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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

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: St. Helena to Ascension

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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:


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

Captain Cook’s First Voyage Round The World

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The following slideshow and image gallery show screenshots taken from Captain Cook’s First Voyage Round The World, a presentation of Cook’s journal containing more than 15 hours of animation and audio.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To view the presentation, point your web browser to and install the Google Earth plug-in if you don’t already have it installed.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

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If you enjoyed Cook’s voyage, you might also like Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World, a similar virtual re-enactment of a famous sea voyage by the first single-handed circumnavigator; this presentation is still under construction.


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