National Geographic : 1921 Jan
THE DREAM SHIP supply of vino tinto, and set sail for the West Indies. TIE GREAT ADVENTURE REALLY BEGINS The great adventure had now begun in earnest. Three thousand miles of Atlantic Ocean lay ahead of us-a waste of waters holding we knew not what of new ex perience. For the first time since setting sail, our undertaking imbued us with a certain amount of awe. At night, alone at the tiller, one began to think: Would the drinking water hold out? What if the chronometer broke down? Supposing- It was necessary to think of other things, but what? Staring into the lighted binnacle, with its swaying compass card, or down at the phosphorescent water, swirling and hiss ing past the ship's stern, the helmsman became as one hypnotized. It seemed that he was not of this world, but an atom hurtling through space. The temp tation was to surrender himself to the sensuous joy of it-a temptation only resisted by an almost painful effort and a knowledge that the lives of all aboard depend on his keeping his leaden eyelids from closing down. A four hours' watch is too long. They do not allow it in the mercantile marine. But what were we to do? We kept a marlinspike handy, and when oblivion threatened we used it; that was all. It will be seen that a dream ship is not all dream. If it were, such is the per versity of human nature, the dreamer would probably be tired of it inside of a month. "I can promise you the northeast 'trades' the whole way across," said the skipper of a fine, six-masted schooner at Las Palmas, turning the pages of his log, and that may account for the fact that not for one day of the Atlantic passage did we encounter a northeast wind. We could have crossed in an open boat, for all of the weather, and three becalmed days in mid-ocean we occupied in swim ming around the ship or diving down to scrape the barnacles off her copper. Yet we made Barbados, West Indies, in thirty days, and gladly surrendered ourselves to the tender mercies of the most charming, hospitable people one could wish to meet. My recollections of our two weeks' so journ are a trifle vague, owing to the rapidity with which one pleasure suc ceeded another. I remember lying at anchor, with awnings up, in the most beautiful bay it is possible to conceive, and sleeping twenty-four hours on end. From then onward life consisted in "swizzles," car rides over a fairy island, and more "swizzles," pony races to the accompaniment of "swizzles," surf bath ing followed by "swizzles," and evenings at the Savannah Club, where conversation was punctuated and sometimes drowned by the concoction of yet more "swizzles" by a hard-worked army of colored folk behind a gleaming mahogany bar. There is no escaping the "swizzle" in Barbados, even if one wished to, which personally I did not. They are a delight ful, healthful drink composed of the very best rum, Angostura bitters, syrup, fresh lime, nutmeg, and ice, the whole swizzled to the creamy consistency of- But I forget that I am addressing a country in the throes of total abstinence, and, what ever my faults, I have never been ac cused of making a man's mouth water without supplying the deficiency. Hot-foot from a ball at one of the hotels, we literally fled aboard ship and sailed by stealth, otherwise I am con vinced that we should be at Barbados still, imbibing "sw-." UNDAUNTED BY WEATHER PROPHETS "Look out for the Caribbean Sea to ward December," was another axiom of our six-masted-schooner friend at Las Palmas; but he proved no less fallible over the passage from Barbados to Colon than he had concerning the Atlantic. In fact, I am thinking of, in the future, ask ing advice of weather prophets and ex pecting the reverse. A spanking, following wind, with main sail and squaresail set, brought us within sight of land in seven days, a distance of twelve hundred miles. But what land? For a time we were at a loss. Compar ing it with the chart and descriptions in "sailing directions" revealed nothing. It was a low-lying, mist-enshrouded, sinister-looking land, and we sailed along its coast for a day and a night before we could tell whether we had passed Colon or hit the coast to the eastward.