New author. Book reveiws.

October 21, 2010

 

Shadow on the Moon       

 Reviews

Shipping Today and Yesterday January 2010

“We don’t often get novels to review in these pages but occasionally one appears. In this case this is a story about piracy off the coast of Nigeria and, although set some 25 years ago, is a realistic attempt to portray what is happening in that country today.
An armed pirate gang, led by the cunning and ruthless Henry Kaduna are attacking and robbing ships off the port of Lagos in Nigeria. During one particularly brutal incident, an officer’s wife is raped and the ship’s master murdered.
Interpol, at the request of the UN become involved and Inspector Martin Ellis is sent to track down the leader of the pirate gang. But he has to work under cover, as the corrupt local police chief Godwin Azubikas, cannot be trusted.
Meanwhile the pirate becomes more audacious, earning vast sums of money from the ships he attacks.
This is an outstanding book that I found difficult to put down. The author’s style is compelling and I would very highly recommend this book to our readers.”

Nautilus UK Telegraph March 2009
It’s a rattling yarn, in which Archie Coulter combines evocative descriptions of Nigeria and authoritative shipboard scenes of ship board operations, with pages full of twists and turns right up to the final paragraphs.

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Visits to Houston Texas

October 17, 2010

 I visited Houston many times in the 70s, first as cadet then as Third Mate.  A few times in LOF, but mainly in Bank Line on the US Gulf to Aussie and NZ service. (Great run!) 

The docks in Houston are a long way from town and when you get into the centre there was not that much to do. I have two abiding memories of my visits to Houston.

 A nice memory:

The seaman’s club in Houston is very close to the port and was one of the best I have visited in my time at sea. There was a nice swimming pool and a lovely football pitch, which could be floodlit if seaman wanted to play at night-time. The restaurant served great food and I remember enjoying a perfectly cooked succulent steak there. A real treat as the food was not so clever on board (Bank Line). 

One night I was recruited into a football team. A Norwegian ship was one man short, so I offered to make up the numbers. Our opponents?  A Yugoslav ship!!! There were some serious footballers amongst the Yugoslavs’.  They went into tackles like there were in the last-minute winning 1-0 in the world cup final. A bruising encounter and it’s lucky no one was injured.  Anyway although the Yugoslavs’ won 8-2 in the end, it was still great to participate and play on such a nice pitch.

Not such a nice memory :

Another time in Houston whilst on a ship called the Meadow bank around eight of us decided to go ashore and visit some bars just outside the dock gate. It was about ten o’clock at night and as we walked along a brightly lit road close to the port all chatting away merrily, no one noticed that a beat up car had stopped close by.

The next thing I knew, I was staring down the barrel of a gun. This small scrawny Negro stood in front of me and threatened to shoot unless I handed over my cash. His hand was shaking so I did not argue and duly handed over thirty dollars, which I had only got from the captain an hour previously.  He then went down the line and took money off everybody.  The whole encounter lasted just a few minutes, then he was back in the car and roared off with his accomplice. 

We were all quite traumatized by the event.  But the really worrying factor was we had no money left for beer. Fortunately the Third Eng had kept some money in his shoe so when we reached the bars at least we could have a couple of beers each.


Avoiding pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

October 14, 2010

 

Despite a large navy presence in the Gulf of Aden pirates still abound and attack ships daily. Below is an account of my experience of the problem in June 2009.

During a voyage on a multi-purpose vessel, we had to transit the Gulf of Aden on our way from Singapore to Suez. This was a particularly worrying time for all on board, especially as our sister ship had been attacked the previous month and narrowly avoided being hi-jacked. Another problem which served to further compound our worries was the fact that only one of our two engines was working properly. We would only be able to use the other in an emergency and even then at reduced power. Our maximum speed would then only be 14.0 Kts, instead of 17.5 and only 11.0 if the second engine gave up the ghost.

Long before we arrived at the danger zone (a corridor 450 miles long) we started on our anti piracy measures which included tying many floating objects at the break of the focsle. These were to drop into the water to discourage pirates from approaching, which was a measure successfully applied previously by our sister ship We also rigged many hoses along the deck pointing down to potential boarding places. A good supply of rocket parachute flares were on hand as the first line of defence. Drills were held and every one made familiar with the signals and what to do in case of an attack.

Tension mounted on the ship as we approached the area and anti piracy watches were started. Daily we were getting reports of one or two ships being attacked so the threat was very real. Unlike pirates of yesteryear content to rob ships and make off with the booty (The big prize in recent years had been the cash from the masters safe) these people would be hi-jacking the ship and holding the crew hostage for months till a ransom was paid.

