2.10 Sydney to Sydney – by way of Mombassa

April 29, 2012

Hayes likes sailing on boats.  Look at the map: Sydney to Sydney with a two week stop in Mombassa – he would have stayed but for some missionary perfidy – in six months travel time.

March 27, 1911 – July 27, 1911

Sydney, Australia March 1911: “Nothing seems to be doing, so why stay in Australia? The world is large, adventure calls, my ears are attuned to its call. Africa doesn’t seem so far away.”  Straight-line distance from Sydney to Mombasa stretches more than seven thousand miles – considerably further traveling by way of Fremantle, Colombo, and Aden. But financing for Strachan’s proposed copra plantation fell through; the US offers nothing but hard, low-paid work; but Africa – Africa promises “adventure, perhaps riches, surely hardship, a fifty-fifty chance of death. Or will it be as last time, leaving there with a broken heart?”

Who could pass on odds like that? With a little money jingling in his pocket from the timber cruising on Murua, Hayes purchases passage on the Nord-Deutscher-Lloyd liner Seydlitz steaming for Melbourne joined by a throng of Australians traveling to the coronation of George V. in London and seventy “cocky” German sailors on leave from colonial island duty who constantly chafe with the Brits on board.


The Seydlitz

A ship of the Nord-Deutscher-Lloyd line leaves Sydney every two weeks carrying freight to port in Bremen. These freighters like the Seydlitz also “have a large passenger accommodation, and are cheaper and better than any of the British lines.” At Melbourne stevedores loaded frozen mutton; at Adelaide came wheat and wine; then at Fremantle they stowed jarrah wood blocks en route to paving the streets of London.

At Fremantle, Hayes writes a long passage prompted by a statue in the harbor of a man he identifies only as “a man with an Irish name.” This was C.Y. O’Connor who developed the port of Fremantle and a water system to the Kalgoorlie making gold mining possible in that desolate region.


C.Y. O’Connor with sculptor Pietro Porcelli

O’Connor vindicates Hayes’ general view on working men: “He was not a skillful politician, had not the finesse to lie and cheat and flatter to win the applause of men. So they rode him, maligned him until he broke under the strain. One morning his body was found floating in the harbor. His mind had snapped, he could bear his burden no longer. Then public opinion turned, and he was a hero.” Hayes generalizes O’Connor’s experience: “Man is a strange animal. He who tries to save him he slays, then places his victim on a pedestal.” According to Hayes, preachers expound this same story of Christ from every Sunday pulpit.

Passangers find entertainments on the Seydlitz mostly at night. “Deck chairs are a bit too light to support two, but the hatches are strongly built, and the forecastle head has plenty of room.” Toward the end of April to break the monotony of the 3,300-mile cruise from Fremantle to Colombo, Neptune paid a visit as the German ship steamed across the equator.  The hazing revel initiating those crossing the equator was very much as Hayes had experienced years ago sailing around the horn: tar, shaving, a large water tank, and a slide with fire hoses (see sections 8 and 9 of volume I of this blog). “Nor was first class excluded, and despite remonstrances from some of the more uppity among them they were put through the mill.”

At Colombo, a group of Brits took up a collection to see if a slight present made to the German sailors might ease national relations aboard the Seydlitz. The British representatives sent to buy the gift had to be carried back on board; a suitable gift for a German sailor eluded their search through every pub in Colombo.  Hayes says that the bazaars of Colombo offer, “Opals from Australia … Rubies, moonstones, catseyes, jewels of every sort … at prices far below elsewhere in the world. Tiger skins, leopard hides, ivory objects, silks and all the gewgaws of the Far East are here, and many of the Occident.”  The Germans declare: “We can buy our own presents,” and national sentiments continue their boil.

Neither Colombo nor Aden has a deep-water port. All commerce transits in small “lighters.” At Aden, Hayes disembarks the Seydlitz taking up temporary residence at the Hotel D’Europe run by Jews whose “forefathers were chased out by the edict of Torquemada 400 years ago.” His first impression of Yemen: “All is a blistered, sun-baked waste, a few scrawny tamarisks managing to survive the heat and thirst of Aden.” Nevertheless, “this is one of the places where geography has decreed must be a town.” In May of 1911, pilgrims to the coronation in London swamp Aden’s 50,000 permanent residents – who oblige with price hikes from 100 to 300%. From among the throng going to London, Hayes rates as most interesting the giant Ethiopian Ras Makonnen “conqueror of the Italians” in Abyssinia, who strides about Aden hung with gold necklaces and sporting a black Quaker hat..”

