Capt. Joshua Slocum - the adventures of Americas best known sailor
by Slocum, Victor
pub. by Sheridan House Dobbs Ferry, NY, USA - copyright 1950 - this is reprint of the 1972 edition isbn 0-924486-52-X - - 384 p. - - some maps -- index - - pictures b&w -
This is the biography of Joshua Slocum, the first man to sail alone around the world (July 1, -- 1898) written by his eldest son. Joshua was a master of his craft - a sailors sailor, and a boatbuilder as well. He lived at the end of the age of commercial sail and his best talents became more and more irrelevant as the twentieth century dawned. Slocum could and did captain steam ships, but his heart was not in it. He wrote a book The Voyage of the Destroyer about his delivery of an Erickson designed & built warship from New York to Brazil.
His family life can be divided into 3 parts. First, his rocky relationship with his farmer father. Second, his very successful marriage to his first wife, Virginia, who was a true partner to a ship captain. (She died of fever in S. America on board ship in port.) Third his marriage to his second wife, who sailed with him once, then settled and supplied a home ashore when Joshua was ashore.
Joshua Slocum was born in Nova Scotia, Canada. He later became a citizen of USA. He ran away from home and found work on fishing schooners, later ships and worked his way up to being a ship captain, hired by owners who were impressed with his talents. Later in his career Joshua held part or whole ownership of the ships he captained. At first he sailed the North Atlantic, often between England and USA. Later he sailed in the Pacific, San Francisco, Alaska, Australia (where he met and married Virginia), the Phillipines, Hong Kong and asiatic Russia.
After a shipwreck in S. America he and his sons built a 35 foot long boat, rigged it out and sailed home to USA from Brazil. At this early date it was unheard of to take such a small vessel on that long a trip, especially with a wife and family. For some time the Liberdade was held by the Smithsonian Inst. but eventually it was lost or discarded.
After a period of unemployment a shipcaptain friend gave Joshua a wreck of an oyster smack, the Spray as a joke. Joshua turned the joke around by rebuilding the boat, then sailing this boat (36 ft. long overall) around the world. He wrote up his adventures in Sailing Alone Around the World , a book which has been continuously in print for over 100 years.
Joshua Slocum disappeared when sailing from his home in Massachusetts to the Caribbean where he often wintered in his later years. Victor offers some theories on what happened, the one he finds most plausable is that the Spray was accidentally run down by a large steamer, which did not even feel the collision.
This book includes a lengthy discussion on the design and charactertistics of the Spray, special consideration given to self-steering and stability. Victor quotes the favorable Andrade study. He also sheds some light on how Capt. Slocum did lunars to determine navigational time at sea, and thus navigate with some reasonable precision. (This involved measuring the angle between the moon and another body such as the sun or a star. As the moon appears to travel across the sky much more rapidly than the motion of other bodies measuring the differential can give you time.) This technique became more and more unused with the advent of comparatively inexpensive chronometers and more recently the GPS system.
~ 2010-12-06 ~
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