…With photos and data from my ‘testimonials’ I have been able to tell my story about my time at sea.
What remains are the strong stories, they are based on truth.
Although they may have been a little thickened here and there.
It became a creeping flood of memories.

A story, my ‘memoirs’, about a time in my life.
I know that I will not have a number of people, events, or periods of time right.
Just as I have forgotten some people or moments, sometimes those memories and names come up again.

A time that was not always full of good, beautiful or nice moments.
There were enough of them that I sometimes thought: what did I start with?
When you are on your knees on the plate and you see green and yellow from seasickness.
Hours were spent swallowing something.


I spent long hours in the interest of the ship and towing.
To keep the ship going by doing repairs at the strangest hours.
Even to experience loneliness on the seas you sail, even though you were in the same boat with ‘fellow sufferers’.
Colleagues who lost you through their work.

Above all, there were also the friendships on board, even if they were only temporary, the next ship gave new ones.
You were one crew, you needed each other, you lived for each other.
A crew that at the time consisted of Dutch people.
It is impossible to first look for the translation of an order during a flying storm when fastening it.
The crew of a seagoing tugboat were attuned to each other and there was no ‘foreign’ part of it.
There was still camaraderie, the ships were the binding factor.
That is what I missed on shore.

In 1976 there was already a change in the way of towing and sailing.
The ‘Amsterdam’ was also a change.
Like other engineers from the port authority, I went on board and saw with my own eyes that there was a control room: unbelievable!
Containing equipment that blows out temperatures and pressures.
They even printed them in black or red: right or wrong.

‘Amsterdam’ 1974 – 1986.

No more feeling or listening with your flashlight or a screwdriver against your ear on the crankcase covers or hearing something irregular.
That you could only enter the engine room through the control room.
No noise or screaming for four hours, or you had to walk six in six, of screaming exhaust gas turbines, screaming separators, roaring fans, crying hydraulics, screaming auxiliary engines and droning engines.
No fumes from exhaust gases, lubricating oil or gas oil and a nagging bilge.
Lights instead of horns and much automated.

I remember starting sailing and hearing Chief engineer H. Andriesse when he talked about steam engines.
‘That was still a good time’, according to him.
I am now saying the same of the time that I sailed with diesels.
The ship engineers of today will then shake their heads.

Most ships of the company no longer exist, they have been demolished or sunken.
Only in memories and stories do they continue to sail.

Stopping sailing, having a social life again with your family and surroundings but much more individual.
Yet life at sea has enriched me, not only with distant places, but also spiritually.
You get to know yourself.

I am not ‘ecclesiastical’, but these words were striking:

“He who wants to learn to pray, must go to sea”.

I have never been afraid at sea, the ship was my home.
She has protected me all this time.


R.C. Visman

Bureau Wijsmuller was good for his people, it was one big family.
Men who stood for the company and wanted to work for it.

Both on the ships and ashore, that togetherness has always been characteristic.
There was always a suggestion, on everything and everyone.
It has been a good life at sea.



As a child I dreamt of that.
What did I know as a child?


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