Dear Phyl,
We are now anchored off the Balboa Yacht Club and expect to leave here in two days time for the Galapagos Islands, which are about 1000 miles southwest from here. I wrote from Martinique to say that we hoped to make a quick passage to Colon. This was not to be. We had our roughest passage yet, on this trip.

In the morning, just as we finished breakfast a dinghy arrived and we were warmly greeted by a chap we had met in Barbados, Davey Keefe, he had been crew on a large boat called Artemis, of which his brother was skipper. He was now skippering his brother’s own boat “Sirius”, a gaff ketch which his brother had sailed out three years previously, and Davey was now fitting out intending to day charter. We mentioned that we were very hard up, and also that we wanted our boat slipped. He invited us to come and anchor near him and said that if Penny would cook us all a good meal he would provide the food. It seems he had been living on baked beans and the like for the last three weeks. We all straightaway went into town and bought the makings of a good meal and then while he motored back we prepared to follow.

Pettit St Vincent doesn’t have any water supply but they have built a desalination plant and sell water to us by the gallon. The plant has round pans with solid floors and stone walls around the perimeter. These walls are built of double brick with a space inbetween and a framework over the top with a plastic covering. They pump seawater into the pans, the water vaporizes up to the plastic in the heat, and then trickles down the sides into the cavity between the bricks and is then collected.

Grenada to British Yacht Stella Mira
Martinique C/O H.B.M Consul
Society Islands
Pacific Ocean.

Dear Phyl,
The above address is the only one at which we are likely to be sure of getting mail from you.

We have had no mail since you wrote to Barbados. It seems unlikely that we shall have time to go up to Nicholson’s at Antigua, especially as there may not be anything for us, even if we did. Penny will write them and have anything sent to us at Balboa, which place we hope to be in about 14 days (God willing)

‘Stella Mira’
500 miles out in the Atlantic
Nov 6th

Dear Mum,

You are at long last getting a letter from me, but then you know how I hate writing letters. I’m able to do so at the moment because there’s nothing else to do. We’ve run out of books and the boat isn’t moving very fast. We’ve been at sea for 11 days now and we haven’t had good weather, we keep getting 2’s & 3’s instead of the 4 & 5’s we want. However we’ve managed to get the self steering gear to work (touch wood) so we don’t have to helm the boat at all. The only trouble is that it comes undone every few days and dad has to climb on the back and reset it.

On Saturday the 16th, we went to bed with a force 5 wind behind us. We lay in bed, and listened to the regular swish of water every time we surged forward on the top of a sea. We were indeed being rocked in the cradle of the deep. Later, in my half sleep, I became gradually conscious that the periodic swishing, had turned to a constant roar. I became fully awake, with a start, and dived for the hatch. The bow wave was foaming out phosphorescently on each side and our wake literally shone behind us into the distant night.

The next day the wind increased to 5, but not for long.

Until Saturday November 16th the average wind was below force 4. Even so we estimated that we were putting about 100 miles a day behind us. By now we had settled into a daily routine. I would awaken and tune the radio to the British Overseas Services to check my watch by the time signal, and then listen to the news. Then Penny would get breakfast, usually Quaker oats then bread or Vitawheats with jam or marmite. I would wash up and Penny wipe, after which it would be time to take a morning sight. We would then do maintenance work and odd jobs until it was time for the noon sight.

3 hours after leaving Gomera and tacking into a very light wind, we had made little progress and wishing to get well away from land before dark, we took down the sails to stop them slatting and started the engine. Darkness found us off the bottom end of the island, with no wind, but storm clouds and lightning on the horizon to the Northwest. Our course should have taken us to the west to round the top of the island of Hiero 25 miles away, but as the storm gradually drew down on us and the wind and seas increased, the best course we could make was SSW, so it seemed more prudent to run before the storm rather than risk hitting Hiero in the dark. The wind was now force 7 or more, the north western sky was veined with continuous forks of lightning, which though impressive to watch, also conveyed to us a feeling of our own puniness.

As told by Sim)

For several days before we left Las Palmas we had a southerly wind, which made our anchorage a lee shore, and oil was being blown into the corner of the harbour used by the yacht club. Our new paint was covered in it to about 6 inches above the water line, and every time we went ashore we got ourselves plastered in it, so we were glad to leave.

On the Saturday night in the club, we said goodbye to all the friends we had made, and on Sunday morning about 8 am, Adolfo (Penny’s Spanish boyfriend who we were taking to Tenerife) came aboard, and as there was little wind we dropped our mooring and motored out to the entrance, putting up our sails as we went. As we did so all the other yachts started blowing their fog horns and waving us goodbye.

Las Palmas
British Yacht “Stella Mira”

Dear Phyl,
I had your letter last week, but delayed replying, as the bearings had arrived from Stuart Turner and I had made arrangements to be hauled out. We are now out lying on a cradle alongside the pier at the yacht club. The tide just reaches us at high water. Since we have been out I have given the bottom another two coats of anti fouling and the top another coat of paint. We now look very pretty, so everyone tells us, and I must say I agree. The boat is now pale blue with a red bottom. The top plank I have left white in the class condition. The combing is now a darker blue, as we could never keep the varnish smart on it and we shall now be able to touch it up with paint, easily. (I feel the need to touch up occasionally) we are keeping the coach roof and the cockpit combing varnished but painting the seats to match the hull, as varnish wears off after a few weeks.