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Saturday, 22 December 2012
The Sahara Campaign PDF Print E-mail


Some of you, who were early SO members might have come across something that was referred to as "The Sahara Campaign".

This took place in the late summer of 1967 in Las Palmas.


The Avon River had been up on the slipway for a while and Hubbard wanted to make some major improvements. The wooden mizzen mast was removed. This was a very funny episode. We had Spanish artisans working on the ship and one of them was on top of the mast unbuckling some metal shackles. His mate was on the deck with a saw trying to cut the mast down. The guy up top started yelling at him and probably used some "industrial language" brcause the guy below furiously got to work with the saw. The guy up the mast began throwing tools at the guy below, who responded with greater effort to topple the mast. We were in helpless laughter at this until we realised that the mast could fall anywhere.

We wrestled the sawman away and allowed the guy up the mast to climb down, at which point, screaming (apparant) obscenities at the sawman, grabbed a hammer and began chasing him around the deck, down the gangway and off up through the yard.

About the same time Hubbard wanted the ship to be sandblasted down to bare metal. This took some weeks. We lived amid piles of gritty sand that got everywhere. It was VERY hot during the day and at night several of us simply slept among the sand.

Hubbard, on conducting a tour of the freshly sandblasted ship noticed streaks of rust down the aft side. John, who was with him on the tour, was asked what he thought they may be. Talk about a MWH ! John, who looked exactly like Bluto from the Popeye comic series was a sight to behold. Several of us who knew what had been going on were "hanging around" listening. It was hysterical. John was trying to be blase about it, promising to investigate the matter and Hubbard looking directly at him asking if he was sure he had no idea how they got there.

Bob Smith, who had started a relationship with the office girl from the boatyard office had the Bosun's locker to clean. Hubbard, having expressed his disapproval over the relationship (Bob and the girl actually got married) went to extraordinary lengths to try and find some way to fail him. Finally he found a pulley block that had a little dust deep inside the wheel. His face was beaming that his efforts had produced some dust on his glove.

Virginia Downsborough was the cook. Her cleaning station was the galley. Virginia ordered Smokey Angel to clean her galley for her (as well as doing her own cleaning station). Hubbard came in and found a whole panel covered in grease. "Flunk" he said to Virginia. This was funny because Smokey passed her own inspection. Virginia could hardly say that she had ordered Smokey to do hers as well.

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