Alicante 1968


The Royal Scotsman was berthed in Valencia harbour ahilst the AO was on board. A planned visit by the US navy required that the ship be moved from it's berth alongside the main dock.

The manoeuvre to shift the boat went disasterously awry. Leon was Captain at the time. What happened was that as the ship reversed, orders communicated between the bridge and the aft crew got garbled, the result being that the ship backed into the outer harbour wall, bending one of the propeller blades.

Hubbard was on the Avon River screaming and swearing in fury as the Royal Scotsman drifted past her into the wall. Hubbard's temper was not helped by one of the Avon's deckhands (Sam) trying to wash the deck with fuel oil, rather than sea water. (He had connected the hose to the erong hydrant connection). I do not think I have ever seen Hubbard quite so upset and incoherent, he was ready for the Funny Farm!!

The result of all this was that Hubbard decided that the AO needed to be moved off the ship into a land base. The ship needed to be repaired.

A mission was sent to find suitable accommodation and several floors of a holiday apartment block were secured. This was the Residencia Reycar in Alicante.

The AO technical crew were rounded up and ferried down by cars to take up residence. The public were taken down by bus.

The first change to procedure was that whereas on the boat we had a "fast-flow" security check, in Alicante, every new arrival got a full Joburg,

The layout was very functional. Coming out of the lift there was a wide stone foyer with two wings off to the left where the bulk of apartments were. It was the same layout on each floor. At night there was restricted communal lighting, so the foyers were pretty dark.

Existing AO public were moved along and a stream of new public began to arrive. I remember one guy, he said his name was Rock Woolf. He came in wearing designer jeans, high heeled boote, bouffant hair, medallion, fur jacket, designer sun-glasses and an obvious fake tan. He sat down and picked up the cans. I picked up his routing form and said, "So, you are Rock Woolf"? "Sure am" (manly smile). I told him we were going to do his arrival sec check.

One of the first questions was " Have you told me your real name"? CLAAANG!! went the needle as it tried to wrap itself around the side pin.

I smiled and looked at him quissically "Well, have you"?

He started to squirm and sweat. I just sat back, folded my arms and invited him to tell all. It turned out that he was dreadfully embarrassed by his real name (Marvin Tannenbaunm - {close enough}) and didn't want anybody to know. Once he was assured that I would not broadly divulge this - and that I liked Southern Comfort, an accommodation was reached.

Alicante was about 60 miles from Valencia where Hubbard was staying, so there was only a remote chance he would ever turn up.

There used to be weekend social gatherings in the foyer area and a bunch of young Americans formed a folk song group entitled the "The Thetaboppers".

Virtually every person on OT3 copped a liability condition for false attest, so this group composed a ditty about it. They were standing in front of the lift doors and had reached a crescendo on the lyrics;

"And we kiss the ground
as we do OT3 the second time around"

When the lift doors opened and out stepped Hubbard and his entourage.!!

The word "shock" does not come remotely close to the looks on their faces as they turned around to face Hubbard in all his fury. You have never seen people scatter off to their rooms so fast in all your life. Hubbard was screaming and shouting, cussing and swearing for all he was worth.

The poor kids all got assigned very low conditions and Hubbard stormed around the foyer shouting for various staff to come to see him.

The one good thing about the place was it had some great back street cafes where we could nip off to, especially ona Sunday lunchtime.

All of a sudden a group of us were told to pack our stuff together and were driven back to the ship. On the way back David Mayo forgot he was driving on the right and had a head-on smash with another car. Stan Levy suffered a broken collar bone.

Back in Valencia we could see the Royal Scotsman moored away from the dock. There was a dirty grey rag tied around her funnel. We had come to take part in the Liability Cruise.

That is another story.

Original Link