[I need the help of an Ethiopian historian here.  The wikipedia entry for Ras Makkonen, Haile Selassie’s father and general in the Italo-Ethiopian war, has him attending the coronation of Edward VII in 1902 – and dying in 1906.  So that can’t be the right Ras Makkonen.  Haile Selassie was also Ras Tafari Makonnen but I find no record of his traveling to the coronation of George V in 1911.]

Hayes spends his five days in Aden satisfying his thirst for knowledge about history and geo-politics. He and a companion visit the famous tanks above Aden. “The tanks must have been built by the Phoenicians or Persians two or three thousand years ago.” But how? “They have been cut out of the solid rock, and there was no explosive in those days.”


Cisterns of Tawila Aden, Yemen

Next a discussion with a Scottish engineer who proposes they to do some gunrunning to the Arabs fighting the Turks at Hodeida, a port up the Red Sea. Mentioning the potential profit and not the morality of his companion’s proposal, Hayes declines noting the 1,500 white troops, the regiment of Indian soldiers, and the British gunboats who would be happy to interrupt their vigilant watch for slave traders to intercept a couple of gunrunners.


Hotel de L’europe Aden, Yemen

Then drinks on the veranda (water for Hayes, iced whiskeys for the others) with the European consuls ensconced at the Hotel D’Europe who swap “strange tales of the desert coasts all the way from Suez to Bushire and to Kurachi” while watching caravans of as many as 3,000 camels “creep across the sands from Sheik Othman, where the Arabs must leave all arms until their return.”


Caravan at Sheikh Othman 1912

Onward to Africa. Hayes takes deck passage on the German liner Winhuk “dirty beyond description.” Haughty German officers with facial scars from school-day duels fill the first class cabins. In second class Hayes chats with missionaries who “seem very solicitous concerning my welfare, ask many questions as to my destination and business. There is something bout them that does not ring true.”

At Mombasa, the missionaries turned on Hayes. He quotes them tattling to Waller, the Kenyan immigration officer: “We don’t want that adventurous class in the Country! We want men with capital, not penniless wanderers who will corrupt the natives.” Following this advice of Reverends Burns and Brewer of Nairobi and Hoima respectively, Waller, demands ten pounds deposit “to carry me out of the country in event of my going broke in East Africa.”

Hayes would prefer not to go broke in East Africa, but what work can he find? “All trading companies handle liquor, so that lets me out.” He’s a skilled farmer but here parents pay farmers from 100 to 150 pounds per year to apprentice their boys. So, he scouts around Mombasa for a few days: an old fort built by the Portuguese in 1593 still flying the flag of the Sultan of Zanzibar, a ruined city in a forest of baobabs, markets with Swahili buyers and Arab sellers – then after scarcely two weeks in Mombasa, he books passage on the British liner Gascon to retrace his voyage back to Australia.

Fort Jesus Mombassa, Kenya 1833

Just before embarking on the Gascon, Hayes had one interesting encounter with an elephant Hunter named Dixon “who has been scouring the Congo for some years and has made a lot of money.” Apparently, Hayes and Dixon spoke at some length, for “He showed me many scars drawn in fights with the natives,” and invited Hayes to accompany him into the bush. Hayes declines because Dixon is “hot.” (Hayes’ quote) A recent agreement between the Belgians and the British requires a license to shoot an elephant and both European nations have it in for Dixon. Hayes says he cannot accompany Dixon because “I know I can’t beat a braced game.”

A transfer at Aden to the G.M.S. Goeben, sister ship to the Seydlitz, full of immigrants all packing pistols for the wild Australian outback – wild monsoons outside Colombo – Neptune at the equator – grapes at Fremantle – frost in the streets of Melbourne – finally back to Sydney. All very much like the voyage west.

“I never care for cold after so long in the tropics, and am planning on getting back to the islands as soon as is possible.” Maybe New Hebrides? “An importer named Greer has a sight on some coconut land … on the island of Erromanga …”

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2.9 East Australia and New Guinea

April 22, 2012

Now he’s back in motion bouncing around the east coast of Australia and cruising timber on Woodlark Island.

