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Posts Tagged ‘Joshua Slocum

Joshua Slocum – Sailing Alone Around the World

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Written by netkingcol

September 16, 2013 at 8:19 pm

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

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

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Port Natal to Cape Town

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

Slocum sails from Port Natal [Durban] on 14Dec1897. The passage to Cape Town is about 800 miles. When the Spray is at her best it would take Slocum about one week to cover this distance; however, he expects the weather to be rough even though he has waited and waited for the southern summer to develop. His expectations are met:

On Christmas, 1897, I came to the pitch of the cape. On this day the Spray was trying to stand on her head, and she gave me every reason to believe that she would accomplish the feat before night. she began very early in the morning to pitch and toss about in a most unusual manner¹, and I have to record that, while I was at the end of the bowsprit reefing the jib, she ducked me under water three times for a Christmas box.

A large English steamer passing ran up the signal, “Wishing you a Merry Christmas.” I think the captain was a humorist; his own ship was throwing her propeller out of water.

Two days later the Spray is passing Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point of the African continent, 13 days from Port Natal and with 120 miles still to cover. The winds are more moderate now, but there is still one more gale to come. He shelters in Simons Bay [False Bay] until the wind slackens then he beats the Spray around the Cape of Good Hope, accurately named by early Portuguese navigators as the “Cape of Storms.”

Thirty-five nautical miles later, the Spray runs into calm water in the shelter of Table Mountain. Slocum is in reflective mood; despite sailing alone for so long he anchors in the bay, “clear of the bustle of commerce”, and takes a day to contemplate his achievement of negotiating both Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope single-handed.

The next day, he sails the Spray into dry dock where she remains for three months. Slocum does not record the date of his arrival at Cape Town; perhaps it was two or three days after passing Cape Agulhas, which would make it 29Dec or 30Dec1897.


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here opens 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

Notes

1. To simulate pitching and tossing “in a most unusual manner”, I combined animations on all three axes by specifying AnimatedPitch, AnimatedRoll, and AnimatedYaw in the TourMaker Input File for this section of the passage.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Mauritius to Port Natal

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

Fully provisioned and rested, Slocum sails from Port Louis, Mauritius on 26Oct1897. At first the winds are light and he draws away from the island slowly. By the next day he is passing the island of Réunion. The sea is too rough to consider landing, but a pilot comes out of Galets on the north-west corner of the island when Slocum hands over a Mauritius paper.

A course is set to Cape St. Mary, the southernmost point of the island of Madagascar. The trade winds are weakening now and by 30Oct1897 Slocum finds himself becalmed:

The sloop was now drawing near the limits of the trade-wind, and the strong breeze that had carried her with free sheets the many thousands of miles from Sandy Cape, Australia, fell lighter each day until October 30, when it was altogether calm, and a motionless sea held her in a hushed world. I furled the sails at evening, sat down on deck, and enjoyed the vast stillness of the night.

On the following day, a light breeze carries the Spray past Cape St. Mary. About one week later and for the rest of the voyage to Port Natal (Durban) strong gales batter the yacht and heavy thunderstorms were prevalent¹.

Here the Spray suffered as much as she did anywhere, except off Cape Horn. The thunder and lightning preceding this gale were very heavy.

It takes the Spray 18 days to cover the 800 miles between Madagascar and Durban, an average of 45 miles per day made good. This is less than half the distance per day that she is capable of. In reality, the course is not a straight line because the “succession of gales of wind…drove her about in many directions.” So, the Spray is sailing as fast as ever, but on some crazy zig-zag course dictated by the winds².

Slocum stays in Port Natal for four weeks; he meets all the members of both yacht clubs and sails on the crack yacht Florence; he meets Henry Morton Stanley, the Welsh-born naturalised American who is a renowned explorer of Africa; and he encounters a trio of men who believe that the world is flat. They visit Slocum actually expecting to find information that will support their hypothesis. He must disappoint them:

With the advice [to them] to call up some ghost of the dark ages for research, I went ashore, and left these three wise men poring over the Spray‘s track on a chart of the world, which, however, proved nothing to them, for it was on Mercator’s projection, and behold, it was “flat”.

