My Old Days & lack of sensible progress in the DIVING WORLD!
An old hat, it became illegal to use these without oral nasal safer breathing gear, however your voice would be clearer to the surface in this.
I could not abandon it!!, it is a DULAM diving hat a place managed by Harris Steinke in Dubai, made at the premises, comfy as hell & you could see everything too, constructed in Splash Zone material epoxy. The Oilfield lads used to slap it on pipes & steel in that very surface area to make things last.
Rare pics. of Lynn Isaac, (Taff) actually working!
Taken when Lynn Isaac (Taff) should have been at work at least 25 to 30 yrs ago!, this estimated 65 ft long Whale Shark used to hang around DPC Oilfield circa 30 Miles off Dubai, inside the Persian Gulf to some, Arabian Gulf to me, it never harmed anyone, 'shame a Nikonos Calypso Flash in those days took so long to recharge, (Only chance I ever really had to get pics, & when at Khor Fakkan, Indian Ocean Side just outside Straits of Hormuz particularly, Wildlife of Manta Rays Sting Rays, Water Snakes Tuna Turtles Hamoor (Grouper) Sharks of many kinds, shoals of Barracuda plus everything else was there in abundance Crayfish Lobsters too, once a Sailfish zoomed up from the depths to stop just feet from me, turned slowly sideways on to curiously view me then flicked away as it literally zoomed into the blue depths) I had a 150 ft Diving Vessel, mv Sea Otter tied alongside a 260000 DWT Tanker & a team of lads were polishing the propellor to save about 30 tons of Fuel per day taking a full load of Crude from Saudi to Rotterdam in a couple of days on hire less time which can affect market Oil costs just like the old Tea Clippers performance benefits.
Ship types of Structural form plus damage with construction terms had to be rapidly picked up from Ship Surveyors Bible Handbooks, kept securely in my Samsonite Briefcase,
(N.B. all Divers possessed a Samsonite Briefcase, (one ex 'carrier' of such an essential item referred to it as a Diver's Handbag!) 'a stolen adjustable spanner spliced onto a line to their belt, a daily wages calculator, Swiss Army Knife, flip flops Redwing overalls with Badges on plus rig boots, & I quickly acquired such conforming regalia along with a permanent tan far better than med. holiday folk) senior hands eventually started with a diving watch usually a Seiko or Rollex which was never taken in the water, next a Gold Chain, oh & something to hang on it & yes I bought a solid gold Diver Standard hat to look flash with it!!. still have it but I'd be ashamed to wear it around!.
Somehow, a large vessel got missile hit & I happened to be the only diver around when my company got the job. .. Such was initially exciting plus 'interesting' & demanding accuracy, recorded extent plus description of damage, whereas casualties & harm to people of so many nationalities simply working in danger to provide for their families never seemed to be considered as balance against financial harm. .. Somehow I could concentrate on recording structural damage, though I could never actually forget that inevitable human damage. ..
After that first Missile Damage report survey with photo support apparently covered just what Classification Surveyors required! muggins here with basic maritime Structural knowhow seemed the Diver asked for by Classification Socs. Salvage Assoc. & Underwriters.
Not a section of my Ship Diving work which could be enlarged upon when home in UK on leave, behind it all I have become a completely anti-warfare guy, believing that disputes should be settled around a table.
WW1, WW2, plus all those other conflicts seem to disregard harm!!! Human loss & harm became a figure, when you think of battle losses of innocent farm animals plus Horses, Mules along with Wildlife of Europe alone in WW1, STOP HERE, think of Rabbits, Hares, Badgers Foxes Otters etc simply, totally cruelly wiped out, along with Birds, Amphibians, Reptiles of all sorts which had no way of protesting you can only just start to gain perspective Governments plus supporting casts simply abandoned animals & partly deserted humans too. NOW YOU START TO OBTAIN VALUE.
Religious leaders of every sort plus Sectual clerics always conveniently ignore that part of the horrors whereas they should wield 'the God provided' tools of their trade' in protection of all if they believe they are service to God or Society.
I seemed to get increasingly called upon, at first to report on rapidly increasing maritime damage, grounding plus collisions, then I came to rapidly learn types of marine growths, mines damage, missiles, quickly finding ways to record accurately.
Familiarity with a range of damage effects, somehow quickly made me specialised in such a field which nobody had planned for, how to use rolls of 35mm film & with contact sheets to mark exactly where, along a ship each pic was taken.
Which angle on a ship each pic came from, how to know by light, direction each pic was taken from, to record pics on marked areas & even have the ship with name & Draft pic at the start of a pic roll since when doing several per day these pics get to hundreds!.
How to term damage, depressions, undulations between frames, fractures implosions tears,,,, Sole Piece Coffin plate, Uxter plate, rope guards, stern seals, balanced or unbalanced or spade rudder rudder bearings play, percentages of paint coats loss, anode depletions, cathodic condition, intakes restrictions, whether retained firmly in situ & how so?, ship types, construction, propellor damage plus cavitation etc. how to ensure props wd not spin when you were in vicinity & turbine tankers not to suck in water when you were around chutes etc, never to forget or mistake whether a prop was a 3 to 7 blade type so individual blades could be accurately reported upon.
I sent so many confident Oilfield lads to Survey a simple ship form & in debriefing they progressively told about hull areas & fitments then lastly blades of a propellor & a question of how many blades always brought a pause, then eyes seemed to glaze & "not exactly sure" came out.
'I only really ever wanted to be a diver!!! those extras just crept in.
One Christmas in the mid 1970's, I returned to Dubai from UK leave & 'some fool' had read thru my CV to find it recorded that I could actually "Drive a Boat" with up to 240 Passengers, Class 4 & 4B. (nobody mentioned this was for inshore holiday tripper vessels in UK regions such as Milford Haven etc). Plus my Oilfield Reporting had somehow been found acceptable to LRS ABS BKK DNV BV Plus Insurance Brokerage Bodies, along with Salvage Association & most Classification Societies!, I became transferred from Oilfield work to Shipping work.
