Sailing Alone around the World

Sailing Alone around the World

3.7 254
by Joshua Slocum
     
 

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The classic travel narrative of a Don Quixote-of-the-seas – the first man to circumnavigate the world singlehandedly.

 

Joshua Slocum’s autobiographical account of his solo trip around the world is one of the most remarkable – and entertaining – travel narratives of all time. Setting off alone from Boston aboard the

Overview

The classic travel narrative of a Don Quixote-of-the-seas – the first man to circumnavigate the world singlehandedly.

 

Joshua Slocum’s autobiographical account of his solo trip around the world is one of the most remarkable – and entertaining – travel narratives of all time. Setting off alone from Boston aboard the thirty-six-foot wooden sloop Spray in April 1895, Captain Slocum went on to join the ranks of the world’s great circumnavigators – Magellan, Drake, and Cook. But by circling the globe without crew or consorts, Slocum would outdo them all: his three-year solo voyage of more than 46,000 miles remains unmatched in maritime history for its courage, skill, and determination.

Sailing Alone around the World recounts Slocum’s wonderful adventures: hair-raising encounters with pirates off Gibraltar and savage Indians in Tierra del Fuego; raging tempests and treacherous coral reefs; flying fish for breakfast in the Pacific; and a hilarious visit with fellow explorer Henry Stanley in South Africa. A century later, Slocum’s incomparable book endures as one of the greatest narratives of adventure ever written.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.




From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times
...[F]ull of interest to lovers of adventures.
The New York Times
...[F]ull of interest to lovers of adventures.
— 1900

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101221600
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/01/1999
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
952,788
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

List of Illustrations

Introduction by Thomas Philbrick

Suggestions for Further Reading

A Note on the Text and Illustrations

Sailing Alone around the World

CHAPTER I

A blue-nose ancestry with Yankee proclivities — Youthful fondness for the sea — Master of the ship Northern Light — Loss of the Aquidneck — Return home from Brazil in the canoe Liberdade — The gift of a “ship” — The rebuilding of the Spray — Conundrums in regard to finance and calking — The launching of the Spray

CHAPTER II

Failure as a fisherman — A voyage around the world projected — From Boston to Gloucester — Fitting out for the ocean voyage — Half of a dory for a ship’s boat — The run from Gloucester to Nova Scotia — A shaking up in home waters — Among old friends

CHAPTER III

Good-by to the American coast — Off Sable Island in a fog — In the open sea — The man in the moon takes an interest in the voyage — The first fit of loneliness — The Spray encounters La Vaguisa — A bottle of wine from the Spaniard — About of words with the captain of the Java — The steamship Olympia spoken — Arrival at the Azores

CHAPTER IV

Squally weather in the Azores — High living — Delirious from cheese and plums — The pilot of the Pinta — At Gibraltar — Compliments exchanged with the British navy — A picnic on the Morocco shore

CHAPTER V

Sailing from Gibraltar with the assistance of her Majesty’s tug — The Spray’s course changed from the Suez Canal to Cape Horn — Chased by a Moorish pirate — A comparison with Columbus — The Canary Islands — The Cape Verde Islands — Sea life — Arrival at Pernambuco — A bill against the Brazilian government — Preparing for the stormy weather of the cape

CHAPTER VI

Departure from Rio de Janeiro — The Spray ashore on the sands of Uruguay — A narrow escape from shipwreck — The boy who found a sloop — The Spray floated but somewhat damaged — Courtesies from the British consul at Maldonado — A warm greeting at Montevideo — An excursion to Buenos Aires — Shortening the mast and bowsprit

CHAPTER VII

Weighing anchor at Buenos Aires — An outburst of emotion at the mouth of the Plate — Submerged by a great wave — A stormy entrance to the strait — Captain Samblich’s happy gift of a bag of carpet-tacks — Off Cape Froward — Chased by Indians from Fortescue Bay — A miss-shot for “Black Pedro,” — Taking in supplies of wood and water at Three Island Cove — Animal life

