Sailing on Erna

from the Mediterranean to Barbados


Letters to his brother and sister-in-law recounting
the adventures, hardships, plans and dreams of a young man of 19.

Alicante, 13th October 1966
Gibraltar, 9th November 1966
Gibraltar, 30th November 1966
Gibraltar, 19th December 1966
Las Palmas, 23rd January 1967
Barbados, 15th March 1967
Barbados, mid-April 1967
Barbados, 19th May 1967

13th October 1966

Dear Russ and Kay,

Firstly many apologies for the time lapse in replying to your letter dated 18th August! And also for omiting to wish you happy anniversary some month ago.
      Thank-you for the Joan Baez L.P., and for the addresses which you enclosed in your letter. I have not written to them yet, as I am not sure whether or when or how I shall arrive in America. I shall collect a visa form in Gibraltar, I hope, when we call there for provisioning. We should (but probably won't) be in the West Indies by Christmas, and then Rich will have to kick his heels, or try for chartering for a few months, to give time for the St. Lawrence to become unfrozen. Whilst he is either touring the islands, or working charter, I shall try and gain employment to finance the rest of the voyage to Rochester. There is another possibility. Apparently Rich has got wind of a possible one or two year charter in Granada in the West Indies, in which case I would either have to save enough for a boat fare, or try for a working passage to the States from the W.I.'s.
      Also, Rich placed an ad. in the "Yachting World" for more crew. The replies, if any, will be at Gib. Should he get no, or an inadequate response, we will all be looking for work in Gib. and heaven only knows what will happen. Still, c'est la vie.
      In Mum & Dad's last letter, they mentioned that you had found a possibility of employment for me. Thank-you, I only hope I can make it! They also enclosed, in the previous letter, a copy of one of yours, the description of your flat. It sounds wonderful, as do the facilities you have at the university.
      Life for me has been very eventful and interesting these last two months, as you can probably imagine. I have been introduced to, and become an adict of skin diving, which has opened a whole new world to me, the beauty and magnificence of which passes description. I have caught, with a spear gun after a two hour battle, a 35-40 lb. fish valued at £20, known in Spanish as a Mero, "the best fish in the sea". That was on my birthday. I have been out on a trawler fishing at 350 fathoms for shrimp & crayfish with seven Spaniards, literally the nicest, friendliest, façade-free and most basically happy people I have ever met. I have eaten more shrimp, drunk more wine and champagne, discussed more theories, philosophies and issues (sometimes untill dawn) and have done more swimming than ever before. I have rowed in a six foot sea, sailed in a fifteen foot sea, and learnt the rudiments of seamanship. I have not been sea-sick, but have learnt the effects of too much and too varied alcohol. In addition, I have met many, many interesting people, and visited many interesting places. In short, life is great, and anything but dull!
      I will endeavour to give greater description in my next letter (which I will endeavour to write a lot sooner than this one!), my address being, until the 20th Oct. at least: c/o Lista de Correos, Poste Restante, Alicante, Spain. You will be able to judge time needed for reply by date of arrival of this paper & biro. I will send my next address if I haven't received a reply when we leave here.

So, from one "wandering Wooldridge brother" to another (& Kay),
All my love,
Nigel xxxx

