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Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Whitsunday Passage to Cooktown

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

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Captain Cook, taking Endeavour through Whitsunday Passage (named by him because 03Jun1770 was Whit Sunday), sailed through the night and arrived the following morning at: “a lofty promontory that I named Cape Gloucester”.

Joshua Slocum, a few days short of 127 years later, passes here on 26May1897. His charts show more accurately than Cook’s survey that the promontory is actually detached from the mainland and is now called Gloucester Island. The Spray hauls into the bay to the west of the island and anchors at Port Denison, close to the small town of Bowen.

Bowen at that time has a population of around 1,000; large enough to support a keen audience for Slocum’s story.

By 31May1897, the Spray, has carried Slocum safely through 350 miles of the Great Barrier Reef. Without anchoring anywhere, Slocum sails past many of the other capes, bays, and islands named by Cook:

  • Cape Upstart
  • Cape Cleveland
  • Cleveland Bay
  • Cape Richards
  • Rockingham Bay
  • Cape Grafton
  • Fitzroy Island
  • Cape Tribulation (“for here all my troubles began”)

Cook also named the Endeavour River, for it was here that H.M.Bark Endeavour was beached for repairs after she had struck a reef just north of Cape Tribulation (the reef was named unsurprisingly Endeavour Reef).

Cooktown was certainly in existence before the gold rush of the 1870s, when the settlement grew rapidly as a supply port, because Slocum reports visiting on the steamship Soushay in 1866; he didn’t see much of it at that time because he was ill with a fever.

The “lecture tour” continues when a meeting is arranged in the Presbyterian church and Slocum delivers his “story of the sea.”


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here opens Chapter XV 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

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Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: South Solitary Island to Whitsunday Passage

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

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After exchanging signals at South Solitary Island, Slocum continues north and on 19May1897 sails past Point Danger, named by Captain Cook after his encounter with shoals and strong currents there.

On the 20th, the Spray rounds Sandy Cape, a significant point that marks the beginning of the Great Barrier Reef. The light on Sandy Cape is visible for 27 miles and his next way point is the Lady Elliot Island light. This is important to find because Slocum is heading into a dangerous region shoals and reefs and all the charts in the world are of little use if you don’t know where you are. Lady Elliot Island is about 45 miles from Sandy Cape but it seems to take an endless time to cover that distance. Slocum concludes he is pushing against a strong current.

The Spray had sailed for hours in suspense, evidently stemming a current. Almost mad with doubt, I grasped the helm to throw her head off shore, when blazing out of the sea was the light ahead. “Excalibur” cried “all hands,” and rejoiced, and sailed on.

So he finds the light on Lady Elliot Island¹ and passes into the serene, but still risky, waters inside the Great Barrier Reef and is protected from the worst of the Pacific Ocean’s waves. Progress is good and the Spray averages 4.6knots over the next four days:

On the 24th of May, the sloop, having made one hundred and ten miles a day from Danger Point, now entered Whitsunday Pass, and that night sailed through among the islands. When the sun rose next morning I looked back and regretted having gone by while it was dark, for the scenery far astern was varied and charming.


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here concludes Chapter XIV 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

Notes

1. The  technical challenge in this part of the presentation was to simulate the light from the Lady Elliot Island lighthouse. I wanted to create a beam of white light that rotates about the location of the lighthouse; furthermore, I wanted it to have the same characteristic as the current light, which is described on charts as: Fl.W. 7.5s. This code means that the light is white and flashes every 7.5 seconds.

To achieve this I needed two things:

  • A model to animate.
  • A TourMaker directive to generate the animation.

I created the beam of light by drawing a cone in Google Sketchup and colouring it white. The cone was about a mile long, oriented along the green axis, which is north when the model is exported to Google Earth, and its apex was placed about 100 feet above the origin.

In the KML file for this leg of Slocum’s journey, I added the model as a Placemark, positioning it at the latitude and longitude of the Lady Elliot Island lighthouse (at the south end of the island). I set the visibility of the Placemark initially to zero (invisible), because I wanted to ‘turn on’ the light at the instant in the narrative that Slocum sees it.