CHAPTER VIII

From Cape Pillar into the Pacific — Driven by a tempest toward Cape Horn — Captain Slocum’s greatest sea adventure — Reaching the strait again by way of Cockburn Channel — Some savages find the carpet-tacks — Danger from firebrands — A series of fierce williwaws — Again sailing westward

CHAPTER IX

Repairing the Spray’s sails — Savages and an obstreperous anchor — A spider-fight — An encounter with Black Pedro — A visit to the steamship Colombia — On the defensive against a fleet of canoes — A record of voyages through the strait — A chance cargo of tallow

CHAPTER X

Running to Port Angosto in a snow-storm — A defective sheet-rope places the Spray in peril — The Spray as a target for a Fuegian arrow — The island of Alan Erric — Again in the open Pacific — The run to the island of Juan Fernandez — An absentee king — At Robinson Crusoe’s anchorage.

CHAPTER XI

The islanders of Juan Fernandez entertained with Yankee doughnuts — The beauties of Robinson Crusoe’s realm — The mountain monument to Alexander Selkirk — Robinson Crusoe’s cave — A stroll with the children of the island — Westward ho! with a friendly gale — A month’s free sailing with the Southern Cross and the sun for guides — Sighting the Marquesas — Experience in reckoning

CHAPTER XII

Seventy-two days without a port — Whales and birds — A peep into the Spray’s galley — Flying-fish for breakfast — A welcome at Apia — A visit from Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson — At Vailima — Samoan hospitality — Arrested for fast riding — An amusing merry-go-round — Teachers and pupils of Papauta College — At the mercy of sea-nymphs

CHAPTER XIII

Samoan royalty — King Malietoa — Good-by to friends at Vailima — Leaving Fiji to the south — Arrival at Newcastle, Australia — The yachts of Sydney — A ducking on the Spray — Commodore Foy presents the sloop with a new suit of sails — On to Melbourne — A shark that proved to be valuable — A change of course — The “Rain of Blood” — In Tasmania

CHAPTER XIV

A testimonial from a lady — Cruising round Tasmania — The skipper delivers his first lecture on the voyage — Abundant provisions — An inspection of the Spray for safety at Devonport — Again at Sydney — Northward bound for Torres Strait — An amateur shipwreck — Friends on the Australian coast — Perils of a coral sea

CHAPTER XV

Arrival at Port Denison, Queensland — A lecture — Reminiscences of Captain Cook — Lecturing for charity at Cook-town — A happy escape from a coral reef — Home Island, Sunday Island, Bird Island — An American pearl-fisherman — Jubilee at Thursday Island — A new ensign for the Spray — Booby Island — Across the Indian Ocean — Christmas Island

CHAPTER XVI

A call for careful navigation — Three hours’ steering in twenty-three days — Arrival at the Keeling Cocos Islands — A curious chapter of social history — A welcome from the children of the islands — Cleaning and painting the Spray on the beach — A Mohammedan blessing for a pot of jam — Keeling as a paradise — A risky adventure in a small boat — Away to Rodriguez — Taken for Antichrist — The governor calms the fears of the people — A lecture — A convent in the hills

CHAPTER XVII

A clean bill of health at Mauritius — Sailing the voyage over again in the opera-house — A newly discovered plant named in honor of the Spray’s skipper — A party of young ladies out for a sail — A bivouac on deck — A warm reception at Durban — A friendly cross-examination by Henry M. Stanley — Three wise Boers seek proof of the flatness of the earth — Leaving South Africa

CHAPTER XVIII

Rounding the “Cape of Storms” in olden time — A rough Christmas — The Spray ties up for a three months’ rest at Cape Town — A railway trip to the Transvaal — President Kruger’s odd definition of the Spray’s voyage — His terse sayings — Distinguished guests on the Spray — Cocoanut fiber as a padlock — Courtesies from the admiral of the Queen’s navy — Off for St. Helena — Land in sight