9th November 1966

Dear Russ & Kay,

Thank-you very much for your long and interesting letter. We arrived in Gib. yesterday morning, and it was waiting for me at Chas. Rodrigues. We shall be here for at least a fortnight I would guess, as we have to wait for more crew. There have been seven favourable and hopeful replies to the advert which Rich placed in the October issue of the Yachting World, which is just as well, since we arrived without food (e.g. absolutely no milk, sugar, eggs, bread, vegetables, tea, cheese, meat) and the rest of the crew are leaving, Rich Chris baby Anne and myself being the remaining. When the rest of the crew (proposed) arrive, all will once again be well, but in the mean time, I am trying to get work in Gibraltar however low the wage (& the wages are very low) to buy food, and then to replace my stolen exposure meter & flash gun.
      I have already got one job, cleaning and painting the engine room in a yacht here, approximately a three day job at a £1 a day with lunch. The yacht is owned by some people whom the Erna crew met in Lisbon, and the wife is a very fine cook, the couple are in the catering business, so I (and Gwilyn who is helping me) should have three good meals. In addition to this money (£3) I have £6 sterling & £5 in Churchill crowns, which I had intended to sell at a profit in the States, but I want to arrive in the West Indies with about £10 to live on 'till either Rich gets a charter (I would be paid crew) or I find employment. So, thank-you VERY VERY much for the Christmas present draft.
      Gwilyn might be going to Africa instead of back home, and try to get to Canada by next fall. He doesn't really want to return to England, unless a job from the Inland Navigators, holiday barge charterers, presents itself. He would, in any case, assuming employment, stay in Gib. for a few months. (He is leaving 'cos of sea-sick troubles.)
      Frity, a hitch-hiker, has left, as he only intended to come as far as here, from Alicante. Del has financial problems with his property in England & is returning to sort them out. Jim is "pissed off" with the food, & the lethargy of the trip (it should originally have been in Rochester in September). Wilfred, a German merchant marine first mate, who has been supporting the ship since Alicante & knows everything about navigation & nothing about sailing & expects everyone to jump to attention & get up early & doesn't appreciate that we are paying too & are trying to get away from the very thing he is advocating & that is why we came on the boat, & was the "last straw" to Jim, returning to Coventry to save for his own boat, & is of the jack-boot variety & who doesn't get on particularly well with any of us, is returning to Germany, or travelling to the West [?] 4 Canary Islands.
      N.C.W. is staying 'cos he has invested, he likes Rich & Chris, he wants to cross the Atlantic, he doesn't get sea-sick, Rich needs him as crew (if comparatively new to sailing he knows how the boat handles, the do's and don'ts peculiar to ERNA, he is engineer & knows more about the engine, he is sailmaker & steward), he is too low on money to consider any other course of action, next to returning to where a welcome always awaits him, & besides, he is happy here.
      Thank-you for your advice on W.I.s / U.S.A. I did appreciate the difficulties encountered in job hunting in the Carribean, but had not visualized them quite so vividly as you have painted them. I did not know about the black-listing for instance. Gwilyn had written a letter to the Commonwealth office in London enquiring about the employment situation, & mum posted the reply on to us at Alicante. It was dated 2nd October, received the end of October, & read something like "Re your letter of the 2nd of July, we regret that we cannot handle your enquiry; the offices, the addresses of which are printed below, may be able to handle if for you. Yours...". Inapropriately, the letter wasn't edged in red tape. Gwilyn also wrote to a Jamaican newspaper, who are interested in our arrival and have already carried a news brief on us, but "are afraid that we have no positions open for ex-patriate journalists at the present time".
      The worsening position in the U.S. had also come to my attention, a recent article in "Time" magazine stating that twenty Germans on student visas are now in Vietnam. To get into the U.S. there are two visas. One, a work permit, & the other the holiday visa. The holiday visas are easily come by, but the working permits usually entail thirteen guineas, including cross references, rigorous medical examinations & six months wait. Now, apparently, one has only to arrive in an American port, even penniless, to receive a work permit. Having talked to Rich & Larry, who left in Alicante, one can be "Canadian" or ... [?] "American" to avoid having to show a work permit to an employer. Here again one doesn't go to a labour exchange, & one changes jobs frequently. Anyway, I may come or try to come straight to Canada by working passage on a boat since I probably won't have enough money to satisfy the U.S. authorities that I can live for the duration of a holiday visa without taking employment.
      In any case the previous pages assume ERNA is making the Atlantic crossing. If a charter in the Med. comes up we take it. If one in the W.I.'s comes up we take it. If both come up we probably go across, assuming enough paying crew. If neither come up & crew are insufficient in terms of provisioning money, Rich gets a job, probably in Palma, & N.C.W. thinks again.
      You can give a "yes" (please) to Wally, unless you hear otherwise before March, and I will, of course, inform you of my movements, if not my motives. Logging sounds great too, having heard about it previously during the trip from Larry.
      Mum included quite a long passage about the China teach-in. It sounded very interesting & concurred with, again, things discussed on ERNA, many of the facets being second hand from Larry & Rich who met in England the worlds foremost authority on the Chinese language, an American, about your age, who spends most of his time in China, even, now, to the extent of studying China's flora and fauna! This same guy has just finished a year at Leeds university, Britain's leading Chinese-teaching university, which, apparently, was of little use to him being far below his standard, and has previously done Canadian logging in the summer to finance him for a year in China. He has long hair, a big moustache, old clothes and a powerful motor-bike. He has a wife in America from whom he is keeping away ("I should have married an Asian") and every Saturday buys a bottle of wine, a large & expensive cigar, & locks himself in a room to read Chinese poetry, which, again apparently, constitutes his entertainment. (John Howard-Gibbon.)
      Due to charges by Chas. Rodrigues which we feel disinclined to pay since they are extortionate, my address will be c/o Lista de Correos, Poste Restante, Gib.
      Gibraltar is an exciting place, modestly English, full of many & varied interesting characters, shops, duty-free, to attract tourists, and all the institutions which one would expect to find in an English town, including an amateur football league. There is a Methodist church with a canteen where 4d teas & cheap meals can be had, also a similar institution run by the Salvation Army.
      The local radio relays BBC programmes, & throws out a lot of advert.-subsidised material in English & Spanish including a once-a-week edition of the Goon show. In fact, although Gib. is so small, it is so varied as not to become a drag, which is just as well, considering the length of time we may be here.
      I must post this letter soon, as it has just gone 12 o'clock & become the 13th. Things are happening all the time, & people & possibilites loom out of mess we are in and make the future look rosier, and the present more than bearable. Something always seems to turn up. We were in Almeria & had no money. A guy from a yacht took us all out to dîner. We had westerly winds & no fuel, and so couldn't make for Gib. A ship gave us 1400 litres of oil (full bunkers) & we left the harbour & were blessed with Easterly winds, the ship travelling faster & rolling less that ever before. We arrived here and Gwil & I got jobs painting this other yacht. We may get jobs afterwards either skin-diving or driving trucks. (Possibility turned up tonight, & also help from "Jock", TocH warden two days ago.) There were more replies to the Yachting World ad. & tentative enquiries from several people in the town. Rich managed to cash a personal cheque at long last yesterday. So things ain't as bad as the first 6 pages infer. Something will turn up.
      Will write again informing you of life's devious path aboard Erna.

