Joshua Slocum cph.3b46344

Joshua Slocum


Spray in 1901

Joshua Slocum


  1. Runs away from home: first at 14, finally at 16
  2. Learned the trade of sailing.
  3. 1895 – Rebuilds a fishing boat and sets sail around the world, from Boston.
  4. 1898 – returns home; 1899 – publishes a book. “Boys who do not like this book ought to be drowned at once."
  5. Buys a farm, but “he found he could not adapt to a settled life”
  6. Winters in the Carribean on board of “Spray”.
  7. Charged with raping a 12 year old girl. 45 days in prison.
  8. 1909 – dies while sailing to West Indies.


yellow: for geographical locations (show to students the locations mentioned on the map, tell to write them down, with date, and draw a map); Explain how to find latitude and longitude, as you go along.

Latitude – широта (измеряется от экватора вверх, северная широта, и вниз, южная широта. Измеряется в градусах и минутах.)

Longitude – долгота (измеряется от Prime Meridian, который проходит через старую обсерваторию в Гринвиче, Англия; к западу – западная долгота, к востоку – восточная; единицы измерения – градусы и минуты.) Надо показать на карте. Обычай праздновать среди моряков, когда проходишь либо из Восточного полушария в Западное (в Средиземном море, например), либо из северного полушария в южное (через экватор).

blue: for technical details useful for sailing;

violet: for social customs

green: for philosophical insights (students should make note of these).

How, as a child in kindergarten, I dreamt of sailing the ship that was in the playground. I thought that maybe a little water under it would make it float! Or I dreamt of a city-wide deluge, that would lift the boat, and make it flow out!


  1. Learn actual skill, as well as being able to write, hence reflect on this experience (writing helps our thoughts to focus): “Although he apologized for his "hand, alas, that has grasped the sextant more often than the plane or pen," he was clearly as gifted a writer as he was a shipwright and navigator, being able, in direct and vigorous prose, to convey a vivid and poetic picture of the voyage with its many dangers and delights”. Point: to learn to see the actual world, and describe it, and your feelings in it.


  1. Born in the U.S., Nova Scotia, middle of XIX century, father a farmer, although knows a lot about ships.
  2. As a lad – a cook on a fisher-schooner, then as a sailor on a sailing ship on a foreign voyage, then a captain.
  3. Shipwrecked on Aquidneck off the coast of Brazil, made a canoe, Liberdade, and made it back to New York, with his family, w/out accident.
  4. Accustomed to life on seas, forgot the ways of the land, studied the sea.
  5. “Next in attractiveness, after seafaring, came shipbuilding. I longed to be master in both professions, and in a small way, in time, I accomplished my desire. From the decks of stout ships in the worst gale I had made calculations as to the size and sort of ship safest for all weather and all seas.”
  6. Offered a ship that badly needed repair – Spray.
  7. Cuts himself an oak tree for a keel and the frame. The ribs (шпангоуты) were boiled in a pot, bent over a log, and secured until set. Planks for the vessel – made of pine, 1.5 inches (i.e. approx. 3.5 centimeters thick.
  8. Attempted to make the hull as strong as possible.
  9. “The Spray's dimensions were, when finished, thirty-six feet nine inches long over all, fourteen feet two inches wide, and four feet two inches deep in the hold, her tonnage being nine tons net and twelve and seventy-one hundredths tons gross.”
  10. “The cost of my new vessel was $553.62 for materials, and thirteen months of my own labour. I was several months more than that at Fairhaven, for I got work now and then on an occasional whale-ship fitting farther down the harbour, and that kept me the overtime.” Works part-time to earn money.


  1. No work – decides to accept the old vessel
  2. 555 dollars of materials and 13 months of work.
  3. “Will she pay?” people asked.


  1. First, spends some time fishing.
  2. Resolved on voyage around the world. Leaves Boston on April 24, 1895. (Pictures)
  3. Mood: “A thrilling pulse beat high in me. My step was light on deck in the crisp air. I felt that there could be no turning back, and that I was engaging in an adventure the meaning of which I thoroughly understood. I had taken little advice from anyone, for I had a right to my own opinions in matters pertaining to the sea.”
  4. Speed in a fresh wind – 7-8 knots.
  5. Came to port in Gloucester to pick up supplies for the voyage. Giver a fisherman’s light as a present. People try to help him to achieve the voyage. Same spirit I have met in Spain, in the Caucasus, etc.
  6. Covers bottom with antifouling paint (based on copper).
  7. Takes a half-dory as a raft. This could be used as a tub, and for washing.
  8. Spirit of make-do, using what’s at hand, rather than imitating someone, and asking for money.
  9. Spent 2 weeks in G., sets sail on May 7th.
  10. Sails in to Yarmouth, where picks up some butter, potatoes, and water. Stress that this narrative has its parallel in other voyages of discovery that we undertake. One example would be trying to understand our own society, its history and its current ills.


