After an uneventful Wednesday consisting of day work aboard the Victoria, I headed home for a quick bath and then on to The Chestnuts, a private club situated in Bishopston, on the Gower peninsular. The Windsor Arms, my local pub at the time, in St. Thomas, had entered the local radio stations quiz competition and a mini-bus was arranged to take us there. My mother was going to baby-sit and my then wife and I had arranged to meet her parents at The Chestnuts.
All this was to alter before I had even run a bath, when our manager, Mr. Colin Butt rang to tell me that a vessel, the Enugu Palm, had suffered a crankcase explosion while on passage from Liverpool to West Africa. The vessel was now adrift and the position I was given was 20 miles north of Pendeen.
We were told to join the Victoria as near to 1900h as possible and hopefully we would get the last lock out of Swansea and a good ebb tide behind us for our passage down the Bristol Channel.
Captain Grenville Taylor called to my home to give me a lift and I left at home one very disappointed wife and two in-laws who were looking forward to an evening out. That’s tug boating. On joining the Victoria we had our normal crew consisting of Capt. Taylor, myself as Mate, Harry Hooker and George Davies the two A.B.’S, Rees Brooks was our Chief Engineer and our second engineer was Roy Bennett. The crew was supplemented by Cliff Wiltshire as extra mate and ? as extra engineer. It soon became obvious to all concerned that the work rota was not being applied properly and we assumed that the people before us in the rota had refused.
We soon realised that the Victoria was pretty scantily equipped for outside towing, the reason being that at this time the Mumbles and Margam were being used as the coastal boats. If we had to get more towing gear from our stores then there would be no chance of us making the last lock out and the consequences of our missing the tide could be quite severe. The north Cornish coast was a lee shore for the casualty and luckily there was a high pressure system over the U.K. with light winds. There were also other towing vessels in the vicinity, who were like predators waiting to pounce.