'Four Times a Scapegoat' is the remarkable true account of Captain Douglas Harvey's life at sea, taking in a great swathe of one man's unexpectedly fascinating career aboard gas and chemical tankers. From the beginning the reader is immersed in the seedy, rough and frequently alarming world of merchant shipping. Harvey employs a cast of hilarious characters to bring this expose of life as a tanker captain into sharp focus. It is a tale of crooked port officials, double dealing and guile - not least on the part of ship owners - with Captain Harvey frequently taking the rap for the multiple failings. However, 'Four Times a Scapegoat' also captures the lighter side of life at sea and describes the devilishly ingenious practical jokes the crew play on each other to while away the hours. In one insane stunt, 'Blunderman', Captain Harvey's first chief officer and personal albatross, fills a port official's car with almost a tonne of dry powder fired at high pressure from the ship's fire extinguisher.
Indeed, it is the farcical activities of 'Ivor the Engine', 'Ten Knot Tony', 'The Poison Dwarf' and the irrepressible 'Blunderman' that will, by turns, entertain and alarm the reader with their staggering ineptitude. More seriously, Captain Harvey also reveals the scandalous attitudes towards the environment prevalent in the chemical industry and appallingly low standards of safety. The reader will find 'Four Times a Scapegoat' is both a damning indictment of the merchant shipping industry and an hilarious read.
Douglas Harvey was born in Kirkcaldy, Fife in 1954, the second son of a brilliant engineer who took his father's name. This was a legacy that he passed on to his three sons. He was a victim of the old 'eleven plus' exam and was destined for a life decided at age 11 with no obvious future, until he was nurtured by a Group Captain Leslie Inglis, RAF(VR), a science teacher at Auchmuty High School, Glenrothes, who carefully steered him into the stream who sought qualifications. Douglas Harvey joined BP Tanker Company in 1972 as a cadet on oil tankers and he gained his second mate's 'ticket' in 1975, before changing to gas tankers in 1977. He became a recognised expert in the carriage of liquefied gases at sea as a result of the dedicated training instilled in him, where the greatest gift was the ability to think very quickly for oneself. His desire to read almost anything added to his already considerable knowledge. Attaining the qualifications of Master Mariner in 1984, he took command in 1986 at the age of 31, so started off his fascinating second career shared with you here. Having given up the sea professionally at age 50, he is now a writer and at the present time is building a fully working ship's sextant in solid gold and platinum, recognising the skills instilled in him by his father. This is to be the reward to whoever solves his third book, the second containing all the clues necessary, plus a lot more. Today he utilises his knowledge of liquefied gases once again as a marine investigator in subrogated marine insurance cases. His greatest delight is his two children, Morag and Graham, of whom he is very proud. He now lives quietly with his fiancee Hazel in his beloved country of Scotland.