Former Able Seaman, Ian Martin tells his story of working at sea and how the Spurn Lightship was a welcome sight on his way home from a challenging trip.
In the early 1970's, I was an Able Seaman on the Wilson Line ship, the Destro.
She was a Roll on Roll off cargo ship sailing from King George Dock Hull to Gothenburg Sweden. A trip usually lasted four days, a day and a half there, one day in port and a day and a half back. The Destro was the worst ship I had sailed on in bad weather.
Most of the crew who sailed on her would tell you the same. The North Sea is very rarely calm and in winter it is one of the worst seas for bad weather in the World. I sailed on the Destro for nine months mostly during the winter and crossed the North Sea numerous times.
We normally returned to Hull either late at night or early hours of the morning depending on the tide so as to be ready for loading/unloading the next day. Crossing the North Sea we always kept a lookout posted during the night and I remember one particular night very distinctly.
A force Ten gale had been blowing since we left Gothenburg and it had been a terrible night with hardly any sleep and cargo breaking loose which we had to lash down with extra ropes and chains.
I was posted on the look out with the wind howling and spray breaking over the bow as we crashed through the huge waves, the ship shuddering as she rose back above them. Despite the weather it was a clear night and we were about ten or twelve miles from the River Humber when I spotted the glow of the Spurn Lightship just over the horizon in the distance.
What a welcome sight she was after such a terrible night. In a short while we entered the relative calm of the Humber and a couple of hours later I was tucked up in bed and ready to do it all over again the next day.