The Call of the Sea

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Allready as a little boy the water had a strong attraction on me. How often I got punished when I was a toddler, because I came home with one clog, the other was floated away in a ditch, where I was using it as my little boat. If I went to the beach,  each time again I was shattered by the vast line all the way along on the horizon, then looking out to sea and thinking that there was other countries beyond that line. And I made up my mind that I'd make the sea my ultimate goal. After that I used to go to the lock's of IJmuiden and look at the ships and I used to look at their sterns - Oslo, Liverpool, Buenos Aires, Lisboa, Hong Kong - all the names of  the ports where they come from. I used to see the seaman walking about the deck. And I used to think how lucky they were to be on those ships, going right across an ocean to the other side of the world. And I dreamed of the moment I would be old enough to enjoy them.
And my dream came true , after the primary school , I thought it would never ending, I went to the higher-grade school, but because I was more near the locks of IJmuiden, as at home making my home work, and only learned my English lessons, because I needed it for a seamens-career(so I thought), I'll be kindly requested to leave  after the fearst school year, because it was a waste off their time, and my fathers money. And there I stood, too young for sail, and no training. I went to a technical school and got after two years my certificate. The day after I went to the office of Wijsmuller Towing & Salvage Company, in IJmuiden   

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The Wijsmuller Office, at Sluisplein , IJmuiden
on the foureground the tug Nestor.

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The oceangoing tug Zeeland on the  Wijsmuller jetty, left the Nestor

I'll never forget my first conversation with the "contractor of he crewmembers",  Mr J. Buis ( By the people called "red Buis" because of his red hair). When I asked him for a job on one of their ships, he asked me, does your mother knows that you are here?  Of course sir! I said. That's what they all say, he answered me, but it will not be the first time, that some mother came here to take her son back home, because she didn't know he was on one of our ships. When I convinced him that it was o.k, I was accepted, and I should start as 'deck-boy' on one of there coastal tugs. He send me to the water bailiff, to get a seamans-book, and  I must be tested to get a certificate of medical fitness, when I had arranged that , I could begin.

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my seamensbook of 1963, it has served untill 1985

And so on a friday afternoon in oktober 1963 I entered  the tugboat"Nestor" at the port of IJmuiden, and my seamans career was started. In the harbour-service we worked one week on -one week of, from friday till friday, at 16.00 our the crew relieved, if the ship was at sea for a coastal trip or a salvage job, we got relieved by arrival at IJmuiden. My wages were fl 127,-  gross a month.  and the feedings on board we had to buy self.
The tugboats which be found mostly in  the IJmuiden harbour were the Titan , Simson , Hector , Stentor and Nestor and the two specific harbourtugs Assistent and Cornelis Willem.
The tugs were mored very close to the harbour-entrances and the North Sea. In the Head Office there was a radio receiving service on duty day and night. So the tugs are proceeding to distress positions in the shortest possible time. the tugs are especially designed for salvage work on the Dutch coast, although they are able to undertake long distance towages as well. They are classed 1-3/3.S deep sea and C.P. Burreaus Veritas. The dimensions are 98' x 25'-8" x 13'-. The propulsion installation consists of two Bolnes diesel motors, giving a total-output of 1200 I.H.P. These motors are coupled to a fluid coupling with seperate reverse gears geared to the single propeller shaft by a reduction gear. The bunker capacity of the tugs is such that they have a range of 4500 miles without having to call at intermediate ports for bunkers. The towage-equipment of the tugs consists of 4Ż" circ. steel wires of 200 fathoms each and nylon springs 9" circ. and 30 fathoms long. Powerful hydraulic capstans are fitted on the afterdecks to handle these ropes. Further the tugs carry a large supply of nylon springs, wire pennants, steel wire ropes, chains, smaller ropes, warping lines, tackles. The tugs are equipped with electric searchlights. For making connection under bad weather conditions, line shooting rocket pistols are available. The tugs are manned by crews of 12 including one or more wireless operators and are equipped with modern navigational aids, such as radar, wireless direction finder for telegraph and telephone. The radio equipment consists of modern installation for wireless telephone with extraordinary long range. For salvage work the tugs are fitted with extremely powerful 5" fire pumps. The pumps deliver water under high pressure to a distribution box with connection for 6 firehoses. The pumps may also be used as suction pumps. For draining smaller quantities of water portable pumps are installed. Normally the tugs carry two portable electric submersible pumps, necessary hoses and piping and oxyacetylene cutting and welding plants and diving gear..

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The Nestor with on the background The 'Hoogovens' steel-works, IJmuiden

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IJmuiden, on the background the North Sea, the piers and
the beach, upperleft the fishingports ,  in themiddle the
three Locks,  the gates to the Northsea canal and on
the right Hoogovens Steel-Works

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The Hector assist the Stad Alkmaar from the North Sea to the locks

Not only oceantowing, but also harbour towage is an important part of Wijsmuller's activities. For this purpose some of our tugs are permanently stationed in IJmuiden for rendering their services to vessels. These services are made to a lot of offshore material entering or leaving the locks or to the ore carriers destined for the outer harbour of the 'Hoogovens' steel-works.

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The Stentor assist an ore-carrier into the harbour of the Hoogovens steelworks

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the Stentor, Hector  en Nestor assist a tanker to the North Sea

In this period, I served on the Nestor, Simson, Hector and Titan, and was involved by the next trips and salvages: On board the Simson we refloated  Januari the 5th, 1964, in co÷peration with the Titan and Nestor the  near IJmuiden grounded  Sil ( 7173 ton ) . Assist on 18th januari the oceangoing tug Gelderland with the salvage of the Coalhulk, and assist this ship to the  Nieuwe Rotterdamse Waterweg.  On 17th februari refloated together with the de Titan , a dredginbarge from the South pier at IJmuiden, were she was grounded

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Above the Simson and under the Titan on the high sea

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In the end of February I became with the Titan , to relief the tug Zeeland, stationned at Mounts Bay, near Penzance. We sailed out for the near Par grounded Kerksingel. But this ship refloated by herself. Therafter we proceed to a position 80 miles S.W. of Lands End were the Viking has damage with her engines. Also this ship managed herself. Then the report came, that the coaster Jan Brons was grounding on the rocks near  Dunmore East. After inspection, the conclusion of our salvage inspector and the captain was, that the Jan Brons must be considered as lost .  Meanwhile  the wireless operator of the Titan made a contract on basis of Lloyd's Open Form (no cure-no pay) with the Spanish vessel JosÚ Tartiere (2421 ton) , which reports engine troubles. The ship was towed to Milford Haven. Thereafter we entered the port of Brest  for bunkering , we proceed to the Belgian trawler Victoire Roger, which was grounded on the rocks near Longships. The ship appeared no more to be saved. On the end of march we got reliefed by the Gelderland and  went for Holehaven to tow a vessel to Rotterdam for breaking up. There after the Titan went back to IJmuiden.

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