Fourteen days across the Atlantic, perched on a ship’s rudder

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Fourteen days across the Atlantic, perched on a ship’s rudder​



A little after midnight on 27 June, Roman Ebimene Friday gathered up the food he had been collecting for a few months and set out in the dark for the large commercial port in the city of Lagos, Nigeria. Earlier that day, Friday had spotted a 620-foot (190m) tanker docked at the port and decided that it would be the ship to deliver him to Europe.

Friday was aiming for the tanker's rudder - the only accessible point on its massive hull for a person who isn't supposed to be aboard. There was no way to bridge the gap from the dock to the rudder, other than convince a fisherman to ferry him across. "He was a holy man, that fisherman," Friday recalled. "He did not ask for money. He could see that I wanted to leave."

The fisherman sidled up to the rudder and Friday, 35, pulled himself up, hauling his food bag behind him on a rope. As he steadied himself he saw, to his surprise, three faces in the dark. He was the last of four men with the same idea. "I was scared, at first," Friday said. "But they were black Africans, my brothers."

Fearful of being caught, the four men perched silently on the rudder for the next 15 hours. At 5pm, they felt the ship's giant engines shudder to life. Over the din, they shouted a few words. They were all aiming for Europe. They expected to be shipmates for as long as a week.

The tanker, called the Ken Wave, pushed out from the port and headed to sea - the beginning of a perilous two-week ocean voyage that would bring the stowaways close to death.

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With no water was a risky business....
It would be a risky business no matter what.

It's like hopping a freight car on the railroad. If you have a good place, say, inside an auto-rack car...you're okay. If you're asleep on the end of a hopper, not so much, especially if it's one that doesn't have a full floor to the end. If you're riding underneath, as many Depression train-hoppers did, you had best strap yourself in with ropes, for when you fall asleep. As you will.

This was worse - just sitting on the edge of a steel plate. And right behind the screw - the wash might or might not cover the entire rudder; there's no way of knowing. And how would they secure themselves, when sleep did happen, or their hands go numb?

And as the story shows, what was expected to be five days, became three times that. It's really a miracle they didn't drown and die.
 
If you're asleep on the end of a hopper, not so much,
What about those covered hoppers? I've seen some of those that on either end, have a little hole that opens to a small enclosed area that is big enough to stow away inside of.
 
What about those covered hoppers? I've seen some of those that on either end, have a little hole that opens to a small enclosed area that is big enough to stow away inside of.
Depends on the car - they're all a little different. Depending on who made it, who ordered it and who paid for it.

On some covered grain cars, there's a conduit that goes through the car. It's about 6-9 inches wide. Kinda tight. It's to bring back handbrake chains and/or air brake piping.

On hoppers, covered and not, you have a taper on the forward and rear sides of the car. Some have welded decking. Back when I was training on the railroad - and that was just a few years after cabooses went away - the inside of that area was a favored place to coop when "riding a shove" (guiding a train backwards). But most newer hoppers have only a framework - including a brace that takes up the plate the truck bolster fits to - just the framework, with the wheel truck, brake rigging, and of course, all that debris...open. So, no safe riding there.
 
Pity you doan know nuffin about trains...
 
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