This film is part of Free

Working Together: The Merchant Navy

Life on the ocean waves for a young apprentice deckhand, as he learns the ropes on a ferry from Hull to Gothenburg and takes the wheel of a 3,000 ton ship, hoping to make captain.

Documentary 1972 21 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


A chance to have a glimpse behind the scenes of a typical ferry in this excellent documentary which lets the ship hands speak for themselves. Charting the progress of a 17 year old Hull apprentice in 1972, who just wants “a steady job” and “to see the world”, we learn just how much the merchant navy is a family affair, why it is so appealing, and how to help overcome seasickness.

This Yorkshire Television Production was one of many excellent documentaries that they made in the 1970s covering local topics. The ferry Spero featured in the film started working between Hull and Gothenburg in 1966: the first roll-on-roll-off service of its kind operating out of Hull. It was part of the Ellerman Wilson Line, at one time one of the largest shipping groups in the world. At one time Ellerman was the wealthiest businessman ever to live in Britain. 1972 was in fact the last year Spero operated on this line, transferring to Hull and Zeebrugge at the beginning of April, laid up in January 1973, sold to a Greek company in April, and scrapped in 2004. But what happened to Charlie, the young deckhand?