The Spray sails from Port Natal on 14Dec1897 and is once more: “off on her alone,” as they say in Australia.


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here concludes 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

Notes

1. Thunder and lightning or rather lightning followed by thunder was a fresh challenge to my animation skills. Again, I used models created in Google SketchUp to represent the effect of lightning; I added to this a couple of thunder tracks from the WavePad sound effect library. Normally I would try to enhance TourMaker by adding a directive that would generate the thunder and lightning automatically. This time I hand-coded it. Each lightning model flashes on and off twice (by setting visibility=1 then visibility=0 ) with each period of visibility lasting about 100ms. A few seconds later the thunder-clap audio is output.

2. I realised that a better animation of a rolling yacht would result from oscillating the angle of roll about the current ‘Roll’ setting, rather than about the vertical. This would create the effect of the yacht being heeled over in the wind while  waves introduce an additional periodic rolling motion. I have amended TourMaker accordingly

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

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

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Keeling Cocos to Rodriguez Island

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

After five weeks at the Keeling Cocos islands Slocum points the Spray in the direction of Rodriguez Island. On this course the wind and the seas are abeam which makes for an uncomfortable voyage; the yawl rolls unpleasantly and Slocum is drenched when he ventures on deck; yet the Spray holds her course faithfully.

A discrepancy appears between Slocum’s assessment of his position by mental calculation and what the log is telling him. He trails a four-bladed rotator which gives him a measure of the Spray‘s speed through the water. After 15 days the log  differs from his own estimated position by 150 miles. Distrusting the instrument, and knowing his ship well, he “kept an eye lifting for land.”

He notices a stationary patch of cloud beyond the horizon while the clouds of the trade-wind float on their way. He says: “this was a sign of something”; that something, of course, being an island with the cloud forming above its mountains. Sure enough, as he sails on, the dark outline of Rodriguez Island appears ahead.

Hauling in the log, he finds that two of its impeller blades are bent out of shape, probably crushed by a shark; this explains the discrepancy and Slocum’s fine judgement is vindicated once again.

He arrives on the windward side of Rodriguez which is not very welcoming; he hauls around to the leeward side of the island where a pilot comes out to the Spray to guide her through the narrow channel between coral reefs that leads to the inner harbour of Port Mathurin, the village that is the capital of the island.

Slocum has looked forward with relish to this land of plenty and a return to relative civilisation:

For many days I had studied the charts and counted the time of my arrival at this spot, as one might his entrance to the Islands of the Blessed, looking upon it as the terminus of the last long run, made irksome by the want of many things which, from this time on, I could keep well supplied.

On the first evening ashore, in the land of napkins and cut glass, I saw before me still the ghosts of hempen towels and of mugs with handles knocked off. Instead of tossing on the sea, however, as I might have been, here was I in a bright hall, surrounded by sparkling wit, and dining with the governor of the island!

Slocum stays on Rodriguez for eight days, replenishing his supplies with, among other items, sweet potatoes and pomegranates. It’s still too soon to head for the Cape of Good Hope, so the next step of the voyage is the short hop to Mauritius…


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here concludes Chapter XVI 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: Christmas Island to Keeling Cocos

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

It’s 550 miles to the Keeling Cocos island group from Christmas Island. The atoll represents a low-lying target less than ten miles across, so Slocum is aware that careful navigation is required. With his old tin clock that has only a working hour hand this will clearly be a challenge.

Using decades of sailing experience, he reads the future in the sky and in the waves. Seeing high cloud that cuts across the trade-wind pattern, he deduces that a storm is brewing in the direction of the Cape of Good Hope and adjusts his course accordingly to allow for the different combination of wind and current that this brings.