CHAPTER XIX

In the isle of Napoleon’s exile — Two lectures — A guest in the ghost-room at Plantation House — An excursion to historic Longwood — Coffee in the husk, and a goat to shell it — The Spray’s ill luck with animals — A prejudice against small dogs — A rat, the Boston spider, and the cannibal cricket — Ascension Island

CHAPTER XX

In the favoring current off Cape St. Roque, Brazil — All at sea regarding the Spanish-American war — An exchange of signals with the battle-ship Oregon — Off Dreyfus’s prison on Devil’s Island — Reappearance to the Spray of the north star — The light on Trinidad — A charming introduction to Grenada — Talks to friendly auditors

CHAPTER XXI

Clearing for home — In the calm belt — A sea covered with sargasso — The jibstay parts in a gale — Welcomed by a tornado off Fire Island — A change of plan — Arrival at Newport — End of a cruise of over forty-six thousand miles — The Spray again at Fairhaven

APPENDIX

LINES AND SAIL-PLAN OF THE “SPRAY”

Her pedigree so far as known — The lines of the Spray — Her self-steering qualities — Sail-plan and steering-gear — An unprecedented feat — A final word of cheer to would-be navigators

Notes

PENGUIN      CLASSICS

SAILING ALONE AROUND THE WORLD

Joshua Slocum was born in Nova Scotia in 1844. After three years of schooling, he was put to work in the family bootmaking shop. At fourteen he escaped from his father’s tyrannical rule, first to the local fishing fleet, and then to the British merchant marine as an ordinary seaman. In the mid-1860s he was promoted to mate and became a United States citizen. In 1871, by then a shipmaster, he married Virginia Walker, a brave and resourceful Australian woman who was to accompany him on voyages throughout the world, bearing his four children and relishing the hardships and adventure of life at sea. After Virginia died in 1884, Slocum’s career began a sharp descent. His last command was wrecked on the coast of Brazil in 1887. Financially ruined, he and his young cousin Hettie Elliott, whom he had married a few months before, together with two of his sons, returned to the United States in a boat that they fashioned from materials salvaged from the wreck. Unable to find an officer’s berth, Slocum accepted a friend’s offer of the rotting hull of a hundred-year-old oyster sloop, the Spray. After rebuilding the boat and testing her in New England waters, in 1895 he set out upon a single-handed circumnavigation of the globe, the first such voyage ever attempted. Surviving loneliness, storm, and piratical attacks, he returned home in 1898 and wrote his extraordinary narrative, Sailing Alone around the World. Although his voyage and his book made Slocum something of a celebrity, he soon went back to his old ways, making repeated trading trips alone in the Spray along the American coast and to the Caribbean. In 1909 the sea-worn sloop and her aging master headed south from Martha’s Vineyard, never to be seen again.

Thomas Philbrick is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Pittsburgh and a lifelong small boat sailor. He is the author of James Fenimore Cooper and the Development of American Sea Fiction and a study of St. John de Crèvecoeur. He has edited five of Cooper’s novels and travel books for the Cooper Edition, as well as Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast for Penguin Classics.

Sailing Alone
Around The World

CAPTAIN JOSHUA SLOCUM

Illustrated by
THOMAS FOGARTY AND GEORGE VARIAN

Edited with an
Introduction and Notes by
THOMAS PHILBRICK

PENGUIN BOOKS

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

The “Northern Light” Captain Joshua Slocum, Bound for Liverpool, 1885

Cross-section of the “Spray”

“It’ll Crawl”

“No Dorg nor no Cat”

The Deacon’s Dream

Captain Slocum’s Chronometer

“Good Evening, Sir”

He also Sent his Card

Chart of the “Spray’s” Course around the World—April 24, 1895, to July 3, 1898

The Island of Pico

Chart of the “Spray’s” Atlantic Voyages from Boston to Gibraltar, thence to the Strait of Magellan, in 1895, and finally Homeward Bound from the Cape of Good Hope in 1898