Lots of love,
Nigel xxxx

30th November 1966

Dear Russ and Kay,

Thank-you for your letter and second draft, I only wish I could convey my gratitude by other means than a hackneyed "thank-you". I received it/them yesterday, a week after posting.
      To return to the style, or theme of my last letter - "on ERNA something always seems to turn up". The week before last I spent frantically rushing around Gibraltar looking, in vain, for employment. This came to a head last Monday (21st) when, in the morning, I should have taken a lorry driving test for a job with a transport firm here. I arrived at the lorry company's premises at 8.15 & asked if they had remembered my appointment for 10.15, & if I could arrange to meet the lorry & driver sometime before the test. "Oh, I had forgotten; you will have to come with me to the docks & we will see about getting you a lorry". Docks 8.30. 10.00 "Is there a lorry?" "As you can see we are busy unloading the ship, & I haven't a spare lorry yet." Ditto 10.15 & 10.25. So I didn't take the test. So I ran around in ever decreasing ... for the rest of the day & still had no work.
      All this frantic searching had come about because, of the original ten applicants as share-expense crew, the number had dwindled slowly but surely, for various stated reasons, to one. As you know (?) we needed at least four people. This drop in response meant that Rich would probably take the boat to Malta & work on it over the winter, receiving £10 a week & a chartering contract in the spring. This in turn would have necessitated me staying in Gib. (or as it happened, in Malta, or alternatively, as a final drastic measure, returning home) meaning that I had to find some sort of income.
      I got back to ERNA at 8.00 p.m. completely frustrated, foot-sore & weary in spirit. And lo, there appeared before me, in shining raiment, a beaming apparition indistinguishably resembling Rich. Having disentangled his wings from the missen shrouds, and continuosly beaming throughout the process, he spoke thus: "Be not afraid, good tidings of great joy I bring".
      As the mist swirled away from the crystal, it appeared that sunshine was once more transcending in great golden spoonsful. A ship in Gib. was to have made the crossing & had carried on a more intensive advertising campaign than had we, & had the advantage of the skipper's wife being in England to deal with mail & telephone. She, in fact, had interviewed many of the interested parties. Unfortunately, she had to enter hospital & now has to convalesce & for various reasons they have abandoned the idea of crossing the Atlantic, and have handed their potential crew over to us, and another yacht which was in the same position.
      The first of the crew, in fact, arrived today, and are now on the other boat. We should be sailing from Gib. on the 7th (but probably later) to Crete [?] to slip ERNA & scrape & paint the hull & then an approx. 10-day passage to the Canaries, four or five days there, and then begin following the sun. Since the people we are now expecting to receive as crew are likely to be middle-aged, Gwilyn and I have spent the past week working like Trojans to make the ship more presentable & comfortable, building cupboards for the vast amounts of provisions & personal gear, & slapping paint everywhere. Rich, Gwil & I were up to 5 a.m. this morning painting the freshly cemented floor in the hold. Gwil will be staying in Gib. with another ex-Ernarian, Del, sharing a flat. As you can imagine, I haven't been able to earn any money here, and so your drafts were very welcome, &, with M & D's Christmas present will probably buy me either books, or a new camera in part exchange for mine. I am debating what to do, as I don't want to arrive in the W.I.s broke, but it seems, to me at least, a shame not to take advantage of the low cost of camera equipment here (less that half the price in England).
      Rich has said that if and when he finds a charter in the Carribean, he would like me to stay as payed crew, but if I can, I would like to get to Canada by the summer to take advantage of the construction job that you have got me. I am wondering how I will go about obtaining a visa for Canada, & what sort of visa it will have to be to allow me to work there. The question or query is prompted by my experience in the Canadian embassy in London early this year, where a guy said that you can have a holiday visa, or an immigration visa, & you can't take temporary work on the former. Also, I believe that they refuse entry on the holiday visa (a set time period visa) unless you have enough funds to cover your stated stay, & enough for a fare out or a return ticket. I would probably fall down on both the time period and the money issues, so can you please give me any further information? I hope to see Rich before I post this tomorrow, & ask him for our next postal address, if we are likely to be here another fortnight.
      Since I would like to stay in Canada for, perhaps, a year, and get a firm financial footing, maybe buying a vehicle in which to travel down through the States to Mexico in time for the '68 Olympics (ahh, what dreams, what foolish wishful thinking!) the immigrant visa will probably be the better, and easier for me to try and procure. As you say, when one has the least money and idea of what one is going to do next one meets up with the most interesting situations. The uncertainty and freedom for which I traded my career I feel are worth the price, and more: and I know that in future years I won't regret having done it, for I have discovered so many precious things, am always meeting so many intriguing people, and have already so many wonderful memories; but above all these, I have attained that freedom which cannot, now, ever escape me, where ever I am, and what ever I'm doing.
      It would seem everyone is going to Canada. Derek Buckell will be on his way shortly, and Gwilyn's elder sister & husband will be going next year. Can't wait to join the queue!
      I've just remembered (in time) Happy Birthday Kay. I hope I can say it next time.

