|John Baptista, Jr. served as captain and Valentin
Lucas as first mate for a voyage to America without
engine or radio in 1953. For fifteen days they were
becalmed within one hundred miles of Nantucket Island
until Hurricane Edith came down on them. The storm
started in the afternoon and lasted all night. They
lashed the helm and all went below to ride out the storm
until next morning.
As they went on deck to survey the damage, one of the crewman, Pedro, was nearly swept over by a wave; Valentin Lucas grabbed him just in time. Then a joint in the stern opened and water came rushing in. They pumped frantically as repairs took place. Next the boom fell and came down on Henrique Mendes. As the storm subsided, they tried to sail again and make port.
On September 6, they encountered the Dutch passenger ship, Noordam, and asked for help. A doctor came on board to look at Henrique and gave him medication and milk. The captain of the Noordam confirmed their position and advised them of the direction of another hurricane. They were hit by the second hurricane 72 miles south of Brenton Reef Lightship. Finally, on September 11 about 6:30am, they arrived off Brentons Reef Lightship after 42 days at sea and were towed up to the State Pier in Providence. Jose Mendes, Henriquess son, says he never saw the ocean as furious and thought they were finished more than once.
The return voyage was bad. They left Providence on December 2, 1953 and had very cold rough weather for the entire voyage. They encountered biting head winds and had to tack for 42 days before reaching Cape Verde on January 13, 1954.
According to the New Bedford Standard Times December 3, 1953: