There Are Still Undiscovered Worlds On Earth

Posted Nov 21, 2014

Joshua Slocum, born in Mount Hanley, Nova Scotia, became the first man to sail single-handedly around the world in 1898. He grew up helping his father craft leather boots for local fishermen, but he was drawn to the salt air. He dreamed of a life at sea, far away from his strict parents, his 10 brothers and sisters, and his tedious job.

He was born to embrace the unknown.

At the age of 16, he left Halifax as an ordinary seaman aboard a merchant ship bound for Ireland. From there, he went on to sail with a British merchant ship heading to China. He rounded Cape Horn twice, and visited the Dutch East Indies, the Maluku Islands, Hong Kong, Saigon, Singapore, and San Francisco. His natural aptitude as a seaman was evident and he advanced quickly through the ranks. At the early age of 25, he became captain of the barque Washington that worked the trans Pacific trading routes. This was the first of many commands over 26 years that took him to all of the corners of the world.

He spent 16 days bailing water from a waterlogged ship.

He defended his ship from pirates off the coast of Brazil.

He risked his life in a shipwreck to save his wife and crew.

Joshua tried settling down on land, over and over, but he was never content. He needed to feel the ocean spray in his hair. He needed to keep adventuring, keep discovering.

But Joshua wasn’t going to be satisfied until he had seen it all.

He set sail, all alone, from Sambro Island Lighthouse near Halifax aboard the 36’9” gaff-rigged sloop Spray on July 3, 1895. He navigated without a chronometer — using the noon-sun sights for latitude, and “dead reckoning” for longitude with the help of a cheap tin clock.

“A thrilling pulse beat high in me. My step was light on deck in the crisp air,” he wrote in his best-selling book, Sailing Alone Around the World. I felt there could be no turning back, and that I was engaging in an adventure the meaning of which I thoroughly understood”.

More than three years later, Joshua concluded his round-the-world journey when he arrived in Newport, Rhode Island on June 27, 1898. He had travelled more than 74,000 km and became the first person to sail single-handedly around the globe.

Although Captain Joshua Slocum died 105 years ago, his adventurous spirit will never be forgotten.

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It’s never too late to take a chance, to chase a dream, to embrace the unknown …