American sea captain Josha Slocum, was born at Wilmot
Township, Nova Scotia. He went to sea as a cook at
the age of 12 after running away from home. In
1869 he was master of a trading schooner on hte coast of
California and a year later commanded the barque Washington
in which, after a voyage to Australia, he sailed to set
up a salmon fishery in Alaska.
an adventurous career as a merchant captain, including
building a steamer of 150 tons on the jungle coast of
Manila, Slocum became master and part owner of the
full-rigged ship Northern Light, one of the finest
American sailing vessels afloat at the time. He
then purchased the small barque Aquidneck in
which he made several voyages before she was lost in
1886 on a sandbank off the coast of Brazil.
second wife and two sons from his first marriage were
still on board at the time of the wreck. From the
wreckage of his ship he completed a 35 foot canoe which
he had been building on board before the incident.
He named this vessel Liberdade and brought his
wife and two sons safely back to New York after a voyage
of over 5,000 miles.
his arrival in 1892, he began to write his first book,
Voyage of the Liberdade, which was published in
1894 While Joshua was writing this book he was offered
another vessel by a friendly sea captain and discovered
her to be lying under canvas some distance from the sea
in a field at Fairhaven, where she had lain for the past
seven years. This boat was the wreck of the sloop Spray.
Slocum bought her, rebuilt her with oak which he felled,
shaped and treated himself and in 1895 left Boston in
her. His subsequent circumnavigation by way of Gibraltar,
the Magellan Straits, Australia and South Africa, is
believed to be the first single handed voyage round the
little money he supported himself by lectures at his
various ports of call, earning enough to keep his family
and cover his expenses. He arrived back at
Newport, Rhode Island in 1898, after which he wrote a
second book about his experiences entitled: "Sailing
Alone Around the World" published in 1900,
which has become a classic of its kind through its
simple direct style, wit and dry humour.
November 1909 at the age of 65 Joshua set out on another
lone voyage from Bristol Rhode Island, but was never
heard of again. It is thought the Spray was
either run down by a steamer in mid-ocean or struck by a
whale and sank. This is because Spray was
too sound a boat and Slocum too experienced a mariner to
have been lost from any other cause.
Liberdade, in which Slocum and his family returned
to New York after the wreck of the Aquidneck is
now preserved in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington