My name is Willie Scott, I am 64 years old and retired, living in Nairn with my wife and King Charlie Spaniel "Louis"
I served my time in the sixties as a marine engineer, in the shipyard of Harland and Wolff Belfast (wrote a book about this and it in the process of being published)
I went to sea as a ships engineer at the age of twenty, joining my first ship; an oil tanker in Portland Main USA, what an experience for a young lad who had never flown before, never been out of the UK and flew from Belfast-London-Boston-Portland Main in the space of two days. This first ship had a very posh set of officers; all ex P&O cruise ship engineers doing tanker time.
Anyhow, I didn’t get a very good start on her (MV Orama), whether because of my accent, or because I was wearing my brothers old uniform of navy serge; jacket sleeves and trousers too short, or maybe because I didn’t drink ‘pink gins’.
Anyway eventually I settled in and sailed as junior engineer for six months, making few friends, one officer put it as being shoved together with board of trade acquaintances and social misfits!
I was sick for two weeks as we rolled across the Norh Atlantic, gas-freeing the crude oil tanks, but we soon sailed into sunny weather as we approached the Suez Canal; changing into "whites" white shorts, shirt, socks and shoes.
I stayed in the merchant navy for seven years as ships engineering officer, so I did become to enjoy the life at sea even making good friends.
I went to Zambia in Africa to work in the copper mines. Whilst I was there I met and married a lady from Ayrshire in Scotland. We returned home as a couple to Bangor N. Ireland in the mid-seventies, but by this time my wife was pregnant with our first child and there was no way she was living and bringing up children in war-torn Ulster.
It was pretty bad in those days, my sister worked for the Co-op and when we went in to visit her, the security was so tight that the guard made the lady in front of us lift her baby out of the pram to look for bombs!
We moved across to Invergordon in Scotland, to work at an Aluminium smelter and I was Engineer there until it closed in 1981.
Shortly after this I took rheumatoid arthritis, which was really hard to come to terms with especially as we had two small daughters and my wife had to look after me, the children and work part-time cleaning cars for a local garage.
Time went on and eventually a rheumatoid consultant/doctor arrived - a Doctor Steven and he put me into a special hospital for arthritis sufferers and this was the turning point – we got a hold of the disease.
I was off work with this for a couple of years and I managed to get a job at the local oil-rig construction yard at Nigg; Easter Ross as a technical clerk. The job entailed checking and filing drawings, which of course no-one down the yard knew I could understand as none of them knew my background, and I never told anyone.
I had a job getting signed off by the consultant as he thought I might stir-up the arthritis jumping about oil rigs; however I told him I was going as a clerk and would be office bound.
He told me to take it easy for the first few weeks; maybe just work a few days a week, ok says I. First week I worked seven twelve hour shifts at £6 an hour- 0ver £400 in the hand as I didn’t pay tax!
My wife sure had fun rigging out the girls on my first wage as we had been living on sick benefit and her wages for cleaning cars for two years.
I was in the office on night shift one night, down in the dry-dock where we were building a tension-leg platform (this is a oil/gas production platform which is held to the bottom of the sea by steel bars in tension; as opposed to being piled and concreted in).
Anyway, one of my old foremen, Ally Irvine who used to work for me when I was engineer at the smelter, came into the porta-cabin and he asked the night superintendant (an American and great guy) if Willie (me) could help him with a problem on drawing of a pump on the platform.
"You mean Willie can read drawings?" asked Buffalo Bill in a true JR Ewing accent (he wore a cowboy hat and boots like JR as well)
"Sure he was my engineer for years, until he took bad" retorted Ally.
I looked at his drawing; the super made us tea while Ally showed me the problem and I showed him how to fix it.
After Ally went out the Super took me into his office at the end of the cabin and demanded I tell all.
Well he was mighty impressed and said I had been recommended to work for him by personnel officer, but the never gave him any background info-he took me as I was a technical clerk for filing etc. Bill Woodland was a true American gentleman and he told me he was coming back to Scotland as production manager on a Marathon Oil Platform, and would look me up again.
I never thought anymore about it, I got paid off at the end of the job and went to Kishorn in the west coast of Scotland to work (after being knocked back for a job in a Dubai Aluminium Smelter; but that’s another story)
While I was working as a clerk up in Kishorn, I had a call from my old Americano – could I come back to Easter Ross and work for him as mechanical engineer?
Of course I jumped at the chance, although my wife and the girls were sorry to leave the west coast of Scotland; something very special about the folk up there! At the same time, Howard Doris who owned the yard offered me a similar position on a Total rig they had just won the contract for, but I chose to go back to my old yard.
Anyway I was engineer at Nigg, Easter Ross until 2000, when the old arthritis combined with an infernal leg ulcer finally put me back on the sick, then I retired.
Since then I have achieved a degree in Environmental Studies (BSC honours) with the Open University.
I had a long spell in hospital in 2009 with septisema in hip joint, which nearly put me away, however due to excellent doctors and surgeons I learned to walk again and made it down the aisle with my eldest daughter in October 2009.
Since then I have had two new hip replacements and a new knee joint, as the leg ulcer healed up at last due to dedicated vascular staff.
Once I am back on my feet, I may come out of retirement as my old oil-rig construction yard is now fabricating wind turbines and wave energy devices humm - see what wife and doctor say!
So what will I write about?
I am a qualified Engineer and Technical Author, also did a popular writing course and have written several books (The Shipyard Apprentice now published @
I have a degree in Environmental Studies specialising in Renewable Energy
I hope to project manage the conversion the water heating of the Rheumatoid Clinic's hydrotherapy pool from the present fossil fuels to wood burning boilers. Thus saving them money, paying a little back to the clinic consultant and staff, for giving me back my life.
My Awards & Certifications
HNC Mechanical Engineering
Technical Authorship City & Guilds Certificate
BSC(Hons) Environmental Studies
Time served (Harland and Wolff Belfast) marine engineer. Seven years seagoing ships engineer.
Mechanical Maintenance Engineer - Copper and Alumimium smelters
Mechanical Project Engineer - 20 years at Offshore Construction Yard installation of equipment to oil and gas platforms.
Freelance Technical Writer for Brighthub and Maritech - Marine Technical Magazine.
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