Thursday, June 30, 2016

Introduction to BONUS FEATURES

BONUS FEATURES is a companion link to PHOENIX OF HIROSHIMA and opens with pictures of and stories about items we had on the Phoenix, including a few articles published about the Phoenix as our family sailed around the world (1954-58). All the posts in 2016 are Phoenix-related. 

(I have reversed posted order to make them chronological if read from top to bottom, so read down through June, 2016 first, then read down through May.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

PHOENIX MEMORABILIA: Inflatable world globe

Jerry inflates plastic globe marked with our route around the world. The oil painting behind him is of me at six-ish (before we left Ohio for Japan, anyway).

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


     This is the official Phoenix chronometer. Skipper gave it to me after (or for?) my first wedding.
     On the boat, it had just looked like an old box. My husband, pleased with its potential, went to some trouble to polish it, restoring it to its original lustre and beauty. I was amazed at the transformation.
     When Skipper saw it, however, he was disgusted. It had probably not looked that sleek when he bought it (at Army surplus!) and years of sun and salt water had only made it more weather-beaten. Now, he humphed, it was "sissy." It had lost all its rugged uniqueness as something that had endured the Phoenix circumnavigation.
     But I cherish it, both for its history and for its workmanship. The clock face is set in gimbals. You can lift one lid that allows you to read the time while the clock is still protected by glass. Another, lower lid enables you to get at the clock to set it.
     In the picture below (which in the more somber lighting makes the chronometer look closer to what I remember it looking like on the boat), Jerry is tipping the clock face forward for you. 

Monday, June 27, 2016


     Neither Ted nor I know what happened to the sextant he and Skipper used during the voyage around the world. In a documentary, Voyage of the Phoenix, made by William Heick for Canadian Broadcasting in 1967, Skipper was using what I'm sure was the same sextant on the way to North Vietnam, long after our trip around the world.
     Here's Ted taking readings.

     But we don't know where it is now.
Note Mi-ke in Skipper's lap.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

PHOENIX MEMORABILIA: Parallel calipers

     See that light-colored stick thing on the lower right hand corner of the desk? Dad and Ted would walk this instrument across the charts to find our position. (Once when they didn't have the right chart, our position was halfway up Mt. Fuji.)
     I want to call the thing "calipers" or parallel bars but I know that can't be right. It's for making parallel lines.

I think the one in this picture is the one we still have. (See below.)

     Here's Skipper using a similar one at the desk in his cabin. I assume they used several over the years. They are probably pretty cheap.

Saturday, June 25, 2016


     This is a terrible picture of the compass. All it shows is its location in the cockpit, aft of mizzen mast, with Skipper's foot supporting our original cat Mi-ke's paws and Skipper's hand holding the tiller. On the bright side, however, it is a very good picture of Mi-ke.

Friday, June 24, 2016


     This seems to be the only shot we have of the tiller. I'm straddling it because it's a calm day (and I'm messing around) but in storms it could kick so hard, even the men couldn't hold it, so Skipper designed a rope pulley system. They'd stand with the tiller at one hip and grip the ropes to each side of it.
     Wait, I found another picture of it:
     I think we presented the rudder (although it was broken) to Kompira-san, the god of the sea, when we got back to Japan. We'd visited his shrine just before we left. Of course I don't believe he's the one who got us safely around the world--I don't think anyone in our family really believed that--but, like having the Shinto priest at our launching, it was "the thing one did" in that culture.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


As we leave Hawaii for Tahiti, the life raft is filled with stalks of bananas and anthuriums, gifts from friends.

En route to Tahiti, Skipper relaxing in the life raft. (This is posed--he never really relaxed).
     Long gone. Both of them, actually--Skipper and the life raft.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


     This is one of the blocks from the Phoenix, with original varnish. We have two of them.

Monday, June 20, 2016


     Our riding lights were just little metal (tin?) boxes, one with red glass in it (port) and one with green glass (starboard). We put them on shelves attached to the rigging. Look for the open red-brown-painted box on the ratlines (rope ladder) going up the main mast (the one to your left). If you look closely you can see the port riding light in its corner.
     Looks like it must have been laundry day.
     I gave one or both of the lights to our son and they are probably in storage.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


     These are all that's left of our Phoenix "silver"ware but this may be most of it--four place settings, a grapefruit spoon and a pickle fork. I think I could probably fill in what's missing from Pier 1 Imports.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

PHOENIX MEMORABILIA: "Souvenirs hung from bulkheads and overhead"

    This is the ladies' cabin, where we served coffee to the crew of the Golden Rule. As Bert Bigelow mentioned in his book, The Voyage of the Golden Rule, "the bulkheads and even the overhead were hung with all kinds of souvenirs from all over the world."
      I don't remember where we got the stuffed crocodile but it was on the wall over Mum's bunk.
     We also had two things dangling from the ceiling. One was a woven capsule of dried palm or pandanus leaves about six inches by three inches--like a large sausage--in which, we were told, was dried banana. This was how Polynesians carried their food when they made long voyages in their catamarans. Ours eventually disintegrated but not for years.
     The other thing was a small blowfish, inflated, maybe eight inches across.
     Facing Mum, over the doorway to the main cabin, is the wooden carving of a Japanese scene and behind and above her is the tokonoma, both of which I will be telling you about in the next few days.
     The cat is Mi-ke's daughter, Manuia (Lucky in Tahitian).


