thinking outside the tank

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

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