thinking outside the tank

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: At Samoa

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

Joshua Slocum stays on Samoa for five weeks. After a long period of solitude he revels in Samoan society. He is serenaded by young Samoan women, and by sailors from the United States consulate; he meets Fanny van de Grift Stevenson, recent widow of the “writer of tales” Robert Louis Stevenson and finds, in her, a kindred spirit. Even she sings to him: “They went to sea in a pea-green boat”, as they cross the bay in Slocum’s freshly painted half-dory to visit the Spray.

Slocum visits Vailima, the place where the Stevensons had settled, and deferentially declines to write his mail at the desk used by Stevenson:

I thought it would be presumptuous to do that; it was sufficient for me to enter the hall on the floor of which the “Writer of Tales”, according to the Samoan custom, was wont to sit.

Vailima, the final home of Robert Louis Stevenson

He also exchanges visits with the chief of the village of Caini. The chief offers him all the abundance of the island: “fruits, fowl, fishes, and flesh, a hog having been roasted whole.” Slocum can only offer in return boiled salt pork and salt beef.

He adjusts gradually to the manners and customs of the islanders, and learns to interpret their behaviour and “not to mistake for over-familiarity that which is intended as an honor to a guest.”

The Spray at anchor at Apia, Samoa

There is more singing when the young ladies of Papauta College visit the Spray and render “The watch on the Rhine”, after which they are all for weighing anchor and sailing away. With such company and hospitality, it must have been difficult to put to sea once more.

The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey concludes Chapter XII of Sailing Alone Around the World, and this post is a trailer for the adventure that I am retelling in Google Earth at:

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

You might also enjoy Cook’s first voyage round the world at:


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