     Over Japanese doorways there may be a short, bifurcated cloth curtain, right at eye level. You've seen them in Japanese restaurants. Or there may be, built into the top of the doorway, a carved wooden scene which allows airflow through it. We had the latter. Skipper nailed ours to the doorway from the ladies' cabin into the main cabin (where the galley was, where Ted and Moto slept and where "the boys" as we called the Japanese crewmen, meaning no disrespect, ate their meals).

Friday, June 17, 2016


     We used kerosene lamps all the way across the Pacific on our maiden voyage (six weeks). It was my job to polish the lamps (which you notice I have failed to keep up), trim the wicks and keep them filled with kerosene. In Hawaii Skipper installed electric lights, which he kept powered up by generator. I didn't realize until I hauled the only lamp still in existence (as far as I know) out of our garage to take a picture of it that the lamps themselves were converted to hold light bulbs and plug into the wall.
    (I'm cheating here. Not only didn't I polish the brass for this photo but the lamp is not really vertical or attached to the wall. I laid the lamp on a canvas sack on the floor and held up its tail with one hand as I took the picture with the other. Then I turned the picture upright.)
     The one on the wall of the ladies' cabin in yesterday's picture was a little different. I don't remember for sure which style came first.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


     You may not recognize the word "tokonoma" but you've seen them in pictures of Japanese homes. It's sometimes called a "God-shelf." It's usually in the main room of the home, inset in a wall facing the main door, almost floor to ceiling. It may be divided in half vertically; the left alcove will feature a long wall-hanging and below that a large floral arrangement. The right may have various shelves or drawers but it too will be artistic and restful.
     Devout Buddhists (or is it Shintoists? Japanese blend the Buddhist philosophy and the Shinto ancestor worship into one religious tradition) may put a plate of three oranges or of white or pink rice patties (mochi) on one of the shelves in deference either to gods or ancestor.
     We had a tokonoma on the Phoenix, high on the wall of the "ladies' cabin," on the wall just aft of my mother's bunk. It was maybe two feet by three feet and divided by a cherry log perhaps an inch thick. We had a miniature wall hanging made for it before we left Japan. I wish I could remember what else we had in it--I must have looked at it hundreds of times but I can't remember and the tokonoma and everything in it has disappeared. I can't find a single photograph of it, even in the background of a photo of something else but here is a full-sized one from Pinterest.

tokonoma | Minimalist Living | Pinterest

tokonoma | Minimalist Living | Pinterest
1200 x 797 | 525KB

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

PHOENIX MEMORABILIA: Plaques and carvings

     We had two small metal plaques. One was in the head and had the operating instructions for the toilet: ". . . pump with short strokes to empty the bowl." The other says, "Pasop vir die hond" which I understand means "Beware of the dog" in Afrikaans.  We probably bought it at Groot Constantia, a winery in South Africa.
     Ted has both of them--plus a row of assorted carved tiki's along a window sill. He's promised to look for someone to take pictures of them and email them to me to post here.


     I have no idea where or when we got this. Jean de St. Pern, Ted's age, sailed with us from Mauritius to South Africa in 1956. Years later when he found us on the net and his second wife was dying of cancer, I sent it to him as a reminder of happy days on the Phoenix. So it lives near South Africa now.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