October 9,1910 – March 27, 1911

Hayes walked with Moody, one of the new men at the Sagarai River station, across the isthmus from the plantain site to Milne Bay stopping briefly at the Anglican Mission at the hilltop. A bit of a scrape ensued when one of the young Papuan women followed the men down to Davey More’s trading station at Gibara:  when Hayes pushed off from shore without replying as “Connie, clad in a coconut fiber rami, or waist mat reaching from waist to knees, eagerly pressed me with questions in her native tongue,” the worst happened. “She threw both hands over her head, ran up and down the bank screaming.” Old Davy accused Hayes of “spoilin’ the missionary girl.” (Hayes’ quote.) Moody loudly denied the charge, vouching for Hayes, but the rumor struck. “… So I grin and bear it. Just tell them I can’t help bein’ good looking.”

Waiting for a ship to Sydney, Hayes repeatedly circles “the enchantingly beautiful path” around Samarai Island watching the locals spear fish by torchlight and listening to the beachcombers tell hair-raising stories of cannibals. “Trouble is, most of them are prone to fiction.”  (Beatice Grimshaw‘s romance novel Guinea Gold published in 1912 uses this very short path around Samarai Island as the meeting place for her ill-fated lovers.)

The boat to Sydney travels first to Port Moresby through “a bad willy-nilly… the local name for a hurricane.” [Hayes’ diary has a date discrepancy regarding this storm. He says the steamer Koombara sank with the loss of all 128 aboard in October of 1910. Wikipedia says the Koombara sank in May of 1912.]  Approaching Port Moresby after the storm, Hayes says he’d rather watch the native Papuans sailing outrigger canoes than a yacht race. “If there be any faster sailing craft in the world, I have never heard of them.”

Turning South from Port Moresby, Hayes sailing with Strachan and his wife, have “ample time to plan what to do in the way of founding a new plantation.” But his diary makes Hayes’ skepticism clear: “But that is all up in the air as yet, and no one knows what will be doing before we are done. I long for Africa, my folks want me to return to the U.S.A., the company wants me to return for them.” Mrs. Strachan succeeded in smuggling tropical bird feathers hidden beneath her skirts into Brisbane, Australia despite the guilt advertised across her face.

Hayes enjoys regular food and the company of a few friends in Sydney but, “All round, I like the bush the best.” He does not like “the inner council chamber” of the rubber plantation company to which the investors summoned him immediately on return to Sydney. Based on Neville’s reports, the stockholders expected immediate dividends following the arrival of the new men and the sawmill at the Sagarai River station. “I explained as truthfully and without reserve as I could what was doing there.” In response, he describes “consternation” and “consideration” among those assembled.

After Hayes’ truthful report about the lack of trees at the Sagarai River site, the company needs to find a use for their sawmill. After some haggling, Hayes agrees to go to Murua [Muyua or Woodlark] Island in return for forty pounds and refund on his fare from New Guinea. In the meantime, news arrives that Neville, the lead man in the plantation swindle, skipped to London “where he was taken by police and made disgorge 7,000 pounds.” Slight return to the investors, who lost the rest to this “flim-flam game to fleece the public.”


Matunga at Alexis Harbor, German New Guinea 1918

In December 1910 Hayes sailed first class on the Matunga toward Murua jostled by miners returning from the “cup races” at Melbourne and Randwick and by missionaries headed to New Guinea. One expects it from the miners but, “Most missionaries are tipplers, some openly, others surreptitiously; but they love their hooch. The others are godly, self-sacrificing people. These are in the small minority, and always have the lowest places.”  Sailing beyond Brisbane north toward Cairns, calm seas behind the Great Barrier Reef, “bring most of the disciples of Bacchus on deck. At Cairns “some say” the river falls 700 feet at Barron Falls and rainfall in this wet corner of a dry continent “is above 200 inches.”


Barron Falls

Arrival at Port Moresby on December 25th – all others on board are “blind paralytic” after the holiday celebration. “Once I looked on man as something apart from the so-called lower animals. I still do, but place man below instead of above them now. What pig, what dog would demean itself by acting as these people do?”

On the Matunga’s quick delivery run to Yule Island, Hayes observes the “65 whites,” on the island all Christian missionaries and all divided along denominational lines: “Methodists, Episcopal, London Missionary Society, the Catholics and perhaps one or two others.” Conversion progresses slowly: “If they have uplifted one native I have not seen evidence of it.” On the other hand, he wryly notes that they are having some success with snakebite:  At the Catholic mission, “the holy fathers were taking every precaution against poisonous serpents, for almost all the cargo discharged was Old Scotch, Johnny walker and other noted antidotes against snakebite.”