Later Seaward Marine needed someone based in Middle East to conduct work on USN Vessels u/w apparatus I believe I still cannot discuss (though Cold War has long ago disappeared) & they approved myself, just an ex steelworks electrician fearing redundancy, who ran away to be a diver! with an ability to spell in UK plus American English!, plus use Metric & Imperial measurements & terms (in respective reports), Underwater Photography, plus Video reporting is not hard at all & I thus got 'vetted' by USN too & used thereafter probably because I was cheaper & convenient, plus more often sober than other divers on 'runs ashore'?.
(I sneaked 'dips' on far off wrecks around the Persian Gulf too) a little Diver's dream world I took far too little notice of.
Imagine, me taking a large Diving Vessel MV Sea Otter into Bahrein one day, there was my boyhood hero Jaques Cousteau 's old wooden original MV Calypso sadly seeking repairs on the slipway & we could see a minor miracle wd be needed to refit her.
Diving vessel AL RASHID I first became taken to was an ex US Coastguard Vessel on which the SSB seldom worked, the Radar never worked, Bow Thruster was an ornament, the anchor worked when it chose to, a steering rudder indicator which did not work & had 2 massive engines which could each be operated with up to 25 seconds reaction delay, this system alone was new to me, plus the vessel was around 5 times the size of 'boats' I had been used to, it could compare to giving Gran the keys to a 747.
This was used with the toughest but nicest & most capable & brave diving team I have ever encountered, to clean hulls which rose to a DWT average of 4 MILLION per MONTH underwater & photograph, video before & after plus conduct Damage In Lieu of Dry Docking Surveys for LRS ABS NKK DNV BV & Salvage Assoc etc, we were never able to integrate British American or Antipodean Oilfield Divers with the team who could look after themselves rather better than any others I have ever encountered.
My first attempt to take leave of Dubai's narrow twisting Creek had Water Taxi Boatmen & passengers fleeing in all directions & accquainted me to Internationally understandable gestures, delivered in earnest with vehemence & gusto, 'majority of which questioning my mental state.
(In retrospect I feel the chaps had good cause)
I had hitherto not really been obliged to take notice of or decipher Water Taxi drivers gestured messages, MV Al Rashid's Engineer, Bashir who was with me on the Bridge came to the rescue of myself & all, & manhandled the long, deep draught & cumbersome MV AL RASHID Diving Vessel out of Dubai Creek.
A crash course in handling 'her' from Bashir was subsequently received with thanks & laughs all round! I somehow, forcibly & quickly became a Diving Vessel Supervisor & Captain too, thoroughly undeservedly, a few days & the vessel would be getting spun about, berthed stern to the Jetty, a piece of cake when you know how!.
Conversations, joking advice, ribaldry, insults from crew plus divers eager to get ashore after coming in could make the process itself FUN, it is never bad for a vessel to reach alongside after a job offshore & the entire multinational, 'multireligions' bunch on the vessel could work with laugh with and at each other, plus within a month we all knew & could plus often would trust each other implicitly.
Trust is an extremely strange thing, we could all trust each other without question, a bunch thrown together to work as best they could, never was there one member of the bunch who could not be depended upon.
Enjoyable diving followed, all over Persian Gulf with a vessel & a Decompression Chamber & we covered Underwater Cleaning & ABS Survey in Lieu of Drydocking on this Turbine Tanker in the pic., a vessel of circa 350 000 DWT with a draft of 70ft, meaning a 80ft USN Dive Table was in use & that ULCC Tanker vessel was finished in two and a half days. (Monthly Average of Tonnage worked upon was 4 Millions DWT) The flat bottom intakes bilge Keels Rudder & propellor all became clean & roughly 160 Tons of Fuel wd be saved per day on it's delivery run.
What a gift to a a bloke who only wanted to be a diver though?.
All free, a Diving vessel & ship crew plus diving team with camera equipment, diving chamber, & good payment in dollars too, a gift from the gods so to speak! the large Supply Vessel MV Sea Otter followed the MV Al Rashid as the diving vessel. Sea Otter spun around it's Bow when the Caterpillar engines were placed one astern & one ahead, Sea Cat totally opposite, it wd spin around it's 2 stern screws, after such a time manoeuvring the types they could dance.
MV SEA CAT another beloved vessel with a great multinational Crew & following that is the NAZ, bought from Iran, (even the 'N' had been painted on in reverse & that is the way we left it, bad luck to change it) all manned by the same bunch of Divers & Crew which continued from Al Rashid, the only Vessel I'd love a pic of is the SEA OTTER, myself & wife Janet had taken the Vessel out for a weekend delivery job to DPC & ended up sailing on to Saudi Arabia to Complete a Ras Tanura Oilfield job.
All I had started with was an ability to dive a bit, write a bit! plus Duport Steelworks in Llanelli was rapidly approaching close down.
The rest came from Marine growth Biological terms getting far more accurate, Nautical & Maritime Constructional methods plus terms of marine damage from collision groundings & missile or mine damage extent being rather forcibly 'brought home' to me plus Metric or Imperial measurements with English US & UK needed in reports to various Classification Societies. Salvage Association plus Brokers & International Paint Corporations.
My younger Days had seen me glued to Jaques Cousteau & even Hans & Lottie Hass underwater films.
By now I was getting quite good taking vessels around the Gulf & outside too.
Sailing the Vessel below, MV Sea Cat & I saw a vessel I instantly knew on the Slipway whilst picking my way around Sunken vessels crossing Bahrein Harbour.
It was Jaques Cousteau's famous Vessel MV Calypso, being worked upon there & one of my underwater Cameras came to hand quickly for some tourist diver shots, I looked at the Diving Cameras & Saw Nikonos Calypso Cameras 1, 2 & 4 which I had been using every day, thanks to the types developed by those Marseilles Divers.
I put the Camera down & out of respect did not take pics of the proud old girl on the slipway which I could see the vessel was virtually past refurbishment. So, let it be?, I was by now a fellow pro diver.
After getting Transferred from the OILFIELD Diving to run the Maritime Division when the first Iran Iraq terrible war & Survey, Hullcleaning propellor polishing and In water Surveys in Lieu of Drydocking for Lloyds ABS BV DNV GL NKK etc etc with Salvage association & finally USNavy getting to use us for Missile damage Mine damage collisions grounding we were averaging 4 Million DWT Tonnes per month activity.
