A Salty Story – Not A Fishy Story !!!!!

This is a somewhat very shortened version of ‘what’ and ‘where’ the event happened….

My good friend Ron ‘Sweeney’ Todd,  shown on the left of the picture at a recent meet up. John now well into his 80’s, recalls what happened during a voyage on ‘London Majesty’ during the early 1960’s….
What actually could have taken place is really ‘Film’ material…!!

Our company London & Overseas Freighters (LOF) was a successful Independent London/Greek Shipping Company, was well known to take the odd ‘risk’ – and on this occasion they chartered the ship to the Russian Government to carry crude and refined oil products to the embargoed ‘Cuba’ – this was to be a very risky venture to say the least.
The initial cargo was loaded in the Ukraine port of Odessa, and the slow ‘secret’  voyage stopped off in Ceuta North Africa (not so secret) for supplies, fuel and extra crew.

As the vessel progressed across the North Atlantic – the Officers and Indian Crew were becoming very nervous as there were all sorts of reports that the Americans were becoming more aggressive in ‘finding’ shipping that were breaking the embargo.

As the ship transited into the Caribbean well south passing Trinidad – so to be as far away from the vast US Naval Base in San Juan Puerto Rico, the Chief Officer Mr. Pullford lost his nerve, he persuaded the two apprentices Smith and Mayman to go with him in the early morning in the ships ‘Jolly Boat’ -.-

The story which Ron relates is somewhat magical to us ‘Old’ Sea-dogs….
How can a small ‘Jolly Boat’ be launched from a ship doing about 11 knots…. no one really knows, however the Chief Steward had a part to play – he was the one who ‘assisted’ the feat of magic.

London Majesty – © Roy Gerstner

The first anyone knew, was when the Chief Officer (Pullford) didn’t arrive for his watch at 0400, the Second Officer sent the watch-keeper to wake up the Chief Off – alas he found an empty bunk, the Captain was called and a search of the accommodation revealed the ‘missing’ (3).
The ship was stopped and the American authorities notified in San Juan, the ship turned around and by now it was day-light. At about 10am the Americans had found the ‘Jolley Boat’ with the 3 occupants and told the ship their position, within 2 hours the 3 were back on the ship.
The Americans let the ship proceed to Cuba along with its cargo and crew. There was no way the 3 miscreants could be repatriated from Cuba and after some several weeks discharging the cargo, the vessel back loaded Molasses destined for Russia.

Mr. Pullford and the two apprentices were off-loaded on the return to Ceuta and flown home. Mr. Pullford was dismissed and eventually owned shops in the Newcastle area.
He built and sailed a boat around the world later in his life.
Mr Smith became a Banker.

Mr Mayman was saved by his Reverend Father who pleaded with the Company that he was lead astray.
He remained with LOF until the company was sold in 1997 eventually becoming Captain Mayman and after his LOF days was unfortunate to have had a couple of mishaps on his vessels he is now retired.
Picture shows Bob Mayman in 2015

The company being the ‘bad boys’ during this era, continued to charter their ships to the Russian Government over a number of years.

Life at sea was never boring or without excitement or incident – I was lucky to have travelled over 1 million nautical miles and travelled to over a hundred countries.

Like to read more…then why not look at my other website

I developed the history and artefacts of LOF since the company was sold in 1997 – I have developed this website for nearly 20 years.

I have a multitude of ‘Salty Stories’ maybe I’ll do another one later on.

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