  1. Can not make money fishing
  2. Decides to go sailing around the world.

(This chapter can be skipped)


  1. Leaves Yarmouth, leaves the coast of America (early July). Sails for Atlantic.
  2. High waves and dense fog: “in the dismal fog I felt myself drifting into loneliness, an insect on a straw in the midst of the elements. I lashed the helm, and my vessel held her course, and while she sailed I slept.”
  3. Recollects his life, during these days.
  4. Needs to fight the feeling of loneliness: “The loneliness of my state wore off when the gale was high and I found much work to do. When fine weather returned, then came the sense of solitude, which I could not shake off.” Uses music to shake off loneliness: sings to himself. Often, if a person wants to go far, s/he needs to travel alone, or in a very small company. Thus a need to be self-reliant.
  5. The ship was making an average of 150 miles/day, i.e. around 250 km.
  6. Around Azores meets a grizzly captain. The captain of Java lowers the flag before Spray.
  7. Gradually, feeling of solitude wears away. Neptune allows him to “go on and explore”. (Meaning of the voyage at this stage).
  8. July 19 – spots land. It is Flores Island (part of Azores).
  9. July 20 – sees Pico. “Only those who have seen the Azores from the deck of a vessel realize the beauty of the mid-ocean picture.” (38 degrees) (Meaning - beauty).
  10. Islanders offer him a lot of fruit, for free. Hospitality. “It was the kindness of the islanders and their touching simplicity which detained me.”


  1. Sails in July. Weather is good in summer.
  2. Sails from Yarmouth (Canada). Show map.
  3. Music is important at sea. Need to disturb loneliness.
  4. 100-150 miles per day.
  5. Book based on entries in the log.
  6. Azores – in 18 days from Nova Scotia.


  1. Leaves Azores July 24. As squall came, he brought the ship to the wind. A sailor helps him to mend the ropes: “Let one be without a friend, and see what will happen!” Moral - friends can be picked up in the course of a voyage.
  2. In the mid-seas he becomes delirious, because of plums and white cheese he has eaten. Thinks his ship is guided by one of Columbus’ sailors. “Great seas were boarding the Spray but in my fevered brain I thought they were boats falling on deck, that careless draymen were throwing from wagons on the pier to which I imagined the Spray was now moored, and without fenders to breast her off. "You'll smash your boats!" I called out again and again, as the seas crashed on the cabin over my head. "You'll smash your boats, but you can't hurt the Spray. She is strong !" I cried.” Important for a sailor: a belief in the strength and seaworthiness of his boat.
  3. Harpoons a large turtle. Makes a steak out of it. (Mention your experience in seeing turtles in the ocean!)
  4. August 1st: “At 3 p.m. the jib was washed off the bowsprit and blown to rags and ribbons”. Makes rags out of the sail.
  5. “One great feature about ship's cooking is that one's appetite on the sea is always” – I remember that I was always hungry on board Bat’kivschina.
  6. After dinner, reads the life of Columbus. When one is making long voyages by oneself, one becomes very self-conscious, for the only one who controls oneself is oneself. Thus, physical and mental health become a constant object of self-observation.
  7. August 4th – sees Spain. Trip took 29 days. Passes through Gibraltar (there is a picture). Width of G. - 10 km, current into the Med. from Atlantic = 2 knots.
  8. “So far as I know, the Spray beat everything going across the Atlantic except the steamers.”
  9. Admiral Bruce, of U.K., at Gibraltar, helps with repairing the ship – the jib was torn.
  10. “Vegetables twice a week and milk every morning came from the palatial grounds of the admiralty.”
  11. Rambles through the city of Gibraltar. Criticize for having no scientific plans for expedition, like that of Darwin. For example, it is possible to read before hand about the place where one is sailing, and see for real the places which are mentioned in the guide. Guide needs to be not simply "tourist", but in line with one's own general direction of interest. However, in the beginning it is enough to learn to build one's boat and learn to sail it. 


  1. Reads life of Columbus.
  2. Birds fly to land
  3. Comes to Spain, then Gibraltar.
  4. Takes 29 days to cross the Atlantic.

Many invitations and visits.


  1. August 25th – sails from Gibraltar.
  2. He wanted “to proceed up the Mediterranean Sea, through the Suez Canal, down the Red Sea”, but changed the course, due to pirates.
  3. But once he got back to Atlantic, he was followed by a felucca. When he looses control of the ship, because of a great wave, he again comes “in the wind”. An important maneuver to remember.
  4. “I fully realized now, if I had not before, that the voyage ahead would call for exertions ardent and lasting … But I was happy, and was becoming more and more interested in the voyage.”
  5. To rest, he lashed the helm, and went to sleep.
  6. Sept. 1st – Canary Islands (picture in multimedia map).
  7. Some build sailing ships to imitate those which were seen in previous centuries. But: the point of sailing is not to dream of “good old days”, but to develop a sense of exploration, to have time to think and rest from business on land, to adopt oneself to living on the oceans, to have the kind of work which finely contrasts with mental work, to enjoy the site of great ocean and the feel of its waves, the sun and the wind, to become stronger through overcoming the storms and crew problems.
  8. Employs free time on board of ship for reading and writing, in addition to doing ship work.
  9. Cooking was simple to be done fast.
  10. September 25th, speaks to ship North Star, he is at latitude 5’ North, and longitude 25’30’’ West. Crosses the equator at 29’30’’ West.
  11. October 5th – sets anchor at Pernambuco harbor (Recife, Brazil: there are pictures). It took 40 days from Gibraltar.
  12. In Brazil he meets an old wealthy friend, who provisions his ship.
  13. October 23rd – leaves P. He has a yacht license, which allows him not to pay harbor dues.
  14. November 5th – arrives at Rio de Janeiro (pictures).
  15. “As I had decided to give the Spray a yawl rig for the tempestuous waters of Patagonia, I here placed on the stern a semicircular brace to support a jigger mast.” (Here: fist, show picture of Spray in book, then picture of yawl in your book, p.31.)