The first Vessel I became 'stuck with driving !! was MV Al Rashid, the crew seemed to follow me as specialists working to ULCC VLCC etc vessels in the Sailfish Pic are Lakshmanan Zakariah Abdullah from Kerala with far right John Evans an Engineer also from there & Peping with 2 Divers left Andreas Bolivar & right Willy Caparaz, with Ghani from Pakistan was superb at sea, Ernie Roque all great great people I respect and admire, I'm just peeping over the rear of the Bunch on the Sea Otter, I loved captaining and running the diving on alll those vessels Al Rashid, Sea Otter, Sea Cat, NAZ & we all went to and thru some hazardous trips together, Perreira Romeo Rendor the Top Diver, Boy Prochino Jerry Ko Asterio Quindoy Benny Quindoy Roddy Dairo, all U S Navy Seal Team Divers, great greast people who have my greatest admiration plus respect, we were into Iran Saudi & Indian Ocean places when every F4 Phantom or Mystere passing by was watched nervously as a missile source & mines were plentiful too.
Lesson one, never let others (particularly Divers) get hands on your camera offshore or anywhere else, (or the most amazing images get developed at the photo shop!, I shall say no more) here however is myself well shattered & snoring on a Hydrospace Int & Later, Oceaneering International Diving Vessel deck at anchor around 30 miles off Dubai UAE.
I loved Boats, Diving, the wheeling & dealing worldwide with owners & agents of many sorts!!
Initially after being a UK Crayfish (Crawfish) Diver Clam diver I got lucky & found a winter job from a Aberdeen Office.
Suddenly became a Deep Scuba Trimix Diver & Helium Mix user on Deep 'Gulf Oilfields work & after Mines Exocet M20 M22 & Wire Guided missiles became used in Maritime Shipping Diving I swear I just drifted into it (I was perhaps just the lazy one who did reports Offshore & somebody discovered that I could dive plus write) 'got roped in to quickly record over 90% of Iran v Iraq first war, covering War Damage, Underwater Grounding & collision Survey, Paint Coats etc side of things.
Bandar Abbas (Iran nr the Straits of Hormuz) when approaching had a great many beached & half sunk wrecks that unknown to most of the world had been on "Shuttle Convoys" to the inside upper areas of Iran being attacked by Iraq Aircraft.
Other vessels became 'hit' by Iran's brace of Phantoms & the Helicopter fired wire guided missiles. It never seemed to stop, the mistake a USN Frigate made shooting down a full passenger Airliner inbound to Dubai from India via Iran made me sicker than I could have imagined.
I have even put a shot in of me bringing in my beloved NAZ, the Iran owned vessel stern to near the Sheraton in Dubai Creek, one of our vessels did get attacked, & somehow although I wanted to be on it (3 times daily diving rate!) the Ops guy stopped me going & yes we had an attack with losses & tragic casualties of Australian Divers, it brings sense to the adventurous!.
When Aircraft zipped past you knew strange things could just happen, I must have been potty to be Manager, Marketing Manager, Captain, plus Diver, with a marvellous wife who dealt with calls from HK Greece & heaven knows where.
I used to slip NAZ thru the 'dodgy' Channel on the end of OMAN to avoid using main Straits of Hormuz & save time here I was as usual on stern controls bringing the old girl stern to so we run out to meet deep vessels 25 or so miles off Dubai.
In Water Survey in Lieu of Drydocking Under the Direction of LRS ABS DNV BV NKK Classification Socs. & Insurance Brokers plus Salvage concerns demands grew & somehow I became appointed & approved to conduct USN requirements, 'an interesting 10 yrs followed, on return to UK Diving work for a whole long list of Companies resulted, Civil Engineering Underwater Welding Arc & thermic Lance cutting, chainsaw cutting wooden Piers, Survey Diving, Blasting & 'Clam' Diving around Scottish Islands Skye Rhum Canaa Barra Eigh Muck too.
Jobs with Underwater Welders of Cardiff led to lifting the Dock gates into position at Bristol with a Giant 600T Crane during the dead of night and a Company diving suit which split open & we had to keep hidden from the Client & pretend over the intercom nowt happened.
Surveying hundreds of railway bridges at water crossing before they were sold into privatisation, 'amazing how lousy the underwater condition was & what had been ditched from bridges was honestly amazing.
SUDBROOK was another job none hearing of it could lift an eyebrow at, I saw Eddie Butler presenting a programme showing the wonders of Wales!!, by 'eck I thought I have been there too for Underwater Welders!! about 22 years back & entered the side tunnel too.
When, long over 100 yrs ago a Tunnel joining Wales to England & reduce travelling time by one and a half hours became planned & built, a crossing beneath River Severn (which rises in Mid to North Wales & is the Longest river in Britain? first became built, it sprang leaks & a service tunnel runs alongside the main tunnel plus a gulley to carry leaking water running in to a huge pumping plant remains & operates to this day.
The Leak never stopped & a famous hard hat Diver, Lambourne went down the 200ft access vertical shaft at SUDBROOK to gain access to clamp shut doors already in the tunnel for gulley construction I never knew that had taken place when I went down & across to seal the door for the pumping out to start.
His hard hat (Standard Gear) hose wd not allow him reach the farthest doors & he made history using the world's first self contained breathing apparatus to his helmet, tested strangely to 19 feet!, closed the doors & vowed never to use such equipment or go down ever again.
The water comes in at the same rate today and I had to go down that same 200 shaft to close a submerged door & found water flooding to be beautifully warm, the crystal clearest which I have ever seen, a taste of electricity seemed to surround my teeth fillings, using scuba equipment let water touch my gums teeth etc and the amount of electricity reaching in the water meant it felt like diving in a battery!, only years after did I think, 'oh yes that was in Lambourne's footsteps & left for the second job that day!. Door shut to pump the Access vertical shaft base dry to work in.
