This book is the sequel to 'Rats, Rust and Two Old Ladies' written by the author who is a skipper employed by a Dutch company. Four years after returning home, he was asked to command a tugboat from Avonmouth to West Africa. He arrives safely in Buchanan, a port, in war torn Liberia where he was led unwittingly across an imaginary boundary that was off-limits to newly arrived seafarers. He and his companions were taken back the dock area by soldiers, which only had broken gates to be greeted by a menacing pier superintendent attired in green uniform bespangled with gold braid demanding 1000 US $s.

Luckily, a young female also dressed in a too tight green uniform marched in with a plastic bag of the stores earlier purloined off his tug. David Creamer responded that the stores were valued the same and turned and marched out. The delivery crew had a slow journey, through road blocks, to Roberts International Airport. There they boarded a Russian plane that was minus rivets and in a deplorable state, but they escaped safely from Liberia to catch flights home from Abidjan.

Four years later, the author received a phone call from the Dutch crewing agency for which he worked – was he interested in commanding a delivery voyage of a tugboat from Abidjan to Singapore? He was told there were two tugboats named Oriental 1 and 2. He and the Dutch crew, the captain of tug1 and the agent met in Paris before flying out to Africa. On arrival, they found the tugs were the same ones that had been delivered to Liberia and were now in the filthiest, squalid and least maintained they had ever seen. Four Burmese seamen had been the captains and chief engineers, crewed by Liberians who were refusing to move as they had not been paid for weeks. The voyage lasted nearly three months.

They had, apart from the unsanitary washrooms and broken toilets, a stowaway, rats, fires, dreadful leaks making living conditions nearly impossible, countless ports of calls where the latest breaks and faults were repaired, many only failed again soon after, and anchors that if deployed were nigh on possible to raise. This is a fascinating account of sailors working together as a team, surmounting more difficulties than are faced in a lifetime. When they reached Singapore, the tugs were berthed in a muddy creek well away from any shipyard. No-one knows but were these tugs used as part of illegal operations while based in Buchanan – illicit felling and export of hard wood? This is a good read. ACM

ISBN number: 978 1 84995 034 -3