South from Yule Island, past Samarai and through “a maze of emerald isles like those described in fairy tales,” brings Hayes back to Murua where “I am established at Gus Nelson’s, a bar and hotel combination at the village of Kulumadau.” Arriving on January third, Hayes shares Gus Nelson’s with all the broke hung-over gold miners down to celebrate the New Year.

Away from the haunts of civilized society to Solongo (Suloga) Bay, Hayes camps with a scattering of gold miners while scouting “much good timber, easily gotten if so desired,” with “an old native named Doudau.” One of the miners, Slater, says he was with Bayley and Hannan discoverers of the “Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie respectively,” two of the richest mines in Australia. Each blew his large fortune. One is dead of drink, the other on the way. Though Hayes wrote earlier that he tires of wild tales of cannibals, he takes a paragraph to relate in a story from the 1870’s told by a miner Hayes knows only as Old Jimmy – Hayes relates grim detail about Papuans eating Chinese laborers gruesome beyond anything Jack London could possibly have gotten published.

Immediately following this forty-year-old, second-hand cannibal story Hayes writes a first-hand account of contemporary barbarisms: Of one of his European hosts he writes, “His wife doesn’t look over seven years of age.” Colonial practices differ little the world over: “The miners keep tab on all girls approaching puberty on Murua, and the district commissioner doesn’t see it. Thus the people are dying as the Indians did where I was born in Oregon, and unless something happens will soon be gone.”

While tramping around most of Murua, “Doudau regales me with tales of the old time islanders before the whites came. They were man-eaters then,and on the smaller islands of Nesquab and Velous are settlements of refugees who fled at that time some twenty years agone from raiding cannibals.” Hayes still writes second-hand information about cannibalism, though perhaps it’s more reliable coming from Daudau, a native to the island – who agrees about the contemporary disaster: “But these raiders were less harmful than the invading white man. At least they did not debauch the women, brought no social disease nor broke up rthe ways of living by means of which the blacks survived for ages.”


Muaru or Woodlark Island

After the joys of wandering about the bush at Solongo Bay, Hayes returns to civilization at Kulumadau to write a couple of pages of gossip about “the men who have known palatial halls and women clad in diaphanous silken things” sunk low by drink. He names some of these beachcombers, others are described only by position as “a bank manager in Melbourne who now lives on the beach at Misima in the Louisiades.”

Disgusted to see men laying drunk in the gutters, Hayes walked fifteen miles across Murua, accepted food and cool coconut water from the people “said to be dangerous,” and marveled at a forest of tree-ferns that, “reach to a height of sixty feet, and completely smother all other vegetation in the gullies where they grow.” The crocodiles grow big too; Hayes says he personally saw one “longer than my 26-foot whaleboat when it ranged alongside.”

The investors must still be trying to salvage something out of the Sagarai River rubber scheme; Hayes bought many rubber plants for them. And the timber prospects at Murua were good enough that “I am engaged to set up the mill and oversee it, but it means nothing.” On the way south back to Sydney, Hayes wonders, “if I’ll ever see this island again.” He knows his own wanderlust – he’s been four months in this region now – quite a long time for him.

Toward the end of February 1911, Hayes steamed back through Samarai, Port Moresby, Cairns, and Brisbane chatting with missionaries and the occasional sober prospector. “It is truly enjoyable.” Except for the politicians on board. “Politicians are a fungus that grows on the body politic whom the world would be better without.”

At Sydney he gave an encouraging report to the investors and checked in with Strachen about the plantation proposal. “Strachan has not yet succeeded in promoting the plantation. He is much too honest a man for this business.” Well, that’s Australia and New Guinea – where to next? His premonition was right about not returning to Murua.


2.8 Rubber Plantation Sagarai River

April 15, 2012

The map for this four month period shows relatively little travel by Hayes’ standards.  He’s putting together a colonial plantation site with just a few side trips to villages previously unvisited by Europeans and one longer trip to a mission at Isuleilei.

June 12, 1910 – September 12, 1910

Throughout his diaries, Hayes comments on the wildlife and geography of every region he visits and includes extensive observations about the architecture and religious and social organizations of the native people he meets. Though his descriptions are often unflattering, no doubt he regards his as an accurate record intended to offset the sensationalism of a writer like Jack London.

Dense mangrove forests grow in the saltwater swamp of the Sagarai River delta. Any houses in the region must be built on stilts above tides that rise as much as twenty feet. At a place he calls Karola Creek, Hayes finds a bit of solid ground on which to build two stilted houses, one for him and a larger one for men he is beginning to hire.


