thinking outside the tank

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Ascension to Fernando de Noronha

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

Slocum stays on Ascension for three nights¹. He hands over the mail placed in his care at St. Helena and takes lunch with Captain Blaxland, the commander of the island.

On the following day (28Apr1898) he walks to the summit of the island — a peak known as Green Mountain — where a soil profile has developed to the extent that some crops can be grown and rugged pastures support cattle and sheep. A Canadian farmer, Mr. Schank, and his sister are in charge and they give Slocum a tour of the holding.

Rollers crash against the coast making it impossible to take a boat out to the Spray, which is anchored safely in deeper water. Slocum stays in the garrison sharing stories with the officers of the “Stone Frigate R.N.”, the nickname of Ascension Island.

He boards the Spray on the evening of the 29th. Before departure the following day, the sloop is fumigated below decks in an attempt to demonstrate that Slocum is sailing alone. The idea is that nobody could remain concealed below and would have to reveal themselves. With a certificate to affirm that he is the only person on board, Slocum sets sail.

Heading for home, the Spray is on a course that crosses her outbound track of 02Oct1895. On 08May1898 she passes to the south of Fernando de Noronha, an island off the coast of Brazil.

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


1. Either Slocum was a little confused about his dates or the proof-reader of the edition I use didn’t catch this error. The text states first of all: “On the 27th of April the Spray arrived at Ascension…”; the lunch with Captain Blaxland is reported, and the visit to Schank’s farm on Green Mountain is described as taking place “on the following day”; then the text reads: “On the 26th of April, while I was ashore…”  I suspect that this should read: “On the 28th of April,…”  This might seem pedantic, but I need this level of accuracy to make sense of the voyage.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012


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