We forget that tunnel from Wales to England there was built by old engineers in days without the Survey scope the Channel Tunnel was covered by, long before anything else in the world & was far far longer for a huge time period (It was Wales though, nobody ever notices there).
Nowadays I could not eat Lobsters anymore after seeing their family life pattern & efforts to survive with world Pollution levels increasing such I care far more for a natural environment, similarly concealing hooks in Fish bait for dragging live creatures out of the water is again something which I could no longer do & what lives wild on our planet is finding it ever harder to survive, wars quite frankly disgust me, reasons behind many are not quite what they are presented, I had to Survey & report on Maritime results of wars which as the coverage continued brought consideration of reasons to question.
Our little garden here has Wildlife puddles, Frogs, Slowworms, Toads Newts use them, Badgers come thru, Foxes & Cubs visit each night, Hedgehogs use our & neighbour's woodpiles!, Bats & Owls hunt our little Garden by night, Finches, Blue Tits Coal Tits Dunnocks Robins & Wrens, Starlings, Jays too, Blackbirds, rarely Gold Crest & Thrush, Nuthatch & nearby Kestrel Buzzard Sparrowhawk Peregrine Falcons perch on posts & in trees around us, Crows & Mapgpie regularly spotted from the Garden. No Toxin used here, NO SLUG PELLETS, the use of such simply kills off all forementioned insects to animals, a little thought could save so much more to be enjoyed.
Putting Slug pellets around some flowers to save them poisons Slugs Snails, insects & worms, then the birds which eat them, & creatures which live off them & each year such pellets are used? they increase poison levels.
Gardens would be so much better & cleaner plus enjoyable if we stopped & pondered over what is being marketed to us, weedkiller for your lawn shows cartoon frogs & such prancing around without telling buyers the frogs plus the entire wildlife chain simply gets wiped out by it. (Unenhanced pic of the Mumbles Head here shown below) .
Swansea to Mumbles was where the World's first Passenger train Service ran, this is a Postcard pic of a Tram which ran there.
Janet, on her way home from the dreaded Dentist saw camera buffs with Tripods & 'Elephant Gun Lenses' lined up in Mumbles Head Car Park, she always carries a small Fuji Digital & just stepped out, got a shot shown unenhanced, most of my own Camera work was underwater & provenant to Reports plus Surveys on shipping condition plus damage, Jan's pics grace National Newspaper sections each day & we never really spend time noticing the last, she always deftly seems to angle without timewasting far better than I could! (Eddie the Hedgehog pic by me could have a lot cropped out, however I think it could spoil it for me if I did!.. Night brings about 40 Amphibians in the front sides & rear Gardens, 'Puddles' carry wildlife o all sorts, Newts now with young Newts now seen carrying the youngster on their backs, Toads doing pick aback too guarding our flower pots & plants, (what the heck if we lose a few plants? Toads cannot be everywhere) Frogs too aplenty, all with their own hunting areas, slow worms in summer breeding & sunbathing, life now is so much better than when reporting political plus military harm results, reasons never get attached to such reports.
BELOW our hedgehog, upper is getting 'dressed in' for Cutting away with Oxy Arc gear in Mid Winter, bridge Coffer Dams on supports for River Loughor Bridge, Black & Cold so woolly hat on inside 'Hat'.working with TransOcean Diving
Under that is the Black Water of Bristol Docks where I was on Hire frequently with Underwater Welders of Cardiff Good kit good folk & good laughs too, that cage was lowered into a muddy bottom & always a superb Crane Driver looked after the diver as well as the syurface gang & Standby, this was the deepest or 2nd Big dock gates set-up in Europe, we changed them out in early Morning 2am with a Manitowoc Crane & the 'Mersey Mammoth' 600T Heavy lifter, my suit ZIP oened just before the job finished, (not nice water) but we hid it between Diver & Surface & got hauled out & wrapped into blankets!! .
Above the Carmarthen Parc pic is a pair of pics, u can see Orange Helmet as used cutting Coffer Dam on Loughor Bridge, then Yellow Kirby helmet used in Bristol Docks Deep Gates black water.
Above is 1963 at Carmarthen Park, more in the text beneath the string of pics, I am the most haggard standing one with a #3 Number on & I became the rider of the 500 JAP machine under George Bewley at far right front in the pic & had the frame 'diamond' part halfway down the straight at Stepaside track nr Saundersfoot. 'practically changed my outlook on life!!,
Beneath shows after I had left solos for 'Chairs' 7 June 1965 at Carmarthen Park Speedway as it was termed, machine still with Jeff Nunn's discarded forks, cast iron head, small valves, one pathetic carb, TRINOR ridden by self & Passenger Kenjo Ken Jones Owen Greenwood Built out of offcut tubing in Chassis to Mick wrecker Adams British Champion outfit measurements, using free tubing from Smokey Dawson the DMW boss who let me use his acct. in Monmore Green Tubing Co. (Smokey was going 'bust' & thought it worth getting my bike done first!). Owen Greenwood built that cooking motor to get us going, out of discarded bits at his workshop, he was surprised immenseley after we bagged a couple of wins & we were treated to 2 motors per yr from Owen & Roger Maughling built racing leading link forks as freebies to get us into the top league.
The bike after all was bought from a Llanelli Scrapyard as a crashed frame for a Fiver!, we had a couple of Welsh Championships & a good run in the British using this.
That haggard No3 rider standing almost centre of the Carmarthen Park pic, (a far younger me), I later bought that 500 Long stroke JAP ridden there by George Brewley of Pershore at far right, it's frame diamond parted when I was flat out down the straight at Stepaside Track & since I was always a Sidecar Passenger for Italian ace Luciano Rotondo, a decision to change to Sidecar Racing was reached whilst I tumbled thru the air amid roaring engine & spinning wheels, plus bits of hot metal & frame, it seemed a remarkably good idea!, 'Owen Greenwood built & tuned the Methanol fuelled TRIUMPH machine I rode, shown further on brought Welsh Championships (I must have been lucky & it was mostly thanks to the efforts of my passenger Ken Jones 'Kenjo') we were Champs a couple of times. That machine found me many many years later & a forlorn machine was found again about 22 yrs ago just as it looks in a pic with the 2 Eppynt Stored Cups on it, John Reeve actually gave it to me and would accept nowt for it.
