I just finished reading the book Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum. As the title indicates, he was the first person to circumnavigate the earth while sailing alone. By no means did he take the most direct route. He pretty much followed the trade winds and major currents.
He made plenty of stops, which made for an interesting story. He would often stay for a week or more at places he stopped at. In some cases it was because he enjoyed his time with the people he met. In other cases he was waiting for the trade winds and weather to improve. It took him about three years to complete the 46,000 mile journey.
I created a Google Map with his major stops and dates that he arrived at each place.
Examples of his adventures include:
- Early in the trip Captain Slocum got so sick that he imagined he spoke to the ghost of the Pilot of Christopher Columbus’s ship, the Pinta.
- His ship was chased by pirates off the coast of Morocco. Watch Colin Hazlehurst’s recreation of the trip using Google Earth.
- The Spray ran around on a beach in Uruguay.
- Natives in the Strait of Magellan tried to board the Spray at night. They left when they stepped on the carpet tacks he had spread on the deck to surprise them. Later they chased him in their canoes and he had to shoot his rifle at them in order to scare them off.
- He survived a horrendous storm on the west end of the Strait of Magellan near Cape Pillar and got blown south. He had to sail back to Punta Arenas (a port in the Strait) then try again to sail through the maze of island into the Pacific.
- His sails got shredded in the Pacific Ocean during a storm.
As I mentioned earlier, Slocum made visited many remote and exotic places along the way in addition to major ports of call. Many of the people he met had heard of his journey and were happy to invite him to stay. He met Fanny Stevenson (the wife of author Robert Louis Stevenson) at Samoa. He met the explorer Henry M. Stanley in East Africa and many other prominent people of the era.
I am amazed at the amount of information and resources about the book and Captain Slocum’s journey are the Web.
- There is a website with the domain name joshuaslocum.com about his life and the journey.
- I found a wonderful 45 minute documentary video about his life, the Spray and his journey on YouTube.
- I discovered a wonderful YouTube playlist showing the Spray in Google Earth sailing each leg of the journey.
I recommend this wonderful story to anyone who enjoys history, sailing or adventure stories.