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Local Heroes: Hull's Trawlermen
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How big were the trawler's engines? Joe Bartle 1

How big were the trawler’s engines?

Well, various sizes, eight cylinders, six cylinders, ten cylinders, depending on whether it was diesel or steam. Steam always has three cylinders. If there were ever any breakdowns it was my job to repair them, if possible. Before we went in the engines we were on a stoker, we had to be a stoker first before we could go to be an engineer. Sometimes it was good when we were getting plenty of fish, wash the deck out and gut them, their fish was our money. Did I fix something on the ship? Changing the cylinders; and then other jobs would be when the white metal in the bottom ends would go and we’d have to either repair that or put another one in.

Did your trawler ever sink?

Oh yes, it was the ship called the Artic Viking. I was coming home from White Sea and we were at Flamborough head, we was only about three hours from home. The ship laid over, twisted and another followed it and she completely turtled. And of course we lost five men that day. It took us only two minutes to turn over, but two minutes are a long time. It took about four hours to sink. And that’s all we could think of that the men inside the ship could still be alive and that was the one time I was scared. If you ask me how I got out the engine I’d say with great difficulty. They give you one side of the rail for your feet, another for your hands and you’re going up a horizontal ladder, and its running along the side of the ship to get to the life raft. That morning I learnt to swim. There was somebody who used me as a stepping stone to get to the life raft and of course when I came to the surface, the life raft soon went away. You can swim if you try, if you don’t panic. Its like climbing out of the water, you just do a dog paddle. I wouldn’t say it’s easy but keep your head and you’ll be alright.