Tuesday, 9 October 2007

MY STORY Chapter 6 - A life on the Ocean Pt 2 - Nova Scotia

The Rhondo at rest on the sea bed
I told you it was a small ship
Quite different to the large oil tankers that Alan was used to


Eventually after 21 days crossing the Atlantic we berthed in Walton, Nova Scotia. When I first disembarked from the ship I felt dizzy trying to walk on land after all the severe motion. Apart from the weather we had travelled with an empty hold which made the ship pitch and roll much more than a loaded ship.

Walton is on the Bay of Fundi and there is a 3 mile rise and fall of tide and at low tide the ship just sat on a base on the sea bed. This was great for catching stranded fish in the pools left behind by the sea. One visit I caught a Plaice (flat fish) with my bare hands. We travelled from Nova Scotia to Mexico and back once every month, calling in at different ports in both directions. We carried barium ore from the mines in Nova Scotia and Sulphur from the mines in Mexico.

Let’s go back to Nova Scotia for this chapter as I will be writing about other ports separately. Walton was a small mining community, just a few wooden houses, a General store and garage that I can remember. The people there were not used to having females on board so I became a bit of a local celebrity when I visited. The best time was when the high tide was too low for the ship to leave and we were stranded for a whole week. Not good news for the shipping company but fun for me. Alan and I were invited to a number of homes for dinner. These were all very enjoyable, except for the one where our hosts insisted on telling ghost stories and then started telling fortunes. We were not happy with this so left early.

The local shipping agent, Captain Hemphill, was from Halifax but he had to stay in Walton for as long as our ship was there. A year after we were back in London he actually skippered a replica of The Bounty sailing ship when it came to London from the States .It anchored in the Thames and at the time we did not live too far from the river. This ship was used for the film Mutiny on the Bounty and when visiting we met the star of the film Marlon Brando. Back to Nova Scotia.

Walton was the place where I had my first and only car accident. Captain Hemphill would lend us his car and on one particular day He told Alan he could let me drive. I did not have a license at this time. I drove into the forest on the only road through, a dirt track that had become rutted through heavy rain followed by hot sun. I got the wheels caught in a rut and through inexperience slammed on the brakes. We skidded, crashed into the supports of a telegraph pole and over turned into a ditch. The car was a Volkswagen Beetle and the same height as the ditch and we were not visible to the road.

We eventually managed to crawl out of a window. Alan was bleeding and I was hysterical, particularly as I had been driving. We waited at the side of the road for a car to pass, no mobiles then, and very few did in this part of the world. The first two just drove past, obviously not wanting to get involved with this weird looking couple shouting and dripping blood. Eventually a car, whose driver recognised us from the ship, did stop and he took us back to the ship.

The agent quickly organised a truck to retrieve the car. He was not at all bothered about his car just saying, “No problem at all as long as you pay to get it fixed” Quite a hefty bill. The customs man who was on board at the time took Alan to the doctor ensuring Alan took a bottle of whisky (this was a dry State) in payment for the Doctor stitching him up. Alan had to lie and be stitched up while the Doctor enjoyed his whisky! I kid you not.

Nobody reported the accident, it was that kind of a ‘back woods’ place and nobody thought that I might be in need of some attention for shock. One thing I particularly remember were the seconds before the car overturned and was out of control. My life to that point just flashed before my eyes like a film strip and I felt content and resigned to the fact that this might be the end. Obviously it was not, there was a lot more living to do.

We visited Nova Scotia once every month and became friends with the agent. He even brought his daughter and friend to keep me company sometimes in the school holidays and we corresponded for years. We would walk and swim in a flooded disused quarry.

If we were there over a weekend we were invited to the Saturday night country dance in a shack in the woods. Being a dry state no alcohol was officially allowed, but this did not deter the locals from making ‘hooch’ and stashing it under the building. We had never experienced a dry state before and it was enlightening to see how the locals dealt with it.

The worst offender was the Customs man. He would be given gifts of bottles of white rum bought in Mexico. He would leave the ship quite drunk and with his Customs bag clinking with bottles. He would say, “This bag belongs to Her Majesty so nobody can touch it”. When leaving the ship drunk we were told that he would drive until he hit a tree and would then just stay in the car and sleep it off.

All this was in 1960 so it could all be very different today.
On leaving Nova Scotia behind there is much more to tell so this sea voyage may take up a couple more chapters – so do come back

The Quarry

The Forest

With Canadian friends


Willow said...

I started reading just before I had to leave for work, but then I got to the part about your VW bug accident and I couldn't stop! What adventures you had. It seems like the local people were very hospitable.
We have our GB road atlas so I am also looking up places on that map; it's so interesting to me.

Vee said...

Barbara, your story has been a delight. Keep it coming! That quarry looks as if it was a marvelous swimming hole.

Sara said...

Hi Barbara, I'm just getting caught up on my blog reading . . . your story is always interesting. You look very lovely in these photos - and I can remember those fashions although I was only 10 in 1960...

Betty said...

I am mesmerized with the story ....you've lived quite an exciting life......continue on...Betty

Reflection Through The Seasons said...

Barbara... What an interesting story you’re writing, you’ve had some great adventures and I’ve loved seeing your pictures. You look lovely! Marion

Isobel said...

Hi Barbara,

I have missed you too. I have been really busy lately and found it hard to catch up with my blog reading. But as soon as I am back from my trip I will be more than interested in reading about your story. :)
Take Care.

Susan Kelly Skitt said...

What a cute shot of the two of you at the Quarry :) Wonderful!

Susie said...

Hi Barbara,
I'm enjoying each segment of this story you've written! Your VW overturning must have been so frightening...Thankfully neither of you was seriously injured.
You look lovely in all the photos!

Penless Thoughts said...

Been VERY involved and busy and just now catching up. I was horrified to think 2 cars passed you by without helping. Especially back in the 60's. We found the people of Nova Scotia to be so kind, nice and helpful.

I can imagine how you felt with wrecking the car. I would have been plagues with guilt for a long time at that age over something like that! I had the same type "entire life flashing before me" in an accident at age 14. It never leaves you and it is a hard thing to explain. Just ANOTHER something we have in common, Barbara!!

Love the pictures. Oh, how young we were back then :o)

You have lived a very interesting and exciting life. I am eager to hear more.

Teresa said...

First of all, you look so beautiful and so happy in these photo's. That quarry photo looks like such freedom and enjoyment. The alcohol stories sound so odd. You could not know how that would be unless you were there and saw it suppose. How awful about the car accident. I am so glad someone finally stopped. Barbara, this had to be such an exciting way to start a marriage. Good memories for you, thanks for sharing them.