National Geographic : 1948 Jan
Carib Sails In Close and Salutes "H. M. S. Diamond Rock" Here in 1804 Commodore Sir Samuel Hood "marooned" 120 British sailors. Hanging in clusters on the almost perpendicular slopes, they pulled up five cannon by hawsers-a sight which reminded a shipboard witness of mice hauling up a little sausage. For nearly 17 months the little band harassed blockade runners out of Martinique (background). As supplies approached exhaustion, the French attacked. With their last ammunition the defenders sank three gunboats, then surrendered with military honors. Unsinkable but immobile, the island is often called "H. M. S. Diamond Rock," as if it were a ship. British naval vessels always salute it on passing (page 9). the Gulf Stream and Northwest Providence Channel. Only Al Nelson, our professional, lacked offshore experience, but I had no misgivings about him-a confidence well justified, for he turned out to be an ideal shipmate. Carib Named for West Indies' First Citizens Our boat was named for the Indian tribe which dominated these islands, a warlike people who chose extermination to subjuga tion. Early books called them the Caribe Indians, or Caribbees; thence the Sea of the Caribbees, becoming Caribbean Sea. Carib was built in 1939 as Malabar XII, the personal boat of John Alden of Boston, the dean of American yacht designers. She is a jib-headed ketch, 46'8" overall, 34'6" on the waterline, has a beam of 12 feet and a draft of 7'4". I had purchased her in the fall of 1944 while I was still in the Navy. Naming her for the Caribbean proved that my dream of sailing tropic seas never faded. After V-J Day she was readied for a long cruise: new running and standing rigging, hand-sewn sails, swing table, bunkboards, watertight covers-the list was long and ex pensive. But ocean cruising is only dangerous to unsuitable boats and poor equipment, sailed by an inexperienced crew. Size is a minor factor in safety: the lifeboat survives after the steamer has foundered. As we plunged into the seas off the Bocas, I gave thanks to the United States Navy.