The Apparition at the Wheel

Coming to Anchor at Gibraltar

The “Spray” at Anchor off Gibraltar

Chased by Pirates

I Suddenly Remembered that I could not Swim

A Double Surprise

At the Sign of the Comet

A Great Wave off the Patagonian Coast

Entrance to the Strait of Magellan

The Course of the “Spray” through the Strait of Magellan

The Man who wouldn’t Ship without another “Mon and a Doog”

A Fuegian Girl

Looking West from Fortescue Bay, where the “Spray” was Chased by Indians

A Brush with Fuegians

A Bit of Friendly Assistance

Cape Pillar

They Howled like a Pack of Hounds

A Glimpse of Sandy Point (Punta Arenas) in the Strait of Magellan

“Yammerschooner!”

A Contrast in Lighting—the Electric Lights of the “Columbia” and the Canoe Fires of the Fortescue Indians

Records of Passages through the Strait at the Head of Borgia Bay

Salving Wreckage

The First Shot Uncovered Three Fuegians

The “Spray” Approaching Juan Fernandez, Robinson Crusoe’s Island

The House of the King

Robinson Crusoe’s Cave

The Man who Called a Cabra a Goat

Meeting with the Whale

First Exchange of Courtesies in Samoa

Vailima, the Home of Robert Louis Stevenson

The “Spray’s” Course from Australia to South Africa

The Accident at Sydney

Captain Slocum Working the “Spray” out of the Yarrow River, a Part of Melbourne Harbor

The Shark on the Deck of the “Spray”

On Board at St. Kilda. Retracing on the Chart the Course of the “Spray” from Boston

The “Spray” in her Port Duster at Devonport, Tasmania, February 22, 1897

“Is it A-goin’ to Blow?”

The “Spray” Leaving Sydney, Australia, in the New Suit of Sails Given by Commodore Foy of Australia

The “Spray” Ashore for “Boot-topping” at the Keeling Islands

Captain Slocum Drifting out to Sea

The “Spray” at Mauritius

Captain Joshua Slocum

Cartoon Printed in the Cape Town “Owl” of March 5, 1898, in Connection with an Item about Captain Slocum’s Trip to Pretoria

Captain Slocum, Sir Alfred Milner (with the Tall Hat), and Colonel Saunderson, M. P., on the Bow of the “Spray” at Cape Town

Reading Day and Night

The “Spray” Passed by the “Oregon”

The “Spray” in the Storm off New York

Again Tied to the Old Stake at Fairhaven

Plan of the After Cabin of the “Spray”

Deck-plan of the “Spray”

Sail-plan of the “Spray”

Steering-gear of the “Spray”

Body-plan of the “Spray”

Lines of the “Spray”

INTRODUCTION

“The greatest sailor since our world began”; that is the praise that Herman Melville, quoting Tennyson, accorded Lord Nelson in Billy Budd. Had he lived a decade longer, Melville might have had second thoughts, for by then Joshua Slocum had accomplished a voyage unmatched in maritime history for skill, courage, and determination. In April 1895 he set out alone from Boston in a thirty-six-foot sloop to travel around the world, sailed across the Atlantic to Gibraltar, changed his mind about the direction of his circumnavigation and recrossed the Atlantic to Brazil, fought his way through the Strait of Magellan, sailed west across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and, crossing the Atlantic for a third time, reached Newport, Rhode Island, in June 1898. And, to crown the achievement, Slocum wrote an account of his exploit that might well be called, if not the greatest, the most engaging of all voyage narratives.

Both the voyage and the book were the work of a failed and impoverished shipmaster in late middle age. Deprived of his occupation by the disastrous outcome of his last voyage and the approaching extinction of the sailing ship as a vehicle of commerce, Slocum accepted a friend’s offer of an antique sloop named the Spray, beached and derelict like himself, as the only means left to him of salvaging his life. As he slowly rebuilt the Spray, timber by timber and plank by plank, he envisioned earning a modest and conventional living by her in the coastal fishery. Once launched, however, the sloop came to be the repository of a preposterous idea.

