People and boats: Joshua Slocum and «Spray.»

People and boats: Joshua Slocum and «Spray.»

The story of the first man to sail around the world, and also on a boat actually built by his own hands.
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I«was born under a breeze and, ignoring all the joys of life, studied the sea as perhaps few people in the world.»This frank admission characterizes Joshua Slocum, but only the final part of it is undoubtedly fair. Indeed, few have managed to learn the sea as well - for in his long life the captain managed almost five times (!) to circumnavigate the globe.

As for the sea breezes, they did not bend so much over the village of Mount Hanley, located a few miles off the coast of Fandy Bay (Canadian province of Nova Scotia), where on February 20, 1844 John and Sarah Slocombe (Sic!) had a fifth child, called the biblical name of Joshua. After graduating from two classes of rural school farmer's son expected hard work in the parental scrap of land in the summer and discipleship at the cobbler in winter.

The sea got closer when the Slocombe moved to Briar Island a few years later. In the rare free minutes, the boy and his peers sailed along Fandi Bay on homemade rafts and small boats, risking daily drowning (Captain Slocum never learned to swim well for the rest of his life).

However, a stern father (although he himself came from a family of sailors) did not approve of the «strange» hobby of one of his offspring by sea, seeing it only a future farmer. The inevitable result was that at the age of 14, Joshua ran away from home for the first time, becoming a junga (at the same time) and coca on a fishing schooner.

The debut was unsuccessful: dissatisfied with the young chef's culinary delights, the team almost rebelled, so he had to return to his parents' house.

But to keep on land the boy, who has discreetly turned into a young man, even the strictest father managed for a short time: 16-year-old Joshua left home for a second time, now forever, and was hired as a sailor on a merchant boat, carrying out long voyages to Japan, China and Australia.

Along with a new, truly bright life, he found a new last name, changing his parent «Slocombe to «Slocum»», which he was to glorify. However, life lessons learned as a child clearly benefited the future captain.

In his later memoirs, he frankly noted that his «father was one of the men who, after the shipwreck on a desert island, would have been able to return home with only a folding knife in his pocket and a suitable log».

Such a skill (and in the most literal sense) later very useful and Joshua himself ...

Robinson's return...

Year after year climbing the steep ladders of his maritime career, by the end of the 1850s, Slocum had become captain (and co-owner) of the clipper Nothern Light («Northern Lights»), who himself called the best American sailing ship of the time.

Fate continued to favor Joshua, both financially and personally: by the age of 30, he had climbed the captain's bridge of his own «Akuidnek bar»que, on which his wife and children would later swim with him. But fortune turned out to be a fickle lady...

On its last voyage, «Aquidnek» departed in February 1886 from New York Port to Montevideo, Uruguay, with a cargo of kerosene. Then, in modern terms, the bark had to work as a tramp boat in South America, and the search for appropriate cargo was to be handled by Slocum itself. Since the total duration of the enterprise was dictated by purely economic considerations, it could last for several years (!), so the captain was accompanied by his wife and two sons. The eldest of them, 15-year-old Victor, already acted as the captain's assistant, helping his father to manage the ship and a dozen sailors.

The start of the voyage was promising: in just 24 hours the barque was hit by a hurricane, and the wind speed sometimes reached 80 knots!

Given the forced parking on the islands of Green Cape, it took almost two months to reach the Uruguayan coast. «Akuidnek» then worked hard again for over a year between the various ports of Brazil and Argentina, carrying a wide variety of cargo, from wine and mate to steam engines and even ... piano!

In that time, the crew had cholera (four died) and the barca had to stay quarantined for six months. The attempt to hire new sailors was not successful: most of them ran away, barely getting an advance, and the rest conceived to capture the barque.

Fortunately, in time awakened by his wife (as you can see, a woman on the ship can bring good luck!) Slocum at the right moment appeared on deck with a rifle and two shots put two armed with knives rebels. The result was a trial - an ambulance and a right. The captain was acquitted and he safely returned to his ship, which his son Victor had brought to Montevideo by then. However, the misfortunes continued to haunt «Akuidnek»: a smallpox epidemic had begun in this Uruguayan port, so once again Slocam had to replace his crew almost completely...

Fatal blow of fate struck in December 1887: having accepted the cargo of the forest at a raid near the Brazilian town of Guaracasawa, the barque was thrown to the shore when it went out to sea. It was not possible to save the ship and its cargo. The ship and its family were left without money on a wild Brazilian shore, just like Robinson Crusoe on a desert island.

The situation seemed desperate, but... not only a folding knife was found in the captain's pocket, but the deceased Akuidnek «»provided him with as many logs as he liked.

In addition, from the barque managed to save many really valuable (for a sailor) things - first of all, a compass, navigation charts and even a fully functional chronometer.

