thinking outside the tank

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Newcastle, Sydney, and Bass Strait

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

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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:

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:


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