Stilt House Papua New Guinea

Within two weeks of arriving Hayes writes, “my name is good now, and I get new men constantly.” His self-restraint with the native women and his work ethic offer some explanation of how he can earn a good name in such a short time, nor does he hold himself above the men he hires. When the last sago palm frond finished the roof of his two houses, he and the men went to clear some sunken mangroves to make a shipping channel. “This required going into the water with the crocodiles, and as it seemed hardly fair to set the natives at it and me on the safety of the shore, I went in too. One of us stood guard constantly with the rifle to fire at any croc, but the singing boys frightened them away.” Canoes arrive daily with men looking for work thereby saving Hayes the six pounds other Europeans must pay to recruiters.

“New Guinea must be the aviary of the world, for there are thousands of bright plumaged birds about me constantly”: the iridescent bird of paradise, red bird of paradise, parrots, several species of pigeons, the flightless cassowary, water birds, waders, swimmers, even the megapodes laying their eggs in giant mounds of trash. Though he has not heard of the platypus seen here, the other animals he sees:  wild pigs, kangaroos, opossums, bandicoots, and even echidna suggest to Hayes recent union with the Australian continent.

Even with a good crew of dependable men paid a stick of tobacco to seal any bargain, Hayes still has to contend with trouble. Food is scarce and “Then there is the question of puri-puri. Witch doctors to you and me, meaning little, but to the simple native, life or death.” Paddy, one of the native men recently hired (and named), received a curse from the end of a pointed bone. Hayes forcibly fed Paddy, laughed at the curse and got him past the appointed hour of his death by convincing him that “my medicine was superior to that of the puri-puri man, and he lived.”

Work on the station proceeds well enough with his crew that Hayes can take a day now and again to wander the nearby mountains visiting “several villages where white men have seldom gone.” Not above some Jack London style exoticism he says that he laughed “to see the women nursing small pigs or pups at their breasts.” Full-grown sows roam the village “pugnacious to all but the immediate family” of their “foster mothers” right up to the moment they go into the stew pot.


Group of indigenous men Boku, New Guinea circa 1908-1910
photo by H.P. Schlenker missionary.  USC digital libraries.

Then too, in New Guinea the men routinely break the leg or wing of a captured bird to keep the meat fresh until they are ready to eat it. “They become angry when I kill these wretched brutes, saying their ways are not my ways, and that theirs suit them.” None of his arguments convert the Papuans to Hayes’ ethic. Hayes hears accounts of cannibalism as well: The skipper of a forty-ton sloop that came by their newly built station told of finding several men with limbs broken as for the wings of birds, “laid on a bed of live coals to slowly roast.”

On July 16th, about a month after Hayes arrived at the Sagarai River, Neville, the promoter of the rubber plantation, paid a visit “and he [Neville] realizes he has misrepresented the potentialities of the proposed plantation to the investors.” Nevertheless, a sawmill and several white men from Australia have arrived to further the project. The sawmill is useless and the men are worse; all have come in search of “sensual bliss” with the Papuan women, touching off the jealousies of Hayes’ native workingmen.

Strachan, Hayes’ immediate supervisor on the rubber plantation project, can also see Neville’s swindle unraveling. There are no rubber trees here – but coconuts would grow. Strachan and Hayes take a side trip down to the London Missionary Society station at Isuleilei harbor where Strachan proposes that he and Hayes dump Neville and start a plantation of their own. Strachan has wide acquaintances in Melbourne who will back the endeavor. Hayes knows he can manage the work and Papuan men – could he consider the prospect of owning  a plantation?


Mission House Kalaigolo, New Guinea circa 1908-1910.
photo by H.P. Schlenker (who served at Isuleilei until 1900), missionary.  USC digital libraries.

Through August and September, the lusts of the newly arrived men, Hans, Andy, Percy and the others, breed resentment among the Papuan workers. “The men resent it, have no respect for them and refuse to obey any orders unless forced.” Hayes suffers anemia from the poor food and barely keeps the malaria in check with quinine. His best native men are sent to other parts of the enterprise only to return “bitter because of the beatings so unnecessary, to say nothing of being brutal.”

By the middle of September Halley’s comet has about run its course and the profligacy of Hans, Percy, Andy et al, together with the beatings by other managers have ruined any prospect of maintaining a Papuan workforce in the area. How quickly the idyll of establishing a worksite in the good company of only native workmen is fouled by the ways of the foreign workers arriving to take up station there – time for Hayes to be moving on.

