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We had two double-lectures a week, taught by a grimfaced ex-master, Captain Daventry. All the lecturers were captains, apart from a few CPOs, who were chiefs. Daventry was the only one who had actually served as master though; the others were all ex-chief officers who held Masters Certificates. Daventry was an authoritarian, and very clever. He expected everyone to be able to grasp whatever he taught and became impatient when we failed to do so. This made him a bad teacher because we were all nervous of ever asking any questions. And because of this, we struggled along in the hardest of all subjects, making heavy work of the ponderous mathematics and the yards of theory. At night, we brought work back to the hostel and laboured through it. The early 1970s were pre-calculator days and we had to use Norries Tables – a thick logarithmic almanac – to work out complex mathematical problems that were the grounding for navigation. We learnt page upon page of spherical trigonometry formula and then, when we had learnt them, Captain Daventry made us learn the mathematical proofs for them all.

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