Five days later, his intuition is rewarded when he sights the coconut trees of Keeling Cocos ahead while he is half way up the mast. The relief is so great that he slides down the mast, sits on the deck, and “gives way to his emotions.” He has achieved a remarkable feat and part of it belongs to the Spray‘s ability to hold a course :

I didn’t touch the helm, for with the current and heave of the sea the sloop found herself at the end of the run absolutely in the fairway of the channel. You couldn’t have beaten it in the navy!

Slocum stays on the islands for five weeks; remember he’s allowed himself a leisurely pace so he doesn’t arrive too soon off the Cape of Good Hope. Apart from that, why shouldn’t he linger here? After all: “If there is a paradise on this earth it is Keeling.”

The Spray is hauled ashore for some routine maintenance; then his attempt to haul her afloat fails, and the children of the island are delighted to think that a kpeting (a crab) is holding her down by the keel.

Later, Slocum decides it would be a good idea to ditch a few tons of cement ballast and in its place to carry away some of the giant clams called Tridacna. What isn’t such a good idea is to set off across the bay with one of the locals in:

…a rickety bateau that was fitted with a rotten sail, and this blew away in mid-channel in a squall, that sent us drifting helplessly to sea, where we should have been incontinently lost. With the whole ocean before us to leeward, I was dismayed to see, while we drifted, that there was not a paddle or an oar in the boat! There was an anchor, to be sure, but not enough rope to tie a cat, and we were already in deep water. By great good fortune, however, there was a pole. Plying this as a paddle, with the utmost energy, and by the merest accidental flaw in the wind to favour us, the trap of a boat was worked into shoal water, where we could touch bottom and push her ashore.

After this escape, he presses on with his Tridacna plan but uses a safer boat to gather them.


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here opens Chapter XVI 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: Thursday Island to Christmas Island

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

A few days after the celebrations on Thursday Island to mark Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, Slocum sets sail. He heads westward, out into the Arafura Sea, passing Booby Island on the way. He has seen the island before, about 30 years back, but then he was in a fever (possibly contracted in Batavia for his ship, the Soushay, was Sydney-bound from that port), and it was only through an act of will that he dragged himself on deck to see it.

While the sea is relatively shallow he sees many sea snakes writhing and tumbling in the waves and, because the waning Moon leaves the nights dark, he is treated to a fiery display of phosphorescence¹:

It was my good fortune to enter the [Arafura] sea on the last quarter of the moon, the advantage being that in the dark nights I witnessed the phosphorescent light effect at night in its greatest splendour. The sea, where the sloop disturbed it, seemed all ablaze, so that by its light I could see the smallest articles on deck, and her wake was a path of fire.

The weather is serene and the trade winds favourable. Slocum takes this northerly route in order to enjoy these conditions; he has no desire to go around the Cape of Good Hope before the middle of the southern summer and he finds that this plan gives him the time to loiter among the islands along the way.

Even so, as an inveterate sailing ship master he wants to get the best speed out of his vessel. For whatever reason he is dissatisfied with the Spray‘s pace and to remedy this he sets his flying-jib as a spinnaker², using as a pole “the stoutest bamboo that Mrs. Stevenson had given me at Samoa.”

As in the Pacific, the Spray holds her course with remarkable accuracy and for days on end he finds the latitude at noon to be 10° 25’S.

By 02Jul1897 Slocum sees the island of Timor to the north; the next day he passes close by Dana Island off the western end of Timor and smells the fragrances wafted offshore by a breeze. He has crossed the Timor Sea and he enters the Indian Ocean heading for Christmas Island about 1,000 miles distant, arriving eight days later on 11Jul1897.


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here concludes Chapter XV 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. Using  TourMaker I simulated the phosphorescence that Slocum saw by stretching out a white strip to keep pace with the Spray.

2. I needed to create another model to show the flying-jib set as a spinnaker. While I was about it I swung out the mainsail boom to give a goose-wing effect.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Cooktown to Thursday Island

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Slocum sails from Cooktown on 06Jun1897 and by the evening of the 7th the Spray is at anchor near the Claremont Islands. Apart from in harbour at Port Denison and Cooktown, this is the only time Slocum anchors in the Barrier Reef Channel. By the next evening he wishes it isn’t. The Spray is sailing into the night at full speed ahead and passes the light-ship at the southern end of ‘m’ reef.¹ He expects there to be a beacon light at the north point; if there is one he doesn’t see it and the Spray strikes the reef. The next swell carrier her safely over but not before Slocum sees the ugly sharp coral rocks and realises just how lucky he is.

