Making Waves

Charles Aitchison

This autobiography records the author's remarkably varied maritime career. In 1939 he obtained his Scottish Higher Leaving Certificate and, unable to obtain an apprenticeship, later passed his 2nd Mate's Certificate, and sailed as a navigating officer. This gave him the freedom to serve on a very large variety of vessels, beginning aboard MacBraynes' paddle steamer PS Gondolier as a First Class Pantry Boy until war was declared. In the following ten years, including the entire Second World War, he served aboard a UK coasting vessel converted for service as a Convoy Rescue Ship, a Portuguese coaster flying the Panamanian flag, two liners, a millionaire's steam yacht, four tankers (one of which was Norwegian and one adapted to fuel the Royal Navy escort at sea) and nine cargo ships (again one was Norwegian and one a weather-reporting ship). While probably not unique, this assortment would certainly be hard to equal, far less surpass. "Making Waves" thus provides a wide-ranging account of what life in the Merchant Navy was really like and the conditions in the countries visited, and contains many anecdotes and a deal of humour.