But – “copra is 27 pounds per ton, this will give 20% profit on any capital invested if properly handled.” Maybe Strachan could get the money together? Hayes Perkins plantation owner? “Strachan says he can raise it, and if so, it will be my big chance.” In October, Hayes sails south back to Samarai bound for Australia with this thought in his head: “If all goes well I will return shortly and see what happens in the way of developing land for a plantation of my own, at least in which I expect to be vitally interested.”


2.7 Melbourne to Sagarai River

April 8, 2012

Broke and heading alone on foot into the bush on Papua New Guinea.

March 5, 1910 –June 6, 1910

Never a man for cities, after ten metropolitan days Hayes writes: “Am about satiated with Melbourne.” Sydney has more appeal for him; it will be easier to get into the bush from there.

A trip to the museum immediately followed by a tour of  the red light district in Melbourne touched off a pensive passage. At the museum Hayes saw the skeletons of the extinct diprotodon followed by those of the Wooreddy and Trugannini, the last of the native Tasmanians.


Diprotodon skeleton


Truganini

In the red light district girls formerly beautiful and charming accosted him “offering what is most precious for a pittance.” The discordance between the exalted museum and the tawdry streets prompted Hayes to question: “Is man an equal to the wild creatures he is exterminating? When their natural appetites are satisfied they are willing to live and let live, even the predators among them. Not man, for I see in the harbor warships, about its shores forts and guns to destroy their own kind. I would like to forget men, am sometimes ashamed of my own species. Yet I am no better than the rest.”

At Sydney, Hayes takes up temporary residence at a Salvation Army hotel called the People’s Palace, “the largest hotel in the in the Antipodes.” The one-hundred rooms of the palace house too many men for his comfort so Hayes quickly transfers to a family boarding house where he bunks with only Carter, “a man from the back blocks of Queensland, near the Gulf of Carpentaria.” Hayes has heard of rich opal strikes up that way, but Carter warns him off: that area is poor, sparsely populated and almost unexplored. Carter says a smart man would try Cairns where there is lots of work in the sugar mills.

Just as he was about to leave for the bank to secure funds for the boat to Cairns, Hayes noticed an advertisement in a magazine trumpeting financial opportunities in Papua New Guinea. That afternoon, he was in the offices of Charles Neville landing a job pioneering 6,000 acres for a prospective rubber plantation. Hayes thought 300,000 pounds had been subscribed to this project but it turns out to be 1,500,000 pounds. Personally, he is down to 20 pounds, then flat broke by the time he outfits for the trip, but “Money doesn’t count in an expedition like this. I want to see the big world down in this part of the globe and this is a splendid chance.”

MAKAMBO of Burns Philp & Co at anchor
Steamer Makambo

Seen from the deck of the steamer Makambo, Halley’s comet grows larger nightly on its approach to perihelion. By day, deck chatter concerns George V succeeding Edward VII in England but “I take a deal more interest in the rapidly growing comet, now the finest feature of the skies, than all the kings of earth.”

On the passenger list of the Makambo Hayes reads the name Young who are missionaries and plantation owners at Bundaberg. When he “chipped in a sovereign for the work,” Miss Florence Young approached Hayes to tell him “She sees how the Lord has laid it upon me to run their small sailing craft between the islands picking up copra and trade, receiving nought but my keep.” He agreed to the work “if she would give me what the secular trading and planting companies did.” No sale.

[According to Riedl and Tietze in Jack London’s tales of Cannibals and Headhunters, London had lunch on this same ship, the Makambo, on August 22, 1908. In his short story The Terrible Solomon’s,  begun shortly after that lunch, London’s character Bertie Arkwright learns about inevitable white men on a steamer called the Makembo.  London also writes the Makambo into his novel Michael, Brother of Jerry.]

After a brief stop at Tulagi, the Makambo pulled in at Pendufferyn, a plantation on Guadalcanar (sic) where the white managers are still laughing about the recent visit by Jack London. Seems the adventures he set down as real were entirely vicarious. “In truth, he sat on the veranda of the wide bungalow and penned these thrilling episodes in safety, drinking numerous highballs the while.” Later, on the way to Gizo, Hayes continues on the subject of adventure novelists: “One of the worst features of the South Seas is the itinerant writer.” He complains that these writers soak up the wild tales of beachcombers and island traders in a six-week tour on a boat like the Makambo then write these tall tales as personal experience. “Consequently there are almost no books portraying these people truthfully to be read in any library.” Jack London and Beatrice Grimshaw receive low marks for veracity; Louis Becke rates a little higher. [London spent two years sailing the South Seas on his ketch the Snark. Hayes’ comments are particularly unfair to Beatrice Grimshaw who spent 27 years on Papua. Louis Becke spent more than 10 years adventuring about Australia and the South Sea island chains.]


