Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Sailing Alone Around The World
I just finished reading the best book today and when I did, I had tears in my eyes, it was just that good. The book is "Sailing Alone Around The World" by Joshua Slocum. In the year of 1895, at the age of 51, Joshua Slocum left Boston and sailed around the world in a 36 foot sloop, Spray, that he had rebuilt himself. It took him three years to complete this journey, a distance of 46,000 miles and he did this all alone. The book was published in 1900 and has never been out of print since that time. And for good reason! Casually but carefully and with an understatement that is astonishing, Joshua Slocum writes of all that he experienced on his journey around the world. At times, you will laugh at his experiences (one of the best gifts given to him on the journey was carpet tacks, which was worth more than gold ...you will have to read the book to find out why that is so!) and other times you will be amazed at the stories of pirates, fierce storms, coral reefs, and the treacherous passage through the Straits of Magellan! How refreshing to read such a straightforward and honest account of an extraordinary journey. With all his adventures and all the people that he meets it seems like fiction, almost like the movie "Forest Gump", and yet, this story is all true!
I know nothing about sailing or anything about the sea, but I found his story to be absolutely fascinating. From the very first page, I was completely smitten with the charm of the writing. In describing Nova Scotia, the land of his birth, to the fond description of his father, Joshua Slocum was already someone I knew I would like, and I hadn't even set foot on the Spray yet! There is so much to take away from this book, and I don't mean just about how to sail a boat. There is sound good counsel that we in this computer age of the 21st century should learn from him...
"Keep on the windward side and take the combers end on".
"Even while the storm raged at its worst, my ship was wholesome and noble."
"To succeed, however, in anything at all, one should go understandingly about his work and be prepared for every emergency."
There is so much to enjoy in this book and perhaps I had tears in my eyes after I read this book not just because my journey around the world was over, but because I knew that Captain Joshua Slocum would have some serious legal problems ahead for him (and I seriously doubt that he was guilty of what he was accused of) and also, that he would sail again but would disappear at sea in 1909.
The great joy about reading: I can sail on the Spray again and again with Captain Slocum, as often as I choose to re-read this book. And you know I will!
And why is it that "Moby Dick" is given for students to read in high school and not "Sailing Alone Around The World"? I just don't understand it...
Let me leave you with the final words from Captain Joshua Slocum...
"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."