Keeping further out to sea now, heeding the advice to keep clear of the residents of Cape Grenville,  Slocum passes outside all of the islands including Home Island off the tip of the cape itself. He squares away westward in the direction of Sunday Island and shortens sail as he passes it; he doesn’t want to reach Bird Island before daylight — that island group is low-lying and surrounded by navigational hazards. On the morning of the 9th Bird Island is only 2.5 miles ahead, so he was lucky again that the current carrying him along was not stronger.

He spends the rest of the day sailing from Bird Island to Cape York, navigating Albany Pass, between mainland Australia and York Island, “as the sun drew low in the west over the hills of Australia.”

He anchors in a cove near the Tawara, an American built and skippered pear-fisher. Next day, he spends a pleasant few hours with the crew of Tawara and with the Jardine family from nearby Somerset. It turns out that Mrs. Jardine is cousin to Faamu-Sami, princess of Samoa and daughter of King Malietoa, who had visited the Spray at Apia.

From this cove, Slocum makes the short trip into the Torres Strait across to Thursday Island. He finds that celebrations are planned for Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee on 22Jun1897, and doesn’t need much persuading to extend his visit here.


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here continues Chapter XV 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. On the evening of 08Jun1897, the Spray struck a reef and luckily there was enough water for the next swell to carry her over it. Slocum identifies this as ‘M Reef’; however, a search of the web delivers no information about the location of this hazard. I didn’t want to use a random reef in the animation so I had to dig further until I found an online version of a chart compiled from mid-19th century surveys by the Great Britain Hydrographic Department. The chart is made available by the National Library of Australia.

British Hydrographic Department chart showing the reefs of the Barrier Reef Channel

By close examination of the chart, I was able to find the identification letters of the significant reefs that skirt the Barrier Reef Channel. I couldn’t find all of them but at least it was clear which is ‘m’ reef.

To help anybody else who is looking for reefs in the Barrier Reef Channel using their identification letter, I have plotted them in Google Earth and kept their labels visible throughout the animation.

2. This chapter of Slocum’s book is one in which a lot of ground is covered with relatively few words. I like the animation of the model Spray to coincide with the narrative so, at times, it is necessary to move the model to a new location without accompanying voice-over. This can seem like an awkward silence and to overcome it I use two techniques:

  • The background sound effect of water lapping against the hull; if nothing else this helps to distract sufferers of tinnitus from their condition, and it does seem to work.
  • Using the ‘Show’ directive of TourMaker, I pop up labels that identify significant landmarks like capes, islands, and bays.

3. I am using an unabridged version of Sailing Alone Around the World. There are a few places where I have chosen not to speak the words that Slocum wrote as they are offensive to the modern ear. This chapter includes one such passage in which he describes the appearance of the men and women who travelled over to Thursday Island for the jubilee celebrations.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Whitsunday Passage to Cooktown

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Captain Cook, taking Endeavour through Whitsunday Passage (named by him because 03Jun1770 was Whit Sunday), sailed through the night and arrived the following morning at: “a lofty promontory that I named Cape Gloucester”.

Joshua Slocum, a few days short of 127 years later, passes here on 26May1897. His charts show more accurately than Cook’s survey that the promontory is actually detached from the mainland and is now called Gloucester Island. The Spray hauls into the bay to the west of the island and anchors at Port Denison, close to the small town of Bowen.

Bowen at that time has a population of around 1,000; large enough to support a keen audience for Slocum’s story.