That pic with 149 on the TRINOR and a waistcoat with 6 worn by me with back to camera was found by Dave Martin in New Orleans and sent here as a surprise, gladly received since it is of 43 yrs ago!! & the Trinor's very first outing at Builth Wells.
Now long gone Dai Purslove of Abercrave cut rusted chunks fm the frame sleeved joints internally then replaced frame parts & now I have my old racer without oil & grease in it (or my wife would assassinate me) leaning against the wall, near a bar in my front room, I'd be too scared to ride it nowadays anyway. & it has served it's time well & since that rusty crashed & scrap 1953 Norton 88 frame was bought for a fiver from Meyer Davies's Scrapyard at in 1964 Neville's Dock Llanelli, jacked straight using a Tangye 20 Ton Jack & offcuts of wooden railway sleepers I think it has been served well in return too & it would be demeaning to ride the 'old girl' on the road now.
I had walked away from driving the Methanol fuelled Machinery, after becoming Welsh Champ a few times, mostly with luck and the superb efforts of a Sidecar Passenger, the late & bloody great Ken Jones without whom I,d have been nowt. All change::::
A borrowed £30 train fare money from my Dad in a cold February let me use the 4 days 'Continental' shift layoff from Llanelli Steelworks, I spent the time traipsing around Diving Co's in a cold wet Aberdeen's Dyce Industrial Estate, 'to no avail, dressed in Fisherman's Polo neck woolly pullover, Donkey Jacket & Wellies with a long beard to boot, a Marks & Spencer plastic bag containing remnants of sandwiches which had ends upturned to allow contents inspection, plus a battery powered shaver to keep myself less than designer hairiness 'smart?', plus a toothbrush. (I slept rough in Aberdeen Railway Station on a rigid seat next to that Ornamental Artillery Shell there, 'with semi harmonious company of several shuggies! serenading all into the early hours).
Receptionists seemed to pity me & I was given several warm teas along with Coffee on my trudge around Diving companies, (Biscuits too!) none of whom had work on in the winter & my Fishing Boat however to be ready for 'the Season' had a list of repairs needed, it all called for money NOW.
I entered the flashiest last place I would be expected to visit, to discover a large American who looked like film producer shouting into a phone to "run them off now" "I'll supply new guys, good guys too, I furtively slipped my by now short, fake & very crumpled CV to the receptionist.
The tirade continued & eventually seemed slowing down slightly when a secretary perhaps to distract such an angry man pushed it gently beneath his gaze.
He turned sharply to me & asked can you weld underwater?, "no problem" came my reply, can you use Oxy Arc cutting?, again "no problem" was my reply, then, pointedly, he paused to ask me have you used Mixed gas for Diving? & when I said I'd breathe Oxy Acetylene if needed right now!, we all fell about laughing & that Secretary was Telexing on a machine I'd never seen the likes of before that a well experienced guy would be 'out there' for hire shortly & Aberdeen Airport was being contacted for a flight for me.
(thankfully my Passport was in my pocket since I had hoped to get offshore regardless of weather)
Have you had your Jabs? was the next question & Cholera etc too many to recall followed & the instructions to agency over the phone were amended to me taking a stop at Heathrow & appointments for the required bunch of 'Jabs' at the 24/7 Heathrow Medical Centre were to be followed by a flight onward in a TriStar to DUBAI.
Dubai sounded French to me, so wherezzat? was my casually directed relatively offhand question in case it was on the South Coast UK & my worried self plus non jet set clad messy fisherman's garb departed Aberdeen, travelling 'very very light' for Dubai.
I eventually woke up after a needed warm sleep to see white sands, blue water & sunshine beneath a plane preparing to land, an immigration guy of Hydrospace Int.. Company met me & steered me thru routes he had coursed many many times & a Indian driver then picked me up in a non air conditioned truck, drove to a dusty Sharjah office & yard. Briefly received there I left for the guest house where free tea & a fridge of goodies seemed available for all guests!.
At the office I was warned the Oilfield was bound for was the deepest in the Gulf & used gas mixes galore & was not THE place to aim for, after Crayfish Diving this was pleasure work.
The Job I finally went out to by helicopter after being spared for 4 days of bad weather had allowed me to rummage in a left behind garb cupboard which divers passing thru had discarded or dumped at the 'Guest House' & found flip flops (Indian safety boots) shaved my foot long whiskers off, (I closely resembled an Islamic Fundamentalist) I was happy to convey my building site winterwear 'travelling gear in exchange to that rubbish' & obtain a pair of 'Skiddies' pants, (swimming trunks) a couple of torn shorts along with teeshirts from a cupboard of discarded & long abandoned & left behind gear from Divers continually passing thru Hydrospace Guest House in Sharjah.
I did not have any money anyway! so meals there were welcome!. Browsing thru the Soukh (Bazaar) would always bring sweet teas from traders who knew you'd be back to buy from them when you had faloos Sub! to go out on the town!)
The multi national community at Dubai was who brought me to understand their versions of Suez, Palestine & such brought me to view our World far more considerately.
I was even taken out whilst stoney broke one night courtesy of Divers that had been out on an Oilfield Job a while & had money for incredibly cheap beer & Taxis.
A Night Club in the Basement of Jumeirah side of Dubai, Carlton was virtually a diver Work Exchange where all Oil Companies & related firms were known to hire goodies discard baddies & there were plenty of all.
Green Onions & Bakers Street with Jerry Rafferty always seemed to play there on the sound system for years long after my first visit.
I stepped from the helicopter & was just in time to do the last dip for the shift down a 'S' bend intake flow pipe to the Storage Tanker, mixed gas scuba depth, used with pleasure.
Mixed gas Deep Heliox & Trimix & Partial Pressures mixes, Diving Mubarak Oilfield was wonderful for me to work at.
