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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Monthly Round-Up: October's Collection Pt. 3 (maybe)

I just finished reading Cap. Joshua Slocum's breath-taking journal about his ground breaking solo circumnavigation across the world. Just simply amazing! At the age of 51, this seasoned, gritty sailor set sail from Boston, MA - alone -  in his thirty-six foot sloop "Spray" en route for such exotic and remote places like South America, the Straight of Magellan, Samoa, the Philippines, Cape of Good Hope, and St. Helena. Three years and 46,000 miles later Slocum returned unfettered and in better health than when he left. Here's a brief excerpt as he prepares to sail toward Gloucester- his first major destination: 
["The wind freshened and the Spray rounded Deer Island light at a rate of seven knots...Waves dancing joyously across the Massachusetts Bay met her coming out of the harbor to dash them into myriads of sparkling gems that hung about her in every surge. The day was perfect, the sunlight clear and strong. Every particle of water thrown into the air became a gem, and the Spray, bounding ahead, snatched necklace after necklace from the sea, and as often threw them away. We have all seen miniature rainbows about a ship's prow, but the Spray flung out a bow of her own that day, such as I had never seen before. Her good angel had embarked on the voyage; I so read it in the sea."] pg. 26

Further on the arduous journey he gives us this awakening thought... 

["During these days a feeling of awe crept over me. My memory worked with startling power. The ominous, the insignificant, the great, the small, the wonderful, the commonplace- all appeared before my mental vision in magical succession. Pages of my history were recalled which had been so long forgotten that they seemed to belong to a previous existence. I heard all the voices of the past laughing, crying, telling what I had heard them tell in many corners of the earth."] pg. 36
Slocum reading below deck as the Spray sails on!

It's moments like these that help me connect to all of the great travelers out there. I experienced a similar, very powerful feeling many years ago when undertaking my own "water voyage" en route to Hudson Bay, Canada. It occurred on a beautiful July evening as we paddled toward a remote harbor on the western side of Lake Winnipeg. Perhaps not a feeling but rather a calm, peaceful assurance that all is well. I felt transformed in a way- gaining an increasing respectful  communion with the lake as we slowly... but surely crept towards our ultimate destination. The experience was like looking at oneself in an out of body sort of way. I experienced the lake as a truly living, breathing entity and I saw myself and my friend as welcomed travelers united with her waters and her waves. Difficult to describe in a sort of poetic way then , but today it seems more about how we understand ourselves in our environment. Not domineering individualists, but rather uniquely connected and spiritual creatures who are called towards our true and real purpose in life.  


The Barnes & Nobles classic paperback edition from 2005 has several notable features you might be interested in including detailed sketch drawings from Thomas Fogarty, endnotes, a glossary of nautical terms, and selected commentary. The thorough introduction is provided by  Texas A & M professor Dennis A Berthold. 


The Chicago Daily Tribune summarizes "Sailing Alone Around the World"  in April, 1900: 
["Captain Slocum's simple and delightful narrative of his voyage around the world alone in the little sloop Spray combines the adventurous charm of 'Robinson Crusoe' with the life of and humor of Marryat. It is a rare good book for lovers of sea travels and adventure. The Captain is a literary artist as well as a daring and skillful sailor, and he tells his experiences with a delightful combination of modesty and delicate humor. Best of all, his story is true, and as remarkable for what it tells as for the way he tells it."]
I would expect nothing less of a Nova Scotian

 

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