29 October 2013

Sailing Alone Around the World, by Joshua Slocum

Posted by Callan Bentley

slocumOne thing I got out of reading (listening to) Atlantic, by Simon Winchester, was a recommendation to read a classic story of adventure: Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World. As you might suspect, it’s an account of Slocum’s solo trip sailing his small boat, the Spray, around the world. He was the first person to accomplish this feat. The book, I was delighted to find, is in the public domain, and so was available as a free download from Project Gutenberg. I used the Overdrive app to read it on my iPad. I also use Overdrive to listen to audiobooks that I can download from my public library’s website. It’s proving to be a most useful app.

So, as for the book: Slocum builds the Spray himself, and then sails it around the world, and has a lot of fun doing it. His writing is a wry delight – much is tongue-in-cheek observations about his own surreal situation or societal mores, or else it’s simple, heartfelt reflections on the joys of being at sea, of exploring, of solving problems. Storms rage, wildlife visits, he navigates port bureaucracy and conversation with natives and colonists alike. It’s not a long book, and it’s mostly quite interesting. And you can’t beat the price. If you’re into travelogues as a genre, or if you enjoy sailing, I’d recommend it.