Hoping the exam-marking doesn't prove too grueling,
All my love,
Nigel xxxx

P.S. My address for your next letter had better be
      c/o "ERNA"
      Chas. Rodriguez & Son
      13, Horsebarrack Lane,

If we have left Gib. (dates now vary from 8th or 10th or after) he will forward it with any of Rich's mail which may have arrived late.

19th December 1966

Dear Russ & Kay,

Here I am, still in this British outpost, in more senses than one (Gib. being an outpost, that is). Although we have enough crew, including a retired film director, an ex Prime Minister's personal secretary, a brilliant artist, a Danish cook, a Hull university student and an ex merchant navy purser, we are still repairing our missen mast. We do hope, as always, to be on our way soon.
      The next address which I can give you, since I hope that we shall have left the Canaries by at least the end of the first week in January, is S/U. ERNA, c/o The harbour master, Bridgetown, Barbados. If this arrives in time for Christmas, as it should (?), you could send to c/o Lista de Correos, Poste Restante, Las Palmas, to reach me by the 6th or 7th of January, if there is sufficient time for a reply.
      There is very little news, except that I am fed up with Gib. and that I shall look for a Canadian bound ship on which I can work my passage as soon as I reach the West Indies, unless something remunerative turns up in Bridgetown.
      I have also, perhaps foolishly, invested in a single lens reflex camera. But, should times become adverse, and although I'd hate to do it, I could sell it, and should fetch a higher price than I paid for it, since I traded in my old camera for it and therefore paid in cash about 1/3 of its price in England.
      You may receive two letters from friends of mine in Southampton. They are Elaine Garnet, and John Crocker. I hope you don't mind, but I know how difficult I found it trying to get reliable contacts in the States.
      Elaine, a short hand typist, dearly wants to get to North America, and feels her parents would be happier if it was to Canada that she went. She is eighteen and was Gwilyn's girl friend, a term I use loosely, as it was forever a vague kind of relationship at best. Gwilyn, by the way, is now on his way back to England. She is very intelligent and, amongst other things, writes good poetry. She is at present working at So'ton University library, & hates it, because of the people, surroundings, & life at home & in general, etc.
      She would be prepared to take any sort of work, but to appease her parents, it would preferably be either secretarial or as a nanny. Her address is 86, Butts Road, Sholing, So'ton.
      John Crocker was the guy with whom I used to do my photographic work, and was one of my biggest buddies. He is not so likely to write, but does want, somewhen, to get to America. He has worked proffesionaly as a photographer for two years now, & is at present in London. His work is of a high standard, both in the darkroom and in "the field", and his photographs have appeared frequently in the "Echo" & once or twice in photographic magazines. He also will probably take any work to start off with, & if he can make it, may be able to take Gwilyn's place working for the construction company (?).
      I am not sure whether I mentioned it or not, but I would like to earn enough money to buy a truck in early '68, fit it out, being able to convert the rear from bedroom/kitchen to darkroom, and tour down the States to Mexico in time for the Olympics. Gwilyn may join me in Canada later next year to go with me, but I have also suggested the idea to John, & don't yet know his reaction to it. Anyway, his address is 28, Regents Park Road, Shirley, where he was living with his Gran.
      Neither of these may write, & Elaine may not be able to come untill next August, but I thought I would tell you about them first, just in case. If you can help them, I know they will be grateful, so I shall say thank-you on their behalves (and mine) in lieu.
      I hope you have a happy Christmas. Sorry for this un-newsy letter full of "I hope"s & the untypical card chosen, if I am truthful, for its cheapness, and also because of the wording which is the least sick I could find.

