thinking outside the tank

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Punta Arenas to Three Island Cove

leave a comment »

Follow Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World at:

The Spray sails from Punta Arenas on 19Feb1896. Slocum is fully aware of the dangers he is sailing towards, both meteorological and criminal. He anchors in St. Nicholas Bay after seeing no signs of the ‘savages’ he was warned about; instead, he is introduced to the williwaw, a fierce squall of gale-force wind, that descends unpredictably from the surrounding mountains.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next day, his birthday, Slocum is sailing around Cape Froward, the southernmost point of the American continent; then he sails into Fortescue Bay and immediately sees the signal fires of the Fuegians on both sides of the strait. The winds are strong enough to keep the ‘natives’ away, but the sailing is hard work for a single-hander. Slocum finds shelter in the lee of a small island and brews a cup of coffee, and names the place Coffee Island.

Working his way past Charles Island, still in very strong winds, Slocum decides to anchor the Spray in a sheltered cove and stays there for two days, safe in the knowledge that the native canoes cannot cross the strait in such weather.

As soon as the weather is fine, he sets sail but is chased from the start by Fuegians intent on stealing from him, and maybe worse. In a falling wind the natives gain ground and eventually come within hailing range. They start by begging, using the term which Slocum interprets as: “yammerschooner”.

Slocum disguises the fact that he is alone by two ruses. He ducks into the cabin, changes his clothes, and appears at a different hatch; he also has a length of bowsprit dressed up as a sailor, in the manner of a scarecrow, complete with ropes he can pull to animate i. The result is that his assailants believe there are three people on board.

The threat seems so great that Slocum fires two shots, the first as a warning, but the second grazes the man that he later identifies as ‘Black Pedro’, the most wanted man in Tierra del Fuego. The Fuegians withdraw and Slocum sails on, coming to anchor in Three Island Cove at midnight.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

If you like the presentation of Slocum’s voyage at:, then you may also enjoy Cook’s first voyage round the world at:


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: