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Posts Tagged ‘Rio de Janeiro

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Cape Virgins to Punta Arenas

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

The Spray rounds Cape Virgins and enters the Strait of Magellan on 11Feb1896. A gale is whipping up spume, the sea is rough, and the tide runs strongly, but the yacht is sturdy and pushes through to calmer water.

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Slocum seems to have a sixth sense or at least a very keen awareness of his surroundings. Probably it was his three decades of sea-going experience that gave him the ability to anticipate danger; the shout of “Spray ahoy!” is his way of recognising that something subliminal has surfaced to his consciousness. Certainly at sea, one senses the movement of the boat, one hears the changing winds, and one can read the future in the appearance of the horizon.

Having rounded Cape Virgins, Slocum suffers 30 hours of gale-force winds and, of the first half-hour, he writes: “it was something to be remembered by way of a gale”; a classic piece of understatement from Slocum’s pen.

The Spray regularly douses her sails in the waves during the gale, but eventually the strength of the wind lessens to a ‘smart breeze’ and Slocum sails Spray into Punta Arenas (Sandy Point) on 14Feb1896.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

If you like the presentation of Slocum’s voyage at:, then you may also enjoy Cook’s first voyage round the world at:


Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Montevideo and Buenos Aires

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Chapter VI is now complete, covering the voyage from Rio de Janeiro via the sand-hills of Castillo Chicos to Montevideo and Buenos Aires.

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I’m trying something new in the presentation, which is enabling the 3D building layer. Whether or not I keep this in will depend on how the performance looks. My old laptop seems to manage reasonably well.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

If you like the presentation of Slocum’s voyage at:, then you may also enjoy Cook’s first voyage round the world at:

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: Rio to Castillo Chicos

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Today was the first outing for my new model of the Spray and it sees Slocum sailing from Rio on 28Nov1895 at the start of Chapter V.

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He sails south in mixed weather, starting with gales but becoming more moderate. His old, tin, one-dollar clock, presumably set to the correct time in Rio, gives him the same longitude as the expensive chronometer ticking on the bridge of the steamship South Wales which Slocum meets in longitude 48degrees west; Slocum feels confident in his navigational skills; but pride comes before a landfall and on 11Dec1895 the Spray sails straight on to the beach when Slocum mistakes sand-hills in the moonlight for a gentle ocean swell.

The trick to getting afloat is to take out an anchor, secure it firmly on the seabed, and use the windlass to haul the yacht out to sea. Slocum’s dory is not up to the task of carrying his main anchor and 40 fathoms of cable through the surf and out to a sufficient depth of water. The leaky boat is soon full to the gunwales. Slocum throws the anchor overboard and shortly after the dory capsizes. At this point Slocum writes:

I grasped her gunwale and held on as she turned bottom up, for I suddenly remembered that I could not swim.

His first attempt to right the dory is so enthusiastic she rolls right over and he’s back at square one clinging on for his life. It took three more attempts to right the boat and climb carefully aboard. Using one retrieved oar, he paddles back to the Spray to finish the job by carrying out the other half of the anchor cable. He is rather relieved to find that, by the time he carries the end back to the yacht, it just reaches the windlass, allowing him to “secure a turn and no more”. There’s nothing more he can do until the next high tide and he lies among the sand-hills to shelter from the wind and feeling “somewhat the worse for wear and pretty full of salt water”.

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

If you like the presentation of Slocum’s voyage at:, then you may also enjoy Cook’s first voyage round the world at:

The Spray is still the Spray

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

Now, it is a law in Lloyd’s that the Jane repaired all out of the old until she is entirely new is still the Jane…the Spray changed her being so gradually that it was hard to say at what point the old died or the new took birth, and it was no matter.

That’s what Joshua Slocum wrote about the reconstruction of his sloop Spray in 1892/3. Over a period of 18 months he replaced every timber with the stoutest, most durable woods he could find – pasture white oak, Georgia pine, and New Hampshire spruce. All was screwed and bolted together and caulked with cotton and oakum.

A similar transformation is taking place in the 3D models I’m using to reproduce Slocum’s voyage in Google Earth. The first image below is my very crude SketchUp model of the Spray.

