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Here and There Synopsis:
16.1 The Great Rocks of Diego Ramirez
January 22, 1902
The Crown of India sailed past “the great rocks [of] Diego Ramirez” with good wind “under topsail yards all hauling.” Moss grows on the deck from the constant damp and, even at midsummer this far south, one may not look directly into the cold wind. With a little snow that falls on deck Hayes musters the energy to throw a few snowballs at a shipmate “Missouri.” All the men have “our fingers crossed lest bad wind spring up and we blow back west instead of passing the Horn.” But for now “Cape Horn is in a quiet mood for once.”
Unusually good weather, and, almost as welcome, Fleck is still below deck nursing his eyes. All the men wish him a long and painful illness lasting at least until they are safely round the Horn. Hayes is “shocked because at heart I agree with these men.” Because of Captain Sauter and his wife, every sailor on board starves on “pound and pint” rations, nevertheless all respond well to his just treatment.
“There are worlds of sea birds,” down here at the bottom of the world, from the tiny petrels “that really walk on the water” to giant albatross that “flap and run far over the sea as they endeavor to arise.” Despite the “fishy taste and coarse flesh,” catching a few for the stew pot compliments the short rations.
16.2 Shaving on a rolling sea
January 30, 1902
On the night of the previous entry, all the crossed fingers on board did not prevent a fierce gale from blowing up, forcing the crew up into the wild riggings to strip the sails. But at least the two-finger charm prevented the worst: the ferocious winds blew from the south pushing the ship smartly north into warmer weather. After a week running before this storm, Hayes and some other men “heaved the log” to gauge ship’s speed. All eleven knots ran out before their hourglass drained, “which means she is doing better than eleven knots per hour, and is almost under bare poles.” Of course, “food at its worst and growing worse daily,” and the rough seas wet everything aboard ship.
With the rough weather, the second mate hasn’t been shaved since the ship reached the Horn Latitudes on the west side. Despite the big rollers following the storm, Hayes agrees to barber. Both men brace themselves in the mate’s tiny cabin on the rolling ship with three hands on shoulders and one free to handle the razor. “We made it, but I scarred his face a little.” For now, “the men keep cheery in the forecastle despite the hardships.” The poor food, though, will become a real danger to all.
Fleck’s eyes have recovered enough that, “he imagined he could see the loom of the Falkland Islands” when he came on deck for the first time in nearly a month. With no real expectation Fleck has reformed, Hayes remarks that he “spoke to me in an even voice,” – an aberration, no doubt.
Evidently sailors frequently succumb to “Cape Fever” sailing around the Horn. Schillerstrom, the reckless Swede and comic of the ship says with a straight face, the one time he had it, “Eet was very bad, very bad.” Nothing like the real affliction Fleck suffered, men with Cape fever seem, “to eat well and sleep well, but are unable to work until clear of Cape Stiff.” Luckily, no one on board caught it this time round.
16.3 24th Birthday at Sea
February 10, 1902
Only the elements celebrate Hayes’ 24th birthday – “in fine weather now.”
How quickly Fleck has recovered his spleen. At 35° from the equator, hints of the southwest trades flutter the sails, “and Fleck is frigging the watch, hauling, trimming, sweating every rope in the ship,” pretending to catch these favorable winds. With Fleck returned to his cursing, beating, and kicking the crew, every man aboard swears he’ll never “again go deep sea.”
16.4 Even the Rats are Hungry
February 22, 1902
“Full rations are a bare subsistence,” and now the crew of the Crown of India is reduced to half. One can eat a shark, but not when prepared by this cook. “We have even considered the numerous rats the big cat in the hold drives on deck.”
The starving rats do severe damage to the ship: they eat the sails when stowed and even when furled, get into the cargo casks, chew the straps on the life preservers, and worst, chew on the feet of sleeping men. “The old Dutch cook, who is a sound sleeper and has corns, bunions and calluses on his feet, is unable to walk because of so much rat gnawing.” While dozing on the graveyard watch, a rat bit Hayes’ bare foot and, “it bled freely.” All men hate the rats and drive them overboard – thus far, no one seems to be eating them.
Least of all, the captain; he sold the crew’s food but not the officer’s. Because Hayes is handy at so many skills, he sometimes helps the carpenter, “and this takes me on the poop where the skipper plays with his much loved wife.” The careless skipper, coming too near a hammer stroke, dodged sharply sending his cork hat over the side. This brought Hayes a stern glare from the skipper and an appeal from the skipper’s happy well-fed wife to stop the ship, lower a boat, and retrieve the hat slowly receding from the ship on the calm seas. The skipper knew better than to ask starving men to delay their return home for his own folly.
