Monday, March 21, 2016

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JOSHUA SLOCUM as told by Susan Slocum Dryer, Great-Great Granddaughter of Joshua Slocum

I was just signing up to teach a Saturday sailing lesson on the CWB.ORG website when I noticed that the great-great Granddaughter of Joshua Slocum would be the Friday Night Series speaker. Joshua Slocum, as most sailors know, was the first person to single handedly circumnavigate the world.
Joshua Slocum

In the early 1890s, after a career as a ship’s officer, Joshua Slocum accepted a friend’s offer of the rotting hull of a hundred-year-old oyster sloop, the Spray. After rebuilding her and testing her in the waters of New England, he set out on an extraordinary voyage, a single-handed circumnavigation of the globe. When he returned home in 1898, he penned the book that has inspired thousands of sailors ever since: “Sailing Alone around the World”.

I had long heard of Slocum and his book about being the first to circumnavigate the world. I did not read the book until just a few years ago. The book absolutely fascinated me. After making a few ocean crossings across the Gulf of Mexico, I know first hand the incredible amount of preparation required a relatively short journey. Ours is a modern sailing sloop with every convenience including all the latest electronic navigating equipment and self steering system.  For a man to be the first to sail around the globe with just a watch, sextant, and very few reliable paper charts, single handed is a feat greater than Neil Armstrong being the first to step foot on the moon. Armstrong had thousands of support personnel and the latest technology. Slocum just had a rebuilt wooden vessel and his own incredible desire. Every sailor today owes Joshua Slocum a huge debt of gratitude for  making this historic voyage and setting the tone for every sailor who followed and reaped the benefits of the knowledge gained by ordinary people sailing their own vessels whether it be across a lake or an ocean. See 
Joshua Slocum Society International:

So I made sure I attended the event at The Center For Wooden Boats featuring Slocum's great-great Granddaughter Susan Slocum Dryer. Susan, I am guessing is about my age or a little younger. She is a Montessori teacher in Metlaktla, Alaska. She explained how when she was a little girl Slocum's son, Benjamin Aymar, told her that she was the great-great granddaughter of "the greatest sailor who ever lived".  Susan took this to heart and at some point began to collect all the family heirlooms and artifacts she could related to her family history and her great-great grandfathers life.
Susan is a "storyteller". It is obviously a gift that either comes from a very right brain, or of her passion for telling her families story and correct any mistakes that have been written in the past accounts by others reporting on Joshua Slocum's life.
She spoke of Victor Slocum, "the castaway" son of Slocum. The second son, Benjamin Aymar, and daughter Jessie Slocum who died in 1960. Garfield, was the youngest surviving son who died in 1955 and three other children dying in infancy at sea, two were twins. She feels she inherited the independent, adventurous spirit of both her great-great grandfather and her mother Carol Irene Slocum.             

I told Susan how fortunate I was to attend this event and have this incredible experience of hearing this story directly from Joshua Slocum's granddaughter. 

Susan brought along several artifacts from her great-great grandfather's travels including this huge flag form the ship "Northern Lights" She left the meaning of the stars on the flag a mystery but there were some interesting gussing by those in the audience. 

After hearing Susan's account I was motivated to learn a bit more about Joshua Slocum's pre-Spray life  which is just as interesting as the circumnavigation story.  Wikipedia has a interesting bit but some of it does not align perfectly with Susan's story: 
and more can be found here on .

It is interesting to note that there are a lot of vessels still sailing the globe that were built on a "Spray Hull" design. Since Joshua survived many a gale on his vessel others felt it must be the perfect solution for cruising around on the planets oceans. I have seen a couple here and there but never thought they would be practical for cruising in 2016 with all the advances of today's technologies. 

Back in March of 2015 I was in Corpus Christi making a visit to Wand'rin Star to do maintenance etc. I took a break and was walking the docks when I met John Crabb. John was preparing to take his home built Spray cruising. I went back and talked to john a couple of times when I was in Corpus to check on his progress. He is now cruising the Bahamas with his Admiral. You can follow him on Facebook.
Here is a picture of John and his Admiral crashing through a wave on their way to their next Bahamian destination taken March 17, 2016.

I first met William Harpster at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival last year. I talked to him about his Spray named "Joshua". He explained that his Spray is the only one that is built to the exact design of the original spry that Joshua Slocum sailed. William lives on Camano Island North of Seattle on Puget Sound and brought his vessel to display at this event featuring  Susan Slocum Dryer.

This  vessel looks so much bigger than 39'6", I guess it is the long bowsprit and the 14' Beam.

I know there must be a lot of room down below, I regret not asking William if I could go below and take some pics.

Looks authentic to me!

To further explain how much influence the Spray Hull has had on boating, you can still find several for sale on,  both sail and power boat hulls. Bruce Roberts, a well know yacht designer built several custom spray hulls for various customers of many different sizes: see

For more information about Susan Slocum Dryer you find find her on her own blog at

Saturday, March 5, 2016

February 2016 in Seattle

Some restoration work going on at the CWB

Later I saw a crew of 5-6 people restoring the paint on this Totem pole

An unusual Palm Tree sighting in the PNW!
The Admiral accompanied me this year to the Seattle Boat Show. We did see one vessel that was interesting to us at the Lake Union portion of the boat show, a Helmsman 38 trawler.

It was Thursday, free museum day in Seattle so walked over to the Wing Luke Museum in the International District 

You can create your own piece of art here.

The building is a big piece of the Asian history in Seattle. Asains coming to America for work often lived in hotels like this 

Openings in the roof provided a tunnel of light for the interior spaces.

Very small rooms that could have housed a whole family.

After s few fires in the International district, Fire doors were added to increase safety. The metal on the wood door is flattened cans.

