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Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Newport to Fairhaven

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

Slocum and the Spray have returned to the United States after a voyage of 46,000 miles. However, Slocum feels that the spiritual home of the Spray is at Fairhaven, her place  of birth. Accordingly, less than a week after completing the circumnavigation, he sails his ship to her home port:

The Spray was not quite satisfied till I sailed her around to her birthplace, Fairhaven, Massachusetts, farther along. I had myself a desire to return to the place of the very beginning whence I had, as I have said, renewed my age. So on July 3, with a fair wind, she waltzed beautifully round the coast and up the Acushnet River to Fairhaven, where I secured her to the cedar spile driven in the bank to hold her when she was launched. I could bring her no nearer home.

...where I secured her to the cedar spile driven in the bank to hold her when she was launched. I could bring her no nearer home.

…where I secured her to the cedar spile driven in the bank to hold her when she was launched. I could bring her no nearer home.

There is no other way to mark the end of this journey than in Slocum’s own words:

And now, without having wearied my friends, I hope, with detailed scientific accounts, theories, or deductions, I will only say that I have endeavoured to tell just the story of the adventure itself. This, in my own poor way, having been done, I now moor ship, weather-bitt cables, and leave the sloop Spray, for the present, safe in port.


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here concludes Chapter XXI of Sailing Alone Around the World and brings Slocum’s adventure to a close.

You can follow the entire voyage in Google Earth at:  http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum where three years, two months, and two days of adventure are compressed into five hours and thirty-three minutes of animation and narration.

Effectively, I have created an audio-book from Slocum’s text and added Google Earth illustration. There should be a name such a work.

  • Geobook?
  • kpub (it’s a KML publication)?
  • suggestions are welcomed

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

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Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Antigua to Newport

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

Slocum sails from Antigua on 05Jun1898. He shapes a course for Cape Hatteras in about 35°N with the intention of coasting along past Chesapeake and Delaware Bays up to New York; a grand finale to the voyage.

The sun passes directly overhead on 08Jun1898 when he is in the latitude of 22° 54’N.

Many think it excessively hot right under the sun. It is not necessarily so. As a matter of fact the thermometer stands at a bearable point whenever there is a breeze and a ripple on the sea, even exactly under the sun. It is often hotter in cities and on sandy shores in higher latitudes.

Several degrees further north Slocum finds the Spray becalmed in the region of the North Atlantic known as the Sargasso Sea. The Sargassum seaweed bunches together into a vast mat around the sloop. For day after day, he can only sit and read and wait for the wind. The smooth and monotonous sea lasts for eight days when a strong south-westerly gale springs up and carries the Spray into the Gulf Stream.

Parts of the sloop’s rigging begin to fail including the peak halyard-block used for controlling the gaff mainsail. More seriously, on 20Jun1898 the jib-stay breaks away at the masthead. This stay is used to carry the jib, but its main function is to hold the mainmast in place. The stay, with the sail attached, falls into the sea but Slocum is able to retrieve it; without the stay the mast sways about ‘like a reed’, but he must climb to the masthead to rig a gun-tackle purchase¹ to secure the mast. He is able to rig a reefed jib to this improvised stay which once again “was soon pulling like a sodger.”

Slocum is now growing weary of the relentless thumping of the waves and the squalls throwing the Spray about. On 23Jun1898 he is pelted by hailstones and subjected to continuous lightning flashes, but there is worse to come; what he calls the climax storm of the voyage:

By slants, however, day and night I worked the sloop in towards the coast, where, on the 25th of June, off Fire Island, she fell into the tornado which, an hour earlier, had swept over New York city with lightning that wrecked buildings and sent trees flying about in splinters; even ships at docks had parted their moorings and smashed into other ships, doing great damage. It was the climax storm of the voyage, but I saw the unmistakable character of it in time to have all snug aboard and receive it under bare poles. Even so, the sloop shivered when it struck her, and she heeled over unwillingly on her beam ends; but rounding to, with a sea-anchor ahead, she righted and faced out the storm.

After the storm, Slocum finds he is closer inshore and, sighting the land, discovers he is some miles to the east of Fire Island. The plan changes; Newport, Rhode Island, is the new destination; he heads eastwards along the coast of Long Island, rounding Montauk Point in the early afternoon. By nightfall, Point Judith is abeam and soon the Beavertail promontory is passed.

