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 6,1939.
The Honolulu Classic – Jan 6, 1939
We went through a gale last night. The boat sailed itself under jib and staysail until 10:00 o’clock this morning making about 35 miles. We just hoisted the main and are roaring along with the rail under. The wind is still whistling in the rigging. The seas were tremendous while we got up this morning, some of them breaking. The guy that said that water seeks its own level had never been to sea. We are doing about 8 knots right now. The boat feels like a speed demon going through the water. A sea just came ocer and soaked Rose to the skin, sitting by the companionway. A lot of my clothes are web. I would sure like a chance to dry them out. I have gotten so I take off most of my clothes when it looks like I might get wet.
I just got my oilskins off after piloting this bucking bronco for three hours over about ten thousand rolling hills with breaking crests here and there. These are real waves as compared to ground swells noted yesterday. The height of the biggest is probably over forty feet and the crests are from one hundred to two hundred yards apart. Our course brings the waves on our beam, but by running off slightly before each one it is possible to keep most of them from breaking over the boat. Ed tied me to the boat to keep from getting washed overboard. I was thinking as I sat at the wheel that when I got home I should take up some nice safe, unexciting diversion like lion-taming of motorcycle hill climbing. Sam just made a very sad discovery. The bilge was got too high and ran over all the radio equipment and some other things when the boat knocked down. We are probably without a transmitter and possibly a receiver for the rest of the trip.
We are about 400 miles SW of San Pedro, and we think we are in the trades at last. The wind and swells have hauled around to the north. On account of the heavy roll of the boat Sam and I thought it was too dangerous to use the main, besides it being hard work to steer, and Ed thought it was too dangerous using the big balloon job, so tonight again, the boat is sailing itself under working jib and staysail. We will probably try setting the squaresail tomorrow. It looks like everyone has gone to bed so I might as well also.