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thinking outside the tank

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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