I have been on vessels of all shapes and sizes from rowing boats to cruise ships from battle ships to pleasure boats and from submarines to a Chinese junk.
You have already read accounts of my experiences on a paddle steamer, a foxtrot sub, a ferry boat, a kayak and some cruise ships, whilst there are still more yet to come on this A-Z challenge.
By far my most memorable journey on a boat however was when I took an ‘old tub’ from Hong Kong to Guangzhou in China in 1991. The following is an extract from my second ever post on this site entitled ‘A Slow Boat To China.’
There were certainly no modern conveniences to talk of. None of the plush bars, cafes, atriums or easily identifiable muster stations that one takes for granted on cross-channel ferries nowadays.
This did not auger well for my sleeping accommodation. My apprehension as to the condition I would find it in was indeed well founded.
The steward showed me to my bed – this just happened to be in a 100 capacity dormitory. There already seemed to be about 200 Chinese in residence, noisily chatting away whilst they ate their pungent meals, played back-gammon, groomed each other and participated in chain smoking competitions.
The smell and the noise were terrible – when one gentleman decided to clear his throat and empty the contents onto the bare floor right next to me, the decision was hurriedly made – there was no way that this Englishman was staying here tonight.
After some tough negotiating with the chief purser, $20 secured me an upgrade to the last free cabin – or so I understood.
When I eventually found my new bedroom, already in situ and snoring very loudly was an Oriental gentleman who occupied the lower bunk of the bed, which virtually filled the whole cabin.
In addition, what little floor space that had been available was now taken up with assorted packages and bags – possibly the incumbent’s entire worldly possessions.
Compared to the dorm, this was a palace, so I decided that this would probably be the best place on offer for the night.
My backpack securely placed in the only remaining space – on the hand basin, I clambered into the top bunk.
I stared at my backpack for a while, half expecting the sink to buckle under its weight, before I eventually slipped into a restless sleep.
Awaking at 6 a.m. in readiness for disembarkation, I found that my cabin mate and the assortment of packages had already disappeared. Not so much as a nod had been exchanged – so much for Anglo-Chinese relations.