• SAILING ALONE AROUND THE WORLD (completed=10+3) (3/3)

    From Cap'n Josh Slocum@21:1/5 to All on Sat Jan 26 13:11:53 2019
    [continued from previous message]

    before the sail was torn I hardly know; but not a stitch of it
    was broken. The mainsail being secured, I hoisted away the
    jib, and, without looking round, stepped quickly to the cabin
    and snatched down my loaded rifle and cartridges at hand; for
    I made mental calculations that the pirate would by this time
    have recovered his course and be close aboard, and that when I
    saw him it would be better for me to be looking at him along
    the barrel of a gun. The piece was at my shoulder when I
    peered into the mist, but there was no pirate within a mile.
    The wave and squall that carried away my boom dismasted the
    felucca outright. I perceived his thieving crew, some dozen or
    more of them, struggling to recover their rigging from the
    sea. Allah blacken their faces!

    I sailed comfortably on under the jib and forestaysail, which
    I now set. I fished the boom and furled the sail snug for the
    night; then hauled the sloop's head two points offshore to
    allow for the set of current and heavy rollers toward the
    land. This gave me the wind three points on the starboard
    quarter and a steady pull in the headsails. By the time I had
    things in this order it was dark, and a flying-fish had
    already fallen on deck. I took him below for my supper, but
    found myself too tired to cook, or even to eat a thing already
    prepared. I do not remember to have been more tired before or
    since in all my life than I was at the finish of that day. Too
    fatigued to sleep, I rolled about with the motion of the
    vessel till near midnight, when I made shift to dress my fish
    and prepare a dish of tea. I fully realized now, if I had not
    before, that the voyage ahead would call for exertions ardent
    and lasting. On August 27 nothing could be seen of the Moor,
    or his country either, except two peaks, away in the east
    through the clear atmosphere of morning. Soon after the sun
    rose even these were obscured by haze, much to my satisfaction.

    The wind, for a few days following my escape from the pirates,
    blew a steady but moderate gale, and the sea, though agitated
    into long rollers, was not uncomfortably rough or dangerous,
    and while sitting in my cabin I could hardly realize that any
    sea was running at all, so easy was the long, swinging motion
    of the sloop over the waves. All distracting uneasiness and
    excitement being now over, I was once more alone with myself
    in the realization that I was on the mighty sea and in the
    hands of the elements. But I was happy, and was becoming more
    and more interested in the voyage.

    Columbus, in the Santa Maria , sailing these seas more than
    four hundred years before, was not so happy as I, nor so sure
    of success in what he had undertaken. His first troubles at
    sea had already begun. His crew had managed, by foul play or
    otherwise, to break the ship's rudder while running before
    probably just such a gale as the Spray had passed through; and
    there was dissension on the Santa Maria , something that was
    unknown on the Spray.

    After three days of squalls and shifting winds I threw myself
    down to rest and sleep, while, with helm lashed, the sloop
    sailed steadily on her course.

    September 1, in the early morning, land-clouds rising ahead
    told of the Canary Islands not far away. A change in the
    weather came next day: storm-clouds stretched their arms
    across the sky; from the east, to all appearances, might come
    a fierce harmattan, or from the south might come the fierce
    hurricane. Every point of the compass threatened a wild storm.
    My attention was turned to reefing sails, and no time was to
    be lost over it, either, for the sea in a moment was confusion
    itself, and I was glad to head the sloop three points or more
    away from her true course that she might ride safely over the
    waves. I was now scudding her for the channel between Africa
    and the island of Fuerteventura, the easternmost of the Canary
    Islands, for which I was on the lookout. At 2 P.M., the
    weather becoming suddenly fine, the island stood in view,
    already abeam to starboard, and not more than seven miles off.
    Fuerteventura is twenty-seven hundred feet high, and in fine
    weather is visible many leagues away.

    The wind freshened in the night, and the Spray had a fine run
    through the channel. By daylight, September 3, she was twenty-
    five miles clear of all the islands, when a calm ensued, which
    was the precursor of another gale of wind that soon came on,
    bringing with it dust from the African shore. It howled
    dismally while it lasted, and though it was not the season of
    the harmattan, the sea in the course of an hour was discolored
    with a reddish-brown dust. The air remained thick with flying
    dust all the afternoon, but the wind, veering northwest at
    night, swept it back to land, and afforded the Spray once more
    a clear sky. Her mast now bent under a strong, steady
    pressure, and her bellying sail swept the sea as she rolled
    scuppers under, courtesying to the waves. These rolling waves
    thrilled me as they tossed my ship, passing quickly under her
    keel. This was grand sailing.