Will write again,
All my love,
Nigel xxxx

Las Palmas
23rd January 1967

Dear Russ & Kay,

Eventually, after eight weeks, we left Gibraltar, on 28th December: we sailed across the bay to Algeciras for fresh fruit and vegetables, & to have a band made for the boom, & left on 31st. On the way through the Straits, we were accompanied by a school of dolphins, playing around the ship & diving through the bow wave.
      We took nine days for the passage, spending several days with hardly any wind. It was so calm on New Years Day, in fact, that we were swimming over the side. It was pleasant to relax on arrival, after the hard work in Gib. & to be able to "lay in" in the morning, not being awoken at 4 a.m. for the watch.
      After the first few days leisure, we started work again, in preparation for the crossing, & we have been working untill 2 p.m. & then walking about 200 yds to the beach. The weather is wonderful & the water really warm, a contrast to your conditions, I imagine. I have been enjoying "summer" since early last year now.
      Tomorrow at midday we are going up on a slip to scrape & paint the hull, & so should be on our way by the weekend, probably calling at Tenerife before leaving Eastern Atlantic land. We shall be fourteen, + baby Anne, having gained three new crew members here in Las Palmas, a Finnish girl, & two Austrian brothers.
      Nationalities now represented are: American, English, Australian, Danish, South African, Dutch, Finnish & Austrian. A very varied bunch, including a husband & wife, S. African & Dutch, who spend their life travelling, taking a job for a year or so in the country they find themselves in, and then moving on.
      My first Christmas away from home was very interesting, spent with eleven people, + various other yacht owners & friends. On Xmas Eve, we ate ashore, & whiled away our time in a club with whose owner we had become friends. Most of us, including Rich & Chris then went to a candlelit service at the Anglican Cathedral & afterwards returned to the club where we were entertained by an Australian, & an English, folksinger. It was a private party after 4 a.m. & we were joined by a reveller complete with a candle lamp & bottle of bubble mixture. We left the cellar, & nine of us piled into Sid (the owner of the club)'s car & proceeded to the R.A.F. camp's bar. This was decorated, partly for utilitarian purposes, with half-barrels, into one of which Rich was placed, with its mate put on the top. Tony, one of the crew, then proceeded to fill the barrel with as many drinks [?] as he could lay his hands on. Despite this experience, Rich decided that a half barrel would look well in ERNA's hold, & so, whilst two of the others created a diversion (one of them, unconsciously) Rich & I left with the said object. About 100 yds across the parade ground, we were apprehended, relieved of the barrel & wished happy Christmas. We reached the gate, & were given a lift back to the ship by a Land Rover-driving sergeant, arriving about 6.30 a.m.
      As you can imagine, we got up late, to a hot sunny day. Christmas dinner happened at about 6 p.m. & was the traditional turkey followed by Xmas pudding with brandy butter sauce. No one was happier on Christmas day than Anne, who was especially intrigued by the turkey. The hold was decorated, complete with tree & candles.
      Thank-you for your last letter, received the 21st Dec. + cards. It is comforting to know that getting a job in Canada does not depend on my arriving by early summer, since I, & apparently everyone else, do(es) not know what will happen on arrival in Bridgetown. Not even Rich, but I think he may go to Granada, where there is a company specialising in charter which may be able to offer ERNA employment. Thanks also for the information as regards entry to Canada. Elaine mentioned in her last letter that she had written to you, & that she might write to Toronto University. She says that her parents are willing for her to go, as long as she has a job, so she may be in Canada before me! I hope that you can help her, & that you don't mind me giving her your address, but she is at the moment terribly depressed in England & dearly wants to go to N. America. Apparently her parents favour Canada, its being British (!) etc. & would rather lose her to C. than to the U.S.