All we had to do was build a boat and get back home on it! It was decided - done: in less than five months, Slokam, together with his wife and two sons (17 and 8 years old) built a 35-foot boat from improvised materials, with a draft of only 2 ft. 6" (about 70 cm), equipped it with the type of Chinese junk and in honor of the abolition of slavery in Brazil called Liberdade («Freedom»).

Then it's simple: the boat with its small but brave crew went out to sea and in 55 days, traveled more than 5500 miles to the coast of South Carolina - ie, with an average speed of at least 4 knots - and then solemnly arrived in his native Boston.

As you can see, Slocum's debut as a shipbuilder was quite successful, but so was his first attempt to test his abilities as a writer. In 1890, his first book, The «Journey of Liberdade», was published in Boston, from which the reader can learn all the details of the last voyage of «Akuindek» and the triumphant return «of Freedom». This book has brought the novice author some fame and a fairly substantial fee, so necessary to the captain, suddenly broke. All the more so because new trials awaited him...

Birth «of Spray»

In 1892, the 48-year-old Slocum was, by his own definition, literally «thrown» ashore. At sea, the sail was increasingly giving way to a pair. Proud barracks and clippers were converted into coal barges, and their captains lost their jobs. What can we say about a rather old (by the standards of that time) sailor who lost his ship, and with him - and almost all his fortune.

Joshua was faced with a painful choice: to keep trying to find work in his main occupation or to get a job at the shipyard. The latter option seemed increasingly preferable to him, but he had to pay as much as $50 as an entrance fee to the Shipbuilding Guild to implement it. The unemployed captain had no extra money, but... ...but His Majesty the Case came to the rescue.

An old friend of Slocum's offered to give him a ship, but humbly noted that it required «some» repairs. The promised ship was the «Spray», an old oyster sloop built (probably) at the very beginning of the 19th century.

By the time they first met, the «spray was» standing in the clear field at more than a respectable distance from the sea, waiting to be disassembled for firewood.

Will«you break it?» -Asked Slocum. «No, rebuild!» - he answered firmly and sank into work.

Nowadays it may seem unbelievable that one person, without special education and special experience, actually built and equipped an 11-meter ship with the simplest tools - an axe, a saw, a hammer, a bit and a hand drill.

No plastic, fibreglass or sealants: an oak chunk cut down in the adjacent field was placed on the stem, and bends were collected from it. By the way, the boiler and steam chamber were built by Slokam himself for their production.

The 1.5-inch (almost 4 cm!) cladding and deck planking were made of pine, the bulwark was made of white oak, and the grooves were punctured with cotton and oak. It took 13 months of dedicated work to build a boat that was to become a true legend of the departing age of Sails, going board by board. Here are its basic dimensions:

  • Length: 36 ft. 9" (11,2 м)
  • Width: 14 ft. 2" (4,3 м)
  • Precipitation: 4 ft. 2" (1,3 м)
  • Capacity (net/gross): 9/12.75 reg. tons.

It should be noted that rebuilding the old sloop, Slocum had already prepared it for long voyages in advance, having raised the surface board in the bow by 18", in the stern by 14", and on boards by 12" (45, 35 and 30 cm respectively). «The vessel, rebuilt by Slokam», was in fact completely new.

According to the captain himself, all that survived from the old «Spray» was a carved clipboard and a windlass. The latter, however, was an ordinary horizontal hand winch, by means of which the only crew member in the future had to lift one of the three anchors - weighing 18, 45 or 80 kg - from any ground.

According to Slocum's calculations, the total cost of creating a new «Spray» reached $553.62, a very respectable amount for the 1890s.

In terms of modern «cheap» dollars, it is about $14,200, but today for this money can hardly count on the repetition of such a shipbuilding masterpiece (especially from natural materials).

Let us make it clear that the «Spray» has never been the boat itself, i.e. a sailing boat, the layout and design of which involves a whole range of additional measures to ensure stability and maximum speed.

So he had no falschik, and the normal keel wasn't additionally weighed with lead or iron.

Stability was ensured by a ballast of concrete blocks securely stuck by special posts. The amount and location of the ballast could be adjusted, including replacing part of it with a useful load. For example, with giant tridac sinks, a hundred of which were subsequently loaded by Slokam while sailing in the South Seas for subsequent sale.

In addition to the fairly extensive living quarters, the 10x12 ft stern half-cuttings. (3,05x3,65 m) and galley windshield of 6x6 ft (1,83x1,83 m), the renewed vessel also had a rather capacious cargo hold, 4 ft deep. 2" (approx. 1.4 m). As we shall see, this extra space was also very useful for an enterprising traveller.

The relaxed contours of the «Spray» also did not look too much like yachts, but (despite the low draft) helped him to hold» on to the water safely «even in the strongest wind and keep his course with minimal help from the helmsman even in the steepest Baydewind!

