29) M.V. Fort Hamilton (ZFCO) 14087 GRT 8000 BHP
Durban R.S.A. 13/4/78 - 29/5/79 Oshawa Canada (Nr Toronto)
30) M.V. Fort Hamilton Re-signed on articles.
Oshawa 29/5/79 - 29/8/79 Kuwait.
I flew out to Durban via Nairobi and Johannesburg, being met by an agent in Durban and taken to the ship. The other radio officer was picked up from the ship at the same time and taken to the airport, so I only had about a 20 minute handover. These short handovers were quite common as ships are often delayed or miss a tide, causing timetables to be compressed and then flights to be missed. A planned relaxed 4 or 5 hour handover frequently being compressed into 20 hectic minutes, with the agent hopping about looking at his watch and worrying about losing a flight.
The Hamilton was rather an interesting ship. She was small enough to get into the smaller ports, and was able to discharge herself with her own cranes. This made here a good candidate for charters to small out of the way harbours, or even discharging into barges in rivers. At various times prior to joining, I had contact with Phil ZS5RJ both from home and from various ships. We used this present opportunity to meet up. I also met up with a number of the Durban radio amateurs, one of whom (ZR5AE) took me around a local game park. I took part in a number of "bries" or barbeques, and generally was given a great time. It was the annual general meeting of the South African Radio League, taking place in Durban this year. I was invited as a guest and was made extremely welcome. One amateur, Ken Cousins, managing director of one the largest insurance companies in Durban (The Provincial I think), arrived on the quayside in a gleaming white Jaguar, and asked for me. This impressed the crew and junior officers no end! On leaving, I managed to maintain contact with the Durban 2 metre repeater for 3 days, a distance of around 1000 miles with a 2 watt walkie talkie from the bridge wing. I don't know if this is a world 2 metre walkie talkie DX record, but it must be a close second. There was a large stable high pressure system covering the area, and anomalous propagation was evident on the radar and the ships VHF R/T systems.
We discharged at St Johns New Brunswick where I met up with a friends wife, Donna and her two sons who used to live in Lahr, a town just down the road from where I lived in Germany. We had a nice trip over to Nova Scotia by ferry, and despite the bad weather, it was a very enjoyable stay. Then it was up the St Lawrence Seaway to Toronto.