Voyage on the 'Devonia', 1963

The 1963 school journey was a cruise aboard the M.S. Devonia. Kathy Till née Diver wrote a log during the voyage.

DAY ONE - Saturday 3rd August

Log bookEarly in the morning at 1030 we had to pass through customs, as we had boarded the ship a night earlier. We had to disembark again to get ashore with the others who arrived at 10 o'clock.

At 1230 we left Grange Dock. We went under the new footbridge and then proceeded under the Forth Bridge and into the North Sea out of the Firth of Forth river. On board we were the only school from London and the rest came from Scotland and one school was from Sunderland.

In the afternoon we carried out a life boat drill at our muster stations. At 1700 we passed Bass Rock bird sanctuary.

When we woke up the sky was heavy and cloudy, the clouds cleared but the weather was still dismal. At noon we came across a mist. It cleared up but now and again it came back. In the evening the weather was much better and we had a clear view of the sea.

DAY TWO - Sunday 4th August

The morning was heavy and cold and we wanted to stay in bed. We were eleven miles away from any land. At noon the mist appeared and it became very thick. Soon after we had a lifeboat drill at our muster stations.

In the afternoon we had a lecture in the lecture hall about the ship. In the evening it was still misty. The fog siren sounded frequently.

DAY THREE - Monday 5th August

We travelled past the south east coast of the Isle of Wight about 40 miles away from it. Further down and out into the English Channel we passed the Isle of Sark. Later we passed Jersey and Guernsey.

At 1450 land was sighted off the port side of the ship. It was the coast of France. As we rounded the Cap de la Haig we could see that on the coast line there was a small settlement with a church tower peering above. There was a lighthouse just off the coast.

MapDAY FOUR - Tuesday 6th August

During the night we rounded Ushant and entered the Bay of Biscay. It was a little cloudy this morning and the sea was not exactly calm. The weather during the day, though, turned out sunny.

We saw an old tramp ship letting off steam.

DAY FIVE - Wednesday 7th August

We saw the coast of Spain on the port side. There were many Spanish ships off the coast. At 1145 we docked in Vigo. There were only a few clouds in the sky, otherwise the weather was very hot.

In Vigo we went shopping, a girl of about 15 showed us around to tell us the best shopping places. We spent all afternoon shopping and found in the end that we didn't have time to sunbathe or go swimming. We arrived back on board ship at 1800 hours roughly.

In the evening we saw the Spanish dancers on the quayside. One of our girls was given a Spanish hat by one of the Spanish boys. The dancing was very good, especially the two young children. At about 2300 hours we left port bound for Casablanca in North Africa.

DAY SIX - Thursday 8th August

Today we passed along the coast of Portugal. The weather was getting very hot and everyone was sunbathing. At about 1500 we passed a white ship. It was too far away to see the name on it.

In the evening there was a funfair. We had to put the clocks back one hour. At 2330 we passed Cape St. Vincent.

DAY SEVEN - Friday 9th August

The weather is getting much hotter. In the dormitories it was hotter than usual and we all noticed the difference. There wasn't a cloud to be seen in the sky at 1100, and the sea changed from a greeny colour to blue.

At 1650 we docked in Casablanca.

DAY EIGHT - Saturday 10th August

In Casablanca. I expected to see a camel but I never saw one. We toured around in coaches in the morning. We first saw a church with wonderfully stained glass windows. Then we saw the Moroccan law courts and all the people who were being tried. We then went to Miami Beach which we all enjoyed.

In the afternoon we went shopping, or should I say bargaining. We left Casablanca at 1700 and set course for Cape St. Vincent.

DevoniaDAY NINE - Sunday 11th August

Today the weather was not too bad. At 1100 some of us visited the bridge, as we passed Cape St. Vincent. We saw how the boat is steered. At 2030 we moored in Lisbon.

DAY TEN - Monday 12th August

In the morning we went shopping to the centre of Lisbon. We also had a look around the centre of the town. There we saw the Praca dos Restauradores. In the afternoon the weather was very hot. We went on a coach tour and saw the Prince Henry the Navigator monument. It was inaugurated in 1960 and erected to commemorate the fifth centenary of the death of Prince Henry. On the land side of the Prince Henry Museum is a compass rose of sintra marble inset in the ground and presented to Portugal by the Union of South Africa to commemorate the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope in 1487.

We then stopped at Belem Tower. It was constructed in 1515 (or 1575??????) by the architect Francisco de Arruda on the spot from which Vasco de Gama left on his voyage of discovery of India (1498). We also went to a large university. It was massive. The chairs inside (some of them) were made of grey suede. The university has just been erected.

We left left Lisbon at 1800 and passed Cape Roca at 2040.

