Coleraine Probus meet an Ancient Mariner

Coleraine Probus Club President Des Moore greets Eric Lake, with two of the newest club members John Christy (L) and Maurice Platt (R).
Coleraine Probus Club President Des Moore greets Eric Lake, with two of the newest club members John Christy (L) and Maurice Platt (R).

Coleraine Probus Club President Des Moore was a little puzzled to welcome a not-so-old Eric Lake, when he came to the club with his talk on the “Reminiscence of an Ancient Mariner”.

Eric explained that the Merchant Navy is celebrating its 100th Birthday this year, 2018.

The title “Merchant Navy” was officially granted by King George V after the First World War to recognise the contribution made by the merchant sailors. Edward, Prince of Wales, was the first Master and Queen Elizabeth is the current Master.

Eric was born in Coleraine, the son of Eddie Lake a local sign writer and studied at Coleraine Technical College before deciding to join the Merchant Navy. As an Apprentice Cadet

Navigating Officer he travelled in April 1957 to Rotterdam to join a ship which was to take him on his first trip to Caracas in Venezuela.

Eric vividly detailed his progress through the ranks of the Merchant Navy from cadet to 2nd and 3rd Officer, Deck Officer and after receiving his Master’s Certificate to Chief Officer with Sealink Ferries.

After a seaman’s wedding in Portstewart to Margaret Sterrit, Margaret was able to join Eric in the on board married quarters thus beginning a world wide adventure in bulk carriers and

tankers, sometimes leading to dangerous trips delivering jet fuel to the American Army in the

Vietnamese Mikon Delta or being instructed by a ship’s captain to record that “the vessel is

flexing gently” when the word gently seemed most inappropriate.

In latter years Eric was involved in Consultancy with the Australian Maritime College using the LICOS Simulator, a real time simulator of the control system used in the storage and transfer of hazardous bulk liquid cargoes. He was also involved in ship vetting with The Lloyds Register of Shipping and as a Marine Superintendent where he would take over from the ship’s captain to manoeuvre the vessel into difficult harbours or rivers. After a distinguished career in seafaring Eric hung up his sextant and retired in 2002.