By 31May1897, the Spray, has carried Slocum safely through 350 miles of the Great Barrier Reef. Without anchoring anywhere, Slocum sails past many of the other capes, bays, and islands named by Cook:

  • Cape Upstart
  • Cape Cleveland
  • Cleveland Bay
  • Cape Richards
  • Rockingham Bay
  • Cape Grafton
  • Fitzroy Island
  • Cape Tribulation (“for here all my troubles began”)

Cook also named the Endeavour River, for it was here that H.M.Bark Endeavour was beached for repairs after she had struck a reef just north of Cape Tribulation (the reef was named unsurprisingly Endeavour Reef).

Cooktown was certainly in existence before the gold rush of the 1870s, when the settlement grew rapidly as a supply port, because Slocum reports visiting on the steamship Soushay in 1866; he didn’t see much of it at that time because he was ill with a fever.

The “lecture tour” continues when a meeting is arranged in the Presbyterian church and Slocum delivers his “story of the sea.”


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here opens Chapter XV 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: South Solitary Island to Whitsunday Passage

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After exchanging signals at South Solitary Island, Slocum continues north and on 19May1897 sails past Point Danger, named by Captain Cook after his encounter with shoals and strong currents there.

On the 20th, the Spray rounds Sandy Cape, a significant point that marks the beginning of the Great Barrier Reef. The light on Sandy Cape is visible for 27 miles and his next way point is the Lady Elliot Island light. This is important to find because Slocum is heading into a dangerous region shoals and reefs and all the charts in the world are of little use if you don’t know where you are. Lady Elliot Island is about 45 miles from Sandy Cape but it seems to take an endless time to cover that distance. Slocum concludes he is pushing against a strong current.

The Spray had sailed for hours in suspense, evidently stemming a current. Almost mad with doubt, I grasped the helm to throw her head off shore, when blazing out of the sea was the light ahead. “Excalibur” cried “all hands,” and rejoiced, and sailed on.

So he finds the light on Lady Elliot Island¹ and passes into the serene, but still risky, waters inside the Great Barrier Reef and is protected from the worst of the Pacific Ocean’s waves. Progress is good and the Spray averages 4.6knots over the next four days:

On the 24th of May, the sloop, having made one hundred and ten miles a day from Danger Point, now entered Whitsunday Pass, and that night sailed through among the islands. When the sun rose next morning I looked back and regretted having gone by while it was dark, for the scenery far astern was varied and charming.


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here concludes Chapter XIV 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. The  technical challenge in this part of the presentation was to simulate the light from the Lady Elliot Island lighthouse. I wanted to create a beam of white light that rotates about the location of the lighthouse; furthermore, I wanted it to have the same characteristic as the current light, which is described on charts as: Fl.W. 7.5s. This code means that the light is white and flashes every 7.5 seconds.

To achieve this I needed two things:

  • A model to animate.
  • A TourMaker directive to generate the animation.

I created the beam of light by drawing a cone in Google Sketchup and colouring it white. The cone was about a mile long, oriented along the green axis, which is north when the model is exported to Google Earth, and its apex was placed about 100 feet above the origin.

In the KML file for this leg of Slocum’s journey, I added the model as a Placemark, positioning it at the latitude and longitude of the Lady Elliot Island lighthouse (at the south end of the island). I set the visibility of the Placemark initially to zero (invisible), because I wanted to ‘turn on’ the light at the instant in the narrative that Slocum sees it.

To simulate a rotating beam I would need to animate the model by changing its orientation. By placing the origin of the model at the position of the lighthouse, a change in its orientation would have the desired effect of a light sweeping round.

I measured the angle subtended by the model and found that the edges of the cone were 15° apart. To achieve a smooth rotation, I would want each new orientation of the model to be no more than 15° away from the last one. I also knew that the beam should sweep through 360° in 7.5 seconds, in other words its angular velocity should be 360/7.5 degrees per second, which  comes out at 48° per second.

I used this information to determine how many orientation changes per second would be required to generate a smooth animation at the required rotation rate. Quite simply, if each animation step rotates the model by 15° and we need to rotate the model at 48° per second, then we need 48/15 animation steps per second (3.2), so the duration of each animation step should be 1/3.2 seconds (0.312s).

