A Midnight Escape

A Midnight Escape

On the morning of 14 July 1974, a uniformed soldier appeared at the gangway to inform me that we would not be allowed to leave.

the port until the Commandant had searched and inspected rhe ship.

I am sure yo u can imagine my reaction to that! Were we being interned … and for whar?

I held a quick musrer of my officers and crew. Susan was ro go ashore and casually buy some lasr-minure provisions.

Agarden hose on the dock was enough ro fill rhe warer tanks. Four 50-gallon drums of diesel fuel were quietly rolled aboard.

Knowing thar the occupation forces did not have a navy, nor did we see any nearby chase boats, our planned midnight escape might work.

The waterfront was quiet except for the rumblin g of a large generaror on a nearby coastal freighter that helped ro muffl e the exhaust of our diesel.

I was pleasantly surprised that the military had not posred a sen try on the docks, and darkness appeared robe in our favor.

Without running lighrs we eased away from the dock and our inro the seaway channel.

Apparently we had disturbed no one as we set the watch and srruck a southbound course for the Canary Islands but, just in case, we kept a good lookout astern.

 About abeam of Caba de Sines we made all plain sail in a light offshore wind,

A Midnight Escape and wirh help of the engine we were leaving Porrugal ateight knots.

The morning broke clear with a freshening breeze that fill ed our new canvas, prompting the order to douse rhe engine.

The sail was a refreshing experience to all hands and provided an opportuniry.

for the youngsters to apply their newly learned ab iliti es in our beautiful brig-now actually under sail.

We rose the peak of Gran Canaria at dawn on the third day and anchored in the port of Las Palmas without a pilor.

He had not respo nded to our “george” signal or our radioed requesr. Liberty was granted to the off warch while Joe and I handled.

the Cusroms routine and shopped for much-needed life rafts, which had not been available in Setubal.

The anchor watch busied themselves in bowsing down the shroud and stay lanyards and seizing the spencer luff ropes to the hoops.

Due to the work needed to cross the Atlantic safely, plus handling hardware and equipment from suppliers,

there was little time to enjoy Las Pal mas.

Soon we were off ro Tenerife, our last port before crossing.

There we purchased berrer life preservers and topped off our fuel and water.

After three days we weighed on a beautiful sunrise and stood to sea on the Northeast Trades on a course for Barbados,

some 1,500 miles to the south and west.

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