The only obstacle now remaining is that the entrance to Newport harbour is mined, owing to the war with Spain. Slocum steers close inshore, hugging the rocks, reasoning that it would be better to have an argument with a rock than with a mine.

Flitting by a low point abreast of the guard-ship, the dear old Dexter, which I knew well, some one on board of her sang out, “There goes a craft!” I threw up a light at once heard the hail, “Spray, ahoy!” It was the voice of a friend, and I knew that a friend would not fire on the Spray. I eased off the main-sheet now, and the Spray swung off for the beacon-lights of the inner harbour. At last she reached port in safety and there, at 1.a.m. on June 27, 1898, cast anchor, after the cruise of more than forty-six thousand miles round the world, during an absence of three years and two months, with two days over for coming up.


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

Notes

1. A gun-tackle purchase is a simple system of two pulley wheels and a rope.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Grenada to Antigua

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

After a pleasant five-day sojourn, Slocum sails from Grenada on 28May1898, and edges along in the lee of the Antilles.

He still has no chart of the Caribbean, a goat having eaten the only one on board, and decides to call in at Dominica to see if they can spare one. A big advantage of a nautical chart is that it shows the anchoring grounds in and around harbours; Slocum finds that he has anchored the Spray in the zone reserved for quarantined vessels. The officious deputy harbour-master, wanting to exert and demonstrate his power, insists that Slocum moves the Spray to the commercial anchorage. Slocum explains that all he wants is a chart and he’ll be on his way, but the official says he can’t have anything until he moves¹.

After some debate, Slocum slips anchor and heads north for Antigua, arriving at St. John on 01Jun1898.


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here concludes Chapter XX 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

Notes

1. Once again, Slocum uses language that I have chosen not to repeat. He reports the conversation with the officials on Dominica in the local patois and in a form that would be offensive for me to mimic.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: St. Roque to Grenada

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

Slocum is very sensitive to changes in the feel of the Spray; new sounds, new rhythms, all convey important information to him. On 10May1898, he hears and feels the extra ripples, remembered from earlier voyages, created by the Guiana Current which sweeps around Cape St. Roque and runs at 2 miles per hour along the northern coast of South America all the way to Trinidad. For several days in succession he makes one hundred and eighty miles per day.

War with Spain has broken out. Cuba and the surrounding Caribbean is one of the principal theatres. There were some in Cape Town who warned him:

“The Spaniard will get you! The Spaniard will get you!” To all this I could only say that, even so, he would not get much.

Near the mouth of the Amazon the Spray is overhauled by the warship Oregon. She shows the flags “C B T” which mean: “Are there any men-of-war about?” to which Slocum replies: “No,” and adds for our benefit: “I had not been looking for any.”

The Spray passes Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana, and on the grey morning of 17May1898 he sees the dreary Devil’s Island on the lee bow.

On 18May1898 Slocum sees Polaris, the north star, for the first time in three years as the Spray reaches latitude 7° 13’N.

The island of Tobago bears west by north, distance twenty-two miles on the evening of 20May1898. It’s many years since Slocum has been this way and unknown to him, because his chart of the West Indies was eaten by the goat he had on board from St. Helena to Ascension, there is a new lighthouse at Galera Point on Trinidad. As he sails along the north coast of Tobago he thinks he sees waves breaking on a reef. He throws the sloop offshore but continues to see the white tops of the waves wherever he goes. It seems that no matter which way he steers the reef is all about him. Finally, as the Spray is lifted slightly higher on a wave, the realisation dawns that he is seeing the light from Trinidad playing rhythmically on the waves.

Taking no risks, he tacks back and forth for the rest of the night and then heads out for Grenada, seventy miles to the north-west. He anchors in St. George roads at midnight on 22May1898 and sails into the inner harbour the following morning. The voyage from Cape Town to Grenada has taken forty-two days.


