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From Cook toChef & Tankers to Floating Palaces.

Paul Coleman's British Seaman's Card
A Passport to a Life at Sea

In 1977, I left the Merchant Navy as a Chief Cook. I had been to Asia, the Americas, Africa, Australia, Europe, and the Persian Gulf, on ships large and small, having a most wonderful education and life.

At sea I witnessed the beauty of nature, Albatrosses, Manta Rays, Dolphins, Penguins, Whales, and in severe contrast when working on supertankers, I witnessed oil flowong into the Oceans when the crew cleaned out the holds after offloading the oil and dumping it into the sea.

I could easily picture thousands of ships doing the same, dwarfing the pollution seen when tankers such as the Torrey Canyon and Exxon Valdez run aground.

In 1977 I was allowed to take a three-month leave from the Merchant Navy and went to the South of France, where I ended up working on Private Yachts. Now I was called a Chef, paid a great salary and given a fabulous expense account to create gastronomic delights. I lived among the rich and the famous, cruised the Mediterranean, drank Champagne with Formula One Champions, and partied in the Casinos of Monte Carlo. Life was good… but it was about to get better. In 1978 I left the South of France on the M.Y. Les Amis, a fifty-one-meter floating palace recently bought by a Mafia family run by three elderly brothers. “You’ll find us good people to work for." One of the brothers said during the interview. "But we don’t want to catch you listening at the keyholes.”

MY Les Amis a Floating Palace
MY Les Amis

I took his advice and we got along very well as the yacht sailed to Gibraltar, the Azores, Bermuda, and Florida.

One day I chatted to a crew member from the Caribbean Island of Antigua. I asked him about the food the islanders ate. “Our diet was mainly shellfish and seafood which we harvested off the beach, but we can’t do that anymore.” He said. “Plastic bags have suffocated the life on the seafloor.” I thought about the garbage bags I had dumped into the sea during my time as Catering Boy, and for the first time, I seriously began to think about the damage we are doing to this planet.

The Queen Mum on one of her visits to the Green Meadows Estate of Mrs. McDougald. 1984
The Queen Mum on one of her visits to the Green Meadows Estate of Mrs. McDougald. 1984

In 1979, I quit working on yachts and migrated from Florida to Canada, where I got what I considered to be the best job in the world. I became a Chauffeur to a tremendously wealthy old lady who was a friend of the British Royal Family and owned vast estates in Canada, Florida and Britain.

The interview for the position took place at Green Meadows, the ladies Toronto estate...

But that's another story



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