Sitmar Line - TSS Castel Felice
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Please Note: All ssMaritime and other related maritime/cruise sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any shipping or cruise companies or any travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! Although the author has been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960, although is now retired but having completed around 690 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers Ships features I trust these will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts the information the are seeking, but above all a great deal of pleasure! Reuben Goossens
The Sitmar Ships
delightful story was kindly sent in by Mr. W. D. Hempel of
By Mr. W. D. Hempel
May 2nd 1957, the day of my departure arrived. We had agreed that mother would
not see me off in
Next morning at the special train left for
There she was what seemed like big white ship
with a yellow funnel with a big blue V on it being the
We had to remain in the train, but they
started immediately to unload the freight cars and slinging the luggage in huge
nets on board. My over sea trunk and suit cases were already sent to
Around 3 PM we started boarding.
There were around 900 passengers boarding in
Toward the north there was a
storm was approaching as the sky was black. Was this an omen? It certainly
looked forbidding. Now after all these years in
In the open sea the waves were getting heavy.
The ship stopped, the pilot boat heaved along the lee. Now we were alone,
The sea was getting progressively heavier and people
were getting seasick. I survived the night very well, but next morning, after I
getup, I felt a little woozy. For breakfast I only had some tea and a few
biscuits. By we were
steaming northward within sight of the Scottish east coast. But by now the sky
had cleared but the sea was still quite heavy. We rounded the northern tip of
The funnel was belching black smoke and the ship was heaving in the swell of the ocean against a strong west wind. One day out at sea we had a life boat drill. Every passenger had to know which life boat station was theirs. The upper deck was off limits, because it was completely covered with life rafts. Life boats have to be launched, but these rafts would float by themselves after the ship sinks. It was May and we would head into icebergs, the Titanic somehow came into my mind.
Within a day everything was routine, breakfast, lunch and supper. To feed all these people was done in two sittings. everyone had his assigned time and place, in other words you were “stuck” with your table partner, but somehow the passenger were all “Auswanderer” immigrants, people, made all from the same “stuff” looking for a new land to live, all with the same interests. Somehow, no matter who you were talking to, you always had a pleasant conversation.
The ships doctor was a German, he had been with this ship for several years and he showed me the huge “patch” on the hull of the port side, as it had an “accident”, when she was rammed by a freighter. I questioned him, why people get seasick, he explained, the constant “jerking” around of the balancing system in the inner ear during heavy sea affect the nervous system in such a way, that you feel lousy and in most instances makes you puke. It is very similar as drinking too much booze. But, he said, drinking a small amount of alcohol in advance will prevent seasickness. But how do you know, how much to drink? Simple, while drinking, every so often try to walk a straight line, (lines on the floor), if you step off the line, lay off the booze for a while. In fact, being that “drunk”, hardly impairs you, probably for driving an automobile, for split decision making it is too much. In this state, I think I function perfectly normal.
One beautiful sunny afternoon, low on the western horizon, it looked like land, but these were storm clouds. The foredeck was cleared of passengers, on the main deck, protective plates were placed onto the windows, facing the foredeck. The doors facing the foredeck, similar to the ones you see in submarine movies, were also “screwed” shut. I went into my cabin, but what was happening, the stewards put on the “dead lights”, (Portholes) and they had closed the steel “lids” on the bull eyes. They mumbled it is going to be a bad storm. I went to the bar to initiate the doctors remedy.
The storm hit with might. I went onto the wings of the bridge and tried to get a few pictures. Only one of them turned out halfway, most of the time I was engulfed in spray and I had a hard time to keep the salt water off the camera.
The doctor’s prescription helped, I felt fine. The menu for supper was changed. There was no hot meal, only sandwiches. Normally the dining room held 600 people, but this evening there were only a few, maybe 2 dozen. All tables had ledges, which were normally hidden underneath, folded up, and a soaking wet tablecloth slopped over it, to make it sticky, so the plates would not slide all over the place. Cups had to be held in the hand, they would tip over. The ship was rolling and pitching badly, when you walked you had to brace yourself. After supper I didn’t go down to my deck, because the innards of the ship smelled horrible, sick people had puked all over. I stayed in the bar till the “wee” hours, listening to some non seasick “professionals” telling horror stories about ships sinking in a storm. In the meantime the crew was busy cleaning up the mess and the ventilation system did the rest. Finally I went to my cabin. When I came onto the A – Deck, I realized how bad the storm actually was. I hit the A-Deck about midships, normally I could see right to the last cabins at the stern. Now they were actually twisting out of sight, either to the top or bottom, I turned around, the bow the same way. The whole structure of the ship was creaking and groaning. When the stern was twisted toward the bottom out of sight, the stern of the ship was actually in the air, and not supported by the water, because in that instance the propellers were out of the water and speeding up. When they hit the water, you could hear that, the vibrations took on a different pitch. I had read, ships breaking in half in heavy seas, after experiencing this, I don’t doubt that. Actually, when I was standing there, looking around and hearing all these weird noises, I wondered if the Castel Felice would stay together. In the cabin everybody was moaning and pretty sick. I felt fine, but could not fall asleep. One of the guys’ briefcases was lying on the floor and with the rolling of the ship slid from on side of the cabin to the other, I was watching it. Suddenly the cabin door opened with the rolling, I guess when I had come in, and I hadn't closed it properly. When the vessel rolled over to starboard it closed again and the briefcase slid against the closed door. I watched this game of opening and closing the door and the sliding of the briefcase for quite awhile. But then, the door somehow did not close, and the briefcase was in the hall. I got up, secured the briefcase and closed the door, end of the game and I fell asleep.
Next morning, the storm had lost its fierceness, I, and only a few others had breakfast. By midmorning many of the half sick came onto deck to catch same fresh air. Later in the afternoon the sun came out and everything went slowly back to normal.
East of New Foundland,
the icebergs are coming down in spring from the
Next morning to our starboard was New Foundland, this early in spring, with its snow capped
mountains, and it didn’t take long we entered the St. Lawrence. The
The Castel Felice
The Castel FeliceINDEX:
Castel Felice-1 - History Page.
Castel Felice-2 - Cabin Plan & the Robert Brinkhuis story 1965.
Castel Felice-3 - My 1957
The Williams family sail to
Castel Felice-4 - A
family’s voyage to
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