My Transatlantic Crossing
My Berth Aboard a Reindeer
Newport - Newfoundland - Iceland - Faroes - Norway
May 24, 1976 - July 10, 1976
When I began my blog in 2013, I had accumulated many sailing stories I wanted to write about. After 5 decades of sailing, I knew I had many stories and I knew immediately what tale I had to begin my blog with. It wouldn't be a story at the beginning of my sailing days. It would be a youthful adventure though it would be about seasoned sailors on the high seas. And it would complete a story only partial told. I was only 26 years old when I sailed an adventure of a lifetime. I would be 67 when I would finally publish my photos, add my description and write a blog sharing my memory for posterity.
When I uncovered my journal, rediscovered a few 30-year old newspaper clippings, sifted through my carousel slide collection, and reread Newbold Smith's book Down Denmark Strait, I felt ready to write down my memory. It was finally time. After reading his 20th century version again, I realized my 21st century account had never been recorded. Newbold, as skipper and owner, had written his account, but it was different from my experience. It had to be, of course, because in 1976 I was 24 years his junior.
Not in any attempt to refute his experiences, I wanted to add to them. Give the story a fleshing out. Maybe give it more toned muscle and fullness it seemed to lack. Ever read someone else's version of things and say, "it didn't happen that way." There is more to the story than any one person's viewpoint! I realized if I added my "two cents", investigated some details, conducted some research, contacted some survivors and added my perspective, the story might emerge with different color, flavor and vitality. While I realized his slant on our adventure occurred almost 40 years earlier written with his fresh take on our joint experiences, my account would present a more seasoned view based on a youthful memory. I had some advantages in a more technologist world, tracking down information was relatively easy in 2014 with the internet. As I began research, I quickly unearthed some surprising details, some obituaries and even some Facebook profiles of crew. What really motivated me more was an absence of any other description of the events aboard Reindeer in the summer of 1976. No other crew member had recorded their version of events. In some ways this made my take on things more adventurous. I was bringing, albeit an older eye to the tale, I would be solidifying and validating the facts. In some cases correcting the truth as some hyperbole had seeped into the story. My hope was that my additions would enrich the adventure without exaggeration and push the refresh button by adding a crew members viewpoint. The story in many ways has been incomplete until my photos, memories and words joined Newbild's on my blog in 2014. Here it is 2017 and my hindsight is still alive within me 43 years for me to share.
The Voyage ~
The boat ~
43' Swan (Palmer/Johnson)
Nautor Designed by Sparkman & Stephens
The Book and Reviews ~
A snapshot I took of Reindeer at her berth in Newport, RI
prior to our transatlantic voyage.
The beautifully illustrated, history-stuffed recital of Smith's 1976 cruise in his 43-foot sloop Reindeer from Chesapeake Bay to the dangerous northern seas within 600 miles of the North Pole and across the Atlantic to Iceland, the Faeroe Islands, Norway and Spitzbergen--a jaunt which prompted him to ask himself, ""Yes, Admiral, are you out of your focking mind?"" To test his new ship, Smith joins a race from Newport to Bermuda, in which he comes in first in his class; then it's heavy planning for the northern route and various crew switches at ports of call along the way. The trip begins in pleasant weather which quickly turns to gales and stays that way for almost ten days. At an early stopover Smith is questioned keenly by one Shurbitov, whom the captain takes for a KGB spy (he later turns out to be an American naval commander); in the Faeroes, the dismal news is that the islands are officially dry (although there's a widespread alcohol problem among the young). On the jog from Norway to the Spitzbergen Islands many social occasions arise, and then come the glories of the fjords, with narrow waterways and whistling winds. But the cream of the tour is the vastly hazardous return journey through the Denmark Strait, whose bergs and floes and jams are a sailor's nightmare. The photographs, though, far outshine the writing--lots of it interesting filler from the great Arctic explorers and sailors.
The Entire Voyage ~
My Transatlantic Legs ~
The Skipper and Author ~
(65): Paoli, PA
1st mate, cook, photographer
Entire 4-month voyage
Orlin W. Donaldson (92), retired photographer, Newtown Square, Pa., on February 6, 2008. Donaldson was born and raised in Manhattan and attended the Birch-Wathen School. After college, he became a professional photographer in New York and worked for three studios before opening his own in 1947. In 1953, Donaldson became the head of the photography department at Bethlehem Steel, from which he retired in 1975 after 22 years there. Donaldson loved sailing and pursued it in retirement. He had been a crew member of the yacht Malay, which won the 1954 Bermuda race, and was in many other races. Donaldson took all the photographs for the book Down Denmark Strait, by E. Newbold Smith, which describes the four-month journey from the Chesapeake Bay to Spitzbergen. He also enjoyed carpentry, cooking and gardening. Donaldson is survived by his wife of 23 years, Nancy; daughter, Storm D. Snaith; son, Kyle; stepchildren, Signe, Gregg and Geoff Wilkinson; and 10 grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Friends Service Committee.
