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Aboard the '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.
Cap Haitien, 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.
Balboa, Canal 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.
Incidentally, we 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.
Pitcairn Island, 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.