That reminds me of a joke

The thread on the runaway ship, engine stuck on an ahead speed. This joke was told to me by a Panama Canal pilot:

Pilot arriving in the wheelhouse: “Good day, captain. Is all your navigation equipment in good order?”

Captain: “Yes, pilot. All ship’s navigation equipment is in good order.”

Pilot: “What about the main engine, is the main engine in good working order?”

Captain: “Mr. Pilot, the main engine works like a fine Swiss watch.”

Pilot: “Very good, captain.” (proceeds towards the berth)

Upon approaching the pier, the pilot orders “half ahead,” but the engine continues at full speed. The pilot orders “stop,” then “full astern,” but the ship continues at full speed towards the pier. The ship plows into the pier at full speed.

Pilot: “Captain, you told me the engine was in good working order!”

Captain: “No sir, I said the engine works like a fine Swiss watch—it only turns ahead.”


Hi KC – good to see this thread … hope many others will also post.

My first ship. 1978. Junior engineer. OBO about 130K dwt. New build from Sweden (Oresund). Indian flag. Delivery was delayed quite a bit and we had a blast in Gothenburg. Finally the delivery and maiden voyage was imminent and the vessel was charted to carry oil from Libya and top up in Tunisia and headed to Corpus Christi. Air draft was an issue and the main mast had to cut and lowered by (if I remember correctly) about 2 meters. Anyway all done and we loaded and coming into Corpus.

Picked up the Pilot – big Texan. Quite a few of us were on the wheelhouse/bridge to see the vessel passing the Bridge. Captain was a very meek and of slight build. Pilot was having lunch … big fold up table from the bridge window. Plenty of Indian food and he was really stuffing it in.

Captain was very nervous and pacing up and down as were approaching and he goes to Capt wringing his hands and says … ‘What do you think Mr. Pilot – we should clear the Bridge right’?

Pilot, with his mouthful and looking straight ahead says in his loud Texan drawl – ‘I don’t know Cap … but I sure as hell going to give it one hell-of-a try. Capt must have soiled … :blush:

And when we did pass the Bridge it almost looked as if you could touch the steel with a little hop from the Monkey Island. And the traffic … all the cars and trucks had stopped to see this big mother.

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Sometime in 1973 I came in to Bahrein at night with an old tanker (Doxford engine) to load HFO for Kandla and Port Okha in the Gulf of Kutch, India.

As the pilot boat approached I realized that our speed was too high, so I gave a short kick of half astern to slow her down. I the process a lot of sparks came flying from the funnel.

When the pilot, a phlegmatic Brit, came on the bridge we exchanged the usual info and pleasantries. He had noticed the sparks and informed me that there were an American tanker loading JP4 for Vietnam on the opposite side of the pier from our berth.
He asked about the cause of the “fireworks” and if this was a normal occurrence (which it was)
I assured him that it was caused by them changing burniers on the boilers, upon which he ordered “Stop engine” followed by “Half astern”. Sparks flying.

After a pretend call to the Ch.Eng. the conversation went something like this:
Pilot; “When do you think you will be ready to come alongside Captain”.
Me; “First daylight in the morning Mr. Pilot”.
Pilot; "I though you would say that Captain. Is the Pilot cabin available?

When we sailed he told me that he had been Cadet on a sister ship back in the 1950’s so he knew the problem with sparking when starting the engine astern.

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With a stiff upper lip? :slight_smile:

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For Capt OM Bugge. Heard this when I was sailing … predominantly Danish with 1 Norwegian mate (and of course me).
Animal farm in Denmark. All kinds of chickens and hens and sheep and pigs etc. A new pig comes into the pen. All the others are curious and go him and ask ‘Hvor kommer du fra’ (Where are you from).
Pig replies …. Norske … Norske … Norske. :blush:


Great story KC , I heard it told by with a Russian captain.

While on daft stories one of my colleagues told me about an approach to Tilbury Lock. When an astern movement was requested there was nothing but silence from the engine room area. Better make that half astern then captain, still silence, if the engine does fire better make that full astern, followed by a loud crash as the ship plowed into approach jetty scattering large peices of the jetty to where they were never designed to be but at least the ship came to a halt.
But then there was a whoosh of air and the engine fired but of course with the last engine order and took off backwards across the river at full astern.
Lesson learned from this was just remember your last engine order as if and when the engine fires that will be what you will get.
I didn’t learn that lesson as some years later I was getting ready to swing a car carrier in the same area when the engine didn’t fire astern but thankfully I had a great big ASD tug centre line aft and that stopped us quite promptly. Unfortunately just after we came to a standstill the engine fired at the half astern that I had last ordered :disappointed_relieved:


Ca 2004. Company was proud to introduce a new ship into service after many years. CEO at that time arranged for the ship to be docked at a non commercial pier for all employees and families to attend and view the vessel. I was escorting some of the senior management staff along with my wife and we first went down to the engine room and then to the bridge. The Capt was wearing his uniform welcomed us in and he gave the party a tour of the equipment, etc.
On the way back home my wife says … ‘that Capt is good looking and handsome guy’! I was shocked …. Never crossed my mind or even remotely thought he was good looking.
Next day back in the office with my 2 buddies (we used to smoke) outside the building, I told them about this incident and asked if they thought he was good looking.
The marine ops manager (22 years Master and the direct boss of all the vessel masters in the company) looks at me and says …. ‘Don’t know …. But I’ll f**k him’
We couldn’t stop laughing …. :joy:

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Ca 1983/84. On a Sulzer RND engine vessel. The sealing surface between the cylinder cover and liner was severely damaged with blow by. Yokohama was the next port of call and company arranged for workshop assistance. We were expecting to replace the liner and land the cylinder head. 2 mechanics and a very elderly and very small Japanese (think no more than 4’6”) came onboard and advised they will repair the sealing surfaces. Their machine was soon in the engine room and meanwhile the 2 mechanics had started working on removing the cyl head. Terrific coordination and speed and soon the head was off and within minutes with just the overhead gantry crane and one 5 ton chain block they managed to turn the cyl head upside down.

The old man came to us with a cable and 4 cores sticking out and asked for power – all sign language. Not to be outdone by them, I guess we were a little cocky and asked what would you like … ‘220V single, 220V 3Ph, 440V single, 440V 3Ph, other …”. Without blinking the old man hides 2 of the cores and says 220V single okay, unhides 1 core with 3 sticking out and says 220V 3Ph okay, 2 other cores and says 440V okay, 3 other cores and says 440V 3 Ph okay. His expression seemed to say … “Just give me any power you f*…ing idiots …. I’ll manage!”

I think our suddenly height shrunk to 4 ft fu*k all. :slight_smile:

Unbelievably clever and industrious people, the Japanese.