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CAPTAIN SMALES

 

F. SCHERMBRUCKER


 
 
 
 In 1938 Captain Smales delivered the new tug F. Schermbrucker from the Clyde to South Africa. Below are transcripts of two press reports about the voyage.

Clipping from Daily Despatch, East London S.A., March 14, 1938.

EAST LONDON'S NEW TUG.
Named After Man Who Opened Up the Port.

SWEPT BY HIGH SEAS IN BAY OF BISCAY.

East London's new 2,800 horse power tug,"the F. Schermbrueker", was due to arrive here yesterday afternoon after a 45-day voyage out from England.
She made a rather slow passage as far as Capetown, her speed being re­duced, as she was steaming on only two of her four boilers. Her average speed during the voyage was 8 knots, although she attained 13 knots on her trials.
The tug is commanded by Captain W. Smales and her crew of 18 is mainly made up of seamen from the Clyde. The little 145-foot craft en­countered bad weather in the Bay of Biscay, but even when she was being swept by high seas she maintained her speed and her triple-expansion machinery worked well.
The F. Schermbrucker is named after Colonel Friederich Schermbrucker, who was a member of the old Cape Legislative Council and afterwards of the- Assembly. He was Commissioner of Crown Lands and Public Works from 1884 to 1900 and it was due to him that East London obtained its first dredger, the Lucy.
When the Lucy arrived in 18S6, she had to dredge a passage into the har­bour and from then on the port has gone from strength to strength. It is fitting, therefore, that the Buffalo Har­bour's new craft should bear the name of the man who was directly respon­sible for the opening up of the Port of East London.

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DAILY DISPATCH, East London March 18 1938.

ALONG THE WATERFRONT
SCHERMBRUCKER'S 49 DAYS AT SEA.

Battered By Mountainous Waves and Gales All the Way.
Ten days to get from the Clyde past the Bay of Biscay, during which time her captain did not once take his clothes off, was the experience of the new tug, the F. Schermbrucker, on her voyage out from Scotland.In an interview with a representativeof the Daily Dispatch. Captain William S. Smales, the 67-year-old Scots­ man who commanded her, told a story of gale after gale which forced the ship to heave to. It was not the first time he'd sailed a small craft from the builders thousands of miles to deliver her to her owners.
Last May he left the Clyde in an even smaller vessel, the diesel-engined Lady Sylvia, which he sailed 10,000 miles across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal and up the Pacific to Vancouver. But whereas it took the Lady Sylvia eight days to reach Las Palmas, it took the Schermbrucker 14 days.
Captain Smailes said that they left Glasgow on the afternoon of January 24, and anchored off Greenock for the night. Next morning they sailed out of the estuary of the Clyde and ran straight into a gale which forced them to seek shelter in Lamlash Bay.

Atlantic Gale.

By the morning, however, the wea­ther improved, and they continued down the Irish Sea, sheltered from the westerly gale by the lee shore of Ireland. "But as soon as we got past the Tuskar lighthouse and the southernmost end of Ireland," Captain Smales said, "we were exposed to the full force of the gale blowing across the Atlantic.
"From there until we reached fhe Scilly Islands we were hove to, and many times after that also. The terrific weather continued in a succession of gales and mountainous seas. To have forced her through would have smashed everything up.
"Once in 24 hours we did a run of only 21 miles, and the following day we did only 43. After passing the bay the weather improved. We had not intended bunkering until we reached Sierra Leone but the fight against the weather had used up the coal and we were forced to bunker at Las Palmas". "We took on more coal at Sierra Leone and should have then been able to come right on to East London , but adverse currents and strong South east Trades, which eventually turned to a gale against which we had to battle head-on, forced us to put into Capetown to take on coal to reach East London.
" Around the coast from Capetown the bad weather still continued. For 30 hours her bows were plunging under seas that swept right over the bridge. We had expected to get here early on Sunday afternoon, but we anchored on the roadstead only at 11 o'clock that night and came into the river on Monday morning after a trip of 49 days". Most of the crew of 18 are South Africans. Five of them were Botha boys who took this way of returning to  South Africa after having served their apprenticeship. All boys on passing out from a training ship have to serve as apprentices on a merchant ship before they are allowed to serve as officers. The one, said Captain Smales, had his ticket and acted as second mate. The remaining four were the Schermbrucker's A.B.s.
The Schermbrucker made the trip on only two of her four boilers as the number of firemen carried would have been unable to keep all of them going.

 
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