16.5 Doldrums Past the Line
March 5, 1902
On deck, the second mate calls Hayes to see St. Paul’s Rocks, a small archipelago of granite rocks, flocked with birds, standing out of the sea, “almost on the equator and equally distant from South America on one hand and Africa on the other.” It is so hot here, “the pitch boils out of the seams in the decks.” More of the rain they caught for storage crossing the equator would be a welcome relief.
The starving crew can barely work. It’s a good thing they have water. Skip reading the following description of their rations if you have a light stomach: “our daily allowance now is a small portion of fat, yellowish pork and a mess the cook makes out of the sweepings of the biscuit tanks in the hold. These are half weevil larvae, wriggling like maggots and of similar appearance.”
Fleck is back to full form, frigging the men “until our flaccid muscles are worn out.” No one has energy to curse him; all move about “as if half dead.” As an officer, still on reasonable rations, Fleck has plenty of energy to fill in for any insufficiency of curses.
16.6 Beating North Into the Wind
With her foul bottom, the Crown of India, can’t make headway against strong winds. They sail east half a day, turn the ship, then sail west half a day, tacking back and forth against the wind. She sails plenty of miles – while making almost no progress north toward home. The skipper restrains Fleck who still delights in frigging the crew. How can the cruel mate be unaware of the real danger to a ship worked by a crew too weak to stand? Doudou, a young German boy, “is first to break. He is semi-conscious, partly from fear of the brutal mate.”
16.7 Scurvy at Ponta Delgada
March 27, 1902
At Ponta Delgada on the island of San Miguel, the Crown of India lies in a small stream with the men gazing over green, well-tended fields, longing to be off this starving ship. A basket of oranges and a “lean beef” come over the side but disappear immediately aft for the officers. Perhaps the oranges indicate the skipper fears scurvy aft, this sailor’s malady, due to lack of vitamin C, already spreads among the crew. Hayes reports sore teeth but no swelling of the lower limbs – either is an advanced symptom of scurvy. Finally, “even Fleck has softened.” What’s the use of yelling at men who “move because we have to, instinctively rather than obedience to the officers of the ship?”
Some of the locals speak English. “It is said that there are some 9,000 priests, monks and nuns in this small town of only 16,000 population.” His observations about the large families and the power of the church are not flattering.
“For days we have been trying to contact a ship, the flag flying upside down, the symbol of a ship in distress.” Many ships pass, but none stop to offer aid. All can see that Crown of India is “a homeward bounder.” Their captains know “the ways of skippers who sell the crew’s ration and spend the proceeds on themselves.” Some of the men have collapsed from scurvy.
16.8 Finally, Some Cabbage
March 29, 1902
Captain Sauter must have procured some food at Ponta Delgada, the ship left the narrow stream and “a great feast was enjoyed aft.” And for the working crew forward? “The thrifty skipper let us go 24 hours without feeding us.” Some cabbages left over from the feast aft hung briefly for storage “under the bridge near the break of the poop.” All but a leaf and a root vanished in the night to the starving crew. When the captain finally produces some boiled beef and pan tiles for the crew, Hayes’ teeth are so loose from the scurvy he can scarcely eat.
Of course, with a little food in the crew, Fleck’s abuse returns. “He has the filthiest mouth I have ever listened too, and his spleen is always being vented on the man nearest him.” At least the ship is making headway toward Falmouth where this nightmare trip will finally end.
16.9 The End is Near
April 6, 1902
Landfall at the Scilly Islands “raises hope in our hearts that the end is near.” Now these abused and physically wrecked sailors speculate what they’ll do next. Most plan a visit home; Chris, a shipmate from Trondjehm, has patched his clothes and saved his money for a reunion, but admits, “It will be the same old thing, I guess.” Juan Guerrero, another shipmate, succinctly describes this same old thing: “enjoy the fleshpots of whatever port we make, then go out and make enough to do it in the next one.” Guerrero, a Chilean adventurer, who has hunted rubber in South America, explored the Pilcomayo River in Argentina, faced a jaguar aboard ship, and quietly sailed the world draws this praise from Hayes: “A better shipmate than most of the crew, he is.”
April 8, 1902
Falmouth at last. “Every man among us are wan and broken by the hardship and hunger of this unlucky ship we want to leave.” By comparison the “ruddy-faced Englishmen” coming on board look hale and fit. The Englishmen bring food, “but it will require months to renew our health after the starvation of the past few months.”