So, untill Bridgetown, happy '67, &
All my love,
Nigel xxxx

c/o The Harbourmaster

15th March 1967

Dear Russ and Kay,

Ye goodely shippe ERNA has arrived. We sailed into Carlisle Bay to an anchorage as dawn was breaking last Saturday, 11th. It was a beautiful morning, with a light breeze, and the dawn outlined the tall palm trees and other tropical vegetation, and a few buildings. We were O.K.'d by the health launch, & everyone had a swim, breakfast, & then tidied up the ship. We drew lots to look after the ship, & I won & so stayed on board. As you probably know, Barbados were playing the Rest of the Commonwealth at cricket, & the Harbourmaster had taken himself off to go and watch, and so we didn't pick our mail up until Monday. Thank-you very much for the $5 draft & I certainly won't sniff at it!
      Barbados is an exciting place, & the temperature verges on unbearable. It is just right for relaxing & swimming & so on, but trying to do work of any kind is difficult - it is almost impossible to walk to town between 10 a.m. & 4 p.m.
      As regards my future movements, they are at present bound in with ERNA's fortunes. It is impossible to find work here, and the nearest Canadian consular office is in Port of Spain, Trinidad. I could write to them, but we shall probably only be here for another week, & so there is no time to finalise, or even hardly start, negotiations. We shall be going to Granada to study the charter possibilities, & then to St. Thomas, an American owned island where Rich could possibly get work - the financial position is, to say the least, shaky. The boat could then be going to Rochester, after the Lakes have thawed; but this will depend on many things, including the engines, which broke down the second day out of Tenerife. The after-cylinder big end bearings burnt out & scarred the cam-shaft. It may be possible to run it on one cylinder, although the after cylinder piston will no longer balance it.
      One of the strongest reasons for Rich's contemplation of taking ERNA to Rochester (which he does not really wnat to do ((he hates U.S.A. & the trivial American existence))) is that Chris & baby Ann are there. They flew home from Tenerife, & it may be the end of their marriage. Rich has only had one letter from Chris since we arrived, & that was posted over a month ago & was indefinite. Although they are both very nice people, they are also quite opposite. Rich is 28, & is much older than his age. He has done a hell of a lot in his life, & comes from a "worldly" background, his father married three times, & most of his relations divorced at some time or other. Chris is 26, & is still very naïve, her "set" being teenage (interests, etc.) & her background "cushy", protected from the brutalities of life, money etc.
      The circumstances of the break are too complicated to explain in a letter, but obviously Rich wants to know if Chris will come back to him or not, & so somehow he wants to discuss things with her. She loves ERNA, & life on a boat, & so.... It almost resulted in us not making the crossing; I have not mentioned anything to Mum & Dad, as I am afraid they might worry.
      Anyway, the result of every thing is that I shall be staying on board, & hope to get to Canada as soon as I can, in time to see Mum & Dad. If I can't manage it by June, I do at least hope to arrive by the end of the summer.
      The crossing produced nothing astounding - just the normal run-of-the-mill ERNA-type calamities. The first of these was luncheon meat for the first eight days. The main gaff broke & we were without a mains'l for three days. Various sails, including the main, ripped & had to be repaired, a foot rope gave way under me, on the bowsprit, the bilge pump went wrong, & the wind blew from the wrong direction. Otherwise, & similar, the days passed uneventfully, about equally divided between cloud & sun. We did a lot of sun-bathing, & reading; it was impossible to do much else, because of the constant motion of the boat - I wrote much much less than I hoped to, I wanted to have written a letter to everyone by the time I arrived.
      And now, yet one more plea on behalf of a friend! I'm sorry, Russ, but there's this guy on board, loafer, stray & bum of my own calibre, with whom I am going around. We help try to keep each other sane; he is Samuel Michael James Weinstock, or, coloquially, Mich. He is a brilliant artist, went to Public School & did two terms at art college, & got "pissed up" (I quote) with it because he didn't like what they taught or the way in which they taught it. He is 19 in July, & joined the boat in Gibraltar. He wants to come to Canada & get a job as I do. He is intelligent, & his financial position is the same as mine. We are not sure how we will get there, but he also wants to get to Canada as soon as I do, & he should have no difficulties with interviews or medicals for immigration.
      But neither of us can get forms to fill in, let alone go for interview. The guy at the British consulate whom I asked about immigration, Canadian embassies, etc. said the best thing I could do was to write to you & ask you to do things from your end, or arrive on a holiday visa & then apply for immigration. I am loath to do the former, & lack of finance prevents me from doing the latter, although Rich said that if we go to Rochester, he will drive us up for a weekend, which would give us time to do things.
      However, if you could possibly come by some forms I would appreciate it, so that we could throw them at someone, probably by post. I don't want you to go out of your way & take a lot of trouble, & if you can't find papers easily, we will try to glean them in Granada by hook or by post.
      Since we are here for possibly only one week more, I should imagine you will have to reply fairly rapidly to the letter, so don't leap about frantically on my (our) behalf. Of course, information (further information) would be welcome.
      I can assure you that the me of banking days, & the me of now are quite different people. I am brown, have "filled out" (am getting fat) & have a beard & mustache. The inside "me" is quite different too, as several people (like Rich) have told me. Besides the myriad small experiences, which together, have of course changed me, Tenerife was the week which was the fastest "growing" week of my life. Besides consoling & talking to people & feeling lousy that a marriage was breaking up, & that so many of my friends were involved, I watched a man drown. There were three of God's dumbest animals, Spanish policemen, watching. They prevented me, & another guy, diving in. They watched the man fall in, at night, just in front of our boat by the harbour wall, but they had to wait for the authority of the harbour police before they could do anything. He was drunk, & may have hit his head on the way down, but it was everyone's duty to at least try to save him. They got him out of the water, looking sordid, four hours later. He was, of course, dead.
      However, enough of morbidity. I am looking forward to seeing you & (I hope) Mum & Dad, & later Elaine. Thank-you for writing to her.
      Thank-you once again for the draft, will write again soon.

