Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Venus in Tahiti: 24 February – 7 March 1915

Venus in Tahiti: 24 February – 7 March 1915

By: Ardis E. Parshall - February 10, 2013

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Wednesday Feb 24th, 1915. 12.m

We are now on board our boat the Marama sailing down the bay past the exposition buildings which are built on the waterfront. Now we are nearing Alcazar Island where a federal prison all painted white caps the top of the green covered cliffs that rise almost perpendicularly out of the water. A great flock of seagulls are following the boat, and we are told that they often fly the entire distance for the food that is thrown from the boat. Now and again we catch sight of the heads of two large brown sea lions bobbing up out of the water. We have eaten our lunch and are feeling fine, with the exception of Bro. Orton who is off in one corner holding his head between his hands. This sort of sailing lasted only a few hours for as soon as we were out of the bay the water became extremely rough and we were tossed about in a most uncomfortable manner (my husband said that he hadn’t encountered such rough weather either time that he had crossed the Atlantic) and naturally we not being seafaring people were affected accordingly. By four o’clock in the afternoon we had all, one by one, retired to our cabins. It was almost an impossibility to undress, for an hour I was taking turns to pull off a shoe, roll on the floor, tumble off the berth or heave over the basin.

Thur Feb 25th.

All that night and the next day I was so sick that I couldn’t raise my head, in fact I dare not even open my eyes, for to see the movement of the boat turned me all upside down. The steward was kept busy dipping sea water from under the floor of our cabin.

Fri. Feb. 26th.

The sea was much quieter but I did not get up for I still felt a little disturbed. Bro Orton is also keeping me company but my husband and Bro. Shaw are feeling fine.

Sat. Feb. 27th.

There are very few people on board, about thirty in all. The ‘Marama’ having run on the rocks just out of Frisco, has been in the dry docks the past three weeks for repair. Therefore most of her passengers had been transferred to another line. In the first cabin are the American consul and his wife, some French officials, a French Countess and her little son Count Guy de Valdeau and his governess Mlle. Lena Droulett all bound for Tahiti.

In the second cabin besides our party are an actor, actress and an artist going to Australia, and an odd old fellow bound for New Zealand, who seems quite interested in Mormonism, so we often have a little chat on the subject with him. One afternoon the actress sitting nearby overheard our conversation and hurriedly gathering up her effects retired to the furtherest corner away from us. Since then she and her companion haven’t spoken to us, in fact they act as though they were afraid of us. In the third cabin besides a few men are Mr. Victor a stranded actor and his family who seem to be very nice people.

Sun. Feb. 28th.

We had the opportunity of explaining some of the principals of the Gospel to the wireless operator, Mr. Jack Durrant of London, and two of the stewardesses. Mr. Durrant who is somewhat of a theological student seemed very much interested and we hope to be able to talk with him again.

Mon. Mar. 1st.

This morning we were reminded that we were in the tropics when all the officers & ship hands appeared on deck in their spick and span white suits. Until now they had been dressed in dark blue. The seats and cushions are also decked out in their light colored chintz coverings. The white awnings are pulled in fact the whole ship has taken on an entirely tropical air. However we need nothing to remind us of our whereabouts for the suns rays are pouring down on us perpendicularly and we are drowsy from the intense heat. The sea is a beautiful blue and as smooth as glass. Great shoals of flying fish can be seen every few minutes. I always thought that they were large fish, and was surprised to find them about the size of our mountain trout and a light silver color. Their tiny wings are very much like the fins of an ordinary fish. One was washed up on the lower deck this morning so we all had a close inspection.

Tues. Mar. 2nd.

One day nearer the equator. The atmosphere is close and hot and we have spent the entire day writing, studying and sleeping at intervals. As soon as the sun is set it is much cooler the evenings on board are delightful. We have been fortunate enough to be sailing during the full moon. After the sun sinks in the horizon the sea closes around us in utter blackness, until the moon rising like a great ball of fire up out of the water makes it as light as day. Most every evening we enjoy ourselves singing and dancing on the deck in the moon light. Our wireless operator is a fine pianoist and when he is off duty we make good use of him.

Wed. Mar. 3rd.

It is cloudy and raining to-day, and the sea looks like a great black pot of molten iron. There isn’t a breeze stirring and the ship moves along so smoothly that one might imagine himself riding in a pullman car.

Thurs. Mar. 4th.

Crossed the equator this morning at three a.m.

Fri. Mar. 5th.

Spent chief part of the day talking with Mlle. Droulett and the little French Count, neither of whom speak English, but we managed to get along with the little French that I could muster up. In the evening we had another Gospel conversation with Mr. Durrant and Mr Geo. Evans, 3rd officer of the boat. He spoke very highly of the Mormon people he had met on the Pacific, saying that they were a credit to any creed and were an example to all with whom they came in contact.

Sat. Mar. 6.

Another sweltering hot day, which is usually accompanied by a quiet sea. All day we have seen fish large and small jumping up out of the water, apparently trying to escape a hungry shark. Our actress friend has developed into quite a gay lady, its quite an ordinary thing to see her smoke or take a cock tail with her gentlemen friends.

Sun. Mar. 7.

At about two thirty in the afternoon we sighted land in the horizon and needless to say we were quite excited and happy after our twelve days on the water. As we drew nearer with the aid of field glasses we could see the mountains covered with a dense foliage & the tall cocoanut palms towering above. Three hours later we were making our way through the pass in the coral reef which encircles the entire island, guided by a native pilot who had come out in a gasoline launch to meet us. It was a beautiful night that we feasted our eyes on. Half hidden in a thick wood of scarlet flowered trees the red roofs of the houses peeked out, and here and there the tall white steeple of a church. Along one side of the principal street canoes were drawn up into the deep grass and the sea water lapped about the very roots of the trees. In the background were the beautiful peculiarly formed mountains, the peaks some of which are 8000 ft high, were hidden lost from sight in the very clouds. Snowy winged schooners flitted here and there filled with smiling natives. Over all was a beautiful rainbow, a very fitting finish to the beautiful picture. The entire population of Papeete dressed in its gayest colors was at the wharf, for boat day, in this secluded out of the way place, is the one day of the month and every one turns out for [the] occasion. Bros. Ira Hyer and Otto Stocks who were the only elders in Papeete at the time, were there to meet us. After attending to our baggage, which the custom officer didn’t even care to inspect when he learned that we were Mormons, we walked to the mission headquarters about three blocks from the wharf, taking with us a Mr Russell whose a[c]quaintance we had made on the boat. Soon after our arrival friends and neighbors were swarming to the house for a good look at the new missionaries.

(To be continued)



  1. This was a great read, made me want to go on a sea voyage, except for the sea sickness of course. What a fabulous record. If only everyone wrote so well.

    Comment by Dovie — February 10, 2013 @ 11:08 pm

  2. I have been missing Elder Jones, but Sister Rossiter is a nice replacement.

    Comment by Jeff Johnson — February 10, 2013 @ 11:36 pm