It’s all in the language!

By TASC Member Tom Purvis (River Tyne Pilot Retired)

Talking with Tom Purvis the other day, he remarked on how seeing his father’s photograph on our website, reminded him of the following story…

He was piloting a small naval vessel up to Newcastle quay, and, as is the ‘Navy Way’ they always berth head-out, ready for a quick get-away. A Tug was ordered to help swing the sweeper and tow up stern-first from the swinging area at Tyne Main. It was common practice (and still is) for the commander to have ‘His Pilot’ (usually a junior officer) control the vessel. However, normally when a tug is involved-and especially when towing stern first, for the river pilot to take over.

But in this case the Captain asked my father if his pilot could carry on. As they approached the berth the officer shouted to the tug ‘Varst tow¬†tug’ the accent not being native to the North East Coast! The Captain was none too pleased when the tug appeared to ignore his command. Father stepped in and shouted ‘Eeasy Ower Jimmy’ To which the tug quickly responded. You can imagine the look of disbelief on the officer’s face! …He had assumed that the crew on the tug spoke English!….wrong!!

One thought on “It’s all in the language!

  1. I remember Mr Purvis clearly!! In 1969 or thereabouts I was on the Ellerman ship City of York. The relieving Master was a Captain in the RNR, so a bit formal, to say the least. To our absolute delight Mr Purvis was our inward pilot, and kept calling the OM “Skipper”. By the time we were passing the Fish Quay the OM had gone in a sulk, and the rest of the passage up to Spillers was conducted without him!

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