thinking outside the tank

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Three Island Cove to Port Tamar

leave a comment »

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

From the safety of Three Island Cove, Slocum puts the Spray  once more into the strait. He reaches Borgia Bay in Paso Tortuoso, between Jerome Channel to the east and Cape Quod to the west. The only signs of people ever having visited this place are the boards nailed to trees bearing the names and dates of vessels that anchored in the bay. It all looks very bleak and uninviting to Slocum. Then a Chilean gunboat, the Huemel, appears and advises against anchoring, and they offer to tow the Spray as far as Notch Cove, about 8 miles further along the strait and beyond the worst threat of the Fuegians.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Purists today would say that to receive a tow is no part of a single-handed voyage. I don’t agree; I say: “let them frown”.

In Notch Cove there is high merriment aboard the Huemel with much singing while all along they are buffeted by williwaws. The powerful gunboat tries to leave and even she is forced back to safe anchorage in the face of fierce winds and seas. Eventually, she does manage to get away and Slocum is left alone again. He spends the day wooding and watering in the best sailing ship fashion.

The next day the Spray is again battling against wind and current, coming to anchor on many occasions and plying back and forth in the strait. Eventually he reaches Port Tamar within sight of Cape Pillar at the western entrance to the Strait of Magellan.

The following quotes from Sailing Alone Around the World give some indication of Slocum’s state of mind:

Here I felt the throb of the great ocean that lay before me. I knew now that I had put a world behind me, and that I was opening out a new world ahead.

He feels a sense of excitement and achievement despite his huge experience of the sea. He has sailed in the Pacific many times, even as a master of a large trading ship, but this is different; to sail alone in a small boat is to feel alive in a completely different way.

In a bleak land is not the place to enjoy solitude.

I think that Slocum is still feeling the shadow of the intense loneliness he felt at the start of the voyage on leaving Sable Island and the American continent behind. Perhaps the company he enjoyed on the Huemel has provided a sharp contrast to his solitary journey and he feels it all the more strongly. Perhaps this also explains his reluctance to take life in any form:

There was a sort of swan that might have been brought down with the gun, but in the loneliness of life about the dreary country I found myself in no mood to make one life less, except in self defense.

The journey from Three Island Cove to Port Tamar completes the first passage of the Spray through the Strait of Magellan and also concludes Chapter VII of Sailing Alone Around the World.

Technologically, Chapter VII was a challenge. Between Buenos Aires and the Strait of Magellan the Spray was submerged by a huge wave. I simulated this by taking the model below sea-level, as described in an earlier post; but I also rolled the yacht from side to side using the <AnimatedRoll>  directive in TourMaker.  This is an instruction with the form:

        <Data name="AnimatedRoll">


   iterations is the number of the times to roll the model.
   angle is the angle through which the model should be rolled.
   duration is the number of seconds for each roll.

The next challenge was to synchronise the effect with the soundtrack. Where the text reads: “She shook in every timber” seemed the best time to include a rapid oscillation of the model. I used

        <Data name="AnimatedRoll">

timing it to coincide with the audio.

The other effect I wanted to introduce was the yacht being knocked down by williwaws in St. Nicholas Bay. To do this I used the <HalfRoll> directive. A half roll takes the model through the given angle in the given number of seconds and returns it to the upright position using a different duration. I wanted to knock the yacht over rapidly and let it recover more slowly. I used:

        <Data name="HalfRoll">

This directive takes 0.5 seconds to roll the model through +25 degrees and takes 1.4 seconds to return the model to the upright position. The form of the <HalfRoll> directive is:

        <Data name="HalfRoll">

In the simulation, I combined <AnimatedRoll> and <HalfRoll> in such a way that the Spray was rolling gently from side to side and was then hit by a squall, again synchronising the model animation with the soundtrack.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

If you like this presentation, 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: