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Saturday, 22 December 2012
Corfu PDF Print E-mail
I arrived back on board in the late summer and due to a "misunderstanding", in Edinburgh, I was on the deck force. Within a very short time I became Bosun and quickly conspired to have the 1st Mate, Joe, removed. Joe was a nice guy, but a real shit to work for. So I got all dressed up and happened to "bump" into Hubbard on the A deck. Joran Robertson, who was MAA and wanted to become 3rd Mate was also along with me, all dressed up. Hubbard looked at us and knew something was going on. He said "Well, what are you after?" I said he needed a good 1st Mate. He asked if I could do it and I said yes. He turned to Joran and said " Well, what is your pitch?" Joran said 3rd Mate. Hubbard asked what would I do with Joe, so I told him to put him on the missionaries unit. He chuckled and told us we had the jobs.

It is important to comment on the crew. We were a great bunch. We had FUN. It was exciting, it was like being on the start of a great adventure.
As 1st Mate I was head of Port Watch. Ron Pook, 2nd Mate was head of Starboard Watch. Our duties were 24 hours on, 24 hours off. My deputy, and junior, was Norman Starkey. When we summoned the watch for muster, out of 102 people, we usually had 100 turning up. Diana was on my watch. The Aides were usually excused muster, but often took part. We did drills, practiced damage control, fire drills, collision drills, learned navigation and generally became less of a liability at sea.

When we took liberty, quite often 70-80 of us would book into a hotel and take it over. We ate in the restaurant and took over the band. Norman got the drums and we has a real bash. We were fond of smashing crockery and it was hilarious to see the waiters flying around totting up the plates, cups, bowls that got thrown. At the end we would ask for the bill and between us we would settle our account. They loved us coming.

Most of the crew got laid, most got really drunk, there were no real upsets and we got it all out of our systems. The next morning we trooped our way back on board and got on with our work.

Alongside all of this was the work necessary to prepare the ship for an Atlantic crossing. The first big problem was one of fresh water. Hubbard had initiated the "Tank Project" before I arrived. Here crew were forced to lay on their backs, in quite claustrophobic conditions and chip the salt water tanks to prepare them for conversion to fresh water. This was quite an ordeal for them and many suffered terribly . Hubbard was uncaring, he wanted the job done. A contract crew came in and sprayed a plastic coating on all surfaces. Unfortunately, they did a crap job and the plastic began to fall off. I was the one who had to tell Hubbard.

I remember going into his office and he was sitting at his breakfast side-table with a bowl of coffee. He didn't use cups as this cooled the coffee more quickly. I had worked out a plan to repair the tanks at a reasonable cost. When I showed him the plastic Hubbard burst into tears. He cried like a baby and was in complete despair. I showed him the material I had on how to fix it, presented my report which he instantly approved, wiped his eyes and switched back into "Commodore" mode.

As 1st Mate, I was responsible for the ship's hull and structure. We had a whole raft of job to be done, including the building of a chartroom (see thread "Something Smells"). Hubbard was still fixated on discovering buried treasure and we had 2 landing sleds on the aft deck for such activities. (see thread "Loot").

On several occasions Hubbard would sit down with me on the lift rafts on A Deck where he would chain smoke his ciggies and we would talk all night. He had the duty messenger standing out of earshot and he outlined his goals and dreams. Hubbard often said that lying was havingness. He said this on level 2 of the Briefing Course. Whatever Hubbard yarned on about, you had to be prepared to take it with a pinch of salt. He would rip someone's character apart when they were not there and be absolutely charming to their face. I have no doubts at all that he really slagged me off after I left the ship to return to the UK.

Hubbard had been deeply upset by the mauling in the press, the British Government's banning him, his humiliation in Rhodesia and a non acceptance by those he considered his peers.

His attitudes changed, both toward the crew, the public and the rest of the world.
About this time we began to prepare for the new Class 8 Course.

The Class 8 Course.
In about June 1968 I was in Edinburgh helping Bill Robertson set up the AO. Hubbard had originally asked Otto to prepare the materials for a Class 8 Course. This was never completed and Hubbard had Otto pass it up the line to me, as senior tech terminal, to complete.I must admit I did not have a great deal of interest in doing this. I had always declined putting my name to any tech materials and told Hubbard that I felt it should come from him. He accepted my point, but was still a bit pissed off at me for passing his hat back to him.

Around August, Hubbard received reports from Pam Kemp concerning innovative rehab procedures they had been doing on people with drug highs. Coupled with this was the emerging influence of drugs and their apparent effect on case gain. Hubbard gaily took Pam's work and subsumed it into his own creation. This was a common thread with Hubbard; receiving info from someone and calling it his own development. I remember Alex Sibersky telling me later on, that at dinner one night, Hubbard proudly told them he had made an amazing breakthrough on the subject of drugs. Alex and the others were dumfounded as they all knew it was all in Pam's report, but who was going to contradict Hubbard?

In addition to this, Hubbard introduced new review procedures for upper levels, a new "Green Form", assessment lists, a rewrite of the listing procedures and addressing former practices. These were some of the new tech introductions. We prepared a course space and materials got in for the students who had been summoned to the ship. Hubbard decided that all the students should wear bright green overalls, brown, open-toed sandals and wear a rope cable tow around their neck. (This last being a masonic symbol).

I have covered a lot of the detail and the overboard procedures in the thread The Overboard Ceremony.

The tech trained members of the crew were to attend the live lectures along with the students, which were held nightly in the B Deck Lounge.I remember Hubbard going on about how exterior he was, how he could see the harbour, how clear it all was. In the meantime, those of us who were sitting there, looking through the windows behind him could see this dirty great ship passing by VERY close to us!

What I can tell you is that these students were continually in a state of fear. At the end of the course there was an exam. However Hubbard ruled that two students would, for their exam, c/s a case file and deliver the c/s to successful completion without any flubs. John Parselle and James Hare took up the challenge and both passed.



 
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