To simulate a rotating beam I would need to animate the model by changing its orientation. By placing the origin of the model at the position of the lighthouse, a change in its orientation would have the desired effect of a light sweeping round.

I measured the angle subtended by the model and found that the edges of the cone were 15° apart. To achieve a smooth rotation, I would want each new orientation of the model to be no more than 15° away from the last one. I also knew that the beam should sweep through 360° in 7.5 seconds, in other words its angular velocity should be 360/7.5 degrees per second, which  comes out at 48° per second.

I used this information to determine how many orientation changes per second would be required to generate a smooth animation at the required rotation rate. Quite simply, if each animation step rotates the model by 15° and we need to rotate the model at 48° per second, then we need 48/15 animation steps per second (3.2), so the duration of each animation step should be 1/3.2 seconds (0.312s).

All of this is easy to code, taking only a few hours of development and testing. To control this behaviour, I added a ‘Rotate’ directive to TourMaker, and its parameters identify which model to animate, the duration of the animation, the angular velocity required, and the delay until the animation should start. This last parameter allowed me to switch on the beam as the narration reads:

Almost mad with doubt, I grasped the helm to throw her head off shore, when blazing out of the sea was the light ahead

The animation starts at the word ‘blazing’; the Placemark is made visible, the light sweeps around for 30 seconds and the Placemark is then made invisible.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Devonport to South Solitary Island

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

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By 18Apr1897, Joshua Slocum judges that the southern summer is over and it is time to head north away from the winter which is “rolling up from the south”. He sails from Devonport in bracing winds that carry him quickly around Cape Howe at the south-east corner of mainland Australia. He exchanges signals again with the residents of Cape Bundooro and then has a fine sail with clear skies to Port Jackson, Sydney, where he anchors in Watson’s Bay, close to the entrance to Sydney Harbour. He is impressed by the number of boats of all shapes and sizes working and having fun in the harbour:

The harbor from the heads to Parramatta, up the river, was more than ever alive with boats and yachts of every class. It was, indeed, a scene of animation hardly equalled in any other part of the world.

A few days later the weather is much rougher and a steamship, struggling into harbour from the heads, while Slocum is ashore, collides with the Spray and rips away her anchor and chain. The captain of the steamship takes the Spray in tow to pull her out of further danger and she is returned later by some of his crew¹:

But what yawing about she made of it when she came with a stranger at the helm! Her old friend the pilot of the Pinta would not have been guilty of such lubberly work. But to my great delight they got her into a berth…

Slocum sails from Sydney on 09May1897 in fair weather and with strong winds from the south-west. He falls into an easy routine, reading day and night, and occasionally trimming the sails. He remembers the struggle, several months earlier, when he had to fight southwards past these headlands, to Newcastle; he compares his life now with that of the old circumnavigators. He feels that he’s having rather an easy time of it².

Ten miles short of Port Macquarie, Slocum comes upon a yacht in distress. She is manned by the three most incompetent crew he has ever encountered; their appreciation of the perilous situation they are in is scant and their ineptitude has resulted in the loss of their sounding lead and their dinghy. They refuse his offers of help; he wants to tow them to Port Macquarie but they are not interested. He reads later, in a Cooktown newspaper, that the yacht was lost off Crescent Head but the crew was saved.

Pressing on, Slocum comes up to South Solitary Island, a “dreary stone heap in the ocean just off the coast of New South Wales”, and exchanges signals with the people on it. By way of identification, he raises the Stars and Stripes and assumes that the people ashore know all about his voyage for their next message is simply: “Wishing you a pleasant voyage”, and Slocum writes: “…which at that moment I was having.”