To be sure, Slocum tried fishing in the Spray, but less as a serious enterprise than as a trial run, a means of ascertaining her capabilities and limitations. Remarkably, the sloop showed that she could steer herself—if the wind were aft or abeam, she could hold a steady course with the helm lashed and unattended. The discovery of that extraordinary trait was, beyond any doubt, the germ of Slocum’s scheme of sailing alone around the world, for without the self-steering ability of the Spray, no solitary sailor would have the endurance to make the passages of thousands of miles of open ocean that the voyage entailed.

Thus, like the aged Quixote and his Rocinante, Slocum and his Spray set forth on a mad attempt to participate in a world that was past, for him not the golden age of chivalry but the golden age of sail. He would join the company of the great circumnavigators—Magellan, Drake, and Cook—and outdo them all by circling the globe without crew or consorts. And he would do it not in the pursuit of any economic, political, or scientific purpose; he would do it, so he said, for “the love of adventure.” Or, perhaps, he also said, he would do it because he had “nothing else to do.”

I

No life could have offered better preparation for the demands of a single-handed voyage around the world than Slocum’s. The descendant of a Tory refugee from revolutionary Massachusetts, he was born on 20 February 1844 in Annapolis County, Nova Scotia, the eldest son among the ten children who survived childhood. When the boy was eight, his father gave up the attempt to scratch a living from the hill farm that he had inherited and moved the family to his wife’s native village of Westport on Brier Island. With the Bay of Fundy on one side and Saint Mary’s Bay on the other, Brier Island afforded the young Joshua a thoroughly maritime environment, a remote region of fog and forty-foot tides.

But to him the sea at first beckoned in vain. His father, a muscular deacon of the Methodist church, took the boy out of school at the age of ten and put him to work in the boot-making shop that now supported the family. Sick to death of ten-hour days spent pegging the soles of cowhide fisherman’s boots and of his father’s joyless rule, Slocum escaped to a schooner, fishing in the local waters, when he was fourteen. Lasting liberation only came in 1860, after his gentle mother died and little remained to hold him to his home. In that year, at the age of sixteen, he and a young friend shipped before the mast in a clumsy lumber carrier bound for Dublin.

After working a passage to England, Slocum joined the British ship Tanjore as an ordinary seaman on a voyage to China and the East Indies. There, ill and weakened by overwork and brutal treatment, he was left at the fever hospital in Batavia, notorious as a graveyard of seamen. By good luck, the captain of a steamship rescued him, brought him back to health, and employed him on trading trips around the Far East. Before long, Slocum was again in England and embarked on another voyage to the Dutch East Indies. Throughout these first two years at sea, Slocum, unlike most of his shipmates, had stayed sober, saved his money, and applied himself to the study of navigation. His reward came on this voyage when, at the age of eighteen, he was promoted to second mate.

Filled out to 180 pounds and hardened by experience, he worked his way up to chief mate on British vessels in the coal and grain trade between the British Isles and San Francisco, narrowly surviving a fall from the upper topsail yard in the mid-Atlantic. In 1865, he decided to make San Francisco his home port and applied for United States citizenship. After a few years of boat building, salmon fishing, and sea-otter hunting on the Northwest coast, in 1869 he was given command of a schooner plying between San Francisco and Seattle. In 1870, he was made master of the bark Washington, bound for Sydney, Australia, with a general cargo, and then for Cook Inlet, Alaska, to fish for salmon. All in all, it was a highly respectable start to a career in the late days of merchant sail, when the regular routes and the valuable freights were being monopolized by steamships.

In Sydney and now marriageable, Slocum met the love of his life, the twenty-year-old Virginia Walker, the American-born daughter of an immigrant stationer. Immediately after their wedding in January 1871, Virginia moved aboard the Washington and left her home forever. Golden-eyed and boasting a Leni-Lenape ancestor, she was a dead shot with either rifle or pistol. For the remainder of her life she followed Slocum in his wanderings from ship to ship, bearing and educating his children, enduring storm and mutiny.

