The 17th Adventure Club Podcast: Langeoog, Lili Marlene & whisky

Holidays are now over, and we resume podcasting with a slightly longer than usual show covering two days in the book instead of one. On October 17 and October 18, our heroes Carruthers & Davies find themselves in the Otsumer Ee between the islands of Spiekeroog & Langeroog, until  bad weather forces them to head for the port of Bensersiel. Lloyd (NotDavies) tackles October 17. Tim (notCarruthers) considers October 18.

First, though, we make an important announcement about our attempts to raise money on (01:50) We discuss how we’re still keen to publish a new ‘Handbook Edition’ of The Riddle of the Sands, but also explain why we’re now going to have to wait a year before undertaking the  real-life adventure. See for details.

Lloyd (or rather Club Member Tony) introduces us to the dark art of pig ballast (07:52); a few basic facts about Langeoog and a correction by Club Member Tony (the other Tony) about groynes (11:15); the story of Lale Anderson (Langeoog resident for many years), and an even more amazing story about the song ‘Lili Marlene’ (14:26).

Lale Anderson and the water tower on Langeoog. By Fueffa (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Tim gets excited about 19th century customs duty and the ‘Zollverein’ (24:16); we hazard guesses about what kind of whisky, salt and coffee Davies would have on board the boat Dulcibella (28:16); the story of Pattersons whisky (including talking parrots) (29:00); Cerebos salt and a tobacco tin (35:31); Symingtons coffee – and pea flour (37:58).

Club Business. Peter on a filthy sounding drink that isn’t pink gin (40:20); Brian on modern-day cycling kit (41:44); Nick on 1903 cycling kit (43:14); John and Kevin on Langeoog airfields (44:49); Kevin & Ian on the gunboat Blitz (45:03); the discovery of a North Sea gin (45:22); Jeff on a fantastic spy literature & film conference (46:38).

Missions for next week – members assistance required.

‘there lay the bones of a French war-vessel, wrecked ages ago. She carried bullion which has never been recovered’: are there ancient wrecks and sunken treasure to be had in these parts? Let’s find out.

‘coffee and Kümmel’: another foreign liqueur to try!

‘Their fathers made their living out of wrecks on this coast, and the children inherit a weakness for plunder’: is this true? Should we be wary of the locals?

‘…that dyke. Let’s walk along it’: we need to find this dyke so we can do the walk when we finally get out there.

5 thoughts on “The 17th Adventure Club Podcast: Langeoog, Lili Marlene & whisky

  1. Regarding “‘Their fathers made their living out of wrecks on this coast, and the children inherit a weakness for plunder’: is this true? Should we be wary of the locals?”
    I will cut and paste from this wikipedia article:

    …..”Wrecking is the practice of taking valuables from a shipwreck which has foundered close to shore. Often an unregulated activity of opportunity in coastal communities, wrecking has been subjected to increasing regulation and evolved into what is now known as marine salvage. Wrecking is no longer economically significant; however, as recently as the 19th century in some parts of the world, it was the mainstay of otherwise economically marginal coastal communities.

    The term is also used to describe the practice of decoying ships on to coasts using e.g. false lights, so that they run ashore and can be plundered.[1] It is disputed (below) whether this is feasible or not.”…
    Its hard to imagine the cruelty involved in deliberately wrecking ships just to try to salvage what floated up on the beach but apparently this was a common practice. I forget where I read of it but I remember an account of half drowned but still living survivors being murdered on the beach for their valuables!
    Its a long and twisty historical and cultural leap to modern day shore communities reaping a tenuous economic existence by fleecing the tourists in any way they can, as they often do today. I do want shore communities to survive but I’m just glad they no longer try to actually kill us!


  2. I’ve been trying to help out in search for something (anything) on Bensersiel. The pickings do seem slim. There are a few mentions here and there:
    One is of it being one of several places (well know to us) that are at risk of flood, or as the German weather bureau put it in 2013 ‘the country is about to expect “attacks from the northwest”

    It does get a mention as the embarkation point for boats to Langeoog, and apparently Soviet prisoners in WW2 rebelled at Bensersiel when being taken to Langeoog for fear they would be thrown into the North Sea. This and more about a day spent at Langeoog in 2008, including a rather excellent sounding afternoon tea available at Ostfriesische Teestube am Hafen, can be found at (about 2/3rds down the page) in two pieces (one a poem) by Satis Schrod called “Longing for Langeoog”.

    Finally, the Benserseil tors (or doors/gates) are worth a mention. At we find that there are not one set of gates there, but two. The old wooden ones were replaced in 1891 and apparently just abandoned in the mud, not rediscovered until 1967. They are now on display, on land. So at the time the book is set in, the gates were there, albeit buried.


  3. So here I am, three years late; but I hope not a dollar short. Crew for a 140′ (42 M) steam torpedo boat? You’re going to need 2 stokers, a fireman, an oiler and an engineer per watch. On the bridge you’ll need an Officer of the Deck, navigator (AKA quartermaster), helmsman, lee helmsman (handles the engine room telegraph) and a couple of lookouts, one of whom doubles as a bearing taker. That’s 11, call it a dozen; minimum of two watches, so 24 watchstanders. Non watchstanders; Captain, Executive Officer (That’s U.S., you’d say #1 or 1st Officer), Operations Officer, Engineering Officer, Gunnery or Torpedo Officer. Then you’ll want a Boatswain, Boatswain’s Mate, Coxswain, two gunner’s mates, and two gunners. A bugler, and maybe a drummer. So a minimum of 38 man crew, call it 40. That’s for open sea cruising. In shallow or confined waters some of the off watch will be standing anchor detail and sounding, and launching and manning the small boat. There’d probably be another watch section (giving 3 watches) so up to 50 or 52 men.
    Now the Operations Officer, Gunnery Officer and Boatswain _might_ be the same man. So I’d call a minimum crew of 36 up to a maximum of 52. Maybe push to 60-70 in war time to always have gunners and torpedomen on watch, but might stay with 50 or so and go down to two watch sections. Convert to oil fired boilers and you could drop the stokers, but that’s only a 4-6 man reduction.
    A modern Naval or Coast Guard ship that size would have a crew of a couple of dozen, but everything from engineering to gunnery and navigation are much more automated these days.


    1. Ahoy Glenn

      Fantastic detail here. And completely in the spirit of the ROTS Adventure Club. Welcome aboard!


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