    September 4, the wind, still fresh, blew from the north-
    northeast, and the sea surged along with the sloop. About noon
    a steamship, a bullock-droger, from the river Plate hove in
    sight, steering northeast, and making bad weather of it. I
    signaled her, but got no answer. She was plunging into the
    head sea and rolling in a most astonishing manner, and from
    the way she yawed one might have said that a wild steer was at
    the helm.

    On the morning of September 6 I found three flying-fish on
    deck, and a fourth one down the fore-scuttle as close as
    possible to the frying-pan. It was the best haul yet, and
    afforded me a sumptuous breakfast and dinner.

    The Spray had now settled down to the tradewinds and to the
    business of her voyage. Later in the day another droger hove
    in sight, rolling as badly as her predecessor. I threw out no
    flag to this one, but got the worst of it for passing under
    her lee. She was, indeed, a stale one! And the poor cattle,
    how they bellowed! The time was when ships passing one another
    at sea backed their topsails and had a "gam," and on parting
    fired guns; but those good old days have gone. People have
    hardly time nowadays to speak even on the broad ocean, where
    news is news, and as for a salute of guns, they cannot afford
    the powder. There are no poetry-enshrined freighters on the
    sea now; it is a prosy life when we have no time to bid one
    another good morning.

    My ship, running now in the full swing of the trades, left me
    days to myself for rest and recuperation. I employed the time
    in reading and writing, or in whatever I found to do about the
    rigging and the sails to keep them all in order. The cooking
    was always done quickly, and was a small matter, as the bill
    of fare consisted mostly of flying-fish, hot biscuits and
    butter, potatoes, coffee and cream - dishes readily prepared.

    On September 10 the Spray passed the island of St. Antonio,
    the northwesternmost of the Cape Verdes, close aboard. The
    landfall was wonderfully true, considering that no
    observations for longitude had been made. The wind, northeast,
    as the sloop drew by the island, was very squally, but I
    reefed her sails snug, and steered broad from the highland of
    blustering St. Antonio. Then leaving the Cape Verde Islands
    out of sight astern, I found myself once more sailing a lonely
    sea and in a solitude supreme all around. When I slept I
    dreamed that I was alone. This feeling never left me; but,
    sleeping or waking, I seemed always to know the position of
    the sloop, and I saw my vessel moving across the chart, which
    became a picture before me.

    One night while I sat in the cabin under this spell, the
    profound stillness all about was broken by human voices
    alongside! I sprang instantly to the deck, startled beyond my
    power to tell. Passing close under lee, like an apparition,
    was a white bark under full sail. The sailors on board of her
    were hauling on ropes to brace the yards, which just cleared
    the sloop's mast as she swept by. No one hailed from the white-
    winged flier, but I heard some one on board say that he saw
    lights on the sloop, and that he made her out to be a
    fisherman. I sat long on the starlit deck that night, thinking
    of ships, and watching the constellations on their voyage.

    On the following day, September 13, a large four-masted ship
    passed some distance to windward, heading north.

    The sloop was now rapidly drawing toward the region of
    doldrums, and the force of the trade-winds was lessening. I
    could see by the ripples that a counter-current had set in.
    This I estimated to be about sixteen miles a day. In the heart
    of the counter-stream the rate was more than that setting

    September 14 a lofty three-masted ship, heading north, was
    seen from the masthead. Neither this ship nor the one seen
    yesterday was within signal distance, yet it was good even to
    see them. On the following day heavy rain-clouds rose in the
    south, obscuring the sun; this was ominous of doldrums. On the
    16th the Spray entered this gloomy region, to battle with
    squalls and to be harassed by fitful calms; for this is the
    state of the elements between the northeast and the southeast
    trades, where each wind, struggling in turn for mastery,
    expends its force whirling about in all directions. Making
    this still more trying to one's nerve and patience, the sea
    was tossed into confused cross-lumps and fretted by eddying
    currents. As if something more were needed to complete a
    sailor's discomfort in this state, the rain poured down in
    torrents day and night. The Spray struggled and tossed for ten
    days, making only three hundred miles on her course in all
    that time. I didn't say anything!

