The mess stools and tables were rapidly filled up with men who
couldn't be accommodated with hammocks, and when I unfolded the
bed it was greeted with words of consternation. The leading hand
told me that I couldn't sleep on that contraption on the deck. I
stood up and said to the leading hand, "Get somebody to stop me."
So I lay on the bed and nothing further was said.
We steamed on our way until we were about ten miles from Mombassa
and then half a dozen blokes at different times asked me if I would
sell them my bed. When I found that the bed was in demand, I said
I would auction it. They stood around and bid for it and I received
a considerable amount of money, the most I had seen since my pay
out in Colombo.
The sailor who bought the bed paid me in Australian money. I said
it would be difficult for me to exchange this currency and asked
him for another ten shillings which he gave me. It took me a long
time to get rid of this money.
Crossing the Indian Ocean from Colombo to Mombassa the Destroyer
steamed through fine weather. The sun shone every day and one day
I noticed that the ship was steaming through a collection of tropical
islands clad with coco palms. Eventually the ship anchored in a
bay fronting what turned out to be the Capital. We had arrived at
the Seychelles and were moored in the beautiful bay of Mahe, a wooded
and hilly island of great tropical charm.
The most marvellous part of this was the water of the bay. As the
ship lost speed and prepared to anchor the crew stood at the rails
and watched in amazement as the anchor was slowly lowered into the
sea. The anchor finally lay on the sandy bottom and lay in its rusty
glory. The water was as clear and pellucid as the sky. No one had
seen such a sight before. It seemed as if the Destroyer was suspended
in mid air.
The ship lay in the bay for 3 days during which time the Captain
and his First Lieut. went ashore to see the Governor. For most of
this time I, together with most of the crew sun bathed on the deck.
I also slept on the deck on my folding bed. The crew never got ashore.
The ship swung to the demands of the sea and the crew lay with
their heads at the railings and watched the endless panorama passing
beneath. There were fish of all sorts, octopi and other unknown
creatures. 0n the sandy bottom were crabs lobsters and other crustaceans.
0n the third day the anchor was hauled aboard and we set sail for
Mombassa was built on an island. To the south was Kilindini harbour.
This was Mombassa's commercial harbour and could contain many huge
ships within its buoyed anchorage. To the north was the ancient
town and harbour of Mombassa with its Jesus Fort and Dhow anchorage.
At the western end was a bridge, which also carried a railway line
onto the mainland and on to Nairobi. The eastern, or seaward side
of the port was entered by a quarter mile wide channel which was
protected by two eight-ton can buoys and a boom.
From Kilindini harbour we went to the naval headquarters in Mombassa.
There we were sent to a white children's school which had a large
house where the cooking was done, with sleeping accommodation in
round rondavels. These were attractive, but open to all the local
fauna, such as snakes, etc. The next morning I reported to the naval
headquarters, which was a commandeered Indian girls' school two
storeys high. I spent my time doing odd jobs as they had a fairly
well established staff.