  1. Encounters pirates off Gibraltar. Pirate ship dismasted by heavy seas. Has a gun.
  2. No crew dissension.
  3. Canary Islands.
  4. Spends time reading, writing, with ship matters.
  5. 40 days from Gibraltar – hits Brazil.

Arrives to Rio de Janeiro.


  1. Nov.28 – leaves Rio de Janeiro (here, I can show pictures).
  2. December 11 – due to strong north current, the ship sails close to the shore, and runs aground. So, what does the future captain do in this situation? “I managed to launch my small dory from the deck, and ran out a kedge-anchor and warp (трос)”.
  3. J.S. could not swim.
  4. “The adventure cost the Spray no small amount of pounding on the hard sand; she lost her shoe and part of her false keel, and received other damage, which, however, was readily mended afterward in dock.” Goes to Maldonado.
  5. Instinct for hospitality: “I asked the young pirate why he had brought them [flowers] to me. Said he, ‘I don't know; I only wished to do so.’ Whatever the influence was that put so amiable a wish in this wild pampa boy, it must be far-reaching, thought I, and potent, seas over.”
  6. At Montevideo (Uruguay), the ship is repaired for free. (Play U. music)
  7. December 29th – sails up the river to Buenos Aires (Argentina). (A. music + pictures)
  8. “The course of the Spray had been followed in the columns of the ‘Standard.’”
  9. “I unshipped the sloop's mast at Buenos Aires and shortened it by seven feet. I reduced the length of the bowsprit by about five feet”.

Ch. 6

  1. Runs aground. Almost washed to sea, when trying to lay an anchor in a boat.

Comes to Montevideo. Recieves a hospitable welcome.


  1. January 1896 – leaves Buenos Aires. “The Plate is a treacherous place for storms. One sailing there should always be on the alert for squalls.” (Show the Plate)
  2. “one day, well off the Patagonian coast, while the sloop was reaching under short sail, a tremendous wave, the culmination, it seemed, of many waves, rolled down upon her in a storm, roaring as it came. I had only a moment to get all sail down and myself up on the peak halyards, 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, but rose quickly out of it, and rode grandly over the rollers that followed. It may have been a minute that from my hold in the rigging I could see no part of the Sprays hull. Perhaps it was even less time than that, but it seemed a long while, for under great excitement one lives fast, and in a few seconds one may think a great deal of one's past life. Not only did the past, with electric speed, flash before me, but I had time while in my hazardous position for resolutions for the future that would take a long time to fulfill. The first one was, I remember, that if the Spray came through this danger I would dedicate my best energies to building a larger ship on her lines, which I hope yet to do … However, the incident, which filled me with fear, was only one more test of the Sprays worthiness. It reassured me against rude Cape Horn.” It’s important to feel confidence in one’s vessel.
  3. February 1 – the ship enters the Strait of Magellan. (Note: it’s not necessary to sail all around the South America). Meets a gale. Casts anchor at Sandy Point February 14, 1896. An example of a social critique: “the natives, Patagonian and Fuegian, on the other hand, were as squalid as contact with unscrupulous traders could make them. A large percentage of the business there was traffic in "fire-water." If there was a law against selling the poisonous stuff to the natives, it was not enforced. Fine specimens of the Patagonian race, looking smart in the morning when they came into town, had repented before night of ever having seen a white man, so beastly drunk were they, to say nothing about the peltry of which they had been robbed.”
  4. “I took great care against all kinds of surprises, whether by animals or by the elements.” This is the most difficult part of the voyage.

Ch. 7

  1. Enters the strait of Magellan. Encounters: 1) strong winds, squalls – can lay down a ship even without sails; 2) wild savages – shoots, but not to hit.


  1. 3rd March – plunges into the Pacific. “In such a time as this the old fisherman prayed, ‘Remember, Lord, my ship is so small and thy sea is so wide!’” Encountering violent wind, the ship strips all sails(i.e. drifting I suppose with a sea anchor?). “Anyhow, for my present safety the only course lay in keeping her before the wind. [Nose to the wind, or stern to the wind?] And so she drove southeast, as though about to round the Horn … She was running now with a reefed forestaysail, the sheets flat amidship. I paid out two long ropes to steady her course and to break combing seas astern, and I lashed the helm amidship.”. Grows seasick, no cooking: “in no part of the world could a rougher sea be found than at this particular point, namely, off Cape Pillar, the grim sentinel of the Horn.”
  2. In rough seas, keep farther to the seas, to avoid being crushed on land: “Farther offshore, while the sea was majestic, there was less apprehension of danger.”
  3. When in rough seas, run on reefed foresail only, the smallest sail: “It was indeed a mountainous sea. When the sloop was in the fiercest squalls, with only the reefed forestaysail set, even that small sail shook her from keelson to truck when it shivered by the leech (задняя шкаторина паруса).”
  4. “Hail and sleet in the fierce squalls cut my flesh till the blood trickled over my face; but what of that?”
  5. March 8 – finds a shelter: “Every heartbeat on the Spray now counted thanks.”
  6. “I always kept a quantity of ammunition within reach in the hold and in the cabin and in the forepeak, so that retreating to any of these places I could "hold the fort" simply by shooting up through the deck.” Savages attempted to climb on board at night. Need to carry a gun.
  7. When encountering a bad wind, go along with it. From Pacific he is thrown back east: “This was retracing my course toward Sandy Point, for the gale was from the southwest.”