The Year of the Monkey...Watch Out!

If you take the tour you get to see the new addition to the museum which is just next door. The owner dedicated his life long shop. The Yick Fung Company is where everyone bought whatever they needed to survive. 

Everything was left in place just as it was many years ago.

the only upgrade is a color monitor placed in the old Black and white TV cabinet.

Seattle Times article about the store:

Our tour guide explained that the Asian Immigrants organized Family Associations by their last name and whenever an immigrant came to Seattle they could just look for the association that had their last name. The association would take them in and help them find work and get established. This is where this family association would meet and make decisions.

And play games

Looking out the window he showed us another family association marked by a decorated balcony and flags. This way a newcomer could easily find their place.

Had to wonder how long and how many persons it took to carve this table.

The people at the desk in the Museum suggested Szechuan Noodle Bowl for Lunch. We would have never walked in here without the recommendation.

The resturant was mostly empty except for two cooks who were busy preparing for the dinner crowd

I asked the Admiral to take some notes.

Yumm, bamboo shoots!

This door way leads to August Wilson's way. It is on the Southwest Corner of the Seattle Repertory Theater at Seattle Center

Celebrating a fine sun day by grilling out on the little patio and taking some more fine sunset shots.

A few stars and a crescent moon is seen through the clouds.

With Record amounts of rain in Seattle you just gotta get out and throw some rocks.

We decided to go back to Bremerton for a day since the first time we were there everything was closed since it was Christmas Day

Always interesting watching the huge container ships being tugged into the Port of Settle, Little did I know that I would actually find myself on the newest and largest of container ships meeting the Captain a month later.

During WWII Bremerton had over 30,000 people employed at the navel ship yards here.

The Lone Sailor Poem:

El Primero
El Primero was a steam yacht built in 1893. This vessel was once considered one of the most luxurious yachts on the West Coast of the United States, and was one of the few steam yachts to be operated on Puget Sound. The yacht has since been converted to diesel, but it remained operational as of 2010.

And you can Buy it!

Another Oldie but Goodie for sale

Just check out Hansen Yachts, they have lots more like this one!

This old Battle Ship is always here in Bremerton and you can take a tour anytime.

I had to wonder what in the Hey! was this guy thinking when he bought this old wood tug boat? We asked a guy who was hosing off the docks. He said the owner had big plans for the vessel, he was going to rent kayaks from the deck and have a band play this summer from the upper deck.

The whole exterior looks like this. 

This is a huge old tug, over 80' long, What was he thinking about???  Sure wished he had been on the boat so I could have talked to him

Here is the smallest version of a PNW work boat, even this would be many years in the restoration process!

Ahh, this time the Museum was open and Free!

Beginning in 1891, the ship yard has been in continuous service ever since

This is sort of a flight simulation, you can sit in the cockpit seats and watch a video of taking off and land from the pilots point of view off the deck of a carrier.

Every town has a Craft Ale Brewery
This one is Lovecraft Brewery:

I had the

The Carlisle II, The 143-passenger ferry sails between Port Orchard and Bremerton during rush hours

We heard the Nimitz Carrier was in for repairs but this is all we could see of the ship.

You still see tugs towing huge Log Booms through the sound. Read this for some interesting facts:

Holy Cow, We have never seen the tide this high along the waterfront, it is particularly noticeable here at Bell Harbor Marina where the docks are approaching the tops of the concrete pilings that hold them in place. I can only assume that the record rains bringing  lots of fresh water into the sound through all the rivers contributed to this. Yesterday 3/2, I drove by the marina and the water was even higher than this picture.
Next Day Update: I stopped by to talk to the Harbor Master today and he said this is normal for winter tides, that the water will get about two feet above what you see in this picture. We have just not witnessed it at this location before.

The tide predictions do not help explain.

Rains come and go in February constantly with short sun breaks in between.

February 2016 in Seattle

Since I was in Texas for all of December and the first 9 days of January, I evidently missed the coldest weather of this years winter season. Record rains for the PNW were reached in mid February, leaving the rest of 2016 to set yet another possible record for the year. The good part is this year it is cold enough in the higher elevations for snow and lots of it creating plenty of snow pack keeping the rivers running high all summer long. Spring of course started about 5 weeks early since Saturday March 19 is the official start of spring here.
We found a day when the rain would at least be light and rode the ferry over to Bremerton. The Navel Museum there is worth the visit and it is Always free. We walked about the marina and there is a brokerage there that specializes in vintage yachts. So there are several really large vessels  there for sale that would require untold sums of money to restore to seaworthy condition. I checked out one of the vessels on Yachtworld and it appears someone tried to restore the vessel but for some reason stopped his efforts part way through and it is up for sale again. If the project kicked one guy in the rear then why would anyone want to start a new campaign? I'm thinking I might should go into the boat restoration business. I know I could do it cheaper than anyone else and if someone else is paying the bill till they run out of money what a great game that would be.
The Admiral discovered for me a craft brewery in walking distance but it opened at 2pm. We needed to sit for a bit so we stopped at the Fraiche Cup for some tea, then a short walk through their artsy street to the Lovecraft Brewery. I ordered an USS Eldridge Session IPA. I have had the pleasure to taste many different PNW IPA's but this one was distinctively different, fortunately the brewer was behind the bar serving us. I asked him about the unique taste. He used a hop variety I had not heard of before. I wished I had the time to drink a second but our ferry was waiting for the return trip. Sometimes one glass of one of these craft brews is just not enough to determine if you like it or not, you have to give the ale time to sit in on your taste buds so a second is really necessary!

In the 2.5 years we have lived in Settle we have experienced the driest winter in its known weather history and the wettest, all in a very short span of time.