Jack London on the Snark circa 1908


Beatrice Grimshaw

Louis Becke

Dinner Island, all of its 54 acres, received the name Hayes recorded when Captain John Morsby paused there for a meal in 1873; maps now call it Samarai Island. Perhaps two miles across a small strait surging with great tides Hayes can see the mainland of Papua New Ginea.

At Waga Waga, the orchids, coconut palms, frangipani, hibiscus, coral sands, and bluest sea elicit from Hayes, “What a marvelously beautiful land!” As usual, for Hayes the beauty of the natural world exceeds that of its human inhabitants: “Many are not unprepossessing, but others are hideous.” He goes on for two paragraphs: piercings, distended earlobes, betel nut, sipoma, hair died red in enormous dreadlocks, etc.

On the walk overland to the Sagarai River, Hayes amazed the native porters by taking onto his own back a load from an exhausted man, “for such a thing as a white man carrying a load is unknown. But we did it all in Alaska.” At the 6,000-acre prospective plantation, Hayes finds constant rain and no solid ground on which to build. “All the natives seem half wild” – especially the women – which Hayes says, “gives one suspicion of the attitude of the general run of the Europeans toward the native girls and women, and these people are extremely jealous.” Fortunately, the natives speak an understandable English jargon and, by toting the pack, Hayes has made a good impression on them.

It’s June, it’s raining, Hayes, a lone “European” in the bush, is already gaining the trust of the native workers – and he’s about to discover, little to his surprise, that the rubber plantation is an investment swindle.


2.6 Eureka to Melbourne

April 1, 2012

Hayes writes with reference to the low quality ship he finds headed to Australia: “But somehow it is the sea.  I love it even as it is.”  The map shows another long eastward jaunt.

I’ve also included a link to download a google earth global map of the first six segments of volume 2.  The map centers on the Western United States with long arms reaching east and west.

November 21, 1909 – February 25, 1910

As he expected, Hayes found  a ship bound for Australia out of Eureka – a dubious one called “The Foxley, an English tramp whose men are either in jail or else fleeing to the woods to escape the ship.” In the year-and-a-half knocking about the western US after rowing down the lower Yukon, Hayes recovered his health and spirits but not his finances. In order to get to Australia he needed to sign on as a sailor.  He knows the Foxley “must be rotten” to cause all the desertions; furthermore the mate warns Hayes the captain will never pay him off in Melbourne regardless of the captain’s  promises.

Hayes quotes the captain directly: “Yes, I’ll give you a sight in her!” he shouted. “And I’ll give you five pounds a month, more than these hell hounds are getting. What’s more, I’ll pay you off in Melbourne. Get here on two days, I’ll sign you on.”  (Hayes’ quote.)

The chief engineer agrees with the mate: “He won’t do it.” (Hayes’ quote.) But doesn’t an adventurer has to “take a long chance” now and again? “It doesn’t look good,” but  there she sits: docked  at Eureka ready to sail for Australia. “There is no other ship,” – none of the better ships sailing to Australia need to replace fleeing seamen – and besides, the constant drizzle at Eureka drives Hayes to distraction; he convinces himself that if the Foxley is bad at least she’ll be warm and dry sailing south.

No one told Hayes about coaling the Foxley before the long run across the Pacific.  Leaving Eureka, the Foxley sailed straight north to a coal stop at Nanaimo, British Columbia with snow and “a thin shim of ice on the bay.”  What’s more, eight days out of Eureka, the captain had yet to formally sign Hayes onto the crew.


Dodd Narrows in a strong ebb tide, from Seabird Travels

Nevertheless, the captain was willing to give Hayes plenty of responsibility.  Right before sailing into Nanaimo, “The tides are strong, the currents tremendous coming into the Gulf of Georgia. I was at the wheel running the narrows down at the lower end two days ago, and it was all I could do to get the wheel over in time to miss the next rock.” The captain must have been impressed with Hayes’ seamanship. He formally signed Hayes onto the crew (this time swearing to pay him “a pound more than these stiffs I have in here now’) and renewed his promise to pay Hayes off the ship at Melbourne.  None of the officers believe the captain will keep his word. They scoff at Hayes’ gullibility but keep him at odd jobs around the bridge to hear his tales of the US, Africa, and the Yukon.