PHOENIX MEMORABILIA: Baggy-wrinkle - lost or disintegrated

     See, making "baggy-wrinkle" wasn't just Skipper's ploy to keep me slaving away even when I wasn't polishing the kerosene lamps or writing Alphabetabobical stories on the rough ride across the Pacific.
     They really do exist. Even Capt. Bert Bigelow of the Golden Rule mentions them in his book, The Voyage of the Golden Rule: "Her main gaff was high-peaked. . . . Although there are some who still cling to it. . . the gaff rig, in my view, is a clumsy, complicated, and improper rig for a small ocean-going yacht. This is particularly true of a ketch. Unless the masting is extraordinarily heavy, the gaff creates an added problem. The mainmast cannot be permanently or properly stayed aft. This results in a slack headstay and a slack-luffed and intolerably inefficient jib. . . The only way to stay the masts in an aftermost direction is to place the aftermost shroud further aft. This results in interference with sails, and even spars, and creates hideous problems of chafe. This explains the many bunches of baggy-wrinkle in the rigging of the Golden Rule. . ." (pp. 60-61)
     I'm not sure what all this means but no one wants a slack headstay or a slack-luffed jib--and one certainly doesn't want "hideous problems of chafe!"
     The Phoenix, though 50 feet long to the Golden Rules' 34 feet, was a gaff-rigged ketch so she needed baggy-wrinkle and I was elected to make it.
     As I wrote somewhere on His Scribe, it's a kind of braiding. You unravel about two feet of rope, secure two lengths of it at both ends parallel to each other a few inches apart. Then you take other strands maybe six inches long, bring them up one at a time around the outside of the parallel lengths, feed them down between the lengths and pull them tight, then snug them up to the strand tied previously.
     That's how I remember it, anyway, and when you have a long narrow grass skirt of the stuff, your father somehow secures each end and wraps it around the rigging and you have done a Good Deed, leaving nothing slack, luffed, or chafed.
     This is the best photo of baggy-wrinkle I could find--a minimalist one. No sails or other distractions, just clean lines and those feather dusters at regular intervals. We have lots of slides of Phoenix baggy-wrinkle but the slides are dirty and our bw's look like disheveled dust mops. So I'm using a photo of the Golden Rule's baggy-wrinkle: plump, fluffy and evenly-spaced.
     Neither Webster's nor The Oxford English Dictionary mentions baggy-wrinkle but I was able to find definitions and photos online. Wikipedia has good pictures of the finished product, explaining, "Baggywrinkle is made from short pieces of yarn cut from old lines that have been taken out of service. Two parallel lengths of marline are stretched between fixed points, and the lengths of yarn are attached using a hitch - similar to a cow hitch - called a 'railroad sennit'. This creates a long, shaggy fringe which, when the marline is wound around a cable, becomes a large hairy cylinder." Long, shaggy fringe. Large, hairy cylinder. That's it, exactly.
     Best of all, I found an excellent photo of someone making it!
     Naomi, I hereby promise if you get the Phoenix seaworthy again, I will make all her baggy-wrinkle!

Monday, June 13, 2016


     I think it's ivory and it's a complete set: 148 tiles. It even has little stick-things to keep score with.  I haven't found any set on eBay as complete as that.
"Dots" or "wheels"
Characters ("cracks")
Flowers and seasons
4 dice and red thingy showing winds
Fancy box we keep the Mah-Jongg set in.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


     I inherited this huge rice paddle, carved with the famous Miyajima torii, without inheriting the story of how we came to have it. Obviously someone bought it on Miyajima Island. It is about three feet tall. It comes up to my waist.
     I have never had occasion to cook this much rice at one time.

Here comes Sudoku, after her mouse. I'm losing my concentration. Those are my feet.

Sudoku, you are NOT Phoenix memorabilia!
You weren't even ON the Phoenix!.


Saturday, June 11, 2016


     These glass balls are or at least were used by Japanese fishing boats. We saw dozens of these and snagged this one as it floated by. It has a diameter of about ten inches.

Friday, June 10, 2016

PHOENIX MEMORABILIA: Victrola record player - lost

     Someone just reminded me about the Victrola record player we had on the boat. She and her husband are trying to gather pictures of people with the earliest record players for a book they are writing of the history of phonographs up to the iPod and the effect their music has had on people.
     This photo shows just a glimpse of it on the cabin top right behind my left shoulder: the box holding it, the edge of a record on the turntable and the shiny metal crank. This was in 1955, when the boat was at the dock in the village of Haapu, on the island of Huahine in the Society Islands. (I did the Hawaiian hula and some of their young people did Tahitian ones.)
     In All in the Same Boat, Dad writes, "In Haapu we had our first taste of real entertaining. It was simple to issue invitations: we just sent Jessica up on deck with the portable photograph and told her to start playing records. Within minutes villagers had begun to gather and soon the party was in full swing. Breaking it up was not so easy, for in spite of frequent showers and the coming and going of the dinner hour no one deserted.
     "The dancing--both Tahitian and modified European--took place beside the boat, on the dock. After each dance the men boarded the boat to squat around and talk, while the girls retreated down the dock to the shadows of the road. With the beginning of a new tune the men would seek out their partners and lead them back into the lighted area around our pressure lantern. During the frequent showers, everyone crowded aboard and took giggling refuge below so that, at times, we had over a hundred people packed into the cabins, the bunks, and the aisles, examining our possessions as they waited for the rain to stop and making excited comments about our accommodations.
      "Nothing, I hasten to add, was missing when the last guest had finally gone, but the next day our ship's inventory was increased alarmingly by gifts of bananas, breadfruit, necklaces of shells, carvings of wood and coconut, and hats of woven pandanus." New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1962, p. 90. 
     The only records I remember from that time are Kiss of Fire, the Nutcracker Suite, and the Blue Danube. Even when we moved to Japan when I was seven, I preferred the latter two and I have like classical music ever since. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

PHOENIX MEMORABILIA: Tahitian grass skirt with cowrie shells

Headdress of fiber and shells
Bora Boran dancer's costume, custom-made for 10-year old me, 1955.
Headdress propped open with wire coat hanger.

     This entire outfit cost us one Army blanket, one pair of men's pants, one carton of cigarettes.
     This is how it is supposed to look. We have two of those little tasselly things she is holding but they are coming apart. 

And this is how the man's version looks.