Cover image for Alone at sea : the adventures of Joshua Slocum
Alone at sea : the adventures of Joshua Slocum
Spencer, Ann, 1955-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Buffalo, N.Y. ; [Willowdale, Ont.] : Firefly Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiv, 321 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 23 cm
General Note:
"Published in cooperation with the Old Dartmouth Historical Society - New Bedford Whaling Museum."
Personal Subject:
Corporate Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
G440.S63 S67 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



"I had only a moment to get all sail down and myself upon the peak halliards, out of danger, when I saw the mighty crest towering masthead-high above me. The mountain of water submerged my vessel. She shook in every timber and reeled under the weight of the sea ..."

What would it be like to sail around the world by yourself, especially without the telecommunications and technical equipment we have today? Alone At Sea takes readers on such a thrilling journey.

In 1895, Joshua Slocum embarked on a three-year, 46,000-mile solo circumnavigation of the globe. His boat, a refitted oyster sloop called Spray, took him through pirate-infested waters and horrific storms amidst the ghosts and demons of 36 months of solitude. Alone At Sea is his story: "On his first solo day, Slocum found himself enveloped by fog so thick 'one could almost stand on it.' It was as if his loneliness had been made visible as the thick fog 'lowered over the sea like a pall.' ...He and the Spray were one small speck on an all-encompassing sea, invisible to the rest of the world. Slocum pondered his invisibility with a growing awareness of his insignificance in the universe: 'In the dismal fog I felt myself drifting into loneliness, an insect on a straw in the midst of the elements.'"

This is the first original full-scale biography of Joshua Slocum in over 40 years. Ann Spencer spent years poring over the sailor's own journals and historical records buried in libraries and archives throughout New England and the Maritimes. She uncovered new facts, documents and photographs now published here. With Spencer's engaging text and peppered with Slocum's own journal entries, Alone At Sea is captivating reading for anyone interested in sailing, nautical history, travel and the soul of a true adventurer. Heroes come rarely in real life and this is the story of a too-little known maritime hero.

Author Notes

Ann Spencer is a freelance writer and broadcaster. She is a regular contributor to magazines and produces radio documentaries. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

With interest in the sea and sailing on the rise again, a thoroughly researched new biography of Captain Joshua Slocum seems timely. In 1895^-98 in his sloop Spray, Slocum was the first man to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe, but that is only his best-known achievement. Born in Nova Scotia, he went to sea in his teens, rose rapidly to command, and became a consummate seaman and navigator about the time the use of sailing ships was beginning to decline. He was the father of several children by two wives, one of them the remarkable and beautiful Virginia Walker, and also a remarkably vivid, witty, and accomplished writer--and self-promoter. Too fond of the sea and of his own company to fit in very well ashore, Slocum finally disappeared at sea, probably in the West Indies, aboard Spray. Spencer has done her homework and written well, too, producing a book highly commendable to students of the sea and students of human nature alike. --Roland Green

Library Journal Review

Spencer has done an admirable job of creating a very readable commentary on both the life and the voyages of mariner Josh Slocum. She recounts his earlier days when, with his first and best-loved wife, Virginia, he was captain of a succession of large sailing vessels. Her death and the loss of his ship, the Northern Light, put him into a depression from which he finally emerged by rebuilding the Spray, a refitted oyster sloop on which he made his famous solo round-the-world voyage starting in 1895. Mercifully, the author does not recount the three-year voyage step by step but highlights its more interesting aspects. Many illustrations and appendixes further enhance this volume. Recommended for all but the smallest libraries, especially those serving lovers of sea epics.ÄRobert F. Greenfield, formerly with Baltimore Cty. P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.