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Archive for August 2012

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Cape Verde Islands to the Equator

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You can follow Joshua Slocum’s single-handed voyage round the world at:

Today I added to the presentation the section of Chapter V that sees the Spray reach the Equator 20 days after leaving the Cape Verde Islands astern and 30 days out from Gibraltar.

Sailing through the doldrums

While pondering his solitude Slocum gets a surprise when he hears voices alongside; the voices belong to sailors on a white bark under full sail which just misses the Spray. He spends the rest of the night on deck “thinking of ships and watching the constellations on their voyage.”

Over the next few days he sees more ships but they are too distant to contact.

The Spray enters the doldrums, the region of variable and light winds situated between the north-east and south-east trade winds. The sea is choppy and the towering rain clouds to the south finally dump on him their torrents of rain.

After meeting the schooner Nantasket of Boston, the tiny ecosystem on the Spray‘s hull  is disturbed when many of the fish that have been following the craft ‘jump ship’ and transfer to the Nantasket because her hull, fouled by shell-fish, is a richer feeding ground.

One notable and regretted loss is an injured dolphin that kept along with the Spray for over a thousand miles. Unable to forage well for itself, it was happy to receive Slocum’ scraps thrown overboard.

At about 6 degrees north Slocum encounters thunderstorms and is reminded of the Alert, an American ship destroyed by lightning in just this area.

On 25Sep1895 the Spray is at latitude 5 degrees north and at 1130 on 30Sep1895 she crosses the line in the longitude of 29degrees 30minutes west.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Note: to view the presentation you will need to install the Google Earth plugin in your web browser; and if you enjoy the Slocum presentation, why not look at Cook’s First Voyage Round the World?


Written by netkingcol

August 31, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: the Canary and Cape Verde islands

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You can follow Joshua Slocum’s single-handed voyage round the world at:

Today I added ‘Canaries and Cape Verde Islands’ to the presentation. After avoiding pirates, Slocum settles down to a routine with which, as an experienced sailor, he is very familiar; the biggest difference from being master of a trading ship and sailing on the Spray  is that he is totally alone – “in the realization that I was on the mighty seas and in the hands of the elements.”

“Columbus, sailing these seas more than 400 years before, was not so happy as I”

Apart from reading, writing, and minimal cookery, the routine involves tending to the sails and rigging, but again Slocum finds that his little sloop follows a remarkably straight course. For instance, after 16 days of sailing from Gibraltar, he finds the island of St. Antonio, in the Cape Verde group, exactly where he expects it to be:

The landfall was wonderfully true, considering that no observation for longitude had been made.

But before reaching the Cape Verde Islands, Slocum first navigates through the channel between Fuerteventura and the African coast, after which the wind blowing off the desert during the day brings out clouds of reddish-brown dust, only for it to be blown back at night by a north-westerly wind.

“At 2 P.M., the weather becoming suddenly fine, the island (Fuerteventura) stood in view, already abeam to starboard and not more than seven miles off.”

He meets a couple of freighters carrying cattle from Argentina to Europe, and laments the loss of camaraderie and ritual formerly displayed by ships meeting on the high seas:

The time was when ships passing one another at sea backed their topsails and had a “gam” and, on parting, fired guns. But those good old days are gone. People have hardly time nowadays to speak even on the broad ocean, where news is news, and as for a salute of guns, they cannot afford the powder. There are no poetry-enshrined freighters on the sea now; it is a prosy life when we have no time to bid one another good morning.

On September 10 the Spray passed the island of St. Antonio, the northwesternmost of the Cape Verdes, close aboard.

As the Cape Verde islands fall astern, Slocum once more feels the solitude of “sailing a lonely sea”. He even dreams of being alone.

He also writes:

I seemed always to know the position of the sloop and I saw my vessel moving across the chart, which became a picture before me.

This happened to me on a cruise of the research ship R.R.S. Shackleton sailing in the Mediterranean and heading for Augusta, Sicily. I had never sailed there before, but looking out of the port-hole I saw an island abeam, and I just knew that it was Pantelleria.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Note: to view the presentation you will need to install the Google Earth plugin in your web browser

Written by netkingcol

August 29, 2012 at 11:28 am

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: chased by pirates

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Joshua Slocum sailed single-handed around the world aboard his yacht Spray between April 1895 and June 1898. He was the first to achieve such a feat.

You can follow the voyage at:

Today I added ‘Chased by pirates’, being the first few pages of Chapter V. Slocum leaves Gibraltar on 25Aug1895 after a 3-week visit during which time he prepares both his yacht and himself for the arduous journey ahead.

