FARNHAM GRAMMAR SCHOOL/COLLEGE 1972-
I don’t really like talking or writing about myself so usually don’t. I’m not sure I’m that good at it either but Mike Mehta has asked me to provide a few words about what I’ve been up to since leaving Farnham College in 1979, having been one of the final year’s intake at Farnham Boys Grammar School in September 1972. So here we go.
The summer of 1979 was something of a disaster in terms of A level exam results. I had no interest in going on to university and so lost motivation and spent a lot of those last two years at F.C. wondering what the hell I was doing there. Just before sitting the exams I’d managed to line up a job at British Aerospace but the bad results meant I lost it before I’d even started it. That led to a year at Brooklands Tech re-
After 3 years of training at sea and at college and a lot of exams I gained my first junior license (or Certificate of Competence to give it its proper name) in 1983. After gaining the required sea time as a junior officer and after two more sets of college time, some fire-
Over the years I have worked for quite a few companies sailing mostly, but not exclusively, on tankers of all descriptions ranging in size from 1,800 tonnes to well over 400,000 tonnes. Shipping lines that I have worked for include Oil Majors like Shell, Mobil and Saudi Aramco plus a few other famous ones like Cunard and P+O. I have traded literally worldwide for the majority of the last 38 years and presently work for Stena, the Swedish company that you might know as a ferry operator. I work for them in their international tanker fleet. My present charge (as of now, Apr 2018) is called Stena Supreme, a suezmax tanker of about 160,000 tonnes that trades on the spot market and so tramps around all over the world. I have been tied to this ship with my back to back partner (a Croatian Captain) for the last 5 years since it was almost brand new, working on a more or less 3 months on, 3 months off basis. As I am writing this we are anchored off Rizhao in China waiting to go alongside and discharge a cargo of Castilla Crude Oil. We had a long 7 week voyage from Covenas in Colombia where the cargo was loaded, through the Caribbean, round COGH and made a brief stop at Singapore to load some fuel and stores and change a few crew. I flew out to Covenas to pick up the ship after a few months off. I’ve no idea yet where we will be when I am due to come back home but knowing my luck it will require another long-
The job has afforded me a lot of personal freedom and up until the age of about 40 I was a typical “Jolly Jack”. Up until that age, apart from a motorbike that lived at my parent’s house, I could fit all of my worldly possessions in a suitcase. And with that suitcase I spent most of my time off ship also travelling around the world (hence no-
I often wonder how my life would have turned out had I got good A level results and ended up working for British Aerospace. I might well have forged a successful career there but I’m sure I wouldn’t have enjoyed anything like as many adventures as I have done. Being a seafarer isn’t so much a job as a way of life. I feel privileged to have been able to see so much of the world. The real world, not the touristy type world that most people are limited to seeing. And also, to meet so many people of different backgrounds. I’ve lived and worked alongside people of all colours, nationalities and creeds. Often, I am the only Brit present in whatever team I am working with. When I look back I can’t help feeling that messing up those exams in the summer of 1979 was actually one of best things that has ever happened to me, though it felt a bit worse than that at the time. And incidentally, if anyone is wondering, I passed my A-