There was a Frenchman on board. He was another who had little use for going ashore. He spoke little English but he had that Gaelic ability through gesture and facial contortion to make himself understood. Once, while hitchhiking through Northern California he got himself into trouble. A car passed him and splashed him so he made a typical European salute. The next car that came along was the police! They gave him a ride straight to jail. Next morning the judge fined him twenty dollars for making a ‘filthy gesture’. The car he had insulted had made a complaint to the police. He had nothing good to say about America: remember this was the late fifties during the McCarthy era. He felt Americans had an abnormal fear of foreigners. He was a good shipmate with a great sense of humour which would come in handy when we hit the typhoon.

The next day we took a tour of the harbour. Technically I was still under house arrest but nobody wanted to interpret it too narrowly. I saw ships that were total wrecks. Mostly those that flew flags of convenience. They were true rust buckets with unshaven louts leaning over the rails calling and hooting at us. One of our crew recognized someone on an English ship and we were invited aboard. English boats were some of the worst maintained in the shipping world and this was no exception. In shipboard cramped quarters if there is no discipline the effects can make you nauseous. There was booze everywhere. Barely clad Japanese women slipped from room to room amidst heaped up piles of garbage. We sat and drank with some pirates who’d been around the world more than a few times and had the tales to prove it.

Sunday evening, back on board, Ron and the liberty crew returned with exotic tales of the Japanese experience. I was envious and hung onto every word; my despair was made greater as I wasn’t sure I was going to be allowed ashore at all!

—————————-To be continued———————————-