As for sailing weapons, the spray «»set off on its round-the-world voyage with a classic sloop: with a jib, a jib and a large heavy gaffer grotto - not a very convenient set for one-man operation

Already during his voyage, Slokam optimized his sailing arms, significantly reducing the length of the bowsprit and mast, and the area of the mainsail. A small bizzan mast appeared at the stern, actually turning a sloop into a yol, although the captain himself continued to call his ship the old name.

Bizzan would descend in passing winds, but a shortened bowsprit would rise a bomb-cliever, which the captain used as a spinnaker. By the way, for its installation was used a pole made of bamboo planted by Robert Lewis Stevenson himself, which the captain in Samoa was presented by the widow of the author of the famous «Treasure» Island, along with the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. But all this was still ahead of us, because the famous journey might not have taken place...

The whales? Fishing? No - around the world!

Unfortunately, in his memories, Joshua Slocam doesn't say what exactly pushed him to think about going solo around the world. What's more, they clearly hint at the fact that the peculiarities of the Spray» reconstruction «were originally aimed at using a sloop for whale hunting, which implied sailing in the harsh polar seas.

During the period described, whaling products were still in demand on the market and, despite the huge risks, this occupation could have brought considerable profit.

For reasons unknown to us, Slokam was never destined to test himself as a whaler. However, for an entire season after «Spray» was launched, he tried to use his boat to fish in coastal waters. Things did not seem to have gone well - both increased competition and a lack of specific fishing experience could have affected him.

Probably the original way out of the financial impasse was prompted by the memories of the fees received for the first publications of the extraordinary adventures at sea, and the soul again requested the ocean spaces, where so happily passed the youth. A little knowing Slocum's character, one cannot exclude his desire to become famous by doing the impossible. One way or another, the decision was made.

«I have made a firm decision to make a round-the-world voyage," the captain»briefly reports.

On April 24, 1895, «Spray» left Boston to return to its second birthplace after three years, two months and nine days.

As you can see from the travel plan, Slocum did not seek to set speed records, miss convenient parking or contradict nature by choosing original routes. In doing so, the captain took every opportunity to rest his little «spray»on the way, carefully inspect it and, if necessary, treat it.

Around the World Swimming Scheme «Spray

Boston - Gloucester - Nova Scotia - Azores - Gibraltar - Brazil - Argentina - Uruguay - Chile - Strait of Magellan - Juan Fernandez - Samoa - Australia - Tasmania - Australia - Coco - Coco - IslandMauritius - South Africa - St. Helena - Ascension - Grenada - Dominica - Antigua - Newport (Rhode Island) - Fairhaven.

Taking advantage of the familiar prevailing winds and currents, he first crossed the North Atlantic from west to east (with the usual and for many modern yachtsmen visiting the Azores) and even looked into the Mediterranean Sea. During his stay in Gibraltar, however, the captain changed his original decision to continue his voyage eastwards and out into the Indian Ocean via the Suez Canal.

Instead, for fear of pirates off the coast of North Africa (which, by the way, almost captured the «Spray» when leaving the Strait of Gibraltar), he crossed the Atlantic again, now in a southwest direction. Further descent along well known to Slocum coasts of Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina to Strait of Magellan has followed, on passage through which has left more than two months! At the same time, a counter Pacific storm almost took the «spray» to Cape Horn, so that Slocum had to cross the Strait of Magellan again.

On his way to the shores of Australia, the captain did not deny himself the pleasure of looking at the island of Juan Fernandez and visit the cave where Alexander Selkirk, the prototype of the famous Robinson Crusoe, lived alone for four years and four months (rather than almost 25 years as Daniel Defeau). Then the path of the «Spray» lay through the Samoan archipelago, where Slokam got the historical bamboo for his bomb-cleaner.

Descending south along Australia's east coast, Slocam visited Tasmania Island, then moving along the Great Barrier Reef, circled the northeast part of the Earth's smallest continent and into the Indian Ocean. After a serene 23-day voyage, during which the captain had to spend only three (!) hours at the helm, the «spray» briefly went to Rodriguez Island (Coconut Islands) and then proceeded to Mauritius. There, Slocum stood for over a month, preparing to overcome the winter storms at the Cape of Good Hope. Happily circumnavigating this Cape of Storms, the captain allowed himself and his ship an even longer (three-month) rest in Cape Town, after which he headed for St Helen's Island, the site of the last exile of Emperor Napoleon.

Then there was a short stop on Ascension and Spray «Island for the» third time since the beginning of the voyage crossed the Atlantic Ocean, now in the northwest direction.

On the approaches to the Caribbean Sea, signs of a storm again appeared, this time political. As it turned out, Slocum was able to return to his native land at the height of the American-Spanish war.

