Saturday, 18 September 2010

murdanie mast's brushes with death

In 1946, Murdanie joined the Merchant Navy and sailed the world several times over. His travels provided the raw material for a lifetime of great stories and even better songs. They also brought at least two very close calls with death.
In 1955, Murdanie went to the whaling in South Georgia. The New Year found him down at the Ice Barrier where no alcohol was allowed so he and three mates from Lewis celebrated by dividing an apple among them. Not long afterwards, Murdanie slipped a disc and was sent home on the first available ship. The three Lewismen with whom he had shared the apple never made it home. Kenneth Finlayson from Shawbost, Alasdair MacDonald from Achmore and Angus MacLeod from Ranish all died from poisonous gasses that had built up in the hold of their ship, which had been carrying bonemeal in the tropical heat.
A few years later and just after he married Louisa - who was, quite literally, the 'girl next door' in Marbhaig - Murdanie signed on to a coaster, the 'St Ronan', so that he could be home at weekends. Their first cargo was bound for Rotterdam but they hit terrible fog in the English Channel and another ship - 'like Mount Everest coming out of the fog' - cut straight through the 'St Ronan'. Three men drowned but seven were saved, largely due to the fact that the night before Murdanie had studied the instructions on the safety raft and managed to inflate it.
- from his obituary in this week's Free Press

The miracle of Google leads me to this Ships Nostalgia thread, which reveals the collision was with the Mount Athos in 1959.