National Geographic : 1942 Jan
Westward Bound in the Yankee us. Later the disappearance of the Baroness and Philippson and the discovery of Lorenz's body on a near-by island caused much specu lation. Dr. Ritter also eventually died, and Frau Koerwin returned to Germany.* One beautiful night we sailed for San Sal vador and anchored in Sulivan Bay. Every where are craters and rivers of lava, shading from deep velvety tones to reddish browns (Plate IV). We found here a little beach showing tracks of turtles. Tiny red crabs scuttled over the lava at the water's edge and a few families of sea lions were at home near by. Our chief memory of Sulivan Bay, however, is of our little sea lion, Amy. She was a lovable creature with soft fur and big blue eyes. She was utterly trusting, flopping her way about the deck, enjoying all the petting she could get. When it was time to sail, the skipper took her ashore to her home. Her mother imme diately punished her. She picked Amy up like a kitten, thrashed her about ruthlessly, and finally carried her off into the water, continu ing the violent shaking. At last Amy flopped her way up the beach to the skipper's feet, asking for a last bit of petting. He saw that she was unharmed and so left her with her family. Isabela Island is a rendezvous for tuna fishermen from San Diego, California. We arrived there about 1:30 in the morning and asked some of the fishermen if we could go out with them the next day. They said, "Yes, and be ready about 5:30." This didn't leave much time for sleep, but all hands except Fritz and the girls piled aboard before daylight. Live sardines are thrown out as bait. When the tuna come swimming around, the fisher men get out on platforms close to the water and fish with barbless hooks and short lines, with a sardine or sometimes just a white rag as lure.t The water is so clear that you can see the tuna, hundreds of them. When the going is lively, you swing the fish in over your head as fast as you can whip the pole back (Plate II). The hooks, being barbless, allow the tuna to jump clear as soon as they strike the deck. Then you cast the hook back into the water. For a while the tuna would run 15 to 35 pounds. Then, with no warning, in would swoop 150- and 200-pounders. If you were lucky, you could notice the difference quickly enough to change your pole for different gear having one hook fastened to two or three poles; otherwise, it seemed like trying to stop a truck with a cane. Even with two or three men to a hook, if one of the big fish came up the boat and was hooked going straight the poles would be jerked out of their or the men into the water! single under away, hands Across the Open Pacific From the Galapagos we headed southwest ward for Easter Island, one of the most in accessible and mysterious islands of the world. It was a pleasant life on this long voyage of some 2,200 miles. The days never were oppressively hot. At four in the afternoon the temperature would begin to drop, so that every night we were wearing pea jackets on watch and sleeping in cool comfort. The proximity of the cold Humboldt Current from the Ant arctic tempers the weather near the Equator. We became familiar with the Pacific-its great long swells, sometimes 200 yards from crest to crest, rolling unceasingly up to us and off over the horizon. The four-to-eight watches came to breakfast with enthusiastic accounts of better sunrises than ever, and after supper in the evening almost everyone would gather on deck to see what the sunset would be like that night. Sometimes we had gorgeous shows of phosphorescence in the water alongside. We all slipped easily into ship's routine, standing our watches day and night. By eight o'clock all except those on watch had turned in. Not one of us would have thought of going to bed at that hour ashore, but it be came a perfectly natural part of life at sea. There was very little sail handling to do, but the crew kept busy scraping and varnish ing the teak, reconditioning all the spare blocks, doing necessary whippings and splic ings of ropes and lines, sewing canvas covers of various kinds, and mending a bit of sail now and then. Bouncing Turtle Eggs Fritz was occupied with the greatest con cern of our day-to-day life-meals. We were still using our provisions from Gloucester, but our turtles on the foredeck supplied us with fresh meat from time to time. In one Fritz found 149 eggs, which he was able to use in cooking, though he tried in vain to boil, scram ble, or fry them. They were round and white and would bounce on the deck like tennis balls. The turtle steaks and stews were ex cellent, and turtle soup, particularly when pre pared with curry, was delicious. * See "At Home on the Oceans," by Edith Bauer Strout, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, July, 1939. t See "Tuna Harvest of the Sea," by John Degel man, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, September, 1940.