National Geographic : 1951 Mar
Yankee Roams the Orient BY IRVING AND ELECTA JOHNSON ONE pleasant part of a Yankee world cruise is sailing away from the world's troubles. We discontinue the news papers, shut off the radio. Does the cold war reach zero? We do not know for days on end. On our 96-foot ship we come to know each other as only families do. We choose our ama teur sailors not for experience but for com panionship. Their personalities must be ca pable of harmonizing in close quarters. Like the nursery rhyme's old woman and her many children who lived in a shoe, we are one big family, boys in the main cabin, girls in the two double cabins, and the John sons in the skipper's cabin across the stern. Masts Serve as Exhaust Tubes Yankee, a former North Sea pilot schooner, combines size, comfort, sailing ability, and strength-a marvelous ship for our purposes. Rigged as a brigantine, she carries square sails on the foremast, fore-and-aft sails on the mainmast, and staysails between the masts. When we have set 7,775 square feet of canvas and nylon, Yankee is a noble sight (pages 335, 365, 368). For strength and durability, the yacht's hull is steel. Her lower masts are hollow steel. One of these tubes serves as an exhaust out let for her Diesel engines, the other as a chim ney for the oil-burning galley range. This arrangement keeps the smells, smoke, and noise clear of the deck. Meals are served on the main cabin's balanc ing table, which remains horizontal no matter how the ship rolls. We sailed 45,000 miles around the world on one set of dishes (p. 328). Our crew of young men and women, sharing the work and expense of the cruise, devoted 18 leisurely months to a trip that steamers make in four (map, pages 330-331). Fourth Voyage Aboard a Yankee We Johnsons-Irving, the skipper, and Electa, his wife-were making our fourth world voyage aboard a ship named Yankee. With us was our 12-year-old son, Arthur, who climbed the old schooner Yankee's rigging when he was 22 months old. Our mates were Stephen Johnson, Irving's nephew; Jack Braidwood, and Frank Power. Charles Bothamley was the ship's doctor; and Donald Crawford, the only paid hand, was the cook (pages 367, 369). Our seamen, mostly boys just beyond high school age, included Jack Trevett, John Wright, Peter Sutton, Hazard Campbell, Richard Bartow, James Wells, Alan Pierce, Eric Wolman, Raymond Moeller, and Edward Douglas. Girls, who painted, scrubbed, and took their turn at the wheel, were Mary Booth, Louise Stewart, Mildred Young, and Terry Glenn. They were a little older than the boys. Such was the crew when, at the end of March, 1948, we left Honolulu, which we described to readers of the NATIONAL GEO GRAPHIC MAGAZINE in the January, 1949, issue. Right now, after a long, quiet stretch on the Pacific, we could sense the crew's dream ing of country-club dances, porterhouse steaks, and other landlubber luxuries. They craved excitement, and Malekula, New Hebrides, was just the island to provide it. We Learn About the Big Nambas Malekula is the home of the undefeated, uncivilized men of Melanesia-the Big Nam bas, who dwell in stockaded villages beyond reach of missionaries, labor recruiters, and tax collectors. Until a few years ago they had a reputation for murder and cannibalism (page 341). Big Nambas owe their tribal name to a peculiar item of dress. Below their fiber belts the men wear an enormous and extraordinary hank of maroon-dyed grass which, with char ity, might be called a loincloth. This bulky wrapper is the nambas. Other tribesmen, the Small Nambas, substitute a mere twist of banana leaf. During the war Big Nambas were known, by reputation only, to 300,000 servicemen sta tioned at or passing through Espiritu Santo, the big American base in the New Hebrides.* A few Yanks there acquired as souvenirs the Big Nambas' bracelets made from circular tusks of hogs. We learned more about these tusks from a French planter who visited Yankee in Oleman Bay, Malekula. Wives Nurse Pigs with Circular Tusks "Pigs," he said over the coffee cups, "mean everything to these people, not for pork but for prestige. And it is not thoroughbred pigs that count, but those with circular tusks. The owner of such tusks, like the possessor of a million dollars, rises to a high social plateau. * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "Painting History in the Pacific," by Lt. William F. Draper, October, 1944; "Palms and Planes in the New Hebrides," by Maj. Robert D. Heinl, Jr., August, 1944.