Guest Expressed: “3 Least Heroic Tales of Seamanship Ever”

Today Sam Wright shows us why not all seafaring people are fearless heroes. Enter Sam:

Through the ages the bravest and strongest men and women we had to offer would seek their fortune on the high seas.

As they travelled the waves, these people would embark upon great tales of adventure and heroism.

These… are not those stories.

License: Creative Commons (Image Source)

3. The Collision of the Ann

The ocean is a vast place, and it’s possible to go for days out there without seeing another ship, even today in our age of satellite communication and global commerce.  So quite how the Ann managed to crash right into the Hampton is a subject that may well remain a mystery for the ages.

With a crucial part of the ship damaged, and over 100 passengers on board, the crew of the Ann wasted no time before leaping into action and nailing down all the hold hatches to keep the passengers locked inside.

As the passengers banged on the doors to ask what exactly was going on, the crew made a hop skip and a jump over to the ship they’d just crashed into. This was the sensible option, as some of the passengers on the Ann were escaping, and they were really angry.

Fortunately someone else came along and rescued the passengers (apparently the ocean isn’t as big as we thought), which meant they were all ready to testify when the crew were taken to court.

2. The Hannah Abandons Its Passengers on an Iceberg

Sometimes, in the dark and cold, a boat will have the misfortune to crash into a giant floating block of ice. Some films have been made on the subject. In 1849 this is what happened to the good ship Hannah. The ship had only one dinghy to get anyone to safety, so the Captain and crew took one look at it, thought about old sayings about “The Captain going down with his ship” and decided “To hell with that” and leapt aboard and began rowing for freedom.

The passengers watched their only means of escape rushing off into the horizon, probably swore at it a bit, then realised their boat was still sinking and escaped to the nearest available floating object.

In the absence of life boats, this proved to be an iceberg.  At least 150 people out of the 200 passengers made it to the iceberg and survived long enough to be rescued by a passing boat. Then, because justice does sometimes exist in this world, they made it back to port ahead of the crew who abandoned them.

We like to imagine the passengers were waiting along the shoreline as the lifeboat rowed in…

1. If You Get Caught Abandoning Your Passengers, Try Racism!

So on the sixth of August, 1880, the steamship Jeddah hit bad weather, one of its boilers was knocked loose and the ship suffered all the effects boats usually suffer when giant metal cylinders roll freely about their interior. With power and steering gone,  and water crashing onto the deck of the ship, it was time to get out of there.

The bad news was, the Jeddah had over 900 passengers, mostly Muslim pilgrims on their way to Mecca. The good news was the Jeddah had four full sized life boats, so with a bit of calm and organisation almost everyone should have been able to get out alive.

The captain had just enough time to get the lifeboats prepared for launch. “Prepared” in this sense means loading the boats full of the crew, their families, their guns, their food, their luggage and exactly no Muslim pilgrims.

The pilgrims were understandably not on board with this idea (Get it? “Not on board”? I’m a comedy genius). In the ensuing fracas only the captain’s boat managed to escape, another crashed into the water and the final two were held by the passengers.

Now it takes a special kind of man to try and abandon 900 souls to a watery grave to make way for extra luggage, but it takes a one of a kind to do what that captain did next. Realising that when he got to dry land he would have to explain why all his passengers were, you know, dead, the captain decided to put together a cover story.

Thinking about this, he remembered a single, crucial detail about the 900 people he’d left to die: They were brown. Realising he could say pretty much whatever the hell he liked about brown people and probably be believed, he concocted a story whereby the pilgrims were savage killers, trying to murder the noble white men as the ship sank.

This story started to look a good deal less believable when he and his crew were rescued and got into port to discover the Jeddah being pulled into port by another ship. The captain and crew had a word among themselves, decided that, as white people, they could probably still get away with saying whatever they wanted and stuck to their story about the evil brown people.

It didn’t work entirely according to plan, with the authorities at the time saying: “the action of the pilgrims tends to prove that they never intended to harm the master and his officers had they remained in the Jeddah, that their demeanour is accounted for by the evidence that they had made up their minds that they should not be deserted by the only persons capable of protecting and helping them in the circumstances in which they were placed …”

So next time you see a big appealing looking “Boat For Sale” sign, think about the noble, heroic ranks you’ll be joining.

Sam Wright is a freelance writer who does enjoy going up and down the Norfolk Broads in a boat, because he gets to wear a silly hat and shout orders at people.

