Just finished Joshua Slocum’s book, “Sailing Alone Around the World”. Slocum, the first person to sail solo around the earth, rebuilt an old oyster boat into a 36’9″ sloop, the Spray, in a field in Massachusetts back in the 1890’s.
He set sail on April 24th, 1895, from Boston, MA, embarking on a 3-year, 46,000 mile voyage around the planet in which he crossed the Atlantic 3 times. The book is something of a sailing version of Thoreau’s Walden.
The craft itself was capable of self-steering based on Slocum’s tiller lashing technique and hull/keel design, which enabled him to spend a good deal of his time reading and basically hanging out for weeks on end as he crossed the seas. At one point he didn’t touch the helm for 2,200 miles. Oh, and he used dead-reckoning to navigate the entire trip.
This may be one of the most incredible adventure books never read.
J.M. Ahlbrand, developed a really cool Google Earth app that allows you to follow the voyage across the planet. You can download the KMZ file to view in Google Earth here (just scroll down to the link beneath the graphic).
While I don’t plan on building a 36′ boat, nor am I looking at sailing around the capes of both South America and Africa, this book has provided the right bit of inspiration to get moving on my own plans to begin construction of the Penobscot 17.