The following is an except of a memoir written by Charles Howard Duffy while sailing on the “LADY JO” in the Honolulu Classic, a yacht race between San Pedro and Honolulu, Jan 13,1939.

The Lady Jo under weigh with motors, off the southern California Coast. Honolulu Classic - Jan 13, 1938
The Lady Jo under weigh with motors, off the southern California Coast.


This is Friday, the 13th. The last two days have been bad for me. Yesterday Sam and Ed put the light balloon jib on the staysail, in addition to the heavy balloon jib and the mainsail. Besides that, we had the strongest wind since we hit the trades. The boat became a brute to steer. On top of that, I haven’t been able to sleep enough, and I was so fagged out anyway. I think last night was my was my second low point of the trip. I got to wondering again whether sailing forth in search of adventure was worthwhile after all. During my watches at the wheel I reviewed my vocabulary of swear words and formed many new and interesting combinations. After three hours of turning and twisting the wheel to hold the boat on its course, you feel like you have bulldogged a while corral of steers. After a certain length of time you hold the boat as close to its course as you can but you don’t care if the boom gybes or the sails blow out, or a masts come out by the roots.

At 2:30 AM this morning the halyard on the light balloon jib parted, and the sail fouled itself so thoroughly on the stay we had to wait until daylight to get it down. We just put up the squaresail and are running directly before a moderate east wind and good sized waves. We should be approximately 1100 miles directly east of Hilo. We mad 154 miles yesterday. On one of my watches we logged 22 1/2 miles, on the first watch, we averaged more than eight knots. We should have a fairly easy night tonight if Ed will stand for furling the mainsail. His favorite moan is, “Wind is going to waste.” So far he hasn’t insisted on hoisting the sail on the backstay.

We have no sun again today. We are wearing shorts now, but it is fairly cool. So far in nearly two weeks we haven’t had enough sun to make one good California day. From our experience tropical head is a myth. Sam thinks the navigator is taking us to Alaska.

January 14, 1939

Comments are closed.