All my love,
Nigel xxxx

[Undated, mid-April 1967]

Dear Russ and Kay,

I'm sorry that its such a long time since you've heard from me, but I haven't yet received a reply to my last letter. I guess one or the other must have got lost somewhere in between.
      I dare say you have heard much of the news of what I am doing, from Mum and Dad. However, at risk of repeating myself and duplicating what M. & D. have written, & of boring you in the process, here goes.
      We arrived in B'dos twenty six days after leaving Tenerife, all ten of us broke. The first few weeks were spent on custard and porridge, & eventually Rich found a job skippering Inga III, a millionaire's yacht. Six of the ten have moved on, Tony has a teaching post ashore, Mich. has disassociated himself & is loafing around ashore waiting for something to turn up, & I am skipper on ERNA.
      I have to work on ERNA for a couple of hours a day, & in a month or so will have to keep an ear out for weather reports. In return I get money for food + a bit for postage, the odd drink & so on. Due to defunct engines, which broke the second day of the passage, ERNA will be here untill October or November at least, & Rich wants an eye kept, although he is also anchored in Carlisle Bay.
      There is the prospect of money later, though the chances are only about 60/40. I will state now that I don't know what the hell I am going to do, since all my letters, this one included, seem to contradict the last. The likeliest course is that I shall remain here for a few months at least, & probably untill Oct./Nov. If I do this, & money is then forthcoming I may stay longer, as life is quite pleasant & I will be doing something that I want to do. I am in fact in demand, as I could join another boat, the NORLANDIA, a 96 foot Danish three masted schooner which we have known since Gib. which will be chartering around the Caribbean. I shall be going on a week's cruise to Curaçao with them in a couple of weeks, & then be flown back to B'dos. If things don't work out on ERNA by next season (Oct./Nov.) I may join the NORLANDIA. I do plan to come to Canada when I have finished with the Caribbean.
      Mum & Dad say they hope I can come on a trip to visit them when they are in Toronto. Of course, I would love to do so, but I can't afford it. Even to borrow the money for the fares & keep whilst I was in Toronto would mean having a big debt to repay when I do start earning, so

