Saturday 25th September 1954
Doc called me with early morning tea at 5.45 a.m. Breakfast at 6.45 a.m. and
he saw me off on the Victoria train at 8.00 a.m. At Paddington I left on the
special “Venus” boat train at 10.40. We did high speed non-stop via Reading,
Taunton, and Exeter to Newton Abbot where we stopped while a second engine was
put on at 14:10. We arrived at Plymouth about 15:20. Everything was very well
arranged and I did not have to open anything in the Customs. Went on board the
tender “Sir John Hawkins” and got yet another cup of tea and cake. I am a great
believer in stocking up at frequent intervals when travelling and had been doing
so on and off all day.
There was a long hold up before starting towards the M.S. Venus, but we
eventually got on board and I found my cabin at once, also booked my seat in the
dining saloon. We were scheduled to sail at 17:00 but did not actually get
moving until 18:00. Another cup of tea and cake! My cabin is comfortable but
quite minute. My cabin mate is very nice but absolutely colossal. She is very
much the Laura type, and being so, is of course a hotel manageress. The Venus is
a very nice looking vessel, masses of lounges and writing rooms and a small
orchestra. The passengers all seem a nice type too.
Our departure from Plymouth was still further delayed by having to put back
after we had started, in order to leave a galley boy ashore, who had developed
some throat infection. We also had to wait to pick up the officer who had gone
ashore with him. The result of all this delay was that they put on speed and
absolutely slammed in to a south westerly swell.
We had boat drill before sailing.
The cabins are so small that any unpacking, apart from necessities, is hopeless.
The Venus was built for the Bergen Run of one night only, and is quite unsuited
for anything else. The ventilation below decks is appalling and the vibration
worse than anything I have ever experienced. Her average speed is 15-16 knots,
tonnage about 7000. The famous stabilisers are worse than useless, as they
prevent her rolling easily, and bring every movement up with a jerk.
I felt perfectly all right during the first part of the evening, and had an
excellent dinner; all Norwegian cooking and staff. The food is superb. Later on
I went down to my cabin to do some unpacking, but was knocked out by the bad air
and vibration, and went to bed early feeling perfectly ghastly. It is not
seasickness, but simply vibration and airlessness. My cabin has no porthole and
is right aft over the propeller shaft, which makes things worse.
My cabin companion said she had never been seasick before, but was shockingly so
during the night. I was not actually sick, but laid myself out flat in my bunk,
and felt like Elijah under the Juniper Bush [1 Kings 19: 4]. Hardly any sleep
all night, but hoped I should be better by the morning.