  1. Almost thrown on a reef in the Strait of Magellan. Forced to sail back a few days because of the wind. No sail. Pays out ropes.

Puts tack nails on board to guard off against night intruders. Shoots at them.


  1. Savages using various deceits (such as women begging for food) attempt to capture the vessel: “Before pushing off from the sloop the cunning savage asked for matches, and made as if to reach with the end of his spear the box I was about to give him; but I held it toward him on the muzzle of my rifle, the one that "kept on shooting”.
  2. Captain of an American ship offers him provisions for free.
  3. Finds wreckages of a ship, and picks up tallow and wine, to trade later on.

Ch. 9

  1. Negotiates a free passage with a bandit – gives him a knife as a “present”, instead of a gun he asked for.

Picks up tallow to trade from some shipwreck.


  1. Sleet and snow: “all covered with snow, which fell thick and fast, till she looked like a white winter bird.” Need of warm clothes.
  2. Savages shoot arrows at him.
  3. 6 times attempts to sail out into the Pacific. Then decides to wait for favorable season. First weeks of April – southeast winds at Cape Horn.
  4. Discovers an island in the Straits of Magellan, which on the map is shown as a piece of land. Puts up a sign: “Keep off the grass”.
  5. Leaves Tierre del Fuego on April 13, 1896 (his 7th attempt).
  6. “It is a fact that in Magellan I let pass many ducks that would have made a good stew, for I had no mind in the lonesome strait to take the life of any living thing.”
  7. April 26 – Juan Fernandez islands. Moored at a port there.
  8. He is told of a war between Chile and Argentina. His outlook – that of a philistine. A sailor needs to be aware of the international events.


Makes out into the Pacific.


  1. Teaches the islanders the art of making buns and doughnuts. “I did not charge a high price for what I sold, but the ancient and curious coins I got in payment, some of them from the wreck of a galleon sunk in the bay no one knows when, I sold afterward to antiquarians for more than face-value. In this way I made a reasonable profit.”
  2. “The people lived without the use of rum or beer of any sort. There was not a police officer or a lawyer among them. The domestic economy of the island was simplicity itself. The fashions of Paris did not affect the inhabitants; each dressed according to his taste. Although there was no doctor, the people were all healthy, and the children' were all beautiful. There were about forty-five souls on the island all told … The greatest drawback I saw in the island was the want of a school. A class there would necessarily be small, but to some kind soul who loved teaching and quietude, life on Juan Fernandez would, for a limited time, be one of delight.”
  3. “On the morning of May 5, I sailed from Juan Fernandez, having feasted on many things but on nothing sweeter than the adventure itself”. Meaning of the trip - adventure.
  4. “no man, I think, could stand or sit and steer a vessel round the world: I did better than that; for I sat and read my books, mended my clothes, or cooked my meals and ate them in peace. I had already found that it was not good to be alone, and so I made companionship with what there was around me, sometimes with the universe and sometimes with my own insignificant self; but my books were always my friends, let fail all else”.
  5. Each day takes position of his ship, marks it on chart.
  6. He is guided on the voyage at night by the stars, and during the day by the sun: “The sun every morning came up astern; every evening it went down ahead”, i.e. from the east to the west, where he is sailing.
  7. Spirit of novelty: “it was my ship on her course, sailing as no other ship had ever sailed before in the world.”
  8. The sun – creator of winds all over the earth. Hence, idea of “solar sailing”. Philosophy of usual sailing - preparation for space explorations.
  9. 43rd day of sailing the Pacific – sees the island of “Nukahiva, the southernmost of the Marquesas group”. (Picture)
  10. “I sailed on with self-reliance unshaken”.
  11. On finding one’s position: “To find local time is a simpler matter. The difference between local and standard time is longitude expressed in time – four minutes, we all know, representing one degree. This, briefly, is the principle on which longitude is found independent of chronometers.”