Departing Gibraltar, 25Aug1895

He is towed clear of the Rock by a tug belonging to Queen Victoria’s navy when a fresh (volant) wind carries the Spray westward towards the Atlantic. Slocum’s original plan was to have sailed the length of the Mediterranean and through the Suez Canal to the Indian Ocean. He wanted to sail the world ‘east-about’.

However, he is warned by those who know these waters that he will surely meet with pirates if he goes that way. Then, hardly had he reached the Atlantic with a revised plan to go westwards round Cape Horn, when a felucca comes out of the nearest port and starts to chase him.

Hardly had I reached the Atlantic…

Slocum knows that the Spray is fast but both vessels have crowded on all sail possible and the felucca gradually closes in; the pirates are preparing to strike the first blow when a great wave swamps them and they are dismasted. Shortly afterwards, the same wave hits the Spray and she is knocked down.

Three minutes later the same wave overtook the Spray and shook her in every timber.

The Spray comes out of the exchange in better shape, albeit with a broken boom; the felucca loses all her rigging and has to give up the chase.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Note: to view the presentation you will need to install the Google Earth plugin in your web browser

Written by netkingcol

August 28, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: the Azores to Gibraltar

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Joshua Slocum sailed single-handed around the world aboard his yacht Spray between April 1895 and June 1898. He was the first to achieve such a feat.

You can follow the voyage at:

Today I added Chapter IV of Slocum’s book to the presentation.

Between Faial and Pico

Slocum leaves Horta on 24Jul1895; at first the winds are light but only a few miles out the Spray is almost dismasted by a violent squall running down off the mountains. After emergency repairs and some help from a local ‘sailorly chap’ he is soon on his way.

Through the generosity of the Azoreans his ship is laden with fruit; Slocum partakes freely of the plums and also digs into a Pico white cheese given him by General Manning, the American Consul-General; the result: violent stomach cramps and great pain which lasts for two days.

Slocum is delirious and convinced that he is visited by the pilot of Columbus’s ship Pinta who steers his yacht through the night.

The apparition at the wheel

I am the pilot of the Pinta come to aid you. Lie quiet, senor captain, and I will guide your ship tonight. You have a calentura but you will be all right tomorrow.

Slocum realises that his boat is in fact capable of sailing steadily on a course with very little attention. His health improves and so does the weather. He catches a turtle and hauls it on board using the halyard for the mainsail wrapped around a flipper.

He awoke with my harpoon through his neck, if he awoke at all…the turtle-steak was good.

The Spray hits another gale and her jib is ripped to shreds; progress slows to 51 miles per day. On 04Aug1895 Slocum writes wryly:

Early the next morning, August 4, I discovered Spain. I saw fires on shore, and knew that the country was inhabited.

Having just finished my project of Captain Cook’s first voyage round the world, I recognise this immediately as a phrase that Cook often uses in his journal during the circumnavigation of New Zealand and when exploring the east coast of Australia.

I discovered Spain. I saw fires on shore and knew that the land was inhabited.

From Trafalgar, where he makes his landfall, it’s a short trip for Slocum and Spray to reach Gibraltar. He anchors by the old mole among the ‘native’ craft where it looks rough and uncomfortable…

At anchor by the old mole in Gibraltar

…but is soon towed by a British steam-launch into a more comfortable berth by the arsenal.

Slocum enjoys British hospitality in Gibraltar for 3 weeks; the ship is repaired; he attends a round of parties and takes a trip to the Moroccan shore on a fast torpedo-boat.

At each place, and all about, I felt the friendly grasp of a manly hand, that lent me vital strength to pass the coming long days at sea.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Note: to view the presentation you will need to install the Google Earth plugin in your web browser

Written by netkingcol

August 26, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: arriving at Fayal in the Azores

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This series of posts reports progress on a project to present Joshua Slocum‘s single-handed voyage around the world aboard the sloop/yawl Spray between April 1895 and June 1898.

Today I added Chapter III of Slocum’s book to the presentation which can be viewed at:

Anchored at Horta on Faial exactly 18 days after rounding Cape Sable

In this section of the voyage Slocum sails from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, on 02Jul1895 rounding Cape Sable at 4:30 p.m.

He follows the coast as far as Halifax, squaring away by the Chebucto Head Light in the direction of Sable Island. He passes the island in thick fog and knows by sounding with the lead when he is clear of all shoal water.

For the first few days he feels a great loneliness. He talks to an imaginary helmsman and greets the full moon with: “Good evening, sir, I’m glad to see you.” He soon drops the practice of talking aloud and instead starts to sing, finding that the porpoises are a more appreciative audience than the turtles – because they jump higher.