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here continues Chapter XIV 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

Notes

  1. To get the Spray to yaw as she was sailed back to Watson’s Bay by her lubberly crew, I needed to implement an ‘AnimatedYaw’ directive in TourMaker. This function oscillates the heading of the model, by the number of degrees in the ‘angle’ parameter, to either side of the calculated bearing between the two Placemarks that define the model’s movement over the ground.
  2. Slocum had on board “a full set of admiralty sheet-charts of the coast and Barrier Reef”. It’s worth taking a look at the journal of the man who first surveyed the eastern coastline of Australia and created the first version of the charts that enabled Slocum to have a relatively carefree voyage in these waters: Captain Cook’s Journal During the First Voyage Round the World.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Launceston to Devonport

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

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Joshua Slocum “rusticates in the forests and among the streams” around Launceston for about a week and he grows to love the country. He’s waiting for the time of year when the winds around the north of Australia will be fair for a passage westwards. On 01Feb1897, he digs out the ground from under the Spray‘s keel to get her afloat, and sets sail from Launceston to explore other parts of Tasmania.

Still in the Tamar valley, he anchors at Beauty Point where he visits a gold mine and also meets Lord Hampden, governor of New South Wales, who is on a sight-seeing trip with his family.

A short hop downstream takes the Spray to Georgetown where Slocum gives his first public meeting to describe his voyage to a keenly interested audience.

Next, he sails west along the Tasmanian north shore to Devonport. Here he finds the people so friendly and generous that before leaving he declares:

…it was not without regret that I looked forward to the day of sailing from a country of so many pleasant associations. If there was a moment in my voyage when I could have given it up, it was there and then;

The ladies of the town ply him with provisions:

…dear Mrs. Aikenhead, mistress of Malunnah (the magistrate’s house on the point), supplied the Spray with jams and jellies of all sorts, by the case, prepared from the fruits of her own rich garden — enough to last all the way home and to spare. Mrs. Wood, farther up the harbour, put up bottles of raspberry wine for me. At this point, more than ever before, I was in the land of good cheer. Mrs. Powell sent on board chutney prepared “as we prepare it in India.” Fish and game were plentiful here, and the voice of the gobbler was heard, and from Pardo, farther up the country, came an enormous cheese; [to quote Liz Lemon of 30 Rock: “I want to go to there.”]

The Spray is hauled ashore and her hull inspected. Thankfully, she is free of the ravages of the tunnelling teredo worm (Teredo navalis) but as a preventive measure she receives another coat of copper paint.

Slocum sets sail from Devonport on 16Apr1897 after one week less than three months on the island of Tasmania.


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here opens Chapter XIV 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: Waterloo Bay, St. Kilda and Launceston

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

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Joshua Slocum shelters for three days in Waterloo Bay on Wilson’s Promontory in the company of a few whaling boats. Then, in more moderate weather, he sails to Melbourne and picks up a tow at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. On Christmas Day, 1896, the Spray is anchored in the Yarra River (which he calls the Yarrow), but Slocum soon moves to St. Kilda.

He catches a shark and puts it on display, along with the 26 cubs born by Caesarean section. He charges sixpence per visitor, having set up this enterprise to cover the cost of port charges incurred here. Apart from at Pernambuco (Recife) in Brazil, where he has some history with the regime, these are the only other fees he has to pay on the whole voyage.

News comes in of unusually large amounts of Antarctic ice drifting northwards, bringing with it much stormy weather. Slocum’s plans change again. Rather than head west to battle around Cape Leeuwin he opts to spend time in Tasmania while the season’s change enough to make an easy passage through the Torres Strait; in other words, he intends to sail up the east coast of Australia inside the Great Barrier Reef, where, reaching warmer waters, he would sail round Cape York and into the Indian Ocean.

He sails from St. Kilda on 24Jan1897 and in strong and favourable winds it’s only a two-hour trip across to Tasmania. He reaches the mouth of the Tamar River and follows its meanderings up to Launceston which is about 30 miles inland. The Spray is grounded, on account of arriving at the top of an exceptionally high tide and she eventually has to be dug out:

The Spray was berthed on the beach at a small jetty at Launceston while the tide driven in by the gale that brought her up the river was unusually high; and she lay there hard and fast, with not enough water around her at any time after to wet one’s feet till she was ready to sail; then, to float her, the ground was dug from under her keel.

In this snug place I left her in the charge of three children, while I made journeys among the hills and rested my bones for the coming voyage, on the moss-covered rocks at the gorge hard by, and among the ferns I found wherever I went.