Although the Washington was wrecked on the Alaskan coast, Slocum was given command of two other vessels, in which he and his growing family traveled on trading voyages throughout the Pacific and China Sea. After a stint of ship-building under primitive and dangerous conditions on the shores of Subic Bay in the Philippines, he had enough capital to become an owner, first of the little schooner Pato and then of the fifty-six-year-old ship Amethyst, picking up whatever business he could find in the ports of the Far East. By then there were three children, the two boys, Victor and Benjamin Aymar, and their young sister, Jessie. In 1881, soon after Virginia had given birth to a third son (named Garfield after the incoming president), Slocum sold the Amethyst in Hong Kong and purchased partial ownership and command of the splendid ship Northern Light, only ten years old and five times the size of his largest previous vessel.

The three years during which Slocum was master of the Northern Light on long voyages throughout the world marked the high point of his professional career. But the position was not without its trials. In Liverpool, after a quarrel with a delinquent rigger, he was summoned before a magistrate, who dismissed the case even though the rigger showed up bandaged and attended by a doctor and a nurse. His hard-case crew mutinied on Long Island Sound, one of them fatally stabbing the first mate before the captain and his wife could subdue them at gunpoint. After the murderer was put ashore in irons, Slocum persuaded the rest of the crew to return to duty, but the Northern Light was anything but a happy ship.

Having fended off a knife attack by a young Russian crewman at Yokohama, Slocum ran into still more trouble off the Cape of Good Hope, where a tremendous storm ruined much of his cargo and nearly wrecked his ship. While the Northern Light was under repair at Port Elizabeth, he took on a new third mate who turned out to be an ex-convict and who, siding with the disaffected element of the crew, was reported to have threatened the lives of the captain and his family. Slocum put him in irons and close confinement for the remainder of the voyage to New York, but once there, he was found guilty of false and cruel imprisonment on the testimony of the ex-mate and fined $500. Although the underwriters paid the fine, this last sour note confirmed Slocum’s decision to sell his shares in the Northern Light and try his hand at some other venture.

Still clinging to sail in the age of steamships, Slocum purchased a beautiful little bark called the Aquidneck, in March 1884. After repairing and fitting her out, he loaded her with flour, installed his family, and sailed for Brazil. From there he set out for Buenos Aires, seeking a cargo for Sydney, so that Virginia might see her family again. But it was too late for that. During the passage from Pernambuco, Virginia fell ill, and when the Aquidneck reached the River Plate, she died, worn out at the age of thirty-four by the rough-and-tumble of thirteen years at sea and the bearing of four children who lived and three who did not.

Shattered by a loss from which, his sons later said, he never recovered, Slocum made his way to Boston, where he deposited the three younger children with his sisters, and once more went to sea. A year later, while visiting his children, he met a first cousin newly arrived from Nova Scotia, twenty-four-year-old Hettie Elliott. Though nearly twice her age, Slocum, lonely and looking for someone to mother his youngest child, courted his cousin and married her in early 1886, nineteen months after Virginia’s death.

Six days after the wedding, Hettie, with five-year-old Garfield in tow, boarded the Aquidneck in New York on a voyage to Montevideo with a cargo of kerosene. It was very much a family affair, for Victor, Slocum’s eldest son, served as first mate. But if ever there was a wedding journey from hell, this was it. Immediately upon leaving New York harbor, the Aquidneck ran into a gale that opened up her seams and required the crew to pump for their lives, not reaching Montevideo until 5 May 1886 after a passage of more than two months. But worse was to come.

After discharging his cargo, Slocum decided to take up coastal trading in South America. With a cargo of baled hay he had loaded in Argentina, he sailed for Rio de Janeiro only to find that the Brazilian authorities had closed their ports to vessels coming from Argentina. Threatened with the destruction of the Aquidneck by Captain Custodio de Mello, commander of an armored cruiser, Slocum was forced to return to Argentina and await the reopening of the Brazilian ports.

