Cabin Boy to Captain – Part One

By Robert Wyatt

The S.V. Wathara, a 3 Masted Steel Barque, 1,085 grt built in Fevik near Arendal, Norway as the Lingard in 1868, sold again to Norwegian owners in 1923. In 1925 she was sold to Gustaf Erikson of Mariehamn and reverted to the name of Lingard. On 2nd November 1935, while on a voyage from Hernosand to London with a cargo of wood, she was involved in a collision with the 2,092grt Swedish cargo ship Gerd near Vinga and subsequently hulked in Gothenburg.


Captain David Munro was born in Aberdeen, Scotland on the 30th May 1903 and lived a full and productive life of 89 years before crossing the bar on the 8th October 1992.

During his lifetime he experienced two world wars and several smaller ones that claimed the lives of some 80 million people. He witnessed a worldwide depression and a flu pandemic. He survived serious illness, a shipwreck and Japanese coastal incursions.

He served his time ‘before the mast’, starting as a 14 year old cabin boy on a sailing ship witnessing the quantum changes that occurred within the shipping industry of which he was part of for 47 years which unfortunately was to include the beginnings of the Maritime Union involvement.

In his tenure at the B.H.P. Company Ltd. Newcastle, (N.S.W. subsidiary) as an assistant cargo superintendent, then superintendent, he was regarded as a ‘hands on professional’ that left big shoes to fill on his retirement.


He was my mentor during my sea- going days, a person to look up to knowing that when he was there you were in safe hands. My life has been a little richer in having known him. His saying, “a mistake is not a mistake until you make it a second time” still resonates with me today even after 70 years.

I am proud to say he was my uncle.

Robert Wyatt

Gold Coast, Australia

April 2017


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