3 Sept 65 : Soon we’ll be sailors : San Francisco, California

San Francisco

Friday 3rd September 1965

Dear family,

Well, we made it, I’m glad to report. Today we phoned the office and they said it was all settled, with one provision, that the Captain had to approve of us, and as the ship was in San Francisco docks we were asked to go on board and see the captain for his OK.

We went down and were soon on board chatting to the First Officer as the Captain had gone ashore. He said we looked OK and it’s all fixed.

The boat is on its way up the coast unloading and at Vancouver turns around and comes down again loading up. We go on at its last call in the US and head for Tahiti. We stay there about 2 days, and then about 5 days each at Sydney and Melbourne, Australia (these calls could be extended to 10 days each).

We are now leaving on the 26th (it’s been delayed already) and we have to work 8 hours a day starting at 8 a.m. and will do all sorts of odd jobs, but mainly painting. By working on Sundays (our day off) we can accumulate time off to spend at the ports. It’s all very convenient and exciting and we can’t wait to get on our way.


Cap Finisterre at Auckland NZ 2
Tony’s photo of the Cap Finisterre



Tony in America
Tony in America


We have paid the money for the van today. Apparently it will be lashed on deck and covered over with a tarpaulin. It will be insured by the shipping line against any damage which may be incurred on the voyage as it will be lifted on and off at most of the ports.

We have tried to find some temporary work here in San Francisco but the situation seems pretty bad, so we have given up that idea now and have decided to press on with our trip.


Tony’s postcard, captioned: AIR VIEW OF GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE This is the world’s tallest and largest single span suspension bridge. It was built at a cost of $35,500,000, and crosses historic Golden Gate at San Francisco. San Francisco harbour and bay area in the background.
Tony’s postcard captioned: DODGER STADIUM- LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA Spectacular aerial view of the world’s newest and most modern baseball park – home of the Los Angeles Dodgers (National League) and the Los Angeles Angels (American League.)
Tony’s postcard, captioned: A BIT OF EARLY LOS ANGELES “OLVERA STREET” LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA Typical of the Mexican Bazaars of long ago are the quaint little shops that line the street and attract so many visitors to this colourful section where Los Angeles began.
Tony’s postcard captioned: NEW MUSIC CENTER LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA Music Center for the Performing Arts located in the Los Angeles Civic Center. This beautiful Pavilion is a 3,250 seat Symphony Hall and Opera House, and is part of one of the largest and most modern cultural complexes in the world.


We have been sightseeing a lot and yesterday went on a circular tour and went North over the Oakland Bay Bridge (the longest bridge in the world) and then across the San Rafael Bridge, and down towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

On the way we passed through several small and very fashionable towns on the seafront. There were many sailing boats in the bay and the whole scene look very picturesque.

We then passed over the Golden Gate Bridge and back into San Francisco. This is a wonderful place and I really like it. Of all the cities in America I have seen, this is the best by far. The climate suits me down to the ground, although during the last few days it has been rather chilly.


Tony’s postcard, captioned: CABLE CAR ON SAN FRANCISCO HILL, a TYPICAL San Francisco scene. The Cable Car climbing the steep Hyde St. Hill. Alcatraz and the San Francisco Bay in the background.
Tony’s postcard, captioned: CABLE CAR – HYDE STREET, SAN FRANCISCO Several cable car routes are used on famed San Francisco hills. The cable car was invented in this city by Andrew Halidie in 1873. They are a reminder of the Victorian age in San Francisco and perform a service in this modern age.


Today we did something that every tourist does in San Francisco – we rode on the cable cars. These run up and down all the very steep hills here and are very antiquated old tram-like vehicles, and you can hang on the outside of them. They’re very unique and noisy and a great experience, certainly not one to be missed.

By the way the boat we are going on is the Cap Finisterre, which is about 9,000 tonnes when laden. It’s white and seems quite a nice, clean little ship.

We are having a very pleasant break here at the apartment. The girls are looking after us very well and cooked dinner for us last night. At the moment the two Bristol girls are away, having gone to Las Vegas for the weekend (it’s a holiday weekend here) so we are left with the two Yanks.

One of them has a famous sister. I don’t know if you remember it but two years ago a small plane crashed up near Alaska. The pilot and his passenger (this girl’s sister) were given up for lost, after a terrific search (costing 2 million dollars).

However after 7 weeks in the snow and ice they were accidentally found – and given a hero’s welcome. She has since written a book about it. She is still suffering from the experience, as she lost some of her toes from frostbite.

The man she crashed with was a charter pilot, and now lives here in San Francisco and tonight his wife and three daughters came to the apartment and we met them.

To be continued… 

Note from Tony: There was one incident from this time which I didn’t write home to my parents… One evening when we got back to the apartment, one of the American girls was out and the other was ironing in the living room – dressed only in a very see-through nightie!  

Colin and I sat down and tried to make some small talk, desperately trying not to make it obvious that we were enjoying this. She seemed completely unconcerned – yet she must have known she was practically naked. I think she was really enjoying it, and knew what she was doing!!

Then the other American girl came home and said very pointedly: “Oh – look at you, doing your ironing in your transparent nightie!” At which point, to our disappointment, she left to put something more modest on! 

Note from Tiffany:

The plane crash which Tony mentions is an amazing story!  I’ll put it in a separate post – click Next Letter below to read it. 🙂 

< Previous letter | Next letter >

You can follow us at http://www.facebook.com/Tones1960stravels, feel free to say hello or ask Tony a question 🙂

2 thoughts on “3 Sept 65 : Soon we’ll be sailors : San Francisco, California

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s