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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

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