  1. Visits Juan Fernandez islands – home of Robinson Crusoe
  2. After 43 days makes it to Marqueses Islands.


  1. On being alone: “TO be alone forty-three days would seem a long time, but in reality, even here, winged moments flew lightly by, and instead of my hauling in for Nukahiva, which I could have made as well as not, I kept on for Samoa (Pictures, fun), where I wished to make my next landing. This occupied twenty-nine days more, making seventy-two days in all. I was not distressed in any way during that time. There was no end of companionship; the very coral reefs kept me company, or gave me no time to feel lonely, which is the same thing”.
  2. Encounters whales.
  3. “My diet on these long passages usually consisted of potatoes and salt cod and biscuits, which I made two or three times a week. I had always plenty of coffee, tea, sugar, and flour … what I lacked of fresh meat was made up in fresh fish, at least while in the trade-winds, where flying-fish crossing on the wing at night would hit the sails and fall on deck, sometimes two or three of them, sometimes a dozen.”
  4. July 16th – Samoa, Apia.
  5. Greeting at Samoa: “Love to you, chief”.
  6. Reason for voyage – general curiosity. “"What for you come long way?" they asked. "To hear you ladies sing," I replied.” Reason for the voyage is continually redefined.
  7. Encounters wife of Robert L. Stevenson, who gives him books as present.
  8. Mentality changes: “As I sailed farther from the centre of civilization I heard less and less of what would and what would not pay. Mrs. Stevenson, in speaking of my voyage, did not once ask me what I would make out of it. When I came to a Samoan village, the chief did not ask the price of gin, or say, "How much will you pay for roast pig?" …On the tree there is fruit. Let the day go by; why should we mourn over that? There are millions of days coming. The bread-fruit is yellow in the sun, and from the cloth-tree is Taloa's gown. Our house, which is good, cost but the labour of building it, and there is no lock on the door."” Despises capitalist mentality, praises primitive society.
  9. The chief: “It was perfectly natural for him to inquire the object of my visit, and I was sincere when I told him that my reason for casting anchor in Samoa was to see their fine men and fine women, too. After a considerable pause the chief said: "The captain has come a long way to see so little; but," he added, "the tapo must sit nearer the captain”


  1. Comes to Samoa. Entertained by a chief. Likes to hear as less as possible “Will it pay?”, e.g. as he was asked about the Spray.


  1. August 20, 1896 – leaves Samoa. Sails north of Fiji. Arrives at Newcastle (Australia, near Sydney) (Pictures) after 43 days of storms and gales. The Spray “had had a dry deck while the passengers on the steamer, I heard later, were up to their knees in water in the saloon. When their ship arrived at Sydney they gave the captain a purse of gold for his skill and seamanship in bringing them safe into port.”
  2. Arrives at Sydney October 10, 1896. In Sydney, “They ‘recognized’ the Spray as belonging to ‘a club of her own’”. That’s a mark of the great.
  3. December 6, 1896 – leaves Sydney. Sails for Mauritius (in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar).
  4. Lands at Wilson’s Promontory (мыс), Australia. “Captain Young and I explored the shores, visited abandoned miners' pits, and prospected for gold ourselves.” Curiosity.
  5. At Melbourne, Slocum was charged money for tonnage. So: “I squared the matter by charging people sixpence each for coming on board, and when this business got dull I caught a shark and charged them sixpence each to look at that. The shark was twelve feet six inches in length … Then I hired a good Irishman, Tom Howard by name, who knew all about sharks, both on the land and in the sea, and could talk about them, to answer questions and lecture. When I found that I could not keep abreast of the questions I turned the responsibility over to him … The income from the show and the proceeds of the tallow I had gathered in the Strait of Magellan, the last of which I had disposed of to a German soap-boiler at Samoa, put me in ample funds”. Inventive.
  6. Encounters dust storm, feels like mud.
  7. Sails for Tasmania (Picture). The ship runs aground, and so “to float her, the ground was dug from under her keel.” In Tasmania he rests, while 3 children explain everything to visitors.


Makes to Australia. Kills shark and exhibits it, with a lecturer, to make money. Also, sold tallow that he picked from a shipwreck.


  1. Gets a letter of sympathy, with a 5 pound note.
  2. People become interested in his adventure, and so he gives a lecture, with a piano and a comedian in the hall. Nets 3 pounds, as the owner of the hall would not take rent.
  3. The ship was supplied by jams and jellies by a mistress of the port. He was also given bottles of wine.
  4. Slocum feels nervous when lecturing. The only way to get over one’s nervousness is to rely on one’s knowledge, and speak to the point.
  5. Bottom of his boat once more coated with copper paint.
  6. “If there was a moment in my voyage when I could have given it up, it was there and then; but no vacancies for a better post being open, I weighed anchor April 16, 1897, and again put to sea.”
  7. Returns to Sydney, April 22, 1897.
  8. He is well supplied with maps.


Sails around Australia, Tasmania. Encounters a yacht bound for destruction because the crew doesn’t know about sailing.


  1. Came to Bowen, Australia, where he lectures.
  2. Sails Barrier Reef Channel.
  3. June 8th – hits a reef.
  4. From Home Island to Sunday Island. Leaves Australia to the West!
  5. Heads for Thursday Island, in the Torres Strait. “Meanwhile I spent pleasant days about the island. Mr. Douglas, resident magistrate, invited me on a cruise in his steamer one day among the islands in Torres Strait. This being a scientific expedition in charge of Professor Mason Bailey, botanist, we rambled over Friday and Saturday islands, where I got a glimpse of botany. Miss Bailey, the professor's daughter, accompanied the expedition, and told me of many indigenous plants with long names.” I feel that a yacht/submarine is only a pleasant, right environment to do research. The direction of this research should be knowledge in general, “search”, as symbolized by the very mode of living. More directly, like in “Nautilus”, the captain should aim for liberation of all the oppressed people of the world. To this purpose, s/he can help in a variety of ways: through delivering money, through transporting the rebels, through providing plans and guidance for an insurgence. Aim of a sailing ship: a) education of the youth through labor, lectures, reading, thinking and sailing; b) environment for research; c) lifestyle of the future - preparation for a space voyage; d) a way of learning about the societies and people of the world, and uniting with the oppressed in struggle.
  6. June 24th – after attending a native carnival, sails for Indian Ocean.
  7. “It is true that one may encounter heavy gales off the Cape of Good Hope at any season of the year, but in the summer they are less frequent and do not continue so long.” July is midwinter there. So, he decides to go first to Keeling Islands.
  8. Booby Island – “In those days passing ships landed stores in a cave on the island for shipwrecked and distressed wayfarers. Captain Airy of the Soushay, a good man, sent a boat to the cave with his contribution to the general store.” Also, mail service.
  9. Enters Arafura Sea.
  10. I got out the flying-jib made at Juan Fernandez, and set it as a spinnaker from the stoutest bamboo that Mrs. Stevenson had given me at Samoa. The spinnaker pulled like a sodger, and the bamboo holding its own, the Spray mended her pace.”
  11. Makes about 130 miles per day.
  12. July 2nd – Timor. Then, Christmas Island.


