Ceylon (Sri Lanka) was the next port of call. Berthing at the capital Colombo, passengers were ferried ashore by the ship’s tender. A coach tour was arranged to visit Mount Levinia, with lunch at the Mount Levinia Hotel. Even up in the mountains it was hot and steamy and the slowly rotating ceiling fans were pretty ineffectual. The service was faultless but the décor and grey linen indicated that the hotel had seen better times. It was a sad sight to see such a once grand building slowly decaying.

From Colombo, the Stratheden sailed south across the great expanse of the rolling Indian Ocean, past the Cocos Islands and on to Fremantle. On board there were a number of activities to pass the time. A chess tournament was listed, so I put my name down. Most of the other contestants were older, ‘refined’ passengers and they were surprised to see a young plumber with a broad Yorkshire accent ending up in the final.

There was a rumour that a twelve-year-old lad had become sick and had died during the night. Our concerns were confirmed when a section of the ship was cordoned off and the the ship’s engines stopped.

With the now silent Stratheden dead in the water and a flat calm sea it was a strange feeling knowing that the young lad was committed to the deep.

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