as you will see. I remember making copious notes on how things worked, especially the echo sounder (under Big John’s tutelage). It is only with hindsight do I realise that novel systems were beginning to revolutionize the science. CTD stations (Conductivity, Temperature, Depth) were taken with a Bissett Berman 9040 system. (Except that in those days they were TSDs Temperature, Salinity and Depth probes.)

The cruise report remarks that this work “was greatly enhanced by use of the computer for logging the TSD output and providing rapid plots of the vertical distribution of temperature, salinity and density.” Yes, we had a computer on board! However, my abiding memory was not the science but the poor quality of the food!

About to deploy a mooring. L to R Netman, Dick Burt; Dave Grohman;
John Gould; John Swallow

About to deploy a mooring. L to R Netman, Dick Burt; Dave Grohman;
John Gould; John Swallow
Was it this trip or a later one when the food was so bad that the only thing I found edible was plain yoghurt? And I don't especially like plain yoghurt, but at least you could add sugar to it. Offal was often on the menu, sheeps' hearts I recall.

I got in serious trouble when, at the end of one particularly awful meal, the duff was so solid that I stuck my fork into it upright and left the saloon. There were stewards in those days, not self-service, so the stewards knew exactly who had done it.

It was not long before I was summoned to see the Master. Mike Harding was sympathetic, and I am sure appreciated the validity of my protest, but he explained that the galley staff were doing their best, and it was not helpful to protest as I had done. My first lesson in tact perhaps. Others must judge whether I learnt anything from it.

We had to make two emergency port calls to Falmouth for injury. One of them was caused when the ship rolled heavily in atrocious weather. The roll threw the Chief Engineer against the recently installed computer system, breaking his ribs. I think the poor man never fully recovered.

The second unscheduled port call seemed to me to be more like retribution. The Chief Steward was taken ill with a stomach complaint and had to put ashore. His replacement had served on cruise liners, I think, and the quality of the meals improved dramatically!

Discovery in Millbay Dock, Plymouth