It was interesting to read the story of Derek Panagakis, but
you are so right, there can be very few of the old Counties
men still treading this earth. I commenced my
apprenticeship on the 21st May 1947, joining the Samneagh,
in Hull, She had just arrived from the Far East under the flag
of Paddy Henderson’s. She was quickly repainted and
emerged as the Stamford Hill. There were four of us, one guy
named George Panyoutus, all as green as grass, but we
survived the course and all went onto different careers,
myself being the only one who stayed with Counties.
All three and a half years of my apprenticeship and a period
as uncertificated Third Mate was served on that ship.
I subsequently went on as Third and then Second Mate, serving onboard the London Banker, ex Tower Hill, Fir Hill, Fry Hill and finally the Wembley Hill.
It was whilst on the last ship that I first met Noris Jackson in Birkenhead, who had just left Mavroleon’s yacht the Radiant. In November 1955, I decided the future lay in tankers and so I moved across to LOF, firstly as Third Mate on the London Enterprise, to gain tanker experience and subsequently as Second Mate, then Chief Officer, finally obtaining command in 1962, relieving Captain Jaegar on the London Harmony at Brunsbuttell in the Kiel Canal. My late wife, Valerie, accompanied me on several trips, in fact we first met when she was a passenger on the London Resolution, bound to the Persian Gulf. When our first child arrived and then it was time to think of something else, perhaps.
In 1966, I decided to apply for a shore based job and I was fortunate to secure a position with The Medway Conservancy Board, where I stayed for the next 28 years, retiring as Harbour Master in 1992. A career spanning some 45 years connected with the water, with very few regrets. We decided to immigrate to Australia, in 2004, where our daughter was and still is, living, and here I now reside in a retirement village, outside of Sydney. I am 85 years of age, still do a daily power walk and the doc keeps telling me that I am fit as a fiddle. Sometimes the bones tell me otherwise.
I believe Counties gave me a good footing on the marine ladder, they were hard times, unpredictable, but a very good school to learn one’s trade; unfortunately ageing ships with very few modern navigational aids; I remember joining the Fir Hill , as Second Mate, to discover that she had a gyro compass and lo and behold no one on deck including the Master had been with a gyro, we went all the way from Hull to Greece with the thing partially on its side, I subsequently learned that I was supposed to precess it, I believe, when starting it off.
Captain Geoffrey Baskerville.