16th April 1967

On a whim today, I walked into Air Canada office and extracted a promise of delivery at Toronto airport at 6.45 p.m. Sunday the 11th of June, so kill the fatting calf. I am flying on the "live now pay later" basis, which means I don't have to borrow money - at least, not immediately!
      It could well be said that the rest of the letter, i.e. that written in black ink, can be disregarded. I have decided that after nine months on ERNA, I could do with a rest from boat living for a while.
      Barbados has become a bit of [a] drag, & since Rich is just about my only source of intelligent-type company & since money doesn't afford much, I decided to come to Toronto. Life isn't too bad, but without friends & so forth, it becomes depressing at times, all the multitude of small irritations seeming to multiply in magnitude. (Sorry about that last sentence.)
      In addition, I also want to see Mum & Dad, & of course, you; Canada & Expo are bonuses. I should like to live ashore for a while, the big city, entertainment which has been beyond my grasp either geographically or monetarially (?), & generally just good old mammon.
      I can come back to B'dos, in fact Rich wants me back, if I care to, but I won't consider it untill November at least, when the new season, tourist & charter, has started, & of course, when Elaine has escaped her manacles. I would be able to resume my present title, & things should be more interesting then - Rich has some really good schemes afoot -, life would be more civilised with more money (I am becoming materialistic) & Elaine would be there for company. Norlandia is a non-starter at the moment, as I, like everyone on board, would only get food, & hence no money for cigarettes, entertainment, etc. ('till the start of the charter season Oct./Nov.).
      If life is gay enough in Canada, I shall stay put.
      Thank-you for your letter, received today, & the trouble you have gone to with immigration. As I may have infered earlier in the letter, Mich is not now coming to Canada. He wants to get to the States, & is a bit lethargic in his attempts to further his desire, however....
      I hope Little Bro's minor bombshell won't make too big a crater in Big Bro's plans, what with M. & P. (mater & pater, a youthful idiom) being there & so on. It will be the first time of seeing [you] since Christmas before last, & first time of complete family reunion since then. By gad what an occasion.
      Your recent exploits & acquisicians sound interesting & life not at all dull, with soccer, choir, books, hordes of visitors & your various studies. I hope I shall be able to do some language study in Toronto, brushing up French & starting Spanish. I also hope to get back into photography, since I have been conserving film, having it developed for me, & been involved in recording rather than creating.
      I am also looking forward to the sensation of driving a car again (I must admit I have rushed around the island on a motor-bike a few times) after "driving" the sedate, but pigish "mariner's wheelbarrow" as my friend Kevin described it.
      One regret I have in leaving the Caribbean is that I haven't seen any of the other islands, but I can always return, & I am getting excited at the prospect of coming to Canada, as you have probably gathered by now. Thanks for your letter to Bruce St. John. I may look him up if I have an odd moment, & certainly would have had I been staying.
      I would love to sail ERNA to Expo, & to rush into the arms of Elaine, but the former is not to be, & the latter must wait, but I'll try to do something dramatic on arrival, like catching the wrong plane or something, & arrive at Toronto airport where four lone figures are waiting, the mother, crying because her long lost son didn't arrive, being comforted by her elder son, who is making "asides" of "the swine" & "how could he do this to an old woman" etc., & of course it is raining, & the figures are hunched up in overcoats having been turned out by an unfriendly commisionaire. And then, to a background of a trumpet fanfare & rising crescendo of strings, a figure appears radiating Carribean sunshine, picks up his mother, saying appropriately, "Mother", &, the rain having stopped, the camera zooms out leaving the little party doing something like a jig. (Revenge for the bit on Elaine!)
      Will write again, confirming this (i.e. coming), so untill or whenever.

All my love,
Nigel xxxx

P.S. Quote from a letter from Neill: "When you see Russ & Kaye, give Russ my regards & Kaye my love".

P.P.S. Mum & Dad don't know about attempts to get Elaine to B'dos, & it might be as well if ... etc.

19th May 1967

Dear Russ & Kay,

Thank you for your letter received today. You probably now have mine. I think I will proceed with planned flight, as I have to wait 'till 7th for Rich to pay me. He hasn't been able to give me any money for a few weeks, & he doesn't get paid 'till 7th. He will then owe me about £26, which I shall need part of for laundry, buying a suitcase & so forth, & the four days in between 7th -> 11th will be used for such things. If you would prefer me to arrive on the 12th, I could, (I would have to check bookings), but otherwise I will arrive as per last letter. If you have something planned for the weekend, let me know the name of a worthy boarding house, & I will amuse myself untill the next day.
      Thank-you very very much for the offer. I would have accepted had I not already decided to come for an extended period. I'm afraid I shall still be a financial burden for awhile after arrival.
      I have written to M. & D. & requested £5 (despite what I said!) to be paid back when I see them, as I have to confirm my booking by the 7th, & Rich might miss the bank. I might have mentioned I have to put down 10% of my fare, which is $272 B.W.I., about £57. I have, under the present arrangement, nine months to pay it off, + about £3 interest.
      Its a pity my arrival couldn't have been a surprise, but however....
      Will throw this in a box now to supplement 1st letter.

All my love, & thanks again,
The nipper!

P.S. Had already acquired Am. visa. Do I have to do anything about passport for Canada? (No Can. consulate here.)