Former qe2 captain reveals how he summoned russell crowe to bridge – but gave up high seas adventure to sail barge boats yellow cocktail dresses for weddings

“after her refit in 1987 I had to take her for sea trials in the english channel and we went full ship astern and I was actually overtaking ships’ who were going forwards. That gave them a bit of a fright.

“and her steel hull was also an inch thick, so she was built for rough seas. If you’re lucky hulls on modern ships are just one centimetre thick.”

He adds: “but the QM2 was massive — the length of two and a half football pitches. Although to handle her you had to have the skills of a 14 year old because it’s all controlled by computers now — it’s like playing a gameboy machine.”

Nick has also penned a hilarious book A pinch of salt which is a collection of nautical terms and salty tales from his time on the ocean wave.Newspapers limited

He says: “questions you get asked by passengers include ‘do the crew sleep on board?’ to ‘what time is the midnight buffet?’ and ‘who drives the ship when the captain is at the cocktail party?’.”

He says: “this fella was also boasting about how he was taking one of the finest tours of the caribbean which ended with a beach picnic and a horseback ride. But while getting into the saddle he failed to stop and continued over the top falling heavily onto the sand.

“he declared that his arm was broken and blamed everyone — including the horse. Back in the ship’s hospital the duty nurse, who had been pre-warned, assured him his arm wasn’t broken, but he still demanded to see the doctor for a second opinion.Newspapers limited

“she called the doctor and said in a very loud voice, ‘there’s a gentleman down here who says he’s a sheriff and has just fallen off his horse’.”

He says: “this captain I sailed with took great pleasure on hosting ‘star gazer’ evenings. One night under a full moon with a group of 30 passengers, he began his lecture on the lunar cycle when he was interrupted by someone saying ‘been there.’

“he paused, just a little annoyed, to ask the passenger what he meant. So you can imagine his surprise when buzz aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, stepped forward.”

But despite his decorated time at sea, nick reveals he still needed to get a new licence to navigate the union canal between falkirk and edinburgh.Group newspapers limited

Nick, who lives with wife kefah, laughs: “I was qualified to drive any ship of any size anywhere in the world — except the union canal. It’s funny because a canal barge is about the same size as one of the lifeboats aboard the QE2.

And he adds: “I loved my time on both the QE2 and QM2 where I met most of the royal family too. Over the years I’ve enjoyed the company of people like john cleese as well.

“but once a captain, always a captain and I still have the power of command — even if nowadays it’s only the ability to go straight up or straight back down the canal again.”

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