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Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Port Angosto to the Pacific Ocean

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Follow Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World at: http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum.

Laden with tallow and other salvaged cargo, and with her sails white in the snow, Slocum manages, just, to get the Spray into a snug nook in Port Angosto, still 60 miles short of Cape Pillar and the Pacific.

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Slocum now takes the time to refit the Spray. He reorganises the cargo and the cabin; he fixes the sails and rigging; and he adds a jigger mast to convert his sloop into a yawl – all work that is preparing her for the Pacific voyage ahead.

There is another, final, encounter with Fuegians. They sneak up on the Spray while Slocum is at work on the decks and shoot two arrows at him. The first whizzes past into the sea but the second embeds itself in the mast. Slocum raises his trusty Martini-Henry rifle and fires into the bushes. At the first shot, three Fuegians leap up and start running. He keeps firing to make sure they get the message and that’s the last he sees of ‘savages’, though he continues to lay carpet tacks on the deck at night.

After six failed attempts to get out of his anchorage, he sails from Port Angosto on 13Apr1896, but doesn’t escape without first drifting three times round an island, which he names Alan Erric Island after an acquaintance. In the strait, the wind is fair, a strong southeaster, and on the same day he breaks free of the Straits of Magellan, Cape Horn, and Tierra del Fuego, destination – Juan Fernandez, or Robinson Crusoe’s Island.


This section of Joshua Slocum’s journey is the opening section of Chapter X of Sailing Alone Around the World, and this post is a trailer for the adventure that I am retelling in Google Earth at:  http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum

Slocum added a jigger mast to the Spray while in Port Angosto, converting her to a yawl (“though I called the boat a sloop just the same”). In 3D modelling terms, this was my first opportunity to use the full, yawl-rigged model and the one that will be used for the rest of the voyage. You might have noticed that for a few days I had the rig changing at Rio de Janeiro but, realising that Slocum only added the semi-circular stanchion there, I created another model that included the stanchion and used that from Rio to Port Angosto.

Note that I couldn’t find Alan Erric Island on a chart so I chose a likely looking one in the harbour and one that it was feasible for me to animate the model around. If you know the exact location of Alan Erric Island I’d be happy to change the Spray‘s track to circumnavigate it, otherwise artistic licence prevails.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

You might also enjoy Cook’s first voyage round the world at: http://www.hazelhurst.net/Cook

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Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Fortescue Bay to Langara Cove

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Follow Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World at: http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum, where I have just added the concluding section of Chapter IX in which Joshua Slocum goes aboard the steamship Columbia in Fortescue Bay, coming away with his arms full of provisions.

When it falls calm the next day he is surrounded by Fuegians in their canoes as he drifts uncontrollably towards Little Bonet island. Rifle shots are once more required to persuade the marauders to keep their distance.

The wind picks up and he escapes, and sails on in the growing darkness to Borgia Bay:

I would now, if I could, describe the moonlit scene on the strait at midnight after I had cleared the savages and Bonet Island. A heavy cloud-bank that had swept across the sky then cleared away, and the night became suddenly as light as day, or nearly so. A high mountain was mirrored in the channel ahead, and the Spray sailing along with her shadow was as two sloops on the sea.

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At Borgia Bay Slocum was alone. He becomes somewhat dejected by the sight of a lonely grave and the many boards and marks erected by the crew of passing ships – some of the names he recognises as those of former colleagues, men who are no longer.

Spirits are raised the next day when Slocum discovers large quantities of tallow in Langara Cove, originating from some unidentified wreck; it’s surprising what power rendered beef fat can have on a man’s outlook. Imagine how he felt on also discovering a barrel of wine embedded in the kelp. He works hard all day to get as many casks as he can aboard the sloop, and even man-handles large lumps of tallow that no longer have a cask around them.

Then, on the next day, he comes across another cove with yet more tallow. Working through rain and snow he packs his ship with the cargo:

I was happy then in the prospect of doing good business farther along on the voyage, for the habits of an old trader would come to the surface.


The US Hydrographic Office published the second edition of The west coast of South America, including Magellan Strait, Tierra del Fuego, and the outlying islands in the year 1896, and as a master mariner Slocum may have been familiar with the first edition. The volume includes the following references to Fortescue Bay, which explains why the Columbia anchored there and, perhaps, why there was a tribe of Fuegians settled in the area:

In winter a vessel should leave Sandy Point some hours before daylight to ensure making Fortescue Bay the same evening. It will be well to have daylight before getting as far as Georgia Reef…

Caution: when proceeding to the Pacific, vessels should not attempt to clear the strait in one day from Fortescue Bay, except full-powered steamers…

The best anchorages for large vessels are at Fortescue Bay, Borgia Bay, Field Anchorage, and Port Tamar.

Clearly, the Straits of Magellan are to be taken seriously and every effort should made to avoid navigating at night. Fortescue Bay is one of the principal safe anchorages on a passage through the strait in either direction.


This section of Joshua Slocum’s journey concludes Chapter IX of Sailing Alone Around the World, and this post is a trailer for the adventure that I am retelling in Google Earth at:  http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

You might also enjoy Cook’s first voyage round the world at: http://www.hazelhurst.net/Cook

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Echo Mountain to Fortescue Bay

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Follow Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World at: http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum.

On the morning after anchoring under Echo Mountain and taking on board more wood, Slocum fires up his stove to brew a cup of coffee and he cremates the allegorical spider that was ripped apart by his little “Bostonian” counterpart. He reaches over to Coffee Island, which he had named on his birthday, 20Feb1896. At that time, the island had sheltered him from strong winds, but this time the gale that springs up forces him into the lee of Charles Island.

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Previously, Charles Island was deserted but since then a group of Fuegians has come over from Fortescue Bay. They take to their canoes and come after the Spray. Rifle in hand, Slocum allows one canoe to approach and once again he encounters Black Pedro, Tierra del Fuego’s most-wanted.

After successfully dealing with Black Pedro, Slocum sails over to Fortescue Bay knowing that the waters of the strait are too rough for the Fuegians to follow.


This section of Joshua Slocum’s journey is part of Chapter IX of Sailing Alone Around the World, and this post is a trailer for the adventure that I am retelling in Google Earth at:  http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

You might also enjoy Cook’s first voyage round the world at: http://www.hazelhurst.net/Cook

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Famine Reach to Echo Mountain

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Follow Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World at: http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum.

Slocum is drifting slowly towards Sandy Point (Punta Arenas), with the Spray’s sails in tatters. There is a temptation to return to port to replace them, but Slocum chooses the path of independence and self-reliance. He turns away from Punta Arenas to begin again the westward passage through the Strait of Magellan and he starts, slowly, to rebuild his mainsail from the scraps of canvas he has available.

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He passes Cape Froward, in fine weather, but is beginning to wish for the gales that keep the Fuegian marauders out of the strait; their canoes are not seaworthy in heavy weather.

Shortly after anchoring in Snug Bay (Bahia Snug!) the two canoes that have followed him through the night heave into sight. The canoes are well manned and the men are well armed. He fires a shot in their direction and they divert into a creek. The risk is that he will be ambushed, so he decides to move on immediately even though he has just lowered the sails; but the windlass is jammed and he can’t lift the anchor; he raises the sails again and the Spray drags her anchor, and a ton of kelp, slowly out of the bay.

Eventually, the windlass is fixed and the anchor is raised. The Spray pulls away from Snug Bay and finds a new anchorage in 9 fathoms next to a perpendicular cliff, which Slocum names ‘Echo Mountain’. There is little risk here of ambush but nevertheless Slocum takes his rifle along when he goes to fetch wood for the stove, a little farther along from his anchorage.

Slocum now relates a little allegory concerning a Fuegian spider that comes on board the sloop on a dry log that he has collected. It meets a spider that Slocum claims has been on the Spray since she left Boston (“a very civil little chap, too, but mighty spry”). The Fuegian is looking for a fight and the doughty little Bostonian spider pulls its legs off one by one so that “in less than three minutes from the time the battle began the Fuegian spider didn’t know itself from a fly”. I am sure that Slocum wished that his interactions with the troublesome Fuegians could be concluded so swiftly and decisively.


This section of Joshua Slocum’s journey is the first part of Chapter IX of Sailing Alone Around the World, and this post is a trailer for the adventure that I am retelling in Google Earth at:  http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

You might also enjoy Cook’s first voyage round the world at: http://www.hazelhurst.net/Cook

Mus musicus – someone else’s favourite book

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I’m taking a short break from the retelling of Joshua Slocum’s book Sailing Alone Around the World to blog about my own words. Occasionally, I Google the titles of my books to see if there is any news about them. I was pleased to find that someone on www.goodreads.com has added my story Mus musicus to their list of favourites, giving it 5 stars, despite the fact that I think the cover image is Rattus rattus rather than Mus musculus.

You may have come across it on Kindle or at the wide range of distributors supported by Smashwords, but it’s only available now from my store at Lulu. As an English writer I found it too complicated to get involved with the large American distributors. They might have the widest reach, but the process of acquiring a US tax ID is so wearisome and the ever-moving thresholds for receiving payment make me think that I will never see any money from them. At least I know that I get paid by Lulu.

I found this review of Mus musicus a while ago, but it bears repeating:

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Written by netkingcol

September 19, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Cape Turn to Famine Reach

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Follow Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World at: http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum.

In the violent winds off the Pacific shore of Tierra del Fuego the Spray‘s sails were torn to ribbons, so Slocum takes the opportunity to repair them in his snug cove at Cape Turn in Cockburn Channel. He is just wondering why no trees grow on the shoreline when an almighty williwaw tears down the mountainside and pushes the Spray out into the channel. At this time Slocum has two anchors down and the sudden wind drags them both. The absence of trees is fully explained:

Great Boreas! A tree would need to be all roots to hold on against such a furious wind.

