By Dave Creamer
A story of 2 tugboats brimming with experience, secret, and intrigue.
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1 tug made a similar manoeuvre and tied up safely alongside us. Shwe and Tin came to see me after we had moored. Faces creased with large and beaming smiles, they seemed hugely pleased with themselves. They happily announced that they would be doing the voyage to Singapore with us after all. Maung, the Myanmar ex-captain of No. 1 tug, had also agreed to remain, but his chief engineer, quite rightly, had had more than enough. After two years and eight months away, he was finally going home to see his family and his young son, who had been born seven months after his joining the boat in Buchanan and of whom his only sighting had been from a couple of well-handled and creased photographs he had been passing to everyone to admire.
As it was clearly from the same roll that had been laid in the wheelhouse, I couldn’t face the awful prospect of both living and working for the next few weeks of the voyage with the garish pink and lime squares. They offended my eyes and were simply far too psychedelic for my old-fashioned and conservative tastes. Mercifully, Shwe hadn’t stuck the linoleum down, probably because the adhesive wouldn’t have been available in Buchanan, and it lifted without any real difficulty. Brittle with compression and age, it came away in small and easily handled pieces.
They had been able occasionally to scrounge some tins of cooked meat from a visiting ship, but only if the local officials hadn’t stolen them first. No wonder they both gave the appearance of being anorexic. Rice could be purchased along with an intermittent supply of locally grown vegetables, but the likes of sugar, coffee, spices, milk, tinned goods, and such basics as toilet paper and soap were unheard of luxuries. The local authorities with their incon27 Oriental Endeavour siderate habit of pilfering the storerooms of the visiting ships as soon as they had berthed, made the scrounging of essential items all the more difficult for those on the tugboats.