By the time that occurred, some three months later, Slocum had lost his crew and was forced to recruit a new one from the local brothels and prisons. One night, after the hay had at last been delivered to Rio and while the bark was at anchor in a Brazilian harbor, the sleepless Hettie heard a noise on deck and awoke her husband. On reaching the deck, carbine in hand, Slocum was attacked with knives by four of the sailors. With the lives of his wife and children at stake, Slocum fired, killing one of the attackers and wounding another. Although he succeeded in restoring order on board the Aquidneck, he was arrested and tried for murder. A Brazilian court acquitted him on his plea of self-defense, but during the delay caused by his detention, his crew had gone ashore, where, it soon turned out, they contracted smallpox. The Aquidneck, now a plague ship, was forced to return to port. By the time the dead and dying were removed and the vessel disinfected and readied for sea, Slocum had run up costs of $1,000.

Undaunted by these trials, Slocum undertook a trade in Brazilian hardwood, but again disaster struck. In late December 1887, the fully loaded and uninsured Aquidneck stranded on a sandbar in Paranaguá Bay and, battered by a strong swell, was reduced to a wreck in three days’ time. Slocum sold what was left of his bark, paid off the crew, and saw them on their way home in a ship bound for Montevideo. He and his family would return to their own home by different means.

With his characteristic resourcefulness and his no less characteristic appetite for adventure, Slocum determined to build a vessel that would carry him, Hettie, Victor, and Garfield to the United States. The basis of the new craft would be the framework of a boat that had been in the process of construction on the deck of the Aquidneck as a tender. With planking supplied by local sawyers and fastenings and hardware manufactured from melted copper and brass, Slocum and Victor pieced together a double-ended boat thirty-five feet long and seven and a half feet wide. They fitted her with three masts, each of which carried a single sail modeled on those carried by Chinese junks; Hettie, who had been trained as a seamstress, made the sails. The boat, or “canoe” as Slocum called her, was christened the Liberdade, having been launched on the day that Brazil emancipated her slaves.

In this unlikely craft, the Slocums made the 5,500-mile passage north along the coast of Brazil, across the Equator, and through the Caribbean to the coast of the United States, reaching Washington, D.C., on 27 December 1888. Financially ruined though he was, Slocum enjoyed his first taste of celebrity, both in Washington (where he was photographed by Mathew Brady) and in New York. The New York World reported that Hettie “spoke with some reluctance” of her experience and said that she would go on to her relatives in Boston by rail; “I have had enough sailing to last me for a long time,” she said.

For her husband, however, sailing was his livelihood and his life. Although Victor quickly was hired as a mate and headed back to Brazil, and despite a diligent and surely humiliating canvassing of his old friends and associates, Slocum could not find a berth. In desperation he took to his pen, writing an account of the voyage of the Liberdade, which he published at his own expense in 1890. The little book, Voyage of the Liberdade, sold very poorly, but it attracted the attention of Joseph Benson Gilder, who reviewed it favorably in his magazine, The Critic. Although Gilder’s notice did nothing to further Slocum’s immediate fortunes, it provided him with an invaluable future contact.

In the meantime, Slocum, living with his sister Naomi in East Boston, picked up odd jobs along the waterfront as a rigger and carpenter. Then, in late 1891 or early 1892, something interesting turned up. The retired whaling master Ebenezer Pierce, recognizing Slocum’s desperation, gave him the rotting hull of the Spray to rebuild and use as he wished. Pierce kindly invited Slocum to stay with him at his house in Fairhaven while the work went on. In March 1892, the sloop and her new master began an association that was to end only with their common loss fourteen and a half years later.

