Capt. Arthur David LINKLATER

Captain Arthur David LINKLATER 1879 - 1955

Work for the Calcutta Port Authority
on the River Hooghly and as a Hooghly Pilot.

And pay

Arthur was nor guilty of ‘cupidity’ but radix malorum etc meant that money was always an issue. In the years to come, it would be a major bone of contention between himself and Dhunjibhoy Bomanji. But for now, 1915, Rs. 600 a month was not good pay. There was the added irritation of the, as Arthur saw it, inequitable sharing of the reward for salving the Lotusmere which we will come to shortly. For now, the Irrawaddy Flotilla Co. offered prospects of Rs. 275 "after three years satisfactory service" but this was the basic pay; it increased once command of a vessel was obtained, claimed by them to be within about 4 years service when commission, based on the gross earnings of the steamer, was added to the basic pay. The job application details state "the combined pay and commission of various Senior Commanders in the service at present reaches Rs. 800 to Rs. 1000 per month" Had he got a job with the Irrawaddy Flotilla Co. in 1912, within a year of gaining the maximum salary of Rs. 600 in his position with the Calcutta Port Authority he could have been earning as much as a third again. By the way, Rs. 150 = £10 roughly - or, as Arthur noted;

A Chinaman's method of turning pounds into Rupees. Add a cipher to the number of pounds and underneath put half of the result.

£20 = 200 £70 = 700
    100     350
Rupees   300 Rupees   1050

Why a ‘Chinaman's’ method, as opposed to any other man's is not explained.

Being at the cutting edge of Hooghly navigation was one thing, but what of the humdrum daily routine? A general indication of what Arthur's every-day duties might involve is indicated in a letter dated 26th August 1910 confirming his appointment. You will be required to pass an examination to obtain a Tug Master's certificate as soon as you have completed the necessary qualifying service...You will [also] be required to qualify as an Assistant Surveyor during the period of your training on the D.V. Retriever. So, seamanship and navigation skills combined with those of hydrographic surveying were to be the order of the day details of which can be found in Arthur's own words on the previous page. As for actual ‘Orders of the Day’ I have a number in my possession. They deal with the very mundane such as inspecting a load of second-hand chain from England with a view to possibly buying more to ‘rendering assistance’ to vessels in difficulty with risk to life and property. Here are a couple of ‘routine matters’ The first, addressed to "Mr Linklater Commanding Tug Chapala" is dated 18th May 1912; Sir,
      You are hereby directed to proceed down the river and carry out the following orders:
       Leave Calcutta at daylight sharp tomorrow the 19th instant with the Anchor Vessel "Goliath" in tow. Proceed, down to Hooghly Point and try and recover the anchor and chain lost by the Dredger Sandpiper at the mouth of the Roopnarain; if successful await arrival of Sandpiper and make over the same to the Commander. All assistance will be given you from the Survey Officer at Hooghly Point. Launches and Row boat will assist in grappling.
       Wire Deputy Conservator immediately on recovering the lost anchor and chain. Make your own arrangements for messing.

The next example is simply addressed to "A.D. Linklater Esq" and is dated 20th September 1912;
      Please take over charge of the Tug Rescue for the purpose of towing the Sailing Ship Brilliant down the river tomorrow; her present Commander has been instructed to place her alongside the Brilliant this afternoon before dark. It is expected that the vessel will haul out of moorings at daylight in the morning and while she is in the stream, the Retriever will come alongside on the opposite side to your vessel. You will please take your orders from the Pilot, and as to casting off. It is possible he may require you to take him as far as Mud Point. When your services are no longer required, please return to Calcutta, handing over charge of the vessel to Mr. Harvey and reporting yourself at this office.

As an aside it is worth pointing out to those who do not know, that where access to a port was any distance up a river, such as Calcutta, lying some 120 miles up the Hooghly, the size of sailing ships without any auxiliary means of propulsion that could gain access to such ports was very limited. Strong tides and currents, narrow channels constrained by hazardous sandbanks and a winding course likely to bring a sailing ship's head foul of the wind all tended to inhibit if not totally prevent access under sail except under rare favourable conditions. With the development of effective steam propulsion manoeuvring large sailing ships up such rivers became feasible, either by the installation of secondary engines aboard the sailing ship or by the use of steam tugs. Even with an engine fitted aboard, the services of a Pilot with local knowledge was usually mandatory. The development of steam also greatly enhanced the prosperity of such ports by rendering them more accessible to ships and therefore trade.

An additional limiting factor at Calcutta was the constricted turning space for vessels. Turning a ship there required great skill and, from the sound of it, some nerve and a bit of luck. Apart from the lack of geographical space between the river banks, there were swift currents which either had to be exploited to the ship's advantage or would as easily lead to disaster. See the pages on HOOGHLY PILOTAGE for more details and especially PAGE 3. The upshot was that the lack of space combined with shoal water limited the size of ships able to gain access to Calcutta ca. 1915 to some 520 feet long and drawing no more than 28’ 10"

❮ Back © 2018 Duncan Linklater Next ❯