• SAILING ALONE AROUND THE WORLD (complete 1+1) (3/3)

    From Captain Joshua Slocum@21:1/5 to All on Fri Jan 25 15:10:40 2019
    [continued from previous message]

    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 eastward.

    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 them.

    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 wished.

    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 one hundred
    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.



    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)