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

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Ascension to Fernando de Noronha

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

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:  http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum

Notes

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

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: St. Helena to Ascension

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

After a passage of 1700 miles in 16 days, Slocum arrives at the island of St. Helena on 11Apr1898. He anchors the Spray off Jamestown and goes ashore to pay his respects to the governor, Sir R.A. Sterndale. Once more he is treated well by the dignitaries; in return for two presentations about his voyage he is invited to stay overnight at Plantation House, the governor’s residence up in the hills behind Jamestown; but it’s a double-edged sword — the ‘west room’ where he stays is supposedly haunted and he doesn’t get much sleep:

…the butler, by command of his Excellency, put me up in [the west room]. Indeed, to make sure that no mistake had been made, his Excellency came later to see that I was in the right room, and to tell me all about the ghosts he had seen or heard of. He had discovered all but one, and wishing me pleasant dreams, he hoped I might have the honor of a visit from the unknown one of the west room. For the rest of the chilly night I kept the candle burning, and often looked from under the blankets, thinking that maybe I should meet the great Napoleon face to face; abut I saw only furniture, and the horseshoe that was nailed over the door opposite my bed.

The governor takes Slocum on a tour of the island; on the way back to Jamestown with a fellow American, he visits Longwood, the house in which Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled for the last six years of his life. He died there on 05May1821.

After a lunch at the castle and on receipt of gifts: a large fruit cake from Lady Sterndale, the governor’s wife, and a bag of coffee in the husk from the governor, Slocum sails from St. Helena on 20Apr1898. His companion on the voyage to Ascension is a goat, donated by Clark, an American acquaintance, who claims it would be as friendly as a dog and would bring the benefit of butting the coffee beans out of their pods. Unfortunately, the goat has an appetite for anything and everything edible from grass ropes to Slocum’s straw hat, and his paper chart of the West Indies. Needless to say, the goat is put ashore on arrival at Ascension on 27Apr1898.


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here introduces 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:  http://www.hazelhurst.net/Slocum

Notes

1. At the time of writing the island of St. Helena does not display as well as it could when using the Google Earth plug-in, regardless of the browser used; the imagery is very low resolution and the terrain detail is absent. Both of these features are displayed correctly in Google Earth itself. Until this problem is resolved, I have provided a button in the contents against this part of the voyage that allows you to download the kml file to Google Earth. If you also have a problem with that option, you can download it at this url: Chapter XIX part 1

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Cape Town to St. Helena

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

With the Spray in Alfred dry-dock and a free railway pass in his pocket, Slocum heads inland, making a journey to Kimberley, Johannesburg, and Pretoria. He meets President Krüger, a confirmed believer in the flat-earth hypothesis. Judge Beyers introduces Slocum to Krüger, but makes the mistake of saying he is sailing “round the world”.

“Impossible,” says Krüger angrily; you mean “in the world.”

Slocum checks on the Spray and finds all is well; then he visits Dr. Gill, astronomer royal, at the Cape Observatory. Gill organises a lecture about the voyage which is so well attended that Slocum earns enough money to cover his expenses both during his extended stay in South Africa and the voyage home. In fact Slocum spends three months in South Africa; this is longer than the fastest non-stop solo sailors of today take for the entire voyage.

It’s 26Mar1898 before Slocum is towed out to the offing by the tug Tigre where the spray wallows in a heaving sea without wind for more than a day. It’s a good view:

The light morning breeze, which scantily filled her sails when the tug let go the tow-line, soon died away altogether, and left her riding over a heavy swell, in full view of Table Mountain and the high peaks of the Cape of good Hope. For a while the grand scenery served to relieve the monotony. One of the old circumnavigators (Sir Francis Drake I think), when her first saw this magnificent pile, sang, “‘t is the fairest thing and the grandest cape I’ve seen in the whole circumference of the earth.”

On the second day, the swell shortens; Slocum interprets this, correctly, as meaning that a wind is on the way. He gets under sail and rapidly pulls away from the cape. Once more the pilot of the Pinta is at the helm and Slocum is able to spend long days avidly reading the books he picked up at Cape Town.

Fifteen days later, on 11Apr1898, Slocum is called on deck by the quack of a booby:

Very early that morning I was awakened by that rare bird, the booby, with its harsh quack, which I recognised at once as a call to go on deck; it was as much as to say, “Skipper, there’s land in sight.” I  tumbled out quickly and, sure enough, away ahead in the dim twilight, about twenty miles off, was St. Helena.


The sections of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here conclude Chapter XVIII 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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