Ron and
fellow expedition worker, Paul Wilkerson, in swollen alluvial-bearing river after a Puerto Rican tropical
storm.      In the autumn of 1932, a twenty- one-year-old L. Ron Hubbard set sail for the Caribbean on behalf of his father and a syndicate of fellow officers with dreams of securing precious mineral rights, particularly gold. Remembered today as the Puerto Rican Mineralogical Expedition, the venture would culminate in that island’s first complete mineralogical survey under United States protectorship. Judging from letters to family and friends, however, there were definitely other tales to be told from Puerto Rico — intense, personal and clearly touching upon questions for later exploration. To begin with, we find his summary notes from the USS Kittery, a none too luxurious cargo transport bound for the United States Marine Base at Guantánamo Bay and thence on to San Juan.

Aboard USS Kittery

Out of Norfolk

October 26, 1932

     Here we go, rapidly on our way to the horizon’s foggy edge with only several seasick passengers among our few deadheads. Old Cape Charles and Cape Henry faded plumb out of sight in this nasty Virginia pea soup and that’s that.

USS Kittery

High Seas

October 27, 1932

     I write in a narrow little stateroom while seated on a canvas stool with the typewriter perched on the edge of a shifting bunk.... I’ve worn the same shirt for three days and I’ve only shaved once. Deplorable.

USS Kitkat

The Ocean Blue

Briny Deep Boulevard

October 29, 1932

     Went out and looked at our stars a little while ago and...the stars are gaining that tropical brightness. Tonight we pass San Salvador. The island with which Columbus has duped the world for a few centuries.

The Caribbean Letters continued...

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