At sea off East
Africa, Dec. 12: After a long, slow trip across the Indian Ocean which was
comparable to crossing the USA at the remarkable speed of five miles per hour,
we began to approach the shores of Africa. Early on the morning of Dec. 9, the
lights of Mombasa were sighted. It was the longest port-to-port passage the
Yankee had ever made—26 days, and it had been 39 days since we left Bali.
The next day Jack
Hendrickson, our star hunter, Dodd, John McDaniel and Brad Bloomer left with an
Indian guide for a big-game hunting expedition. The more sedentary members of
the crew left the Yankee and piled into a large Diesel-powered bus for a
After a two-hour
trip over the parched coastal plain, we came into the bush area. Tall green
grass, rolling hills, occasional streams cutting through and forming a muddy
water hole, thorny bushes spaced apart so as not to appear impenetrable but
only uncomfortable, and many more trees with great thick, pitted gray trunks
supporting a small number of branches with dark green leaves. The bright red
earth added beauty to the general scene. Soon antelope of various sorts
appeared among the bushes, and ostriches strutted awkwardly, their plumed tails
Against the sun,
way over to our left, someone finally made out the rounded top of Mt.
Kilimanjaro, and it really seemed as though we were in Africa then. Giraffes,
way off in the distance, made a most extraordinary sight, their nubby little
heads poking way up above the trees.
At sea aboard the
'Yankee' between Capetown and St. Helena, Feb. 5, 1955: During the first days
out of Capetown, a damp cold settled down over the ship. The woolies came out
again, and we bundled into our bunks when not on watch. We were so intent on
keeping warm that even the sight of a huge whale not more than a hundred yards
from the ship brought only a few hardy souls up on deck to watch him jump
almost completely out of the water and sound, going straight down. We picked up
the southeast tradewinds by Feb. 4, however, and settled into the pleasant
routine of a sea passage. Watches passed quickly with lots of work to do, and
sleeping, letters and handiwork took up the rest of the time. One lone
albatross followed the ship as we headed north for St. Helena.
St. Helena: As we
approached the dark, forbidding cliffs, it looked, indeed, like a prison. What
a place to be stuck!
We dropped our
anchor in the open road-stead opposite the town and waited for some of the
islanders to come take us to shore. They brought us into a tiny landing,
through huge combers that only these islanders can handle safely.
Inland away from
the barren coastline, the island was totally different. Bright hibiscus and
bougainvillaea colored the countryside, and the small houses tucked in among
the occasional groves of Norfolk Pines completed a pastoral scene. The narrow,
well-paved road took us close to a shady path where we walked a short distance
to the floor of Geranium Valley. Here the white, flat, nameless tomb of
Napoleon lies adjacent to the spring that he used to visit during his exile.
Approximately 12 x 8 feet and raised only about six inches from the ground, its
white surface is entirely blank because the reigning governor of the island
during Napoleon's exile refused to recognize his former power, belittled him by
calling him "Mr. Bona parte." Napoleon, whose body was returned to
Paris in 1840, demanded that his first name be used, and as a result his first
monument bears no identification.
At sea aboard the
'Yankee,' 150 miles southeast of Barbados Island, B.W.I., March 15, 1955:
Barbados is just over the bowsprit, and we expect to make our first landfall in
over three weeks early in the morning. The South Atlantic is behind us, and the
approaches to the Caribbean, though gray and squally, are giving us some good
winds and fine sailing. It is a fitting climax to six weeks of wonderful
sailing from Capetown to the West Indies—a distance of some 5,500 miles as the
Yankee has traveled.
Virgin Islands, March 28: During these last weeks we have been winding our way
through the narrow channels and passages of the Virgin Islands, and after
waving a greeting to Atlantis, the work ship of the Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institution, we entered the main harbor of St. Thomas-Charlotte Amalie. This
group of islands seemed greener than the rest, and a later tour of the island
revealed that the surrounding waters are cluttered with many irregularly shaped
islets. Perfect gunkholing territory.