Ferry van Eeuwen
During 9 years I used to roam the Seven Seas as a Marconi-man, wireless operator, sparks or radio officer or whatever it is called. At the age of 18 years I departed from Rotterdam for New York on board the passenger ship 'Sibajak' in the capacity of a 3rd radio officer. A dream came true. Not only that I was infected with the radio virus, but especially the fact that I was in a position now to see more of this world and that while being paid for it! The year was 1954 and in Holland at that time many things had still to be bought on rationing coupons. In the evening shops in Holland were unlit for power saving reasons. Rotterdam was a dark gloomy city at night, almost like in wartimes. We were rebuilding our ransacked nation almost from scratch and the average Dutch was poor in almost all respects. Our fathers used to work on Saturdays also. To keep things balanced we went to school also on Saturdays until 1300 hours. But we were by all means not unhappy , on the contrary. We were at last on our own again and climbing out of the pit. Wages were very low and new housings were sparsely built as the rebuilding of the harbours, industry etc. had priority. Young people, after getting married, had to move in with one of the parents as a standard rule. You can guess the marital disasters which often occurred after being exposed to your husband's or wife's parents, mostly in cramped overcrowded quarters and also over a longer period of time. Not just a couple of months but often for years. Everybody getting on everybody's nerves. What helped us out enormously was the extensive aid program by the so called 'Marshall Plan' from which we and other European nations profited. Apart from being a generous effort to put us back on our feet, our American friends thought it also was important to create a strong Europe in order to have a suitable buffer zone and counterweight against the Soviet giant lying at our doorsteps. A true tragedy that the once friends in combat, who threw over the Nazi regime, now were becoming enemies in a short period of time.
These are pages 16 - 19 copied from my Seaman's Book in which all ships on which I mustered are entered. In total 9 years of service on board several ships on just 4 pages of paper. The first ship being the Sibajak as described above.
The Smittlloyd 11 during stormy weather conditions and "biting the bullet". When a ship dives with force into a wave like in the picture it feels like you have hit a solid concrete pillar standing on the sea bottom. It is a loud and big bang and the ship shudders for seconds after the hit. It is a law of nature that water is pretty incompressible. It serves as a stern reminder to the crew that the ship has to reduce speed......
This is the Smitlloyd 9 also in a bad weather situation. A roller coaster ride to the square. Not something for people with a weak stomach...... Unfortunately the movie is of poor quality. I was on board during the North Sea trials on the Smitlloyd 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 14. The Smitlloyd 13 was skipped as the number is supposed to bring bad luck to a ship. I met with some pretty bad weather during those trials. Most of the personnel from the shipyard and others not used to the rolling and pitching movements of the ship got seasick.