The first day of 1910 and Hayes still can’t get out of the cold. The Foxley ran up the Columbia River  to St. Helens: “Ice growing thicker, with great floes constantly passing.”  Most of the crew jumped ship even at dreary, cold St. Helens.  After signing new men with a months advance pay at Portland, the  “Scottish skipper” anchors the Foxley well offshore fearing more men will jump ship given the chance.  Anchoring midstream means more work for Hayes as he and three other boatman have to buck the current rowing a small boat ashore nightly to stand in the freezing rain “while our captain enjoys the embraces of his gay dolls uptown.”


Columbia River Gorge in winter, from American Rivers

At Astoria, lumber jacks load the Foxley with a mountain of ice-rimed timber:  maximizing profit for the long run to Melbourne that caused Hayes  “fear for the ship’s safety because of the high deck load.”  Immediately out from the mouth of the Columbia, the overloaded ship ran into “one of the worst storms I have ever seen.” The ship creaked and groaned, wandering about the compass, taking breakers over the forecastle while alternately listing thirteen-degrees from one side to the other.  The storm blew at them all the way to Alenuihaha Channel between Maui and Hawaii – a wild ride, but at least the rain driven from the southwest  fell warm.

On the British Foxley, Hayes’ crew mates  include, “Spaniards, Germans, Turks, Greeks and so on.” Already, in 1910, the Germans keep to themselves and speak eagerly of the war certain to come between Britain and Germany. Herman, a sailor from Hamburg, explains their motivation: “Dey vas in our vay! Dey have all der goaling stations! Us? Ve has notting, only some poor golonies. We will beat dem, vill make der vorld all Cherman!” (Hayes’ quote.)

As the crew squabbles national allegiance and the officers repeat their dire warnings about the captain’s perfidy, Hayes  looks to the natural world.  He measures the visible tail on Halley’s comet at perhaps half a degree in length. “As it is not yet round the sun and consequently farther away than later, we may see more of it later on.”

Halley’s Comet, May 29 1910

After Hawaii, with the Pacific calmed to befit its name, Hayes took up quarters “under a boat on the poop.” Halley’s comet disappeared behind the sun but Achernar, Canopus, and the Southern Cross put on a show. “Stars of the second magnitude now appear larger than those of the first on land, for here there is no haze to break the nightly vista of the heavens.”

Sailing past the Ellice Islands (now Tuvalu), the Foxley continues its alternating thirteen-degree lists all the way to Newcastle, Australia where she hopes to take on more coal.  Newcastle has plenty of coal – and a long line of foreign vessels waiting out a coal-handlers strike in a swarm of biting flies. The Nanaimo’s coal will have to last until Melbourne; the skipper orders half speed to conserve fuel sailing around Wilson’s Promontory past “ghostlike eucalypts.”

National allegiances finally came to a boil at the first bar in Melbourne. When an Irish messboy entered the pub where the Germans had gathered, words flew and “the German took off his long uniform coat and his cap” preparing to mop up the Irishman. “The latter knocked him head over heels through a plate glass window, then reached for his assailant’s coat and cap and ran for it to the ship. No hard feelings on the Irishman’s part, he was merely saving a shipmate’s clothing. The fight was merely a social interlude.”

Hayes liked the Foxley well enough but his contract said the captain would pay and discharge him at Melbourne. The chief engineer advises: “You had bloody well clear out of here, that blighter ‘ll never pay you off.” Echoed by the second mate: “If he tells the truth, it’s an error on his part. You’re definitely a part of the permanent crew of R.M.S. Foxley.” (Hayes’ quotes.)

When asked directly, “[The captain’s] face hardened. He is a man who has lost faith in his fellows, trusts no one, but has a semblance of honor still. He leaned forward as he spoke, gritting his teeth like a savage dog.” Saying: “I told you I was going to pay you off, and I will. But you’re the only one of these devils who gets a penny!” (Hayes’ quote.)


Collins Street Melbourne, circa 1890-1910

By two in the afternoon he’d been paid, accepted through immigration, and installed in a workingman’s hotel near the houses of Parliament. “I am eager to explore the city and its surroundings, to get a glimpse of Australia.”