DAY ELEVEN - Tuesday 13th August

When we woke up the weather was rainy and very cloudy. The sea was a horrid browny colour. Didn't do much today. Except that we had a tug of war tournament. We lost but with all the strong Scottish girls we couldn't have done much different. In the evening we had a brains trust which was supported by all of our school.

DAY TWELVE - Wednesday 14th August

At 0900 we passed two Royal Navy anti-submarine frigates. One of these was flying a flag signal which means that submarines are exercising in the vicinity.

In the evening we had a fancy dress dance. I didn't dress up, just went with Pat. Most of the time I was dancing with Karl.

DAY THIRTEEN - Thursday 15th August

We passed Guernsey at 0600. Today we finished our essays and handed them in. Then we finished our logbooks. The weather now improved, and was sunny and fairly warm. In the evening we are going to a dance and I hope that we will enjoy our last few days aboard the MS Devonia - the ship which has taken us to many interesting places.

(DAY FOURTEEN - no entry)

DAY FIFTEEN - Saturday 17th August

Home at last. We arrived at Grangemouth. Most of the girls were crying. I said to Karl I wouldn't but I did in the end, I still don't know why. I wished I was back on board. Journey home was a laugh.


A second account of this voyage appeared in the Summer 1964 School Magazine. It's in the Archive section of this site, but is repeated here. Well, we try to be helpful!...

SAILING TO NEW HORIZONS by Christine Francis née Rudd

We sailed, on the 3rd August, 1963 in M.S. Devonia, from Grangemouth, Scotland. Bound for: Vigo (Spain), Casablanca (N. Africa) and Lisbon (Portugal). We arrived back on the 17th.

Rain greeted us when we arrived at Grangemouth after ten hours travelling up from London. We staggered towards the coaches clutching our cases, and finally set off for M.S. Devonia. Once on board a meal was consumed and we all bedded down for the night. In the morning we passed through customs, then watched all the Scottish people coming on board. At 12.30 we sailed for Vigo.

To get to our first port of call we had to pass through the Bay of Biscay. I don't know why, but most people suffered a decline in their health at that time. Spirits brightened, however, when we arrived at Vigo. From behind the bunker fuel pit, the buildings of Vigo rose up to the sky. We spent a few happy hours there, wandering around the town and bathing on Samil Beach. Before leaving, we watched Spanish dancers who performed on the quay. Then amid cheers and friendly waving we left our berth at Vigo and continued on our journey. Next stop Casablanca, city of the sun.

Our arrival at Casablanca was greeted by officials, Moslem people, European people and street traders. What struck me most was the fact that the land is so flat and everything looks pale brown and bright. Because we had arrived in the afternoon, there was time for a walk into town before the evening meal. The shops were rather different from what we were used to, and the shopkeepers more so. They seemed so willing for us to enter their shops that on some occasions we were literally dragged inside them. We felt more at home when it was found that Pepsi Colas were sold in the bars. We also found these drinks in Vigo but not in Lisbon.

Anyhow, in the morning we went for a tour of Casablanca, our guide was nicknamed Peewee. The first stop was at the Palace, then we went to the Law Courts. After driving around the European quarter and the Medina, we were taken to Miami Beach, where we bathed and drank Pepsi Colas. The drive back to the ship took twenty minutes. The only disappointment we had was that no camels were seen on the whole trip, no real ones anyway.

In a very short time we were allowed ashore again and we were spending our money. It wasn't very difficult. Much bargaining was done to get prices to the right level and in the end almost everyone was satisfied and had enjoyed it all tremendously. There were a few of course who proclaimed that they had been well and truly done!

On arriving back at the ship we waved away the street traders and climbed up the gangplank very tired from our excursions. That night we would have slept well had it not been for the heat.

We travelled onward, along the Portuguese coast until arrival at Lisbon. This is a very clean looking place, so very different from Casablanca. The ship berthed in the evening so we dormitory passengers could not go ashore.

In the morning phase 2 gallantly set out in search for the town centre. An hour later we were still looking for it! With determination we plodded on and managed somehow to spend our money on presents and ice-cream. Then we split up into groups of four and called taxis. Arriving in perfect style we waited for the last group. At last they arrived, and explained that the taxi driver had started to take them to the airport. Luckily one of them had a piece of paper and a pencil so he drew for the driver a picture of the ship. He understood eventually and changed direction.

Coaches took us in the afternoon for a tour of Lisbon. We visited Prince Henry The Navigator's Monument, a castle, many squares, the university and the sports stadium. Arriving back at the pier where M.S. Devonia was berthed, there was time for last minute shopping. At 6 o'clock or as now we are used to calling it, 1800 hrs., we set sail, homeward bound.

Now that the cruise is nearly over I am looking forward to my own wonderful bed and such luxuries as plates to eat food from. We have enjoyed ourselves and seen many beautiful sights, but as the old saying goes There's No Place Like Home! And that's where I want to be.