1898: Joshua Slocum Completes a Record-Setting Voyage Across the Globe

June 27, 1898

Joshua Slocum completed the first solo circumnavigation of the world at 1:00 a.m. when he sailed into the harbor at Newport, Rhode Island, on board his oyster sloop (a type of one-masted sailboat) named the Spray. The Canadian-born Slocum had first set sail in that vessel from Boston on April 25, 1895, for his trip across the globe. “I felt there could be no turning back, and that I was engaging in an adventure the meaning of which I thoroughly understood,” he later recalled in his book Sailing Alone Around the World

In the course of his history-making adventure, Slocum ended up logging 46,000 miles (74,000 kilometers) altogether. His completion of the trip after more than three years, however, was greeted with very little if any fanfare. This was largely because the Spanish-American War, which had begun a couple of months earlier, was dominating the news at that time. 

Nonetheless, Slocum and his epic voyage eventually did receive extensive news coverage and public acclaim. His book, which was published in 1899 and first serialized in the Century Magazine, further earned him widespread fame. No less a reviewer of Slocum’s work than the noted poet and journalist Sir Edwin Arnold wrote, “I do not hesitate to call it the most extraordinary book ever published.” Slocum’s book is now considered by many to be a classic of travel literature. (The above image of the Spray in Australian waters was included in Sailing Alone Around the World.)

Image Credit: Public Domain

For more information on Joshua Slocum, please check out http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio.php?id_nbr=7071

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