The world’s most famous sailor struggled by himself in his 35-foot sloop against winds that shoved and buried the bow and him under water. Crawling on the bowsprit, trying to adjust his sails, the rolling sea shoved him under water 3 times. It was a dangerous situation especially being alone; there was no one on board to save him.
A large English Steamer passing ran up the signal ‘Wishing you a Merry Christmas’.
“I think the Captain was a humorist, his own ship was throwing her propeller out of the water.” he wrote.
It was Christmas, 1897, and Joshua Slocum had sailed alone half way around the world. He left the Indian ocean, crossed the Cape of Good Hope and was desperately fighting the winds blowing from the Southeast to reach Cape Town, South Africa.
It was treacherous territory, where the legendary Flying Dutchman perished and supposedly became a ghost ship, doomed to sail the oceans forever.
Slocum was fighting his way to Cape Town and shelter, hoping not to suffer another disaster like the one a few years earlier that changed his life forever.
A few year earlier, the Aquidneck, his tall ship, had been caught on a reef off the coast of Brazil and broke apart. Slocum was able to save his wife and family and then, amazingly, built and sailed a new boat from a deserted Brazilian Beach to Washington DC. as he described in our Listen2Read audiobook “Voyage of the Liberdade”.
Now, a few years later, without wife, without family, trying to circumnavigate the world alone, he found himself in these angry South African seas and then, surprisingly, a sudden calm sea caused by the protection of Table Mountain between the Cape and Cape Town.. Luckily, he was found by the steam tug Alert and brought to safety in Cape Town, where he put the boat in dry dock for repairs.
It was then that he met one of the most important men in South Africa, Paul Kruger, President of the Transvaal. As Slocum was introduced to Kruger it was mentioned that Slocum was on a voyage around the world.
“You don’t mean round world,” replied Kruger.
He insisted that the world was flat.
“It is impossible! You mean IN the world.”
Amazing to think that as of Christmas, 1898, one of South Africa’s most important leaders still believed the world was flat.
Joshua Slocum held his tongue however and, in a few days, placed his sloop back into the water and continued his voyage around the world, which was quite definitely round and not flat and he did not fall off the edge.
Joshua Slocum’s first book, “Voyage of the Liberdade”, how he saved his family, is high adventure and a great listening experience. You can download is here.
Thank you for being a member of the Listen2Read Community and best wishes for a safe and healthful New Year 2022.
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I recorded “The Night Before Christmas” a few years ago. Listen free here:
Joshua Slocum’s “The Voyage of the Liberdade”
and all 18 of our Listen 2 Read American Adventure Library audiobooks are available for download wherever you download audiobooks, including:
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