Sails to Christmas Island (around Indonesia, property of Australia)


  1. The first unmistakable sign of the land was a visit one morning from a white tern that fluttered very knowingly about the vessel, and then took itself off westward with a businesslike air in its wing.
  2. July 17, 1897 – lands at Keeling Islands (Cocos Islands, Aus.), 23 days after Thursday Island. Distance – 2700 miles.
  3. Customs at Keeling Islands: “The people of this country were all rather shy, but, young or old, they never passed one or saw one passing their door without a salutation. In their musical voices they would say, "Are you walking?" ("Jalan, jalan?") "Will you come along?" one would answer.”
  4. One of his hands is lame.
  5. “I had plenty of friends about the island, rain or shine.” People come to those who are traveling far.
  6. The women at the Keelings do not do all the drudgery, as in many places visited on the voyage. It would cheer the heart of a Fuegian woman to see the Keeling lord of creation up a cocoa-nut tree. Besides cleverly climbing the trees, the men of Keeling build exquisitely modelled canoes. By far the best workmanship in boat- building I saw on the voyage was here.
  7. Makes sense to have removable ballast: “The tridacna were afterward procured in a safe boat, thirty of them taking the place of three tons of cement ballast, which I threw overboard to make room and give buoyancy.
  8. August 22 – leaves for the island of Rodriguez. Tired of the motion of the sea. “ I could see about sundown this day a bunch of clouds that stood in one spot, right ahead, while the other clouds floated on; this was a sign of something.” Land.
  9. Spray inspires the youth: “The governor's young boys took charge of the Spray's dinghy at once, and my visit cost his Excellency, besides great hospitality to me, the building of a boat for them like the one belonging to the Spray”.
  10. Point of the voyage, for S.: “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! "Aladdin," I cried, "where is your lamp? My fisherman's lantern, which I got at Gloucester, has shown me better things than your smoky old burner ever revealed.” Gets gold from the governor. At Rodriguez – plenty and cheap food.


  1. 16th Sept. – leaves Rodriguez, 19th – arrives at Mauritius (near Madagascar).
  2. Jests, makes a story, so “on the strength of this tale it got out that if any one should go on board after dark the devil would get him at once. And so I could leave the Spray without the fear of her being robbed at night.”
  3. Gets free use of the Opera house to tell of Spray’s adventures. Again, invited to governor’s house. Stormy season at Cape of Good Hope, so he waits out in M. People everywhere are pleased that J.S. has come.
  4. Young women are most eager to sail and to swim. “No ship ever had a fairer crew.” Women should be given a chance, sailing should be propagandized among them.
  5. “While at Mauritius the Spray was tendered the use of the military dock free of charge, and was thoroughly refitted by the port authorities. My sincere gratitude is also due other friends for many things needful for the voyage put on board, including bags of sugar from some of the famous old plantations.”
  6. 26th October – Spray to sea. Goes for Cape St. Mary, Madagascar. 17th November – Port Natal. City of Durban.
  7. When you are in new waters, watch the others, for lessons: “When she arrived off the port the pilot-ship, a fine, able steam-tug, came out to meet her, and led the way in across the bar, for it was blowing a smart gale and was too rough for the sloop to be towed with safety. The trick of going in I learned by watching the steamer; it was simply to keep on the windward side of the channel and take the combers end on.
  8. Introduced to Mr. Stanley, an explorer of South Africa. “He looked me over carefully, and said, "What an example of patience!" "Patience is all that is required," I ventured to reply.” Watertight compartments is a useful feature on a cruiser: rocks, sword-fish, etc.
  9. Struggle between the Bible (“the world is flat”) and actual experience of S.C. “The next day, seeing him across the street, I bowed and made curves with my hands. He responded with a level, swimming movement of his hands, meaning "the world is flat." Education in English was expensive, for rich only, and thus old religious notions prevailed among poor people.
  10. December 14, 1897 – leaves South Africa.

