Life in the cursed old ship yet

Ray Krakouer points to where the lifeboats are hanging on their davits.
Ray Krakouer points to where the lifeboats are hanging on their davits.

Ray Krakouer (89), of Yanchep, was one of the ship’s caretakers, serving aboard the wreck for weeks at a time after she ran aground in a north-westerly on Eglinton Reef in May, 1963.

A neighbour of Mr Krakouer’s is now looking after a last relic of the ill-fated former Liberty ship ” an aluminium lifeboat.

Though not superstitious by nature, he recalls some scary moments while on the wreck.

‘I particularly remember the eerie sight of seeing something coming towards me like a bright light the size of a man,’ he said.

‘I picked up a piece of three-by-two timber and stood there waiting. I said something like ‘Come on, you bastard’ but then thought better of it and dropped the lump of wood and climbed the ladder out of the hold.

‘And there was also the clatter of the Morse key in the radio room, though it was locked and sealed by the customs people,’ he said.

This is a particularly chilling tale as the much re-named Alkimos was the scene of a murder-suicide when it was named Viggo Hansteen in August 1944 when berthed in Naples. Canadian radio operator Maude Steane is reported to have been shot by another crew member, who then killed himself.

And then there are many other bizarre tales, including unexplained smells of cooking. Other caretakers and scrap merchants also reported mysterious ghostly figures, usually wearing oilskins and sea boots.

Even the lifeboats seemed cursed. One ” a double-ended clinker-built boat ” ended up a pile of matchwood on the beach.

The other lifeboat, a heavy riveted aluminium craft used to deliver provisions to the stranded Alkimos, leaked like a sieve, the rivets shaken loose by the diesel engine. But it survived and was stored at a beach house in Yanchep for many years. The lifeboat was once stolen but quickly returned after police and newspapers were notified of its ill-fated origins.

Since then, the one remaining lifeboat and direct link with the Alkimos slipped into obscurity. But Mr Krakouer knew all about it and kept its hiding place secret until approached by a representative of the paranormal research group, Perth Ghost Hunters, who had recorded strange electro-magnetic disturbances at the last resting place of Alkimos as recently as 2010.

As yet, Mr Krakouer has no report of anything out of the ordinary.