RONALD Rogerson, who died February 1 (Penarth Times, February 9), was a member of a small declining group of men – "shellbacks", survivors of the age of the "windjammers" – large square-rigged commercial vessels.

Ronald and his brother Allan were members of the crew of the Pamir, a four masted barque that left Wellington, New Zealand, on February 1, 1949. The barque started her last passage, under sail, on the same day of the month that 63 years later Ronald started his passage to ‘Fiddler's Green’.

Pamir arrived at Port Victoria, Spencer Gulf, South Australia and anchored at 8pm on Sunday, March 6. Loaded with just over 60,000 large sacks of barley, the barque left Spencer Gulf at 9.45am on Saturday, 28 May, watched by the crew of the Passat anchored close by.

Pamir rounded Cape Horn, Monday, July 11 at 1am, all hands had a celebratory tot of rum, and the vessel anchored in Falmouth Roads on October 2, 1949 – 128 days out from Port Victoria.

The Pamir was the last deep sea engineless commercial square-rigged vessel to round Cape Horn.

The Passet left Port Victoria June 2 and rounded Cape Horn at 2pm Saturday, July 9, and dropped both anchors at Queenstown Ireland, at 5pm September 20, 1949, a passage of 110 days.

The Passat was ordered to Penarth and left Queenstown September 25 to anchor at Barry Roads October 2, later to be towed to Penarth Dock by two tugs.

Pamir left Falmouth October 5 towed by a large tug the ‘Englishman’, owned by the United Towing Company. As the Pamir approached Penarth Roads two smaller tugs took over the tow and eased the barque into Penarth Dock to be berthed ahead of Passet on the northside of the dock, October 6.

The crew of the Pamir were paid off, on board, in the presence of the Finnish Consul and the next day were bussed to Heathrow. The crew flew out just before midnight Friday, October 28, and arrived at Sydney on Thursday, November 3, having stopped at Rome, Cairo, Bahrain Island, Karachi, Bombay, Colombo, Singapore, Surbaja and Darwin.

Pamir’s colourful and varied career, that included trading throughout the Second World War, came to a sudden and tragic end on September 21, 1957 when she succumbed to the fury of hurricane Carrie.

Pamir capsized and sank in position 35-57N, 40-20W, about 600 miles south-west of the Azores.

Passat is preserved at Travemunde and is open to the public.

Alan Thorne

* The funeral service of Ronald Rogerson takes place today, Thursday, February 16, at St Johns Baptist Church, Sully, at 11am.