How Did You Get Into the Merchant Marine?
A few days after my recent email announcing my upcoming book, No Ordinary Seaman, questions began pouring in. Rather than respond directly to the questions, I have decided to share them in the blog, and post them like a Q and A.
Following are some of the questions I have received, and my answers, most of which are excerpts directly from the book.
From the Introduction to No Ordinary Seaman
There was something of Norway in my blood and bones. I have always had an overwhelming curiosity about the Norsemen – past and present. And the sea too. As a child, I would daydream about the sea, even though I lived far away from it. I think I equated being Norwegian and being on the sea as one and the same thing.
Norway is the land of my ancestors, a small coastal country of hard granite and barren rock, where ancient mountains tower above deep blue-water fjords.
Havkatt was a medium size cargo ship, registered in Oslo, Norway. It flew the Norwegian flag. In September 1965, we transported grain from Vancouver, across the Pacific Ocean, to Tokyo. The crossing was seasick-rough for the first couple of days, then the long, rolling ocean waves calmed, and we settled in to learn about ship-board routines. We soon became accustomed to the ways of the Norwegian sailors – their food, their language, their lives at sea, and their behaviours in port.
No Ordinary Seaman is a memoir of the author’s days
at sea in the Norwegian Merchant Marine, 1965-67
In the mid-1960’s a young man, fresh out of high school in Vancouver, crews on a Norwegian deep-sea freighter in the hopes that it will take him to Norway, the land of his ancestors. His voyages on the Havkatt, across the Pacific Ocean to Japan, through the Panama Canal, and north to New York, are filled with personal explorations, adventure, and danger. He eventually arrives in Norway, and satisfies his dreams of finding his roots. But he is driven back to the sea.
This memoir takes the reader on the author’s journeys of discovery. His second ship travels routes from Northern Europe to Africa, the Suez Canal, the Persian Gulf, across the Equator, then over the Atlantic, back home to North America. The sea stories are filled with facts about the maritime industry of the day, and idiosyncrasies of the lives of sailors. The book is full of tales of rough waters and placid bays, all salted with wit and humour. It is a book that unravels some of the unfathomable mystery of ships and the lives of sailors at sea and in ports. The reader, at every turn of the page, will discover what it is like to be no ordinary seaman.