Free Heliox loads of Trimix etc gas for great depths, beautiful big marine life I'd only see in Documentary Films, & that much needed sum to pay for the MV Lady Carol, my divingboat cum Crayfish Diving Vessel seasonal refit was made. My beloved boat refitted then & when decision time came was sold with bookings and I stayed on at Dubai, MV Lady Carol would have only managed to struggle through one more season fishing in the decaying condition I knew she was.
Llanelli Steelworks had by now close to shutting down & an explanatory telephone call I made from Dubai on the morning I should have returned to work there was a surprise to my by now ex Foreman & others, a helicopter trip to where I was to work had brought the big time home to me & yes, I liked it!.
Those Welding & Cutting divers I was replacing must have been far less useful and worse divers even than myself because I came to be a regular there and had hilarious events there, even playing two consecutive years in Dubai Sevens Rugby for Sharjah Wanderers RFC before the event went really big time, truth is I was far too old really and in the second team!, self esteem at last from schooldays when after disappointing my grandmother by failing to make the School Origami Team I had somehow blundered from being selected firstly in the 3rd yr Colts Rugby side straight into the 4th yr School Team.
One leave from Dubai to UK I was rather heavily bronzed, & flashy when I met a long term known gorgeous female creature whom I had never seemed to 'have a chance with', we somehow got talking, (I swear she was sorry for me!) & Playing Squash got into the discussion, "Oh I play" was blurted out as a fib by moi) & I was advised she had a court booked for the following morn.... I rapidly mooched raquet etc & had a quick check up on procedure with a mate that did play and turned up, to be quickly sussed out as a 'beginner' followed by more laughing, I did not have much more time on leave.
I had fallen for that still gorgeous leggy & ridiculously brainy Janet with whom I remain infatuated!, arranged to write & telephone & on return to Dubai/Sharjah the Squash courts at Sharjah Wanderes RFC (Rugby Football Club) were used repetitively & extensively, the divers who used the Club Bar & Rugby Players had always thought 'those squashers' were a bunch of pansies.
Anyway by next leave I was able to turn up to play Competitive Squash with 'my' Janet, very very much improved, we eventually married & went to live at Dubai where Jan just steamed ahead in anything she did, proving that schoolteachers are actually able to do other things as well.
I did make one mistake though, when I saw that slender, elegant catwalk type creature draped in an expensive Suede coat, with jet black hair in bunches gliding across the road from the Town Centre Gardens towards Tom Charles's tobacconist in Llanelli, I imagined her to be on her way to purchase Du Maurier or such flash ciggies but years later I found she had been delivering her dad's football coupon!!!, albeit clad in gear which had been purchased earlier that very day with virtually her entire college grant!!!
I confess I could not care whether she could cook or not!! Janet warned me when despite a huge time difference I woke her at her home in UK 'drunkenly proposed to her from a Dubai Gold Soukh phone box after buying a diamond to have her engagement ring made, that our lives would never be boring, & it never has been!!.
Moral of this story? Believe not all you see!. (she can cook anything superbly too).
Below you can see the outfit rarely rigged for left hand racing (anticlockwise circuits) which the Cardiganshire racers preferred since any English or fast guys wd be racing in a direction their machines were not set up for & Cardi's would get the prize money.
This time our machine was surreptitiously rigged during the week prior to race the same direction as the Cardi's, although we could not 'get it off the line like the locals' slowly we got by them to the front & yes we took their prize money as a result.
Below you will spot a Penclawdd Crofty 1966 Grass Track Racing Programme, Swansea Club, this was found in 3011 Nov. by Roy Thomas ex official of Swansea Motor Club who was clearing his attic & felt this plus another couple of Progs. was worth sending on to me.
I had somehow atcquired the Welsh Championship for Chairs thanks mainly to the late Ken Jones my passenger to obtain such a piece of my record after all these years is absolutely delightful, especially since it was too hard and bumpy a course to fly away from scrambles outfits on in spite of the bumps Ken & I somehow won the races & prize monies there. Hence to Roy Thomas, HUGE THANKS FOR EVEN BOTHERING TO FIND ME & GET THE 3 Bob programme to me. (fancy paying 3 Shillings for a prog. to see a twit like moi!.)
Swansea Motor Club> A Great Club too held this Grass Track Event on what was the roughest & lumpiest I ever rode on, Grass Tracks I rode on elsewhere throughout UK were basically Speedway Tracks to allow machines to drift on.
Crofty at Penclawdd track was where which a Scrambles Moto Cross machine was better suited to I had to let the Scrambles machinery get away ahead of me and then at the only flat bend I must have alarmed some 'pic taker' by arriving at the corner, closing up at high speed, way far faster than the 2 leaders from Newport Mon. on Scrambles machinery then sweeping thru inside them, leaving them hardly any room & they wd have discovered they'd have been "shunted" had they blocked me, laying a nice long lead away from them, you can see the full lock on my steering passenger position & the back end hanging out in the drift. rather difficult Track for a few quid though!!!. BIG THANKS TO ROY THOMAS for allowing me link the prog & Pic. after all these years!
Our little Cactus just flowered, not a very frequent event!. below our families of Tadpoles assemble in one of out Wildlife puddles. No pumps to kill larvae etc in our ponds like the "Water feature lovers!) No Toxin in the Garden either, just plant a few more seeds just in case the slimies eat them.. Male frog (Fred) leapt away when I approached where he & the mother frog stood over their Tadpoles, it was mum frog stood her ground whilst I went indoors to collect a camera & she posed for a pic.
Since garden "Amphibians" population has increased, Newts Toad & Frogs have been eliminating any need to use Toxin, a shame avid gardeners (usually elderly) could not stop adding toxin each year since it is steadily raising soil natural level, raising water table toxin content affecting life in that too, 'still eating vegetables with absorbed contents.
Killing some slugs & snails seems the aim without thinking of the Birds that live on them plus making a huge gap in the chain affecting insects, worms etc..
A naturalist (not the ones that run around starkers) did advise us that Tadpoles shown in one of our 'puddles' loved to nibble the thicker cores of Lettuce & feeeding of such helped them develop, whether it is a 'wind-up' remains to be seen!!!