All of this is easy to code, taking only a few hours of development and testing. To control this behaviour, I added a ‘Rotate’ directive to TourMaker, and its parameters identify which model to animate, the duration of the animation, the angular velocity required, and the delay until the animation should start. This last parameter allowed me to switch on the beam as the narration reads:

Almost mad with doubt, I grasped the helm to throw her head off shore, when blazing out of the sea was the light ahead

The animation starts at the word ‘blazing’; the Placemark is made visible, the light sweeps around for 30 seconds and the Placemark is then made invisible.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Devonport to South Solitary Island

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By 18Apr1897, Joshua Slocum judges that the southern summer is over and it is time to head north away from the winter which is “rolling up from the south”. He sails from Devonport in bracing winds that carry him quickly around Cape Howe at the south-east corner of mainland Australia. He exchanges signals again with the residents of Cape Bundooro and then has a fine sail with clear skies to Port Jackson, Sydney, where he anchors in Watson’s Bay, close to the entrance to Sydney Harbour. He is impressed by the number of boats of all shapes and sizes working and having fun in the harbour:

The harbor from the heads to Parramatta, up the river, was more than ever alive with boats and yachts of every class. It was, indeed, a scene of animation hardly equalled in any other part of the world.

A few days later the weather is much rougher and a steamship, struggling into harbour from the heads, while Slocum is ashore, collides with the Spray and rips away her anchor and chain. The captain of the steamship takes the Spray in tow to pull her out of further danger and she is returned later by some of his crew¹:

But what yawing about she made of it when she came with a stranger at the helm! Her old friend the pilot of the Pinta would not have been guilty of such lubberly work. But to my great delight they got her into a berth…

Slocum sails from Sydney on 09May1897 in fair weather and with strong winds from the south-west. He falls into an easy routine, reading day and night, and occasionally trimming the sails. He remembers the struggle, several months earlier, when he had to fight southwards past these headlands, to Newcastle; he compares his life now with that of the old circumnavigators. He feels that he’s having rather an easy time of it².

Ten miles short of Port Macquarie, Slocum comes upon a yacht in distress. She is manned by the three most incompetent crew he has ever encountered; their appreciation of the perilous situation they are in is scant and their ineptitude has resulted in the loss of their sounding lead and their dinghy. They refuse his offers of help; he wants to tow them to Port Macquarie but they are not interested. He reads later, in a Cooktown newspaper, that the yacht was lost off Crescent Head but the crew was saved.

Pressing on, Slocum comes up to South Solitary Island, a “dreary stone heap in the ocean just off the coast of New South Wales”, and exchanges signals with the people on it. By way of identification, he raises the Stars and Stripes and assumes that the people ashore know all about his voyage for their next message is simply: “Wishing you a pleasant voyage”, and Slocum writes: “…which at that moment I was having.”


The section of Joshua Slocum’s journey reported here continues Chapter XIV 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. To get the Spray to yaw as she was sailed back to Watson’s Bay by her lubberly crew, I needed to implement an ‘AnimatedYaw’ directive in TourMaker. This function oscillates the heading of the model, by the number of degrees in the ‘angle’ parameter, to either side of the calculated bearing between the two Placemarks that define the model’s movement over the ground.
  2. Slocum had on board “a full set of admiralty sheet-charts of the coast and Barrier Reef”. It’s worth taking a look at the journal of the man who first surveyed the eastern coastline of Australia and created the first version of the charts that enabled Slocum to have a relatively carefree voyage in these waters: Captain Cook’s Journal During the First Voyage Round the World.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Launceston to Devonport

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Joshua Slocum “rusticates in the forests and among the streams” around Launceston for about a week and he grows to love the country. He’s waiting for the time of year when the winds around the north of Australia will be fair for a passage westwards. On 01Feb1897, he digs out the ground from under the Spray‘s keel to get her afloat, and sets sail from Launceston to explore other parts of Tasmania.

Still in the Tamar valley, he anchors at Beauty Point where he visits a gold mine and also meets Lord Hampden, governor of New South Wales, who is on a sight-seeing trip with his family.