Anyway lady luck was smiling on us… As we had some sensitive high value cargo on board and our slow speed, the powers that be arranged for a naval escort for us. This was great news and a navy ship escorted us the whole way and into the Red Sea, well clear of the pirate area. During the two days we were in the Gulf of Aden more ships were attacked one only 12 miles from our position. We also saw a collection of the dreaded skiffs waiting near Bab El Mendep (Entrance to the Red Sea) and one passed quite close ahead.

Piracy in that area is on going with no end in sight, despite the strong navy presence. A depressing and worrying thought for seafarers that have to transit that area in slow vulnerable vessels. I had previous experiences of piracy in West Africa in the 1980s and this forms the basis of my novel “Shadow on the Moon”  www.piracybooks.co.uk


The great plane debate

October 8, 2010

With international travel the vogue these days, where we hop on planes like we used to hop on busses, we find our selves sat next to complete strangers on eight,ten,or even twelve hour flights. So the great plane debate. To talk to these people, or, make a deliberate attempt to ignore them completely. After all why should you talk to them? You will never see them again in your life!

Personally, I am a very talkative person, who enjoys meeting and talking to new people and hearing their stories and finding out about them.

My attitude on long flights has been, if I can talk to someone for a few hours that is a nice way to pass some of the time. One person I met on a flight from LA to London, was a part time Baptist minister and a computer expert. We found that we had so much in common, we virtually talked for the whole flight and the time went in the blink of an eye.

So with this mindset, I find it very hard to understand when people I am sat next to on planes just don’t want to engage in any conversation. As if it is the plague that is sat next to them! And they want no contact.

Then I started to analyse why people on planes may not want to engage in conversation.

I could be incredibly boring person, who may drive them mad during the flight.

I could be a very irritating person, who may also drive them mad during the flight.

Them being afraid to talk to someone they did not know.

Them being a shy person.

Them being complete prats.

What’s the point in talking to someone you will never see again in your life.

Anyway if people don’t want to talk to me on planes, I always think it’s their loss.

What do you think?  To talk, or not to talk on long flights


What a co-incidence !

October 5, 2010

I am here in Beirut on a small survey ship at the moment and interesting thing happened a few months ago. A large Ro-Ro vessel managed by Andrew Weir berthed astern of us. As I was in that company recently, I went to the ramp to see if there was anyone on board that I knew. I talked to the Chief Mate and he told me who was on the ship, but there was no one I recognised.

I was just about to leave, when I noticed the name on his hard hat.  C. Archer. 

I said. “Hold on a minute, I sailed with a Colin Archer in shipping company called LOF in 1974.”

He said “That was me, who are you?”

What a co-incidence to meet him just like that after 36 years! When I sailed with him it was my first trip as Third Mate on 34,000 ton tanker called the ‘London Confidence’ and he was cadet at the time.


A novel about modern day piracy.

October 3, 2010

An armed pirate gang, led by the cunning and ruthless Henry Kaduna are attacking and robbing ships off the port of Lagos in Nigeria. During one particularly brutal incident, an officer’s wife is raped and the ships master murdered.

Interpol, at the request of the UN become involved and Inspector Martin Ellis is sent to track down the leader of the pirate gang. But he has to work under cover, as the corrupt local police chief Godwin Azubikas, cannot be trusted. Due to the constraints imposed working without police assistance, Ellis initially finds progress on the case slow and struggles to obtain leads. Meanwhile the pirate becomes more audacious, earning vast sums of money from the ships he attacks.

The pirate has carved himself a life of luxury from the proceeds of his nefarious activities, visiting the best restaurants in Lagos and gambling at the local casino. He has also become involved with the lovely English croupier Leslie Granby and plans to use her as cover, when he eventually leaves Nigeria. This may be sooner rather than later, as he feels the heat from the local police chief, and suspects there may be someone else closing in on him.

After a narrow escape the pirate decides the time has come to leave Nigeria, but at the last moment he learns of a ship with fortune in bank notes on board. He decides to make this his final mission. But when the pirate and his accomplices attack the ship they get more than they had bargained for, as this is a Russian ship and the crew are armed.

A fast-moving and authentic tale of modern-day piracy based on the authors own experiences of piracy in West Africa in the 1980s.

Available to buy on KINDLE at:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadow-Moon-Archie-Coulter-ebook/dp/B00ENPVWZA/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1388671532&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=shadow+on+the+moon+archie+coulter     Price: GBP 1.53
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