Neleus and a Russian Odyssey

By Patrick Walters

February 1960

This tale is about a call at a Russian Port, but first a few tales about my three years on Neleus. In spite of having some rather restrictive skippers, what a time we had.

Neleus, and her two sister ships were lovely, steam turbine vessels. They carried no passengers apart from the occasional Aussie doctor on homeward runs.

Sydney was the usual turn round port, where we had a whale of a time, but Tasmania was also good. In Hobart we were hosted by the family of an Aussie doctor whom we had taken to UK on a previous voyage. He was Vernon Chen, and I met him years later when he was an orthopaedic surgeon in London.


His younger brother took us out into the ‘bush’ north of Hobart, and we went for a walk through a forest. In my naive way I said, “Thank goodness there are no venomous snakes in Tasmania”. I was promptly corrected by being warned to watch out for Tiger snakes. I couldn’t get out of that forest fast enough.

After Hobart we loaded apples at Beauty Point on the Tamar River in the north of Tasmania. I learned (from our Aussie doctor) how to play golf, after a fashion, viz. very badly! The only other diversion was an evening cruise on a small ferry boat which had a piano and a bar on board. By going ‘to sea’ this boat got round the licensing laws which applied on shore after 6 pm. The pianist could play, by ear, almost any tune we could name.

On that voyage we called at Antwerp before Liverpool, and went to Danny’s Bar, which was ‘gay’. We didn’t tell the Aussie doctor beforehand, but soon after we were seated, he turned to me and said: “There are two men dancing together, and one is wearing lipstick – what gives?”. I said: “Give me a kiss and I’ll tell you”. No, that last bit isn’t true.


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