Landscape (UK)

DANGEROUS WATERS

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Although hailed as a hero of the American Revolution who became Father of the US Navy, in 18th century Britain, John Paul Jones was regarded as no more than a pirate, albeit one of impressive seamanship, as he sailed British waters attacking and plundering shipping. Many of his stolen goods were taken to France, where they were sold to fund the rebels in the colonies. He was no stranger to Pembrokesh­ire, often using Caldey Island as a place to shelter and take on water. Jones Bay is named after him; only accessible from the sea. Here, he is said to have dropped anchor, out of sight of the coastguard. “One of John Paul’s lookouts was a Tenby man known as Leekie Porridge,” says tour guide Marion Davies. “This was apparently a local stew-type dish, and even today, quite a few local men have unusual nicknames, especially some of those who work around the harbour. When John Paul Jones had left Pembrokesh­ire, Leekie took up piloting shipping into the bay. One day, going aboard a boat, he was accused by a captain of being one of Jones’ men, and arrested. He strenuousl­y denied the charges, of course, but his protestati­ons fell on deaf ears. The captain pointed out he was wearing the captain’s own silver shoe buckles, stolen from him in a pirate raid.” Leekie was sentenced to serve overseas on a man o’ war, but he returned safely to live out his life peacefully in Tenby. Jones’ ghost, meanwhile, is said to sometimes appear on Caldey Island, searching for treasure he stashed among the rocks.

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