A short hop downstream takes the Spray to Georgetown where Slocum gives his first public meeting to describe his voyage to a keenly interested audience.

Next, he sails west along the Tasmanian north shore to Devonport. Here he finds the people so friendly and generous that before leaving he declares:

…it was not without regret that I looked forward to the day of sailing from a country of so many pleasant associations. If there was a moment in my voyage when I could have given it up, it was there and then;

The ladies of the town ply him with provisions:

…dear Mrs. Aikenhead, mistress of Malunnah (the magistrate’s house on the point), supplied the Spray with jams and jellies of all sorts, by the case, prepared from the fruits of her own rich garden — enough to last all the way home and to spare. Mrs. Wood, farther up the harbour, put up bottles of raspberry wine for me. At this point, more than ever before, I was in the land of good cheer. Mrs. Powell sent on board chutney prepared “as we prepare it in India.” Fish and game were plentiful here, and the voice of the gobbler was heard, and from Pardo, farther up the country, came an enormous cheese; [to quote Liz Lemon of 30 Rock: “I want to go to there.”]

The Spray is hauled ashore and her hull inspected. Thankfully, she is free of the ravages of the tunnelling teredo worm (Teredo navalis) but as a preventive measure she receives another coat of copper paint.

Slocum sets sail from Devonport on 16Apr1897 after one week less than three months on the island of Tasmania.


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

You might also enjoy Cook’s first voyage round the world at: http://www.hazelhurst.net/Cook

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Waterloo Bay, St. Kilda and Launceston

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Joshua Slocum shelters for three days in Waterloo Bay on Wilson’s Promontory in the company of a few whaling boats. Then, in more moderate weather, he sails to Melbourne and picks up a tow at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. On Christmas Day, 1896, the Spray is anchored in the Yarra River (which he calls the Yarrow), but Slocum soon moves to St. Kilda.

He catches a shark and puts it on display, along with the 26 cubs born by Caesarean section. He charges sixpence per visitor, having set up this enterprise to cover the cost of port charges incurred here. Apart from at Pernambuco (Recife) in Brazil, where he has some history with the regime, these are the only other fees he has to pay on the whole voyage.

News comes in of unusually large amounts of Antarctic ice drifting northwards, bringing with it much stormy weather. Slocum’s plans change again. Rather than head west to battle around Cape Leeuwin he opts to spend time in Tasmania while the season’s change enough to make an easy passage through the Torres Strait; in other words, he intends to sail up the east coast of Australia inside the Great Barrier Reef, where, reaching warmer waters, he would sail round Cape York and into the Indian Ocean.

He sails from St. Kilda on 24Jan1897 and in strong and favourable winds it’s only a two-hour trip across to Tasmania. He reaches the mouth of the Tamar River and follows its meanderings up to Launceston which is about 30 miles inland. The Spray is grounded, on account of arriving at the top of an exceptionally high tide and she eventually has to be dug out:

The Spray was berthed on the beach at a small jetty at Launceston while the tide driven in by the gale that brought her up the river was unusually high; and she lay there hard and fast, with not enough water around her at any time after to wet one’s feet till she was ready to sail; then, to float her, the ground was dug from under her keel.

In this snug place I left her in the charge of three children, while I made journeys among the hills and rested my bones for the coming voyage, on the moss-covered rocks at the gorge hard by, and among the ferns I found wherever I went.


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

To ‘sail’ the 3D model of the Spray up the Tamar to Launceston is not something I would have attempted without the use of the TourMaker tool. The model has to follow the meandering of the river and to be scaled appropriately, and this would have been very laborious to create using hand-written <gx:tour> directives.

Using TourMaker, I was able to create a series of Placemarks, positioned along the course of the river, and generate the tour automatically. Now, of course, I will need to get the Spray down the river again, but using the same Placemarks in reverse order, this should be quite straightforward.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

You might also enjoy Cook’s first voyage round the world at: http://www.hazelhurst.net/Cook

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