Captain Thompson, SS Georgic, White Star Line
Captain Thompson of the Georgic, another of the White Star boats, but one that is chiefly engaged in the cattle trade, is in very general agreement with Captain McKinstry on one point. He believes in the much-maligned British sailor. The Georgic is the largest cargo vessel in the world, being of io,000 tons burden, and carrying live-stock and cargo.
She is the latest new vessel of the White Star Line, and makes a voyage to New York and back every month, doing twelve trips to and from every year. Like the passenger boats, the Georgie is fitted up as perfectly as can be for her special work, and Captain Thompson speaks with pardonable pride when he says:—
" During ten voyages we have carried on an average 85o bullocks per voyage, and in the ten voyages we have lost but one, or it may be two, but certainly not more than two. They are landed in perfect condition. They are stalled up, well attended to, have plenty to eat and drink, and are carefully protected from the weather, .so that they suffer no discomfort save in bad weather."
Captain Thompson lays claim to an experience which, one would fancy, is some-what unique in a seafaring career. Though he has been twenty-seven years in the employ of the White Star Company, he has neither lost a vessel nor a life. He adds :-- " I never saw a real accident—that is, anything serious; and in the last twenty-five years I have not seen a man die at sea, although I have been in all countries and all climates."
It is enough to make one think with Jack of old that the sea is the real place of safety. The last sailing vessel Captain Thompson commanded was the Garfield, the largest ship that had been built up to that time as a sailer. Notwithstanding his wide experience in both sailing vessels and steamers, Captain Thompson is in full agreement, as intimated above, with the commander of the Germanic as to the qualities of the British seaman. " We are all British sailors" In the White Star ships- and we do not want anything else," he says.
"And as to the foreigner, whose praises are being sung so much?"
"1 want none of him," replied captain Thompson. " He is, in some respects, more easily managed than the Englishman; but I like him none the more for that. I want the best sailor for all weathers, and in that respect the Englishman has not his equal anywhere. Of course, I do not exclude the Scotchman. There is nothing to choose between him and the Englishman. I'll tell you when it is you are apt to have a bit of bother with an Englishman •--it is in fine weather.
Then, you know, in a sailing ship there is not much to do except wipe 'mint and that sort of thing, and Jack doesn't like it; nor can I say that I blame him. At such times he is hard to manage. But let there be had weather or danger of any kind, and the Englishman is all there. Your foreigner, on the contrary, is likely enough to have to be sought for. In bad weather you have never any trouble with an English sailor; and to have him as a stand by at such times, I am willing to put up with a little difficulty now and then.
Besides, half the trouble that is experienced with Jack comes from a lack of fair play in treating him. He has a keen sense of what is fair, and while he will stand a lot if he gets that, he is apt to resent ill-treatment or anything that savours of injustice." A little light on this point was recently afforded me by a Swedish skipper. We were talking about British and foreign sailors. Said the Swede : " I want to have nothing to do with English sailors.
They cause you too much trouble. A foreign sailor, if be misbehaves himself, you may knock down, and if that does not suffice, you may put him in irons till you get to the next port; but you can't do that with an Englishman." "Why ?" "Because your Government propels him." Another foreign captain complained that our Government coddles and spoils Jack so much that there is no end of trouble with him. " If you treat him a bit roughly, he is likely enough to bring you before a justice of the peace and get you tined."