From Sailing Alone Around the World (1900)

Joshua Slocum, American seaman and adventurer, arrived in Sydney Harbour in his single-handed yacht Spray after sailing from Fiji in 1896:

All government dues were remitted, and after I had rested a few days a port pilot with a tug carried her to sea again, and she made along the coast toward the harbor of Sydney, where she arrived on the following day, October 10, 1896.

I came to in a snug cove near Manly for the night, the Sydney harbor police-boat giving me a pluck into anchorage while they gathered data from an old scrap-book of mine, which seemed to interest them. Nothing escapes the vigilance of the New South Wales police; their reputation is known the world over. They made a shrewd guess that I could give them some useful information, and they were the first to meet me. Some one said they came to arrest me, and—well, let it go at that.

Summer was approaching, and the harbor of Sydney was blooming with yachts. Some of them came down to the weather-beaten Spray and sailed round her at Shelcote [sic], where she took a berth for a few days. At Sydney I was at once among friends. The Spray remained at the various watering-places in the great port for several weeks, and was visited by many agreeable people, frequently by officers of H.M.S. Orlando and their friends. Captain Fisher, the commander, with a party of young ladies from the city and gentlemen belonging to his ship, came one day to pay me a visit in the midst of a deluge of rain. I never saw it rain harder even in Australia. But they were out for fun, and rain could not dampen their feelings, however hard it poured…

 

"Our Jack" Balmain Regatta, 1889? – Sydney  State Library of Tasmania

“Our Jack” Balmain Regatta, 1889? – Sydney
(State Library of Tasmania)

The typical Sydney boat is a handy sloop of great beam and enormous sail-carrying power; but a capsize is not uncommon, for they carry sail like vikings. In Sydney I saw all manner of craft, from the smart steam-launch and sailing-cutter to the smaller sloop and canoe pleasuring on the bay. Everybody owned a boat. If a boy in Australia has not the means to buy him a boat he builds one, and it is usually one not to be ashamed of. The Spray shed her Joseph’s coat, the Fuego mainsail, in Sydney, and wearing a new suit, the handsome present of Commodore Foy, she was flagship of the Johnstone’s Bay Flying Squadron when the circumnavigators of Sydney harbor sailed in their annual regatta. They “recognized” the Spray as belonging to “a club of her own,” and with more Australian sentiment than fastidiousness gave her credit for her record.

Time flew fast those days in Australia, and it was December 6, 1896, when the Spray sailed from Sydney. My intention now was to sail around Cape Leeuwin direct for Mauritius on my way home, and so I coasted along toward Bass Strait in that direction.

–Joshua Slocum, American, 1844-1909

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