Phillip Parish (42):
hired hand from Galena/Georgetown, Maryland
Reykjavik. Iceland to Hammerfest, Norway
Henry Lane (26)
crew, prep school teacher
Newport to Bodo, Norway
University Delaware Oceanographer
Newport, RI to
University Delaware Oceanographer
St. Johns, Newfoundland to Reykjavik, Iceland
Newport, RI to
Lewis duPont Smith
Age 54, a teacher, political organizer and philanthropist who sat on the boards of Vox Ama Deus and the Waldorf School of Philadelphia, and was an active alumnus of Avon Old Farms, died on Friday, August 12, 2011 after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.
"As a board member, Lewis served with a spirited presence and unwavering support," said Valentin Radu, Artistic Director and Conductor of Vox Ama Deus. "His glowing praises challenged, uplifted and humbled me."
A true renaissance man, Lewis was a passionate student of history, art, music, literature and philosophy. At their home in Chestnut Hill, Lewis and his wife Andrea regularly hosted salons where friends were invited to hear classical music and opera, discuss political philosophy, and share good food. Lewis often joined his wife in performing operatic excerpts from Mozart's Don Giovanni. He often entertained his guests with his recitations of Shakespeare and Friedrich Schiller, the German poet. Lewis was a founding member of the Philadelphia Forum for Anthroposophy, an organization dedicated to the ideas of Rudolf Steiner.
As a young man growing up in Paoli, Lewis attended the Haverford School, and later the Rectory School and Avon Old Farms where he distinguished himself as a two time Connecticut state champion, two time New England state champion and a national prep heavy weight wrestling champion in 1975. Big Lew, as he was known at Avon, went on to earn a full football scholarship to the
where he graduated in 1979. Lewis also attended Camp Tecumseh in Moultonboro, New Hampshire. Throughout his life, Lewis fondly recalled stories of his days at Avon and Tecumseh, regaling friends and family with tales of athleticism and adventure.
After college, Lewis taught English and history at the Hill School in Pottstown and Friends Central in Wynnewood. In the early 80s, he became actively involved in political organizing. His work led to his association with Lyndon LaRouche Jr. After meeting his future wife in Philadelphia in 1985, Lewis and Andrea married in Rome and later moved to New Hampshire where Lewis ran for Congress. Although he lost the election, he was not deterred and ran again in 1990 as a candidate from Pennsylvania. After a second unsuccessful attempt, Lewis chose not to run again. In recent years, Lewis was lecturing on the life of Friedrich Schiller and was scheduled to teach a philosophy course at Eastern University in the fall.
A consummate competitor, Lewis trained daily as a cyclist, riding his bike up to 50 miles a day. His dream was to shadow the Tour de France. Most recently, he said that being sick had one advantage. At 6 ft 4 in he finally attained his competitive weight of 210 pounds.
A devoted father, Lewis was fiercely proud of his three daughters, Martha, Claire and Sarah. He often took them on long hikes along the mountain trails of Mt. Desert Island, Maine where his family has a summer home in Northeast Harbor. He encouraged his daughters' love of music and art, having recently taken them to Europe to experience the beauty and ancient culture of Rome. His conversion to Catholicism was a deeply transformative experience which compelled him to actively take part in his children's religious instruction and Catholic traditions.
In addition to his wife and daughters, Lewis is also survived by his father, E. Newbold Smith; sister, Eleuthera Grassi (Temple); brothers, Stockton (Priscilla) and Henry (June); sister-in-law, Valerie Lynch (Brian); father-in-law, Vincent Diano (Doris), and 14 nieces and nephews. Lewis is predeceased by his mother, Margaret duPont Smith and his mother-in-law, Martha Diano.
Newport, RI to
Newport, RI to
to Bodo, Norway
to Bodo, Norway
Even if it were true, to say that that sailing across the Atlantic changed my life would immediately sound cliche. Because the past is so often unduly distorted, exhorted or glorified, no hyperbole or understatement does anyone any good. If anything reflection and sentimentality can detract from any credible account. Nevertheless, my 42-day adventure aboard
certainly affected me profoundly. In fact, I can not say without any hesitation that that oceanic voyage as a 26-year-old crew member impacted upon many of my subsequent sailing experiences.
My Voyage Memories
- An Orca Sighting and Russians
- We were Smoking
- The First Gale
- Storm Headsail Changes
- 30-40 Foot Waves
- Mystery Blood Drops
- Reindeer Below Deck
- Table & Head
- A 7-hour Hove-to
- The Fourth Gale
- Birds Fascinate
- Eldey, Almost Iceland
- Reindeer in Reykjavik
- Movements on Dry Land
- Drying Out a Reindeer
- $50 Bills Don't Float
- Sailing Southern Iceland, Surtsey
- Visiting Volcanic Heimaey & HelgaFell