Finally, since the boat was too heavy for Nick and Ted to manage alone and the trip would be upwind and exceptionally difficult, Mum flew back to Kwajalein on August 13 to help them sail the Phoenix back to Honolulu. Skipper wrote, "As I watched her plane take off into the darkness, I have never felt so forlorn. Now I start counting the days."
Meanwhile Skipper and I rented what he called The Hole in the condemned slum-area section on the outskirts of Waikiki. It was on Kapahulu Avenue, across the street from the zoo and one block from the beach--and Skipper would pace that part of the beach every day for two months while the Phoenix was being sailed back. (Jerry and I had lunch at a restaurant on that section of beach just a year or so ago and it is now very much a part of the high-rent district of Waikiki!)
As the trial got underway, Skipper did not have Mum's moral and practical support in preparation for it and had the additional anxiety of being completely out of touch with his wife, son, and first mate and unable to advise or assist them in any way.
On October 4, he wrote, "I know this business of going down to look for the Phoenix is silly, since both newspapers are in touch with the Coast Guard, and have promised to inform me as soon as the Phoenix is sighted, which should be well off-shore. . ."
October 13: "Early this morning I took my usual walk to the beach, and at once I spotted the Phoenix, just a couple of miles offshore, under easy sail, heading toward the yacht harbor." The owner of a glass-bottom sight-seeing boat offered to take him out to meet her. By the time the officials arrived and cleared the boat, DiggyDee and I had joined him.
"Sixty days! Against the prevailing winds, against the strong west-going current, a four-thousand-mile Pacific crossing, short-handed, and without the skipper! My personal nomination for the outstanding yachting venture of 1958. . .
"Incidentally, they have been in sight of the islands for the last six days, becalmed much of the time, and with no contact with the Coast Guard or Navy. What happened to our famous warning system? Why didn't they see the Phoenix? Or did they?"
|My response to the return of the Phoenix.|