Once beyond this dark phase his spirits are much higher. He meets other shipping:

  • La Vaguisa gives him a bottle of wine.
  • The Java of Glasgow envies the speed with which the Spray skips along in the lightest of winds.
  • The business-like S.S. Olympia sails past at 11:30 a.m. on 18Jul1895 in the longitude 34 degrees 50 minutes west.

He passes the island of Flores, an outlier of the Azores group on 19Jul1895 and by the 20th he sees the towering peak of Pico on the starboard bow.

He is impressed by the greenness of the cultivated fields: “Only those who have seen the Azores from the deck of a vessel realize the beauty of the mid-ocean picture.” I can vouch for that, having arrived off San Miguel in 1976 aboard R.R.S. Discovery, flagship at the time of the Institute of Oceanographic Sciences for whom I had the privilege of working as a Scientific Officer.

Slocum anchors at Horta, Fayal at 4:30 p.m., exactly 18 days after leaving Cape Sable having averaged 150 miles per day over one 8 day period.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Note: to view the presentation you will need to install the Google Earth plugin in your web browser

Written by netkingcol

August 24, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Captain Cook’s First Voyage Round The World

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The following slideshow and image gallery show screenshots taken from Captain Cook’s First Voyage Round The World, a presentation of Cook’s journal containing more than 15 hours of animation and audio.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To view the presentation, point your web browser to and install the Google Earth plug-in if you don’t already have it installed.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

You might also like:

If you enjoyed Cook’s voyage, you might also like Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World, a similar virtual re-enactment of a famous sea voyage by the first single-handed circumnavigator; this presentation is still under construction.


Captain Cook in Google Earth: Batavia to Cape Town

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Endeavour sailed from Batavia on 27Dec1770. It was slow progress at first and they had to anchor the ship frequently to avoid losing ground against contrary tides and currents.

In Sunda Strait, the ship sailed within 3 miles of the island of Krakatoa, which must have had a very different appearance in January, 1771, than it did after its violent eruption in 1883.

Cook stayed over a week anchored off Prince’s Island, at the south-east end of the strait, to stock up on wood, water, and food before making the journey across the Indian Ocean to the Cape of Good Hope. They set sail on Tuesday, 15Jan1771 and progress was still slow owing to light and variable winds.

(See my previous post about the deaths of 23 members of the crew from dysentery)

Once she was in the south-east trade winds, Endeavour started to cover between 100 and 150 miles per day, arriving rather abruptly, and surprisingly, off the African coast on Tuesday, 05Mar1771:

In the evening some people thought they saw the appearance  of land to the Northward; but this appear’d so improbable that I, who was not on deck at this time, was not acquainted with it until dark, when I order’d them to sound, but found no ground with 80 fathoms, upon which we concluded that no land was near. But daylight in the morning proved this to be a mistake by shewing us the land at the distance of 2 Leagues off (about 6 miles).

Cook began to appreciate the strength of the currents that had carried Endeavour to the west and the south of her position determined by dead-reckoning. Remember that Cook did not yet have access to one of John Harrison’s chronometers and the determination of longitude was still a tricky business (though Cook was one of the most meticulous observers). On Wednesday, 13th Cook wrote in his journal:

Latitude observed 34 degrees 15 minutes South; Longitude in, by our reckoning, corrected by the last observation, 341 degrees 7 minutes West, or 18 degrees 53 minutes East from Greenwich, by which the Cape lies in 34 degrees 25 minutes South Latitude, and 19 degrees 1 minute East Longitude from Greenwich, which nearly agrees with the observations made at the Cape Town by Messrs. Mason and Dixon in 1761; a proof that our observations have been well made, and that as such they may always be depended upon to a surprizing degree of accuracy. If we had had no such guide we should have found an error of 10 degrees 13 minutes of Longitude, or perhaps more, to the East, such an effect the current must have had upon the ship.

I assume that the men Cook refers to were the British experts Charles Mason (astronomer) and Jeremiah Dixon (surveyor) who were commissioned in 1763 to resolve the border dispute between the British colonies of: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia. They had been in Africa because, like Cook, they were despatched on a mission to observe a transit of Venus (the 1761 transit). They never reached their destination of Sumatra and instead were forced to observe the transit from the Cape of Good Hope.

You can now view the part of Cook’s first voyage round the world between Batavia and Cape Town by visiting The website has over 15 hours of animation and audio presenting Cook’s voyage in the Google Earth plugin.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

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