Name

Joshua Slocum

Career

Mariner

Occupation 1

Sailor

Occupation 2

Single-handed

Identifier

Circumnavigation

Region

NA/New England region

Era

Age of Steam and Steel (1866-1920)

Born

1844

Died

1909

Source

RMc

Text

Born in 1844, in Nova Scotia, of parents who had been part of the Tory emigration from Massachusetts during the American Revolution. Father was a Methodist minister. Left home at sixteen to began his life as an oceangoing sailor. Eventually captained and owned substantial sailing ships that engaged in cargo transport throughout the world. Married an Australian girl in 1871, who often accompanied him to sea. Seven children born to them, of whom four survived at her death in 1884. Financial reversals and the decline of sailing ship industry put Slocum ashore in 1892, when he decided to restore a 100-year-old oyster sloop, the Spray, given to him in a state of advanced disrepair.After restoring it to seaworthiness, Slocum decided to sail it alone around the world. He had earlier written and published two accounts of troubled ocean passages and may have hoped to sell an account of this singular undertaking. His proffered altrnating explanations: "the love of advanture"; "nothing else to do."

He departed Boston on April 21, 1895, intending to cross the Atlantic into the Mediterranean and then proceed through the Suez Canal into the Indian and Pacific Oceans, returing home via an eastward passage around Cape Horn. But fears of piracy prompted him to change his route upon reaching Gibraltar and to sail back southwesterly across the Atlantic to Brazil, from whence he then sailed through the Strait of Magellan out into the Pacific. From there he sailed to Australia, where he had an extended stopover, before renewing his voyage by crossing the Indian Ocean, reaching the Cape of Good Hope on Christmas eve 1897. After another extended stopover,in South Africa, where he gave lectures on his trip, he completed the final Atlantic leg in the spring of 1898, arriving in Newport, Rhode Island, on June 27, 1898. The voyage took 3 years, 2 months and 2 days, and covered some 46,000 miles. It was generally acknowledged to be the first recorded solo circumnavigation.

Upon landing, Slocum secured a contract to publish his account of the voyage. It appeared in seven illustrated installments in Century Magazine (1899-1900)and then was published as a book, Sailing Alone Around the World , by Century in May 1900. The book sold more than 7000 copies in its first year and made Slocum an momentary attraction on the lecture circuit and earned him an introduction to President Theodore Roosevelt.

With the royalties from his book and lecturing, Slocum bought a house on Martha's Vineyard. From there he continued to sail the Spray on various coastal outings. In 1909 he decided to sail it down to Brazil, where he planned to sail up the Amazon River to its navigational limits. Setting off from Vineyard Haven on November 14, 1909, neither he nor the Spray was ever seen again.

Related Images

external image slocum.gif
external image spray.gif
Slocum sailed eastward from New Badford to Mediterranean, then back across the Atlantic to lower South America, from which he sailed westward through the Strait of Magellan into the Pacific; from there he sailed to Australia and then across the Indian Ocean to South Africa; from there, a third passage across the Atlantic to Newport.
Slocum sailed eastward from New Badford to Mediterranean, then back across the Atlantic to lower South America, from which he sailed westward through the Strait of Magellan into the Pacific; from there he sailed to Australia and then across the Indian Ocean to South Africa; from there, a third passage across the Atlantic to Newport.