II

Meet the Author

Thomas Philbrick is professor emeritus of English at the University of Pittsburgh.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Sailing Alone Around the World (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 254 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I stumbled across Sailing Alone Aound the World by chance. Slocum draws you into his world as he travels from port to port and battles gales and the deadly Southern Ocean. Throughout the novel we learn what it really means to travel solo and find interpeace.
Eric-L More than 1 year ago
I bought this on a whim while I was looking through the B&N Classics section. Joshua Slocum writes so honestly and eloquently. Thoroughly enjoyable, this work will take you around the world and show you the indomitable spirit of an honest sailor.
AuburnWriter More than 1 year ago
It's not Treasure Island but it is an epic true story of a man who sailed the earth alone. Knowing the story is true and the recurring dangers that Slocum faced will pull you through this great book. As for the format, it's easy to read and the occasional the sketches of scenes from the book are a pleasure to behold.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Considered with the greats Beariful prose tells of a sailor who restores an old dilapidared sailboat and sails it around the world single handed The Spray sails herself and overtakes ships with full crews An amazing boat Imagine pressing past Cape Horn only to find pirates on the other side If you sail you must read this captain's log i've never written a review before this, but I must encourage all who love great writing, great story telling, and a great story to honor this man bv reading his tale
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the adventures and tribulations. Great true story. Very memorable. Great writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Found it to be a good book I followed Slocum's travels on Goggle Map which made it more interesting. I really liked the fact the book was free
Guest More than 1 year ago
Slocum is a fabulous writer and his story will amaze you as you imagine his journey in a handmade boat over 100 years ago. I loved reading this and will no doubt read it many times in the years to come. A true classic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being a Yankee Skipper, Capt. Slocum could probably relish his book¿s ability to still sell after one hundred and nine years. But the question on the reader¿s mind is still the one that annoyed him occasionally at ports of call on his voyage: ¿Where¿s the profit¿?¿ ¿What¿s the sense of trying to sail around the world alone, Captain?¿ or ¿Why read?¿ Captain Slocum may well have answered that, in his case, sailing beyond his geographical horizon took him beyond his psychological horizon. Not once, but so many times, that he found his place among men and intuitively his place in the universe. His is an account of a man discovering and being exactly where he¿s meant to be. What about us readers? Maybe we need the encouragement to find out, or, even, ask the question? Barnes & Noble combined a background and introduction that compliments the story well, so, read closely. If the story starts to read you continuing may lead to unsettling thoughts, feelings and questions. Careful, you know what Nazis did with that sort of book?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okay so I am 14 and in 8th grade. There is this guy that I like and have liked sence 6th grade. But he is one of the popular guys and I'm not even in the range of his group. Idk if he likes me but even if he did I dont think the realtionship would last long because of the popularity difference. How do I deal with that AND still try to get into a relationship with him? ;-; ~Riona<p> Btw, I larv yer one-shots ~PITP
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Exciting read. Vivid imagery. Adventurous. On the edge of my seat throughout an interesting trip around the world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A grand story from a time when sailors still found adventures and oceans to tame. At times this is not an easy read. The story is from 1896 therefore the writing style and language are a bit archaic, and the reader is assumed to know sailing terms. But the allure of just being able to walk away and sail off into the sunset is timeless. He tells the tale, both good and bad, as he lives among the waves, and the ports in lands in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely one of the best books I've ever read (read it about 6 times). Slocum's style is timeless, his humor is wonderful, his story is one of a kind and in fact no one else in the world can tell a story anywhere near this one. I've never even heard of anyone with nards as big and my dad had brass ones! Joshua tells an amazing and true story in this book, I'm proud to say it's by far one of my favorites! (I don't get paid for this - HA!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tes
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She sheugs
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
But what does it mean? Why did it show up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I stomp my foot and a shock travels through the ground that cuts off her telepathy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey guys.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Telports back and brings the flat of his blade down on Percys heaf. He gets knocked out cold. Gtg
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wakes up and stretches on the grass.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"I'm bored."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Hey guys."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hahs sup sky ~mason,green,grover
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So, let's all tell stories by the campfire!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Morning everyone"