A boyhood visit to the battleship HMS Nelson left the author with the ambition to be a midshipman in the Royal Navy and to be in charge of a steam picket-boat with a brass funnel. The author relates how he went to sea, his adventures and experiences ashore and afloat during his 35 years service under the White Ensign and the Red Ensign. Starting as a Merchant Navy cadet in the British India Steam Navigation Company at the start of World War II, he subsequently joined the Royal Navy and progressed from midshipman to lieutenant during ten years of service. Captain Stewart's story includes details of his first ship, the SS Mulbera; coming home to the Clyde and later sailing around the Cape. During the war years he experienced life in a minesweeper and a corvette, and escorted convoys in the Arctic and the Mediterranean. Leaving the Navy after the war, he spent several years ashore before returning to seafaring in the Merchant Navy. He joined the fleet of a major oil company as a junior officer and quickly progressed through the ranks until he reached the rank of master, spending many years in command of large crude oil tankers.
Although Captain stewart served in eight classes of warship and many more types of tanker, he never did command a picket boat with a brass funnel!