'Yankee', 200 miles east of San Salvador, Nov. 10, 1953: We are well on our
way, and so far there are no regrets. We have crossed the Gulf Stream, and are
now sailing in the northeast tradewinds, moving at about 5-8 knots. The ship is
a dream, the food good. I like the life more than I can say and my early
skepticism was unfounded.
The watches go
quickly, one hour at the wheel, which is still a big thrill to me, and the
other three hours doing a variety of things from painting to learning to whip
rope, scrubbing deck, handling sail; and for the girls, a little housework
below in the main cabin. Have been aloft several times. I can really get up and
down quite quickly, but I haven't enough nerve to tackle the yards yet. Those
foot-ropes just don't look very stable to me.
Haiti, Nov. 13, 1953: We have reached our first foreign port. I knew I would be
excited, but I sure never thought I would be this thrilled. The most exciting
part was a trip to the citadel of Henri Christophe, the Negro hero who drove
the French out of Haiti during Napoleon's time. After he conquered the island
he built a fortress 3,000 feet up in the mountains. We rode up to it on
horses—some of the saddest old nags you ever saw, but they got us there. Our
path led through the jungle most of the way, and you could reach out and pick
oranges, avocados, bananas, breadfruit and mangos anytime. The citadel rises
right off a tremendous precipice. It is absolutely fantastic to think that all
the stone, tools and hundreds of enormous cast bronze and iron cannon were all
hauled up there by hand. Inside the fortress a million cannon balls are still
lying around. The amazing part is, the fortress was never completed or used.
Apparently Christophe changed from a hero to a dictator and then took his own
life; and when he died the whole project was abandoned.
Zone, Thanksgiving Night: Well, this is just about the most amazing
Thanksgiving that this Pilgrim ever spent. We spent the holiday in transit from
the Atlantic to the Pacific via the Panama Canal.
When we finally
reached Balboa City on the Pacific end of the canal, we found preparations for
a visit by Queen Elizabeth were in full swing. Her ship was to dock at Pier 18
which is the other side of the warehouse from us. We were the only people
allowed on the dock except for the British and all the police. On Sunday
afternoon, the Queen and Duke came out in a yellow Cadillac convertible and
passed within 15 feet of where I stood. She is just as lovely as you have all
heard—very pale, fragile complexion with lovely graceful features and a
charming smile. The Duke is just as handsome as his pictures indicate, and is
obviously a personality boy.
At anchor in the
Gal�pagos, Friday, Dec. 20: We are living a sort of Robinson Crusoe existence
here in the Gal�pagos, just moving from island to island as suits our fancy.
The whole place looks like something out of prehistoric times. The black rocks
have many little crabs on them, which look like the ones at home, about the
same size, but bright red and very colorful. All around you see black, jumbled
cliffs, with birds of all kinds and big lizards called iguana in among the
rocks; occasionally a little green vine or yellow flower in contrast to the
blacks and grays.
have collected some strange types of food in these islands. We have had whale
steak several times and it is delicious—good red meat. Johnnie Herrick shot a
20-pound snook. We baked that for dinner. We have butchered two of the three
sea turtles and have had turtle steaks several times, also turtle liver. We
have a large hunk of wild beef in the deep freeze and a wild pig too. Our goat
supply is bountiful.
Jan. 20, 1954: Late in the day we hove to about 10 miles off the island and
waited for dawn the next morning to move in close to Bounty Bay. The cliffs
come right straight down to the water's edge all around the circumference of
the island. And this landing place, where the Bounty was run aground and
burned, is nothing to be tackled by anything but an islander who has learned,
after years of practice, how to land a small boat there.
One of our hosts
on the island was a man named Vernon Young, a descendant of Edward Young, who
was a midshipman on the Bounty and one of the original band of mutineers who
settled Pitcairn in 1790. There are several Youngs, Christians (descendants of
Fletcher Christian) and one McCoy left on the island. The rest of the names
come from outsiders who have settled here since.
On Saturday, the
Sabbath on Pitcairn, we went to their church. The regular pastor had gone to
Henderson Island with most of the other men, so Fred Christian, a most
picturesque character, conducted the service. It was something to sit there
listening to a Christian sermonizing in that little church, surrounded by other
Bounty descendants, while the original Bounty Bible lay in a case forward.