It's the evening before we are due to return to Britain after holidaying with relatives in Denmark, my parents were concerned about the weather forecast, which was threatening gale force conditions in the North Sea. It was touch and go whether the boat would sail, but in the end it did.
As we Sailied into rough waters, an uncomfortable situation was about get much worse. Going by normal schedules this crossing should have taken about 26 hours, in this case we were at sea for two days! How can I begin to describe what it is like to sail through a hurricane force 12?
Well, one thing that probably worked in my favour is that I was very young, so it never crossed my mind that we wouldn't make it. What follows are snapshots of a sea crossing from hell. Rows and rows of sick bags hanging from the hand rails everywhere, I remember walking, or trying to, as the boat pitched and rolled violently, staggering towards me was a man desperately searching for an empty sick bag, he was out of luck as they were all full.
The doors onto the outer decks were locked shut with heavy chains, the Duty Free was no more, bottles of wine, spirits and perfumes were smashed across the floor and the air reeked of alcohol.
Announcements were being made advising passengers to retire to their cabins, looking out of the saloon windows, that's the third set of windows down on the front of the ship(look on the photo at the top of the previous blog entry), all that could be seen were huge waves breaking above us. My sister and I shared a top bunk and we proceeded to stuff ourselves with Licorice Allsorts, I didn't like the coconut centers so I poked them out.
During the night I fell out of bed due to the movements of the ship, my Dad said the ship's engine was making terrifying noises, maybe it was because the propeller wasn't spending much of it's time in the water. Going to the toilet I became aware of a commotion in our corridor, the ship's doctor had been called to attend to someone who had caught their foot in a cabin door.
As the boat limped into Harwich, my Dad sat listening to a roll call of license plates of the vehicles that had been damaged on the car deck. The list was a long one and his face was ashen grey as he focused on the announcement, wondering whether our car would be next. It only became apparent after we had disembarked that we had literally come within a degree or two of capsizing.
What ever happened to the Winston Churchill? Well it was while I was researching for these last two entries that I found a website detailing it's life in service and eventual death on the 'Beach of Doom' in India. You can read up on that story here.