«I suggest we stick together for mutual protection», a little «Spray to the» giant «battleship Oregon», whose sailors will remember this meeting for a long time.

Having looked at the islands of Grenada, Dominica and Antigua and survived the final hurricane on the approaches of Faire Island, Joshua Slocum finally closed the ring of his 46,000 nautical miles around the world.

There was no triumph: instead, the «spray» literally snuck between the rocky shore and the mine fences at the entrance to Newport. A week later, the captain moored his loyal friend to an old cedar deck in his cradle, Fairhaven Bay.

To a very distant country.

And then came the times of fame and even relative material prosperity. Already in 1899, a collection of reports by Slocum about the various stages of circumnavigation (previously they were consistently published in newspapers) was published in one of the magazines, and a year later appeared and the book «Under sails alone around the world».

As the author had hoped, the fees for these publications, the lectures given along the way, as well as the money for the sale of accidental cargoes (such as barrels of lard saved from a broken steamer off the shores of Fiery Land) were enough to get out of the financial abyss. What's more, he became the owner of a farm on Martas Vignard Island off the coast of Massachusetts. However, the sea still beckoned and in late autumn, the aging captain sailed almost every year to the Caribbean islands, or even to his favorite (already familiar) South America.

On November 14, 1908, 65-year-old Joshua Slocum raised the anchor and gave the mooring as usual. When asked where the course was set this time, he mysteriously answered: «To distant lands». No» one else had ever seen the captain and the «spray.

All the details of the first solo round-the-world voyage in an unusually lively language are described in a remarkable book, which has been read and reread by all sail lovers for nearly 120 years. At the same time, it seems advisable to pay special attention to some very practical aspects of this voyage, which may still be useful today - especially in force majeure circumstances, when even the most modern technology fails. So...

Boat control.

Not only the anchors, but all the sails on the «Spray» were raised and lowered manually, using conventional blocks. The reefs were also taken/received by hand - spinners and other devices to facilitate this work were not a dream at the time. At the same time, the only crew member often had to leave the steering wheel (also handwheel), which was fixed with an ordinary stitch.

Separately worth noting is the unique ability «of the spray» to keep on course as if by itself. For example, during the 2700-mile journey to the Cocos Islands, Slokam had to spend only three (!) hours at the helm in 23 days.

This «miracle»is most likely due not only to the structure of the hull of the boat and the characteristics of its steering device and standing rigging, but also to the optimal sailing weapons.

Navigation .

Slocum didn't have a GPS navigator, radar and an echo sounder - just a sextan, a towed (chopper) lug and a manual lot. And in addition to that, he had an accurate, «sea-eye-view», extensive sailing experience and photographic memory of the main navigation markers, the contours of the coast and depths in the areas he had once visited. This is what allowed the captain, by his own admission, to determine the place of the «Spray» not by a «slave» method of mathematical calculation, but literally «by intuition».

The lag reading (until its turntable was damaged by some large fish) allowed for a basic calculation, which was corrected for demolition by wind and/or current. The strength of the first was determined by the eye, and the speed and direction of the second was taken from the lotion (if the desired was on board) or (much more often) from the memory archive of previous voyages.

The latitude of the current place was rather precisely determined by the meridional height of the Sun (at noon) or at twilight - by the height of the Polar (in the northern hemisphere) or constellation of the Southern Cross (in the southern hemisphere). It was much more difficult to determine longitude.

The fact is that the captain went on his round-the-world voyage without a chronometer, because it required a dizzying $15 (approx. $400 modern) to clean and check it.

Not ready to incur such costs, Slocum purchased a conventional tin-bodied watch for only $1 (discounted), which became the only timekeeper on board. Subsequently, the watch lost the minute hand as well, which however did not prevent an experienced navigator from continuing to use it for its intended purpose.

But it is one thing to go with such a clock in areas of rather busy navigation, where from the oncoming ship, a single hero can kindly tell the exact time on the chronometer, the coordinates of the place, and even pass a bottle of good wine. Away from the well-trodden shipping lanes, we had to resort to the almost forgotten even in the XIX century method of lunar distances (method of Johann Werner).

After rather complicated observations and cumbersome (really slave) calculations, Slocum got an inconsistency of several hundred miles. It would seem what a blow to «intuitive» observational methods! But the captain believed in his experience, so he double-checked the result and... found an error, not in his calculations, but a typo in the logarithm tables!

However, a place so hardly defined still has to be put on the map, which sometimes disappears due to truly force majeure reasons.

On «Spray», the real source of the navigational threat was suddenly an ordinary...goat presented to Slocum on St Helena.

Following the captain's hat, the animal ate a map of the Caribbean Sea, which subsequently gave even an experienced boatman many unpleasant minutes.

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