November 17, 1939

Today was Charles’ birthday and we had another cake. This afternoon we sighted our first school of porpoise and what big babies they were. A squall during our watch made us come about twice within ten minutes. Boy, they certainly are cold and wet.

We tossed our rotten potatoes and fruit over the side. Spuds can really smell when they are bad.

Friday, Nov 17 11.12°N 79.20°W           144 miles

November 16, 1939

A squall at 5 PM brought out a call for all hands. Thirty seconds on deck and you were soaking wet. I did not have to go up because the table had to be set. This is one advantage of my job. I sent a telegram to Dad but it was only half sent when Oakes had to go up and douse sail so it won’t be sent until tomorrow. Happy Birthday, Dad.
Thursday, Nov 16     13.33°N 78.45°W     204 miles    Record run so far

November 14, 1939

At two this morning we passed another dark steamer. German subs must be near. This afternoon we had target practice on coconuts floating by. I had a few direct hits at close range. We dogged watches today and I am certainly glad as the 12-4 watch doesn’t give me much time to myself but the 8-12 is the nuts.

Tuesday, Nov 14 18.52°N 75.18°W 133 miles

November 13, 1939

A note in the log –

5 AM – set fisherman – doused fisherman

6 AM – set fisherman – gad!

USS Simpson passed us and the schooner Vera P Thornhill out of Kingston, Jamaica passed by on its way to Haiti. At six tonight we sighted a steamer running without any lights.

Monday, Nov 13         20.00°N 73.19°W           69 miles

November 12, 1939

I went to church at ten and then returned to the boat. I mailed two letters via the radio operator on the Grace Liner Santa Paula. We set sail at five and left Haiti.

Today was Earl’s birthday and we had turkey and cake.

Sunday, Nov 12                       Left Cap Haitien 17:00

Grace Liner Santa_Paula as she looked in 1919

November 11, 1939

[slideshow]Resting in the courtyard after the long, hard horseback ride. From L to R – Earl DeMoe, Bob Low, Warren Kay, author, Ray Dillon and a guide. Photo by Dillon

We had breakfast at six and left immediately by car for Milot, a town about seven miles from Cap Haitien. From here we took horses to King Christophe’s “Citadel,” which is on a mountaintop 3000 feet above the sea.

The nag under me was so small that if I stood up he could have walked out from under me. He was also a three-gaited animal – slow, slower, and stop. I fell off within the first ten minutes as we rounded a curve. I had a helluva (sic) time trying to keep my balance. The past was narrow and windy. In places it was paved to some extent and my “Equipoise” slipped once with me flying over his head.
The trip consumed an hour and a half. Three of the boy walked while ten rode. The walkers won the race, but we had more fun.

The Citadel, one of the mariner’s sights along the coast, is built of solid brick. It was never quite completed, but fifteen years were consumed (1804-1819). Some of the walls are six feet thick. The turrets for the 360 big guns are amazing. The cannon could be pointed in any direction and either lowered or raised. Everything was brought up by maw or horse power. Carrying those guns up the mountainside five and a half miles must have been a terrific undertaking.

The old buzzard killed himself with a golden bullet when his people refused to bring food to him, and is buried in the courtyard. The place is now used as a prison.
The ride down was wonderful now that it is all over. The colored boy (sic) who kept following me, I couldn’t quite figure whether I got him with the horse or if the horse came with out him, kept poking “Bobby” with a stick and I was afraid that Lightning would start galloping down the hill, but instead he seemed to go in reverse.
This afternoon we went aboard the destroyer USS Simpson and were invited to the movies on board.

This evening Charley, Clint, Bob Low, Bunny and I went in search of voodoos. We hired a taxi and guide for $2 and visited three places.

It was really not voodooing that we saw, but it was close to it. The dance is held outdoors under a thatched-roof structure which had no sides. Candles are suspended from the ceiling and the whole atmosphere is very strange. Three drummers beat out the weirdest rhythm I have ever heard, swing included, and the men and women fling themselves about in wild gyrations.

Around the outside are little booths attended by toothy hags where you can buy liquid candy and spirits. As soon as the natives discover outsiders, the head drummer and his assistant keep pointing their sticks in your direction and that is the signal for you to chip in a little. But for the few cents you pay the show is really good.

November 1939 Haiti Citadel parapet (photo by Dillon)

The Citadel in Haiti

November 10, 1939

Outside the market in Cap Haitien (photo by Kay)

Sighted Haiti at 5:30 this morning and docked in Cap Haitien harbor at 11:30. The run along the coast was most interesting. The island looks like a part of the Rockies dumped in the ocean. The sight of it conjures up in one’s mind all the stories of voodooism which he has heard. It was a beautiful, but awe-inspiring sight.

The town of Cap Haitien is non-descript — the worst imaginable place on earth. The streets are all dirt and the buildings falling apart. The postmaster is the slowest person on earth – it took him fifteen minutes to mail a single letter. Most of the inhabitants are black and the language is French, but many of the natives can speak a little English. The marketplace is really amazing. An iron structure with an entrance on each of its four sides, it looks like a broken down railroad station. Outside, peasants, mostly women, have their wares spread before them – everything from charcoal to candy. Inside you can get anything from used beer cans to old razor blades and flybitten (sic) meats. The stuffs are not sold at counters, but the “merchants” sit on boxes with their goods spread before them

The streets are straight and narrow, with rows of houses painted yellow and having brown doors. The natives run after you asking for money and some of them become self-appointed guides expecting pay. We had a beer and some cokes and they certainly tasted good.

Friday, Nov 10                                    Anchored Cap Haitien 12:00

November 9, 1939

nov39 bos'nchairing

One of the Yankee‘s favorite sports – bos’un-chairing. The forward davit is made fast in an out-flung position and the falls are lowered. To the after block is attached a canvas seat. You sit in this and go bouncing through the waves, if any.

Hoisted sails at seven AM and entered what harbor there was, anchoring next to Danish freighter Kai, which in Greek means “and.” We stood off about a half mile and went ashore by dinghy. The island is famous for salt, exporting over two million bushes a year. It is a British possession and today was a holiday but no one knew why. The total population is 1500 and only a handful are white. It is four miles long and two wide. We left at 11:30 this morning.

This afternoon we did our first bit of bos’un-chairing. My pants nearly came off and Oakes and Fritz kept hitting me with a paddle while I was holding onto the chair and my trunks.

Thursday, Nov 9        At Turk’s Island all morning


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