    On September 23 the fine schooner Nantasket of Boston, from
    Bear River, for the river Plate, lumber-laden, and just
    through the doldrums, came up with the Spray , and her captain
    passing a few words, she sailed on. Being much fouled on the
    bottom by shell-fish, she drew along with her fishes which had
    been following the Spray , which was less provided with that
    sort of food. Fishes will always follow a foul ship. A
    barnacle-grown log adrift has the same attraction for deep-sea
    fishes. One of this little school of deserters was a dolphin
    that had followed the Spray about a thousand miles, and had
    been content to eat scraps of food thrown overboard from my
    table; for, having been wounded, it could not dart through the
    sea to prey on other fishes. I had become accustomed to seeing
    the dolphin, which I knew by its scars, and missed it whenever
    it took occasional excursions away from the sloop. One day,
    after it had been off some hours.

    It returned in company with three yellowtails, a sort of
    cousin to the dolphin. This little school kept together,
    except when in danger and when foraging about the sea. Their
    lives were often threatened by hungry sharks that came round
    the vessel, and more than once they had narrow escapes. Their
    mode of escape interested me greatly, and I passed hours
    watching them. They would dart away, each in a different
    direction, so that the wolf of the sea, the shark, pursuing
    one, would be led away from the others; then after a while
    they would all return and rendezvous under one side or the
    other of the sloop. Twice their pursuers were diverted by a
    tin pan, which I towed astern of the sloop, and which was
    mistaken for a bright fish; and while turning, in the peculiar
    way that sharks have when about to devour their prey, I shot
    them through the head.

    Their precarious life seemed to concern the yellowtails very
    little, if at all. All living beings, without doubt, are
    afraid of death. Nevertheless, some of the species I saw
    huddle together as though they knew they were created for the
    larger fishes, and wished to give the least possible trouble
    to their captors. I have seen, on the other hand, whales
    swimming in a circle around a school of herrings, and with
    mighty exertion "bunching" them together in a whirlpool set in
    motion by their flukes, and when the small fry were all
    whirled nicely together, one or the other of the leviathans,
    lunging through the center with open jaws, take in a boat-load
    or so at a single mouthful. Off the Cape of Good Hope I saw
    schools of sardines or other small fish being treated in this
    way by great numbers of cavally-fish. There was not the
    slightest chance of escape for the sardines, while the cavally
    circled round and round, feeding from the edge of the mass.

    It was interesting to note how rapidly the small fry
    disappeared; and though it was repeated before my eyes over
    and over, I could hardly perceive the capture of a single
    sardine, so dexterously was it done.

    Along the equatorial limit of the southeast trade winds the
    air was heavily charged with electricity, and there was much
    thunder and lightning. It was hereabout I remembered that, a
    few years before, the American ship Alert was destroyed by
    lightning. Her people, by wonderful good fortune, were rescued
    on the same day and brought to Pernambuco, where I then met

    On September 25, in the latitude of 5 degrees N., longitude 26
    degrees 30' W., I spoke the ship North Star of London. The
    great ship was out forty-eight days from Norfolk, Virginia,
    and was bound for Rio, where we met again about two months
    later. The Spray was now thirty days from Gibraltar.

    The Spray's next companion of the voyage was a swordfish, that
    swam alongside, showing its tall fin out of the water, till I
    made a stir for my harpoon, when it hauled its black flag down
    and disappeared. September 30, at half-past eleven in the
    morning, the Spray crossed the equator in longitude 29 degrees
    30' W. At noon she was two miles south of the line. The
    southeast trade-winds, met, rather light, in about 4 degrees
    N., gave her sails now a stiff full sending her handsomely
    over the sea toward the coast of Brazil, where on October 5,
    just north of Olinda Point, without further incident, she made
    the land, casting anchor in Pernambuco harbor about noon:
    forty days from Gibraltar, and all well on board. Did I tire
    of the voyage in all that time? Not a bit of it! I was never
    in better trim in all my life, and was eager for the more
    perilous experience of rounding the Horn.

    It was not at all strange in a life common to sailors that,
    having already crossed the Atlantic twice and being now half-
    way from Boston to the Horn, I should find myself still among
    friends. My determination to sail westward from Gibraltar not
    only enabled me to escape the pirates of the Red Sea, but, in
    bringing me to Pernambuco, landed me on familiar shores. I had
    made many voyages to this and other ports in Brazil. In 1893 I
    was employed as master to take the famous Ericsson ship
    Destroyer from New York to Brazil to go against the rebel
    Mello and his party. The Destroyer , by the way, carried a
    submarine cannon of enormous length.

