Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Commodore & the Banana Boat

The allure of the sea is too strong for some mariners, such as the late Commodore Geoffrey Marr. His association with the Cunard Line ended after a lifetime at sea and he settled into a well-deserved retirement at his home in England.

But it did not last long. Captain Bob Arnott (most famously of the QE2) describes what happened in his book, Captain of the Queen:

When he retired, Geoffrey quickly became bored and generally disenchanted with life ashore. And after a Cunard career culminating in command of the great Queens, he signed on as second mate of a banana boat. His fellow officers on the West India freighter knew all about their second mate's illustrious past, and used to call him "The Commodore."

There may have been a reason as to why Marr chose a banana boat.

After graduating from the training ship HMS Conway in 1924, his first job was with a company called Elders and Fyffes - "banana specialists," as the Commodore called them. It seems possible that perhaps his new, post-Cunard assignment reminded him of his earliest days at sea. But this is purely speculation on my part.

References: Captain Robert Harry Arnott, Captain of the Queen: The autobiography of the most famous sea captain of them all. (London: Quadrant Books, 1982), 126.

Commodore Geoffrey Marr, The Queens and I: The Autobiography of the Captain of the Queen Mary and the Last Captain of the Queen Elizabeth (London: Adlard Coles Limited, 1973), 13.

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