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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of July 3, 1998

This week, facts about... 100 years ago, Joshua Slocum became the first person on record to sail solo around the world.

Transcript

CURWOOD: A hundred years ago, Joshua Slocum became the first person on record to sail solo around the world. He was 51 years old when he set out from East Boston. More than 3 years and 46,000 miles later, he returned to Massachusetts on July 3rd, 1898. Captain Slocum had circumnavigated the globe several times before, but never alone or in such a small vessel. His 36-foot sloop was called Spray, a rebuilt oyster boat which itself was more than 100 years old at the time of the voyage. Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Captain Slocum went to sea at age 16. He was a sailor who didn't know how to swim, and writer who didn't know how to spell, as he had about a 3rd-grade education. That did not keep him from writing about his record-setting adventure, full of tales of pirates and squalls. His book, called Sailing Alone Around the World, was compared to Thoreau's Walden for its dry wit. It was an immediate best-seller and is still in print today. Joshua Slocum disappeared in 1909 aboard the Spray enroute to South America. And for this week that's the Living on Earth Almanac.

 

 

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