Alone at Sea: The Adventures of Joshua Slocum
"I had only a moment to get all sail down and myself upon the peak halliards, out of danger, when I saw the mighty crest towering masthead-high above me. The mountain of water submerged my vessel. She shook in every timber and reeled under the weight of the sea ..."
What would it be like to sail around the world by yourself, especially without the telecommunications and technical equipment we have today? Alone At Sea takes readers on such a thrilling journey.
In 1895, Joshua Slocum embarked on a three-year, 46,000-mile solo circumnavigation of the globe. His boat, a refitted oyster sloop called Spray, took him through pirate-infested waters and horrific storms amidst the ghosts and demons of 36 months of solitude. Alone At Sea is his story:
"On his first solo day, Slocum found himself enveloped by fog so thick 'one could almost stand on it.' It was as if his loneliness had been made visible as the thick fog 'lowered over the sea like a pall.' ...He and the Spray were one small speck on an all-encompassing sea, invisible to the rest of the world. Slocum pondered his invisibility with a growing awareness of his insignificance in the universe: 'In the dismal fog I felt myself drifting into loneliness, an insect on a straw in the midst of the elements.'"
This is the first original full-scale biography of Joshua Slocum in over 40 years. Ann Spencer spent years poring over the sailor's own journals and historical records buried in libraries and archives throughout New England and the Maritimes. She uncovered new facts, documents and photographs now published here. With Spencer's engaging text and peppered with Slocum's own journal entries, Alone At Sea is captivating reading for anyone interested in sailing, nautical history, travel and the soul of a true adventurer. Heroes come rarely in real life and this is the story of a too-little known maritime hero.
which weakened now for a few days, while a swell heavier than usual set in also from the southwest. A winter gale was going on in the direction of the Cape of Good Hope. Accordingly, I steered higher to windward, allowing twenty miles a day while this went on, for change of current; and it was not too much, for on that course I made the Keeling Islands right ahead.” Slocum knew how to navigate gingerly when he had to. He watched the weather carefully and made decisions as he went concerning what
a temporary affair.” Slocum’s carpentry and shipwrighting skills came into play more than once on his three-year voyage. The water did its share of wear and tear on his beloved sloop. Besides repairing strategic parts of the rigging and caulking, he had to scrupulously maintain the hull below the water line. That vigilance was especially important in tropical waters, where he had to deal with barnacles, which threatened to coat the underside inches deep. In Tasmania he hauled out the Spray to
drifting into loneliness, an insect on a straw in the midst of the elements.” He triumphed on this voyage’s first test of emotional stamina, and later reflected, “The acute pain of solitude experienced at first never returned. I had penetrated a mystery, and, by the way, I had sailed through a fog. I had met Neptune in his wrath, but he found that I had not treated him with contempt, and so he suffered me to go on and explore.” Although his loneliness lifted with the fog during that first week
harvest clams, he made his own rake from stiff wire from aboard the Spray. Not only did he have the desired shells but he also had a good story. For Slocum was a brilliant storyteller. He even looked the part. The New York Times summed up his appearance: “Captain Slocum is fifty-four years old and is a perfect type of the weather-beaten, knockabout sailor.” Slocum knew he was on to something that could make him money. He had tested out his storytelling along the way, and summed up his successes
Sadly, other people’s recollections were all that survived — Slocum’s published books were still available, but his letters, logs and personal diaries and papers had been lost at sea with the Spray. It was also rumored that Slocum’s widow, Hettie, had burned much of the captain’s correspondence. Nevertheless, Teller pieced together a full and vibrant portrait of a determined man “living on the edge of the twentieth century.” It was through Teller’s research that I became fascinated by Slocum the