The times they aren't a changin'

benjenbav

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A few days ago my mother sent me a book which she'd found amongst my late father's belongings and which she thought I might be interested in - I was!

It is called "A Manual of Seamanship" published on behalf of HMG and is dated 1943 (I think the edition is somewhat earlier, 1943 was the date my father had written inside the cover.)

What is striking is how much of it could have been reprinted with hardly any changes in Reeds 2011 edition. I suppose that's not surprising: the sea is the sea after all.

There are some interesting differences though:

The language is directed at operating ships rather than leisure boats and there's more about dealing with being struck by torpedoes and mines than Reeds tend to publish these days, of course, and a good deal about keeping personal gear properly stowed so that items of clothing or books do not block the pumps.

The buoyage was different then. But would be easily recognisable to a modern eye. Quite interesting to see how it has evolved into the current IALA/IALB.

The lettering flags were different too - that surprised me. I thought they had been the same since Nelson's day.

Colregs were similar but not in the current form. Throughout the book they are referred to as the "thirty one articles".

Oh yes, and five short blasts of the horn meant: "My engines are FULL SPEED astern"
 

Searush

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I think that might be a summary handbook produced for ratings. Officers were required to have detailed knowledge, but it was soon realised that if ratings didn't understand the reasons behind regs then they ignored them & a few ships were lost after landsmen volunteers had left watertight doors/ portholes open or by pumps getting blocked by rags/ magazines etc thrown in corners & washing into the bilges.

So a pocket book sized manual was produced & given to all conscripts on joining up so they would at least have the rudimentary skills to save the ship (& themselves). I'm sure I have a copy in my collection somewhere too. And a great read it is too.
 

benjenbav

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I think that might be a summary handbook produced for ratings. Officers were required to have detailed knowledge, but it was soon realised that if ratings didn't understand the reasons behind regs then they ignored them & a few ships were lost after landsmen volunteers had left watertight doors/ portholes open or by pumps getting blocked by rags/ magazines etc thrown in corners & washing into the bilges.

So a pocket book sized manual was produced & given to all conscripts on joining up so they would at least have the rudimentary skills to save the ship (& themselves). I'm sure I have a copy in my collection somewhere too. And a great read it is too.

My father was issued with the book which, as you say, is a pocket-sized manual when he was a sea cadet. He would have been 14 or 15 in 1943 and actually served in the army rather than the navy being conscripted in 1947.

It's a great read, as you say. I sat down to glance at it on Monday evening and when I next looked up it was 02:00 on Tuesday and the house was quiet because everyone else had gone to bed!
 

Gavin

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For those that are interested, there is a volume entitled "A Seaman's Pocket-Book June 1943" originally issued by the Admiralty and still in print (www.anovabooks.com, ISBN 10:184486037X). The introduction refers to the original Manual of Seamanship issued 1908-09. It's a cracking read!
 

Searush

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This is worth a read http://www.pbenyon.plus.com/B_S_M/Contents.html Naval Cutlass Exercise would come in usefull.

Excellent, thank you, it just so happens that I have a Naval Cutlass sheathed over the fireplace. I must get some drill practice in to impress the Grandkids - d'ya remember the scene from "Far From The Madding Crowd" with Terrence Stamp? Mind you, that was a Cavalry Cutlass to impress a lady, so I may need some adaptations. :cool:
 

grumpy_o_g

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I used to avidly read my Father's copy of the Manual of seamanship - that was a full-sized book so, as he was a CPO, I'm guessing he got hold of an Officer's copy. Certainly in the 70's there was very little in the 1940's manual that was wasn't applicable though the anchoring arrangements seemed a little over the top for Squib or Stella and I could never quite get the crew to dress the rails properly as we came into port.
 
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