Original Spray model in SketchUp

This was never intended to be more than a place-holder for a more sophisticated model, a model with which I could start the project. The next image shows the set of ‘guides’ I built up in SketchUp by taking measurements from printed copies of the Spray‘s lines and body-plan:

Spray Guides in SketchUp

The hull was created as a mess of triangles by joining the guides with lines. I shaped the sails with a ‘skin and bubble’ plugin and they are the best feature, but the superstructure is very rudimentary.

The other thing that has bothered me about this model is that it has a yawl rig whereas the Spray started the voyage rigged as a sloop. It wasn’t until Rio that Slocum converted her ‘in readiness for the tempestuous waters of Patagonia’.

After searching for a better model on TurboSquid and 3DExport – and there are some superb examples – I discovered that it would breach the End User License Agreement of those sites to deploy a model where it could be copied. Google Earth is one such place.

My next port of call, as it were, was PeoplePerHour where I searched for a modelling expert who could take my feeble effort as a starting point and create something that wasn’t embarrassing to show in close-up. I gave the work to Mike Halls of mesh-3D and he created:

Spray as a yawl after conversion in Rio de Janeiro

She is still a yawl, but what a difference!

All on my own, I took my shiny new Spray and removed the mizzen mast and sails and the semi-circular brace, all of which were installed in Rio and, using the Scale tool in SketchUp, I enlarged the mainsail.  This gives me a sloop:

Spray as a sloop

So now I have a sloop and a yawl to play with, and the beauty of the Keyhole Markup Language (KML) used in Google Earth is that’s it’s really easy to switch models:- unplug the old one and plug in the new one. In fact, on the leg of the voyage from Pernambuco to Rio, I have both the sloop and the yawl included in the KML and switch models in the middle of Rio bay. To watch this, go to, then select Chapter V followed by clicking on ‘Pernambuco to Rio de Janeiro’. Allow enough time for the models to load and click the ‘Play’ button when it appears.

The presentation is up to Chapter V and my project must now go in two directions: forwards to complete the remaining 18 chapters, and backwards to replace version 1 of the Spray with version 2. At least going forwards I can zoom in more often to show the model in detail and fire the imagination.

Happy sailing!

The Spray

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Joshua Slocum in Google Earth: the Equator to Rio de Janeiro

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You can follow Joshua Slocum’s single-handed voyage round the world at:

Today I added to the presentation the remainder of Chapter V that sees the Spray sailing from the Equator first to Pernambuco (Recife) and then on to Rio de Janeiro.

Arriving Pernambuco (Recife) about noon on 05Oct1895

Slocum reaches Pernambuco 40 days out from Gibraltar and finds himself among old friends, and new enemies. The friends are the sea-captains he knows from frequent voyages to the coast of Brazil while the potential enemies are the members of the Mello faction against whom he had delivered a ship only two years before. The Destroyer was designed by the Swedish-American inventor John Ericsson and had a submarine cannon, effectively making her a torpedo boat. Slocum was employed as master but was never paid by the Brazilian government for his work.

Doctor Perreira, an old friend entertains Slocum and tries to fatten him up for the voyage ahead with the very best Brazilian fare, but despite his efforts Slocum ‘fattened slowly’.

There is a slight problem getting out of Pernambuco. The awkward squad of the Mello faction, now in government, wants to charge Slocum tonnage dues but, as a yacht, this should not have been applied. In the end an old merchant friend pays the fees and the Spray is released to have a fine run without incident down to Rio de Janeiro where she arrives on 05Nov1895.

Trying out the new rig in Rio harbour, 27Nov1895

It was here that Slocum converted the Spray from a sloop to a yawl, by the addition of a new mast fully aft. (Note, this means that my 3D model on the voyage to date is inaccurate. I’m waiting for a new model which will correct this.)

Copyright © Colin Hazlehurst, 2012

Note: to view the presentation you will need to install the Google Earth plugin in your web browser; and if you enjoy the Slocum presentation, why not look at Cook’s First Voyage Round the World?

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.

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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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