Author Topic: Welcome, Chris Shaftoe (1972-74)  (Read 1758 times)

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Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Welcome, Chris Shaftoe (1972-74)
« on: May 22, 2016, 10:00 PM »
... but this at the time was beyond my scope as I was only an Engine Room Boy at the time. (1972-74)

Chris, it is high time to welcome you to the Forum! Within just a few days, you have given us wonderful stories and memories and smiles which we would not otherwise have enjoyed.

Do keep them coming -- and of course enjoy the Forum and the companionship here!

Could you tell us a bit about how you came to be on QE2 in the first place?

Offline Chris Shaftoe

Re: Welcome, Chris Shaftoe (1972-74)
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2016, 04:56 PM »
Wow!! Thank you all so much for the much-appreciated welcome! :)

Could you tell us a bit about how you came to be on QE2 in the first place?

Well, the short answer to that is - blind luck!
But, as you can see, my name is Shaftoe, so the seafaring connection is pretty obvious. We understand that 'Bobby' Shaftoe (my ancestor) was an officer in the RN at the time of Nelson. Also, my great-grandfather was a Norwegian sea captain, so you might say the sea is in my blood.

When I was ten years old, I was fortunate enough to take part in an educational cruise on a converted troop ship called the Devonia (ex-Bibby line) in 1965. There were several of these ships fitted out with classrooms, and pupils from schools all over the UK would travel to many destinations for the simple reason that travel broadens the mind. The trip I made went to Copenhagen, Heligoland and Amsterdam, disembarking at Avonmouth I believe, though the memories are fading now. Suffice it to say that I was hooked!

However, the clincher, as they say, was not family history or my first sea voyage. What made up my mind was a well-known novel. I've been an avid reader all my life and nowadays write sci-fi novels. Even back then I was never without a good book in my pocket. My mother introduced me the works of Alistar MacLean and I absorbed these ferociously, that is, until I read HMS Ulysses - a blistering good yarn about a fictitious convoy to Russia during WW2. That did it for me! I wanted to go to sea, but not in the RN. I wanted to sail on merchant ships.

My father made some inquiries and came up with the possibility that I could sign up with BP tankers and my application was sent off early in 1972. At that time, however, it seems that BP's intake of trainees had been over-subscribed and though they were happy with my school achievements, they could not take me on. None-the-less, they took it upon themselves to pass my application on to Cunard and sure enough, Cunard not only offered me a position, but they selected me for the QE2!

Of course, my mother was over the moon - her son was joining the flagship of the merchant navy! To be honest, I knew very little about her at the time - the ship that is - not my mother - although everybody had heard of her and watched the launch on the TV. Had you told me back then I would eventually be sailing on her I would have said you were crazy.

After four months at The Prince of Wales Sea Training School in Dover (boot-camp for would-be seamen) I joined QE2 in September 1972. I was so skint at the time I had to walk from the railway station to Ocean Terminal and boarded QE2 with 50p in my pocket. By that first evening, I'd been given a cabin, 200 cigarettes and a bottle of rum - a traditional welcome for a first-tripper I understood at the time, and my adventure had begin.

Again, many thanks for the welcome. I'm very happy to be here.

« Last Edit: May 24, 2016, 02:23 PM by Chris Shaftoe »

Offline Cunarder Man

Re: Welcome, Chris Shaftoe (1972-74)
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2016, 08:08 PM »
Great notes Chris - looking forward to hearing of your times on QE2 - Welcome aboard.

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: Welcome, Chris Shaftoe (1972-74)
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2016, 08:42 PM »
What a fabulous beginning to your seafaring years!

Thank you for this great response -- and please continue to keep those memories coming :) .

Online Lynda Bradford

Re: Welcome, Chris Shaftoe (1972-74)
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2016, 10:46 AM »
Welcome Chris and thanks for sharing your wonderful story with us of how you started your seafaring career on QE2.  No comparison, a BP Tanker or QE2, I think you landed lucky. 

Looking forward to hearing more about your time on QE2. 

I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank


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