Ch. 17

Visits South Africa. They try to convince him that the world is flat. Takes some girls for a ride


  1. “On Christmas, 1897, I came to the pitch of the cape [of Good Hope]. 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 … 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. I got wet and did not like it a bit: never in any other sea was I put under more than once in the same short space of time, say three minutes.
  2. Light house at Agulhas: “At lonely stations like this hearts grow responsive and sympathetic, and even poetic. This feeling was shown toward the Spray along many a rugged coast, and reading many a kind signal thrown out to her gave one a grateful feeling for all the world.” Einstein suggested the job of lighthouse keeper is good for a theoretical physicist. I suggest the job of a sailor, as part of a crew, is good for a theorist in general.
  3. Sails into Cape Town, given free rail road pass, travels for 3 months. Goes to see Mr. Kruger, Pres. Of South African Republic, who insists that the world is flat.
  4. Invited to an observatory: “An hour with Dr. Gill was an hour among the stars. His discoveries in stellar photography are well known. He showed me the great astronomical clock of the observatory, and I showed him the tin clock on the Spray, and we went over the subject of standard time at sea, and how it was found from the deck of the little sloop without the aid of a clock of any kind. Later it was advertised that Dr. Gill would preside at a talk about the voyage of the Spray: that alone secured for me a full house. The hall was packed, and many were not able to get in. This success brought me sufficient money for all my needs in port and for the homeward voyage.”
  5. The ladies of all these institutions of learning wished to know how one might sail round the world alone, which I thought augured of sailing-mistresses in the future instead of sailing-masters. It will come to that yet if we men-folk keep on saying we "can't."
  6. The nearer one comes to capitalism, to civilization, the more thieves appear: “At the Keeling Islands, at Rodriguez, and at many such places, a wisp of cocoa-nut fibre in the door-latch, to indicate that the owner was away, secured the goods against even a longing glance. But when I came to a great island nearer home, stout locks were needed; the first night in port things which I had always left uncovered disappeared, as if the deck on which they were stowed had been swept by a sea.
  7. March 16, 1898 leaves South Africa, “the short heaving sea, precursor of the wind which followed on the second day.” On average a hundred fifty miles/day. Captain reads new books, e.g. Stevenson’s “Inland Voyage”. “a comber rolled over the stern and slopped saucily into the cabin, wetting the very book I was reading. Evidently it was time to put in a reef, that she might not wallow on her course.” Reef when the waves start to roll over.
  8. “Very early that morning I was awakened by that rare bird, the booby, with its harsh quack, which I recognized at once as a call to go on deck; it was as much as to say, "Skipper, there's land in sight." April 11 – St. Helena.


Reaches St. Helena.


  1. Governor of St. Helena arranges for 2 lectures – one for people in Jamestown, and another for him and officers.
  2. Went to see home of Napoleon. Of the French Counsel: “spend here days, months, and years of contentment, though they have never seen the world beyond the horizon of St. Helena”. Same thing may be said of the entire human race: we spend our days on Earth, never seeing the worlds beyond our planet. Astronomers attempt to show us pictures of other planets and galaxies. These we must explore, after we manage to control our own resources at Earth. Thus, training on a yacht/submarine is only a preparation for a voyage through stars. This is the concept of education for the future.
  3. Takes a goat aboard the ship, and that proves a disaster – the goat eats everything, including maps and ropes.
  4. Becomes a vegetarian: “In the loneliness of the dreary country about Cape Horn I found myself in no mood to make one life less in the world, except in self-defence, and as I sailed this trait of the hermit character grew till the mention of killing food-animals was revolting to me. However well I may have enjoyed a chicken stew afterward at Samoa, a new self rebelled at the thought suggested there of carrying chickens to be slain for my table on the voyage, and Mrs. Stevenson, hearing my protest, agreed with me that to kill the companions of my voyage and eat them would be indeed next to murder and cannibalism.” This attitude to safeguarding even animals contrasts greatly with what Americans are now doing in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, not to speak of Latin America.
  5. Indian Ocean – mosquitoes from the rain.
  6. Brings mail to Ascension island, and gets invitation from Governor to dine.
  7. Becomes friend of a sailor when he refuses to be ridden in a carriage led by the sailor. Instead, walks along.
  8. How to park a yacht: “On the 26th of April, while I was ashore, rollers came in which rendered launching a boat impossible. However, the sloop being securely moored to a buoy in deep water outside of all breakers, she was safe, while I, in the best of quarters, listened to well-told stories among the officers of the Stone Frigate.” Adventure is various experience.
  9. On May 8, 1898, she crossed the track, homeward bound, that she had made October 2, 1895, on the voyage out … I felt a contentment in knowing that the Spray had encircled the globe, and even as an adventure alone I was in no way discouraged as to its utility, and said to myself, "Let what will happen, the voyage is now on record." A period was made.


Crosses a point in the ocean that he passed in 1895 on his way out.


  1. I should be sure, in explaining to kids, that the form (the boat) does not hide the content, the gist – discovery, search. The form of search can take any form. “Yacht fanaticism”, narrow specialization is not to be encouraged. Rather, a wide outlook, horizon.
  2. Current carries him upward along the coast of Brazil.
  3. War at this time between Spain and the U.S. – Maine blown up, fighting for Cuba. This is reason – colonialism.
  4. The captain had no binoculars! Hence: no fancy gadgets are necessary for such a journey.
  5. May 17th – Devil’s island (off South America).
  6. May 20th – island of Tobago (near Trinidad),mistakes light from Trinidad for reefs. Desirable to have map.
  7. May 22nd – arrives at Grenada (42 days from Cape of Good Hope).
  8. Dominica – May 30th. Unwelcome. Could not buy a chart.
  9. Gives lecture at Antigua.


