27 MAY 1960 – SIGNING ON AT BANANPIREN
With a knot in my stomach and a ditty bag on my back, I examine the big ship and my prospects for the immediate future. A dark-skinned man appears, climbs down the ladder, shakes my hand and introduces himself as Emanuel Magao from Sierra Leone, chef on the Fryken. His smile makes the knot in my stomach disappear.
30 MAY 1960 – PAPER AND BRAVERY
We go from Gothenburg to Grangemouth loaded with paper. As in a loving reunion, the Fryken gently bobs against the swells of the North Sea. It feels good. I perform my duties well and I’m not seasick.
30 MAY 1960 – CORRECTION
I take it all back. The Fryken is no longer bobbing, she’s heeling and swerving while I fight against the forces of my stomach. Note to self: seasick – very disagreeable.
4 JUNE 1960 – ABROAD
For the first time in my life I’m abroad. In Grangemouth, England (sic.) to be precise. (Note: Grangemouth is actually in Scotland.) I’ve not had much time to look around so far, but I hope to get the chance soon. Unloading of the paper from Gothenburg went well. It’s heavy work and the crew frequently complain about the hard toil. I’m not jealous.
20 JUNE 1960 – ABOARD
Life aboard starts to feel normal. I can find most things and people don’t tell me off so much any more. I sleep on the crew deck and share a cabin with Hansson, a cadet from Lysekil. It’s crowded but pleasant enough. Our cabin is closest to the crew’s mess, which suits me fine. On the officer’s deck above are the kitchen, the officers’ mess and officers’ cabins. The final deck before the bridge is the captain’s. I haven’t been there yet.
24 JUNE 1960 – FRIENDS
I’ve made two friends on board, the chef Magao from Sierra Leone and Hansson the cadet. Hansson and I both enjoy listening to Magao’s tales from the seven seas. As I lie in my hammock I often wonder if I’ll get to see all the places Magao talks about. I hope so.
29 JUNE 1960 – COPENHAGEN
Denmark’s capital and we’re on leave. Hansson and I follow the rest of the crew to the nearest pub. The landlady looks at us for a while before deciding we can have a beer too. I’ll leave the rest of the story untold
8 JULY 1960 – RUN INTO
Today we were run into by a Norwegian when we were moored in Grangemouth. The Norwegian refused to accept liability and the captain was furious. In the evening we went ashore to the seaman’s mission and met father Landahl. After the church visit, most of the crew went off to the Captain Cook pub. Hansson and I went aboard to sleep instead. At about two in the morning I was woken by women’s voices. I forced myself to go back to sleep. Quickly.
14 JULY 1960 – STORM
I’m scared. The waves are lapping the porthole of my cabin and the Fryken is lying deep due to the heavy iron cargo from England. At one point there’s a horrible sound from the upper deck. It later turns out that the lifeboat suspension device broke from the force of the water. The captain makes the decision to heave to. This means we do not force the ship through the water, instead we stay put and wait until the weather improves.
17. JULI 1960 – AN LAND
Ashore at last. The crew and cargo made it to Odense. The officers appear grateful, and I am too.