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thinking outside the tank

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Rodriguez to Mauritius

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

Slocum sails from Rodriguez on 16Sep1897 and the Spray covers the 330 nautical miles to Mauritius in a little over three days. Again there is disbelief followed by surprise when it is learnt that he is sailing alone. The port doctor considers he must be well to have sailed so far alone and gives him free pratique – the licence that grants access to a port which certifies that the ship is free of contagious diseases.

Once more there is a keen interest in his voyage; he gives a lecture at the opera house [Port Louis Theatre?] and he meets the local dignitaries including the mayor, the governor, and the American consul.

He stays on the island for a little over 5 weeks — from 19Sep to 26Oct:

At Mauritius, where I drew a long breath, the Spray rested her wings, it being the season of fine weather…It was still winter off stormy Cape of Good Hope, but the storms might whistle there. I determined to see it out in milder Mauritius, visiting Rose Hill, Curipepe [Curepipe], and other places on the island.

He visits the governor’s residence at Reduit and, at the flower conservatory near Moka, a botanist names a newly discovered plant Slocum.

A group of seven young ladies persuade Slocum to take them for a sail “tomorrow”. The problem, he soon remembers, is that he has already agreed to dine with the harbour-master, Captain Wilson on the same day. He hatches a plan to take the women to sea but to make the voyage as rough and uncomfortable as possible so they will want to turn back, allowing him to make his dinner appointment.

The plan backfires:

We sailed almost out of sight of Mauritius, and they just stood up and laughed at seas tumbling aboard, while I was at the helm making the worst weather of it I could…The more the Spray tried to make these young ladies sea-sick, the more they clapped their hands and said: “How lovely it is!” and “How beautifully she skims over the sea!” and “How beautiful our island appears from the distance!” and they still cried “Go on!”

He has to sail over 15 miles out to sea before they are ready to return. The yacht soon reaches the island but Slocum makes the mistake of sailing close inshore towards Port Louis:

…for as we came abreast of Tombo [Tombeau] Bay it enchanted my crew. “Oh, let’s anchor here!” they cried.

Slocum doesn’t get the Spray back to Port Louis until the following day for the young ladies insist on going for a swim in the surf and then sleeping on board overnight. They sleep on deck under a tent of sail.

Next day, Captain Wilson himself appears in the launch to tow them all back to Port Louis.


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