  1. Many think it is 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.”
  2. Horse latitudes – no wind. Sits for 8 days. “Anyhow, a philosophical turn of thought now was not amiss, else one's patience would have given out almost at the harbour entrance.” Uses the time to read.
  3. Sudden wind came, and rigging began to give in. He reefs and refits: “I had spare blocks and rope on board with which to rig it”. Need to take along spare parts. Which? Need to start slowly, to project…
  4. “In the Gulf Stream, thus late in June, hailstones were pelting the Spray, and lightning was pouring down from the clouds, not in flashes alone, but in almost continuous streams.”
  5. Meets tornado off New York, clears away all sailssea anchor. (I remember tornado in Stony Brook. We had to sit inside all quiet. The air afterward was remarkably clean: “The weather after the furious gale was remarkably fine.”)
  6. The experiences of the voyage of the Spray, reaching over three years, had been to me like reading a book, and one that was more and more interesting as I turned the pages”.
  7. Comes to Newport harbor, “At last she reached port in safety, and there at I 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”.
  8. I had profited in many ways by the voyage. I had even gained flesh, and actually weighed a pound more than when I sailed from Boston. As for ageing, why, the dial of my life was turned back till my friends all said, "Slocum is young again." And so I was, at least ten years younger than the day I felled the first tree for the construction of the Spray.” This I notice to be true. When one travels, one stays in good physical condition, maintains lively interest and keen mind.
  9. The ship – “She did not leak a drop - not one drop!”
  10. Returns the ship to Fairhaven, Ma. “I had myself a desire to return to the place of the very beginning whence I had, as I have said, renewed my age.”
  11. How he explains point of the voyage: “If the Spray discovered no continents on her voyage, it may be that there were no more continents to be discovered. She did not seek new worlds, or sail to pow-wow about the dangers of the sea. The sea has been much maligned. To find one's way to lands already discovered is a good thing (educational point), and the Spray made the discovery that even the worst sea is not so terrible to a well-appointed ship. No king, no country, no treasury at all, was taxed for the voyage of the Spray”. In other words, one does not need to be a rich man to undertake such a voyage, and one doesn’t need a “sponsor”. “To succeed, however, in anything at all, one should go understandingly about his work and be prepared for every emergency. I see, as I look back over my own small achievement, a kit of not too elaborate carpenters' tools, a tin clock, and some carpet-tacks … But above all to be taken into account were some years of schooling, where I studied with diligence Neptune's laws, and these laws I tried to obey when I sailed overseas; it was worth the while.”


Returns the Spray to her home port. Most important component of his voyage – his knowledge of the sea.


  1. The voice of the “experts”: “I was greatly amused, therefore, by the flat assertions of an expert that it could not be done.” Experts are to be ignored or made fun of.
  2. Modern day boat should have a computer, Internet, Radio, and a heater, or even a primitive wooden stove, like that on the Spray. These will allow for greater mental productivity and physical comfort.
  3. Dinghy may be stored amidships, instead of at the far aft.
  4. “In a sloop-rig the Spray made that part of her voyage reaching from Boston through the Strait of Magellan, during which she experienced the greatest variety of weather conditions. The yawl-rig then adopted was an improvement only in that it reduced the size of a rather heavy mainsail and slightly improved her steering qualities on the wind.” (Show pictures from Golimbievsky's printout)
  5. Practice is the best teacher.
  6. “Labour-saving appliances? There were none. The sails were hoisted by hand; the halyards were rove through ordinary ships' blocks with common patent rollers.”
  7. “I had three anchors, weighing forty pounds, one hundred pounds, and one hundred and eighty pounds respectively. The windlass … The ballast, concrete cement, was stanchioned down securely. There was no iron or lead or other weight on the keel.”
  8. “I did not know the centre of effort in her sails, except as it hit me in practice at sea, nor did I care a rope yarn about it. Mathematical calculations, however, are all right in a good boat, and the Spraycould have stood them. She was easily balanced and easily kept in trim.”
  9. The point: pleasure and prove man’s ability: “No one can know the pleasure of sailing free over the great oceans save those who have had the experience. It is not necessary, in order to realize the utmost enjoyment of going around the globe, to sail alone, yet for once and the first time there was a great deal of fun in it.”
  10. “To young men contemplating a voyage I would say go. The tales of rough usage are for the most part exaggerations, as also are the stories of sea danger … Dangers there are, to be sure, on the sea as well as on the land, but the intelligence and skill God gives to man reduce these to a minimum. To face the elements is, to be sure, no light matter when the sea is in its grandest mood. You must then know the sea, and know that you know it.” The point is for young men to make themselves stronger, through facing nature and the crew.
  11. “Practice in a craft such as the Spray will teach young sailors and fit them for the more important vessels (space ships). I myself learned more seamanship, I think, on the Spray than on any other ship I ever sailed, and as for patience, the greatest of all the virtues, even while sailing through the reaches of the Strait of Magellan, between the bluff mainland and dismal Fuego, where through intricate sailing I was obliged to steer, I learned to sit by the wheel, content to make ten miles a day beating against the tide, and when a month at that was all lost, I could find some old tune to hum while I worked the route all over again, beating as before. Nor did thirty hours at the wheel, in storm, overtax my human endurance, and to clap a hand to an oar and pull into or out of port in a calm was no strange experience for the crew of the Spray.” Teaches one patience.


To young men, he advices to go to the sea and not be afraid of its dangers. Advices to make most for the safety of the ship, not be concerned for appearances.

- Finis -

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.