Today is the birthday of Joshua Slocum, who invented a new type of literature. The autobiographical adventure book. In his travelogue “Sailing alone around the world” the Nova-Scotian come American describes in detail the sourcing and rebuilding of his boat “Spray” and the journey he took around the globe.
The highlight of the trip for me was in South Africa where Slocum was approached during his speaking tour by a group of Boer flat earthers. They asked him to confirm that the Earth was indeed flat. Slocum laconically suggested that a circumnavigator was not their best advocate.
Born on Feb 20th 1844 Slocum disappeared with his yacht in 1904, aged 65.
February 20 was my birthday, and I found myself alone, with hardly so much as a bird in sight, off Cape Froward, the southernmost point of the continent of America. By daylight in the morning I was getting my ship under way for the bout ahead.
The sloop held the wind fair while she ran thirty miles farther on her course, which brought her to Fortescue Bay, and at once among the natives’ signal-fires, which blazed up now on all sides. Clouds flew over the mountain from the west all day; at night my good east wind failed, and in its stead a gale from the west soon came on. I gained anchorage at twelve o’clock that night, under the lee of a little island, and then prepared myself a cup of coffee, of which I was sorely in need; for, to tell the truth, hard beating in the heavy squalls and against the current had told on my strength. Finding that the anchor held, I drank my beverage, and named the place Coffee Island. It lies to the south of Charles Island, with only a narrow channel between.
Sailing Alone Around the World; Chapter 7, near Punta Arenas, Tierra del Fuego in Chile