Not our garden, too many birds nests to attract Squirrels, Singleton Park give all types more space to exist & basically the birds take a second place around the central & Greenhouses & Tropical part of Singleton, however, just one packet of 'Monkey Nuts' helps feed mum first then the little ones come to follow for a nut or so. Late June 2007.
HISTORIC Motor Races Archive here has allowed us to produce CD's, with Land Speed Records Attempts, Sand Races from 1920's over 480 mostly unpublished pictures researched with background text to all £20. & £2.50 Postage.
OR if you would like a CD of the ISDT again with 600 plus images of the Olympics of Motorcycling, International Six Days Trials Held here in WALES from 1933, an ARCHIVE compiled by myself you can obtain what results from 20 yrs of expensive research here @ £20 per CD plus Postage £2.50 it contains covering text with around 600 rare genuine original images, again it is in website form and can be used just like a website from the CD anywhere in a PC or Laptop without wifi.
Also those Races in Wales at Pendine (which was far from the most used venue) plus Fairwood Airport, Southport Sands, Aberavon Beach, Broughton Bay Clyne Valley, Singleton Park, Pembrey (Cefn Sidan) Beach, Penclawdd's 16 Wrecks in one calm night has coverage, Carmarthen Park Speedway, again JAP Vincent Brough Superior Excelsior Zenith McEvoy Norton BSA Rudge Velocette Scott Ariel AJS Matchless & there are even rare pics of the Italian ISDT Team at Eppynt TT Course in 1949 ISDT Speed Trial.
ISDT CD has over 600 images & can be used anywhere in a Laptop without wifi, Operating just like a website plus ID text and tales are well worth £20 & £2.50 Postage.
Our Angel's Trumpets Flowers survived to open!, above that our Sunflowers survived the storm , the taller does not even have a flower yet & 'a couple of larger ones here as well. Below is just one the beaches we can walk to, ranging from where the pic was taken by Janet Isaac on a tichy digi camera westwards into Pwll Ddu bay, that is the Welsh Language term for Black Pool, I think we can Just make out Lundy Island on the horizon & the Bays on the Gower Peninsula are just too many to mention, Gower was the first ever First Area of Outstanding Beauty in Britain & the coast runs Westward into where the Gulf Stream touches Wales from Carmarthen Bay West & Underwater Wildlife Changes.
View below, another of Janet's Digi from her handbag shots! a view from a Coastguard Hut above Martins Haven looking at Skomer & Skokholm, Ramsey too, with Grassholm Tern Colony Island, Hats & Barrels reefs plus the Smalls Lighthouse & Ireland over the Horizon!, that whole area, for years I Wreck dived & Crayfish Dived to make a living, before jetting off to Oilfield etc.
That little channel between mainland & Island is the dreaded Jack Sound which runs at 8 knots when in full flow and does nothing to conform to normal tidal patterns so does the Goose Race outside those Islands where loose Dice rocks of 20 x 20 metres or so perch at slack water, on loose small rocks, a sight I never expected.
Wrecks abound & those locations even within sight from the picture point are too numerous to mention!! (Or I'd rather not tell?).
As a lad I became fascinated with a TV to see Old Robert Newton portrayed weekly as Long John Silver stand hugging a primitive wooden Crutch! (not his groin by the way!!!) with his good leg somehow hidden away beneath a tatty tailed coat, with a loyal plus (house trained or nappy clad!) Parrot 'Captain Flint! perched on his epaulettes clad shoulders to enthrall youngsters with Piratical tales & tones in Treasure Island programmes, starting with>: "Sailors tales of sailors tombs, storm and adventures, heat and cold, maroons & buccaneers & buried gold", all enthralling to myself, fascination too as his loyal 'gunner' Israel Hands, plus a talkative crewmember with a steel hook for a hand constantly being talked down with "stow ye'r gab ironhand"!. (If a Pirates Union had then existed & a shop meeting calling for a show of hands or hooks wd have political difficulties)I lived practically alongside a series of Llanelli Docks & watched Gus Jones Diving in the Brass helmet 'Standard Gear' about those docks which I imagined to be enormously deep, I later ended up from time to time doing a diving job for the same man and many more companies about the World. There are Old Divers & Bold Divers, few OLD BOLD DIVERS, & in the beginning I was ridiculously bold & foolish, trying to show cleverness though boldness, as time passed by the sense in not being too bold was increasingly brought home by unexpected & drastic mishaps to so many I knew of 'in the Trade!. If it can go wrong? it will!.
(Health & Safety nowadays probably called for a safety line from the yardarm & wd suggest Long John probably needed a non slip suction pad on his wooden leg stump when on deck on anything above force 3 on the Beaufort scale to remain aboard the Hispaniola.)
A West Coast Long John Saliva accented ending of that programme introduction with a particularly bloodcurdling & hearty cry of "Aharrr, so be it, & faall orrff". probably stemmed from Robert Newton's finacial exploits imagining a taxman walking the plank, it encouraged some Treasure Chest lust in me & made me always want to be a diver, otherwise I have no real excuse!!
September each year those inacessible by foot coves over the mainland cliff edges facing towards Skomer become shielded from prevailing Sou'westerlies & Grey Seals Mums give Birth to their snowy white pups here, their Cries are touching to hear, we go frequently to see them grow, a month gets them huge & their colour gets scruffier, dirtier plus mottled white & another month will get towards days they get closer to becoming adults & have to fend for themselves. The 'Mums' feed them and feed them repeatedly, it all comes to an end to restart circa Sept next year, so very nice to see.
I found this picture & of Milford Docks I think that Drifter? Trawler is the Lowestoft Registered AQUARIUS, one of the vessels (Lady Carol, Transit, Vigilant etc I worked from as a Crayfish Diver for a share of the catch, (my share wd be 60% of the total worked out by the number of actual 'fish' which I brought aboard) 40% of the total catch value went towards food accomodation & air pumped into cylinders & vessel cost!.
We wd sail out past those Skomer Skokholm Ramsey Grassholm Islands until we were over the horizon from them on The Smalls, Hats & Barrels reefs which rose on the way to Ireland. (I must have been really daft!) 'pic below shows the Fish Market circa WW1, I swear it looked just the same in the 60's to 70's when I boarded the Crayfishing vessel outside the Docks at the Mackerel Stage!.