And speaking of boats for sale, check out:

Guest Expressed: “5 Funny Car Dealer Stories”

Today Samantha Wood tells us why car dealers have it so damn hard! Enter Samantha:

When you are buying a new or used car, undoubtedly there are lots of questions you will want to ask the dealer. Depending on how much you know about cars, some of your queries may be fairly basic or they could be so complicated they have the salesman scratching their head.

However, the chances are that whatever you have to say won’t be as crazy, funny or just plain daft as some of the things that dealers have experienced over the years. Here’s a selection of some of the best car dealer tales which have been taken straight from the horse’s mouth!

1) Don’t take things for granted

A customer is looking to get a good price on his old car which is going to be traded in as a part-exchange. To make sure it runs smoothly, the dealer asks for the keys to take it out for a quick spin. The elderly owner hands them over, and is at pains to point out that they expect a good price as the car has a ‘brand-new set of brakes’.

On returning from the test drive, the dealer is looking rather white; apparently the car failed to stop at a set of traffic lights and he was forced to crawl back with absolutely no brakes. When questioned about the apparent discrepancy, the owner didn’t bat an eyelid, just simply pointed to the brand new box of brakes sitting in the back seat, insisting that it does have new brakes, but crucially adding ‘I just haven’t had time to get them fitted…’.

2) Be clear about requirements

A customer is buying a car on finance and is asked to supply proof of income plus five references in order to secure the deal. The individual goes away with the vehicle reserved, and is due to collect it the following day at 5pm subject to the information being supplied.

By 7pm, the customer still hasn’t arrived and the dealer is beginning to wonder whether the sale is a goner, when suddenly the door bursts open. The customer rushes in, full of apologies ad explains that he is late because he had trouble rounding up all of his references – and then couldn’t fit them all in his car. Yes that’s right; he had assumed that he needed to bring the references in person to the dealership rather than just a written statement. The sale eventually went ahead.

3) Make sure the customer knows where everything is

A secondary school teacher approached a Honda car dealer looking for a larger vehicle which would allow him to comfortably carry all of the class supplies, and eventually ended up purchasing a Honda CR-V, an SUV model.

Unfortunately, after just a couple of days, the formerly delighted customer telephoned the dealership, apoplectic with rage because he had suffered a punctured tyre and there had been no spare tyre in the boot.

The dealer apologised profusely and offered to send out emergency services to get the vehicle home, upon which the customer informed him there was no need. He went on to rather angrily inform the dealer than after discovering there was no tyre in the boot he had been forced to use the one hanging on the back of the SUV instead…

4) Tittle tattle

A disgruntled buyer turned up at a car dealership to take a look at a pricey SUV his wife had chosen and taken for a test drive.

The vehicle was fitted with the On-Star technology supplied by General Motors on all of the higher end vehicles. This piece of equipment offers a range of functions from calling emergency services to unlocking the car remotely.

On sitting inside the vehicle, the husband starts randomly pressing the On-Star buttons, asking for a demo of how it works, all the time complaining bitterly about his wife’s lack of comprehension of the value of money. He eventually gets out and takes a cheaper SUV for a test drive. The next day the wife comes back alone to test drive both vehicles.

Whilst out, she happens to start fiddling with the On-Star buttons and what does she hear? A recording of the entire conversation from the previous day…including the vitriol spouted by her husband about her apparent financial complacency. Amongst its functions, On-Star has a microphone and recording facility which had been inadvertently activated the previous day.

The husband very shortly returned to the dealer and paid for the more expensive car without a murmur.

5) Never question the customer’s logic

The final story here revolves around the trend for putting miniature spare tyres onto modern cars, often known as ‘space savers’. Unlike regular tyres, these are only suitable for emergency use and have a capped maximum speed.

Not everyone likes the idea of only having a short-term emergency use tyre in their boot, and this particular customer was the same. After agreeing the terms of his new purchase at the car dealership, he had one extra request: get rid of the space-saver and arrange for a full-size tyre to be provided.

The car salesman was dubious and warned the customer that the spare tyre well may not be large enough, but the man was insistent. Not wanting to lose a customer, the salesman agreed on the proviso that the dealership would not be responsible for fitting the tyre into the car. The customer is very happy with the arrangement.

As he is leaving the dealership, the salesman asks – just out of interest – how he is going to get the tyre into the car. The customer informs the salesman blithely that he will simply let the air out of the tyre and squash it into the space….thereby rendering the spare tyre useless if one of the four on the car gets a puncture!!

So next time you wander down to your local Vauxhall dealer for a look around, bear the above true tales in mind and have some sympathy for the salesman – who know what weird and wonderful encounters he may have already experienced so far that day!

An article by Samantha Wood who has many a story to tell herself and loves a humorous tale!