The ships John served on carried mostly bulk cargoes – coal, iron ore, grain, salt, phosphate and soya beans. He rarely knew how long a trip would last as cargoes were often negotiated whilst the ship was at sea. The longest trip John did was just over twelve months. The company ships averaged 7,000 gross tons were 400 feet long with an average speed of 10 knots. During his time at sea he visited many countries; both coasts of the U.S.A., Canada, Japan, Australia, South Africa, Egypt, India, Ceylon, East Africa, Singapore, Borneo, Morocco, Senegal, Brazil, Panama and Spain.