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here concludes Chapter XIII 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

To ‘sail’ the 3D model of the Spray up the Tamar to Launceston is not something I would have attempted without the use of the TourMaker tool. The model has to follow the meandering of the river and to be scaled appropriately, and this would have been very laborious to create using hand-written <gx:tour> directives.

Using TourMaker, I was able to create a series of Placemarks, positioned along the course of the river, and generate the tour automatically. Now, of course, I will need to get the Spray down the river again, but using the same Placemarks in reverse order, this should be quite straightforward.

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: Newcastle, Sydney, and Bass Strait

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

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Slocum gets a tow out of Newcastle harbour, New South Wales, on 09Oct1896 and points the bow of the Spray towards the south and Sydney. He anchors for the night in yet another snug cove; this one is near Manly, which lies to the north and east of Sydney. The New South Wales police take a very close interest in him:

Nothing escapes the vigilance of the New South Wales police; their reputation is known the world over. They made a shrewd guess that I could give them some useful information, and they were the first to meet me. Some one said they came to arrest me, and — well, let it go at that.

The following day, Slocum sails into the astounding Sydney harbour and anchors at Shelcote on the north shore. He feels that he is very much among friends, although he receives a snub from the more officious members of a prestigious yacht club who refuse to “recognise” the Spray because she does not bring letters from American yacht clubs. This is resolved by putting the Spray in a club of her own — the Johnstone’s Bay Flying Squadron.

The sojourn in Sydney stretches out to more than five weeks and it is only on 06Dec1896 that Slocum continues his voyage, planning to sail through Bass Strait, which separates Tasmania from the continental landmass of Australia, and then across the Great Australian Bight, leaving Australia behind at Cape Leeuwin. Already feeling that he is on his way home, the route in his mind is via Mauritius to Cape of Good Hope. Once in the Atlantic, he would surely feel that he was on the home stretch. Will he succeed in this? Stay tuned to this channel…

By 12Dec1896, Slocum passes Cape Bundooro and turns the corner around Cape Howe to enter Bass Strait. The wind is howling as he passes Cliff Island and the strait lives up to its reputation. Five days later Slocum is looking for shelter near Wilson’s Promontory, off the state of Victoria now, and is directed by the lighthouse keeper there to Waterloo Bay, about three miles to the north:

I bore up at once, finding good anchorage there in a sandy cove protected from all westerly and northerly winds.


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here continues Chapter XIII 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

By the way:

  1. Sydney Harbour Bridge was only an 80 year-old idea in 1896, at the time of Slocum’s visit; work on its construction did not begin until 1923 and the bridge was completed in 1932.
  2. Likewise, construction of Sydney Opera House did not start until 1958. How different the harbour must have looked to Slocum in 1896.

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: Samoa to Australia

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

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The people of Samoa show great interest in Joshua Slocum’s voyage in his yawl the Spray, and he gets to meet the great and the good and tell them his tale of seafaring adventure. Among them are Mr A. Young, father of the late Queen Margaret of Manua, and even King Malietoa himself. Strongest in his memory, though, is the time he spends with Fanny Stevenson and the Osborne family at Vailima, where Robert Louis Stevenson spent the last four years of his life:

A sense of loneliness seized upon me as the islands faded astern, and as a remedy for it I crowded on sail for lovely Australia, which was not a strange land to me; but for long days in my dreams Vailima stood before the prow.

Slocum sails from Samoa on 20Aug1896 and must immediately return to the necessities of guiding his yacht through gales and heavy seas; sails must be reefed to reduce their power and un-reefed when possible to make progress; at one point “she was under a goose’s wing mainsail”, a downwind sailing technique in which the mainsail and headsail are sheeted so they fill with wind on opposite sides of the vessel.

While the Spray bobs about like a duck, Slocum rattles off the names of much larger ships that struggle and founder in the conditions found in these seas: the Patrician and the Catherton did not survive, and the French mail-steamer making the passage from New Caledonia at the same time as Slocum has its passengers up to their knees in water in the saloon. They are so impressed by their captain’s skill they give him a purse of gold when the reach the safety of Sydney harbour. Slocum, who kept his feet dry, laments that “the captain of the Spray got nothing of this sort.


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here is the start of Chapter XIII 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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