Those brown Crayfish Crawish Langouste you would see in tanks at seafood rstaurants in Spain Portugal France etc largely came from Cornwall, Pembrokeshire, the population of those poor harmless things is being decimated & you would never see me harming or eating one now, they live for many years, a large fish can be 40 yrs old, it takes a long time to keep their numbers up at all, they and much else need to be saved from the way the seas are being polluted & overfished.
Standard Diving gear, fashionable for folks to claim they loved the gear & impress people that they were experienced oldies, basically if no other stuff was around to use I suppose it could be ok & without audio communications nobody knew what you were up to or narcose anyway.
Later Standard Gear had audio comms. & not all that bad for harbour work, however when lighter equipment came into use the Standard Gear stuff was just too cumbersome & costly to set a prompt job up.
For Oilfield work & work on ships? useless & time consuming, get buoyancy well adjusted for the conditions with valve adjusted & you wd not get washed away & the air around you actually kept a lot of the Cold water from cooling you.
Fine when what needed to be done was sluggish! & welding & oxyarc work in black water though could be much more risky than using Kirby Morgan or the made to measure rich diver's Savoie,
The picture below, kindly sent to me by a Welshman in New Orleans, it becomes more than just a touching scene since it was taken May 1941 pic showing the HOOD leaving PLYMOUTH to chase down BISMARK, HOOD was Lost with immense crew loss figures in the process which add to my views on stupidity of wars.
In the foreground, the Sunderland Flying Boat, again, AT THE MOUNTBATTEN BASE, memories of when I was an Air Cadet, with only 3 engines working properly it what seemed like the length of the entire Haven to get airborne!.
P.S. I only joined to be able to fly Gliders for free, even if they were the old side by side Sedbergh flying barges of wood plus flapping canvas.
When diving for a number of firms in Milford Haven & Pembroke Dock I came to go down on obstructions Dredgers kept hitting, 2 of which were Sunderlands which had 'gone missing' from & with ther moorings,one near Castle Head was quite shallow,the remains of a Sunderland & it's engines were still there as chunks, whilst the other side of the Haven nr Freshwater had remains of a Sunderland with engines (Bristol Pegasus?) causing the dredger to meet stuff it could not raise with it's buckets. Down below our Angel's Trumpet has opened in the Greenhouse (Brugmansia in spite of winter being 'on us'.
Storm blew away our Greenhouse, my Janet replaced it with what looks to me like a TARDIS!
DIVERS?, when enjoying sport diving & believing they could do all this plus get paid for it is attractive, whilst when you have to go 'places' you do not wish to or are 'dodgey', feelings change, all jobs are set up with a bunch of the divers available THEN?.
All swear to be doing it for the Money, from the time I was hired initially on Trainee wages it seemed so dead easy to do and far better than working in a steelworks.
Divers when offshore for long spells even in War Zones had been detoxed of the booze & found piles of money to 'sub' from the moment they hit the beach for their 'run ashore' when they 'came in' or a job demobilised!.
My own hate was that surveying of mined & missile struck vessels I seemed always called for to cover as a 'specialist', Oilfield casualties were plentiful, never made news from isolated locations, soldiers nowadays have my sympathies, whilst the Government types who send them there are the lowest I can think of.
Expensive premises & bars frequented, rarely well dressed, divers tended to go missing & got onto planes, into jails etc..
Trainee to dependable diver on mixed gasses & who could report fluently & accurately to support Video & still underwater camera operations, plus being able to use explosives , weld & Arc cut underwater etc., in 4 months I became approved for Salvage operations Classification Societies & US Navy 'quiet work'.
I somehow & to my total surprise rose progressively & ended up quickly via Supervisor, then Superintendant & shot past assistant Manager to Manager of The Oceaneering's only Worldwide Shipping related working Branch, based in Dubai.
I just happened to be in right spots & could actually write accurate reports only on what I actually saw & encountered.
Divers? I swear that if an average Diver found 3 canonballs he would lose one break one and still take one home to UK to show the missus!.
Before my wife came out there, when I would get off the flight UK to Dubai knowing another 4 months was ahead, find a parked company vehicle in the Car Park, (always unlocked out there,) then start it up & throw a proverbial wobbly, to find a tape start up of John Denver singing 'I'm leaving on a jetplane!', many of us used to leave that tape in the vehicle tapedeck to annoy whoever was incoming for 4 months! tapes were cheap at circa £0.75 in the Soukh/Bazaar anyway.
Divers, they largely seemed to have difficulty avoiding sqandering money, buying transport they dreamt of then ruining flash motorcars, falling out with wives whose patience ran out, girfriends who thought they could change wild people for the better! & were too soft with them, 'high percentage of Pro Divers were just like permanently naughty but not nasty boys.
Even in the years managing at Dubai, there was a Jim Suit under cover in the workshop near our retail shop in the yard which I never had ambition of using. (That is not me or my bunch in the pic!)
It was far better letting the scooby doo lads buying diving equipment from our stores shop get their pictures taken in, truth is I'd have been scared of the bloody thing & anything else used so rarely, Oceaneering aquired the rights circa 1975 & JIM was after Jim Jarrett the inventor/user, we later had a Wasp part propelled version which I was even more scared of, can you count on the surface vessels Equpiment & Crane? & deckcrew?, no!, I've seen too many mess-ups!.
Oceaneering bought Hydrospace Int & their Equipment & somehow me & the 2 man 'open top' (looked like one of those 2 man Torpedo things!) Submarine sold to them was later sold on to 'a local' & on the Pre sales Demo in a Fishing Village Harbour not far from the present day smart Hotel I remember Joe Carty & another 'intrepid' demonstrator promoter floating about upside down in the darn thing until we retrieved it and they'd scuba'd out
I believe 'JIM' System was sold to 2 x WW's Wharton & Williams Diving Co.
N.B. their emblem/logo was crossed Anchors & subsequently at least within the Trade, they became quickly were referred to as "the Two Anchors".
When pronouncing the above beware of allowing "W" sound to last too long, that was the habit within 'the trade'.