    In the same expedition went the Nictheroy , the ship purchased
    by the United States government during the Spanish war and
    renamed the Buffalo. The Destroyer was in many ways the better
    ship of the two, but the Brazilians in their curious war sank
    her themselves at Bahia. With her sank my hope of recovering
    wages due me; still, I could but try to recover, for to me it
    meant a great deal. But now within two years the whirligig of
    time had brought the Mello party into power, and although it
    was the legal government which had employed me, the so-called
    "rebels" felt under less obligation to me than I could have

    During these visits to Brazil I had made the acquaintance of
    Dr. Perera, owner and editor of "El Commercio Jornal," and
    soon after the Spray was safely moored in Upper Topsail Reach,
    the doctor, who is a very enthusiastic yachtsman, came to pay
    me a visit and to carry me up the waterway of the lagoon to
    his country residence. The approach to his mansion by the
    waterside was guarded by his armada, a fleet of boats
    including a Chinese sampan, a Norwegian pram, and a Cape Ann
    dory, the last of which he obtained from the Destroyer. The
    doctor dined me often on good Brazilian fare, that I might, as
    he said, "salle gordo" for the voyage; but he found that even
    on the best I fattened slowly.

    Fruits and vegetables and all other provisions necessary for
    the voyage having been taken in, on the 23d of October I
    unmoored and made ready for sea. Here I encountered one of the
    unforgiving Mello faction in the person of the collector of
    customs, who charged the Spray tonnage dues when she cleared,
    notwithstanding that she sailed with a yacht license and
    should have been exempt from port charges. Our consul reminded
    the collector of this and of the fact - without much
    diplomacy, I thought - that it was I who brought the Destroyer
    to Brazil. "Oh, yes," said the bland collector; "we remember
    it very well," for it was now in a small way his turn.

    Mr. Lungrin, a merchant, to help me out of the trifling
    difficulty, offered to freight the Spray with a cargo of
    gunpowder for Bahia, which would have put me in funds; and
    when the insurance companies refused to take the risk on cargo
    shipped on a vessel manned by a crew of only one, he offered
    to ship it without insurance, taking all the risk himself.
    This was perhaps paying me a greater compliment than I
    deserved. The reason why I did not accept the business was
    that in so doing I found that I should vitiate my yacht
    license and run into more expense for harbor dues around the
    world than the freight would amount to. Instead of all this,
    another old merchant friend came to my assistance, advancing
    the cash direct.

    While at Pernambuco I shortened the boom, which had been
    broken when off the coast of Morocco, by removing the broken
    piece, which took about four feet off the inboard end; I also
    refitted the jaws. On October 24,1895, a fine day even as days
    go in Brazil, the Spray sailed, having had abundant good cheer.

    Making about 120 miles a day along the coast, I arrived at Rio
    de Janeiro November 5, without any event worth mentioning, and
    about noon cast anchor near Villaganon, to await the official
    port visit. On the following day I bestirred myself to meet
    the highest lord of the admiralty and the ministers, to
    inquire concerning the matter of wages due me from the beloved
    Destroyer. The high official I met said: "Captain, so far as
    we are concerned, you may have the ship, and if you care to
    accept her we will send an officer to show you where she is."
    I knew well enough where she was at that moment. The top of
    her smoke-stack being awash in Bahia.

    It was more than likely that she rested on the bottom there. I
    thanked the kind officer, but declined his offer.

    The Spray , with a number of old shipmasters on board, sailed
    about the harbor of Rio the day before she put to sea. 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. These old captains inspected
    the Spray's rigging, and each one contributed something to her
    outfit. Captain Jones, who had acted as my interpreter at Rio,
    gave her an anchor, and one of the steamers gave her a cable
    to match it. She never dragged Jones's anchor once on the
    voyage, and the cable not only stood the strain on a lee
    shore, but when towed off Cape Horn helped break combing seas
    astern that threatened to board her.

    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, not a great many, to
    facilitate the enterprise as already mentioned in the story.
    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. And now, without having wearied my friends, I
    hope, with detailed scientific accounts, theories, or
    deductions, I will only say that I have endeavored to tell
    just the story of the adventure itself. This, in my own poor
    way, having been done, I now moor ship, weather-bitt cables,
    and leave the sloop Spray, for the present, safe in port.

    One day you will work out why you have been sent this.



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