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Fortunately, at this corner where the Cockburn Channel becomes the Magdalena Channel there is a wide stretch of water and Slocum has enough time to raise the anchors and get under way.

This pattern is repeated the following day; he is settling into sail-making again and a williwaw plucks the boat and her anchor away from the shore. Slocum sails on and later that day he rejoins the Strait of Magellan opposite Cape Froward and shapes his course for St. Nicholas Bay – where he last anchored on 19Feb.

As the Spray approaches the bay, a sheet on the stay-sail gives way; Slocum goes forward to investigate and it’s only when he’s up in the bow that he sees cliffs ahead and breakers very close by. He dashes back to the helm and swings away. If it had not been for the rigging failure he would surely have struck ground.

He comes to anchor in the bay and again the sloop is tossed about by the wind and carried away. The wind is from the south-west, so the Spray is being pushed relentlessly back in the direction of Punta Arenas. She rounds the headland, turning north, and finds calm water in the lee of the mountains. By this time Slocum is quite weary.

He starts paying out the anchor, thinking he has 8 fathoms depth beneath him, but yet another williwaw knocks him down and pushes him to deeper water. Slocum thinks the answer is rapidly to pay out more anchor cable, in an attempt to find the bottom and hold the yacht on station, but 50 fathoms are paid out as the sloop is pushed still further into the deeper waters of Famine Reach, the name of this section of the Strait.

In this situation, Slocum must retrieve the anchor and spends the night at the windlass heaving away and singing old sailing songs. He refers to his days as master of a ship:

On the little crab-windlass I worked the rest of the night, thinking how much easier it was for me when I could say, “Do that thing or the other,” than to do it myself.

By daylight, the anchor is retrieved but the Spray is drifting north towards Punta Arenas; Slocum can see ships at anchor in the distance. If it had not been for a change of the wind to the north-east, Slocum would probably have returned to the port in order to replace the Spray‘s sails; but this new wind is favourable to a second attempt to reach the Pacific, so Slocum comes about and heads further into the Strait of Magellan: “to traverse a second time the second half of my first course through the strait.”


This section of Joshua Slocum’s journey concludes Chapter VIII of Sailing Alone Around the World, an adventure that I am retelling in Google Earth at:  http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

If you like this presentation, then you may also enjoy Cook’s first voyage round the world at: http://www.hazelhurst.net/Cook

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Port Tamar to Cape Turn

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Follow Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World at: http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum.

Slocum sails from Port Tamar on 03Mar1896. The wide Pacific is before him and the Spray takes her first “bath” in it after passing Cape Pillar. Although the wind is fair at first a storm is brewing. It’s too dark to turn back for the land so Slocum must run out to sea. By the morning of the following day the wind rises to a “terrific force” and all that Slocum can do is to run before it under bare poles and trailing two long ropes astern to steady the course.

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For four days Slocum rides out the storm, eventually managing to raise a reefed forestaysail and grab some hot food. He realises that there is little chance of working back north and west along the coast of Tierra del Fuego and is already planning a run to Port Stanley in the Falklands. Effectively, he is thinking of switching his plan back to the original one, which was to sail round the world in an easterly direction.

Then he sees a high mountain off the port beam through a gap in the clouds and turns up for it. He doesn’t say which island he thinks it is, only that he is mistaken in its identity. Night falls before he reaches the land and what follows is a frantic and exhausting night of dodging rocks and shallows using the sight and sound of the breakers to tell him where the danger lies.

By the morning, he can see that he is in the Milky Way of the sea and that it was Fury Island that he had seen the previous day. Darwin had written of this patch of sea:

Any landsman seeing the Milky Way would have nightmare for a week.

Slocum comments:

He might have added “or seaman” as well.

By sailing with great care, the Spray reaches calmer waters inside the galaxy of rocks, and Slocum realises that he is in Cockburn Channel which connects with the Strait of Magellan opposite Cape Froward – his position on 20Feb. However, despite this setback and the trouble he had with Fuegians in the strait, he is more than content:

I was exultant over the prospect of once more entering the Strait of Magellan and beating through again into the Pacific, for it was more than rough on the outside coast of Tierra del Fuego.

By nightfall on 08Mar1896, the Spray is at anchor in a snug cove at Cape Turn – where Cockburn Channel turns north towards Cape Froward. Slocum is exhausted and must sleep, but not before spreading Pedro Samblich’s carpet tacks about the deck, making sure that some of them are “business end” up. Sure enough, at about midnight, he is woken by the howl of barefoot savages as they find his early warning system.


This section of Joshua Slocum’s journey is the first part of Chapter VIII of Sailing Alone Around the World, an adventure that I am retelling in Google Earth at:  http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

If you like this presentation, then you may also enjoy Cook’s first voyage round the world at: http://www.hazelhurst.net/Cook

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