Joshua Slocum is widely known for his Sailing Around the World Alone, the story of his solo circumnavigation. The Voyage of the Liberdade, his first book, is equally compelling. In it he recounts his journey to Brazil and back — he sailed down on the Aquidneck, his own ship, and returned on the Liberdade, which he built there. What happened?
Slocum describes sailing from port to port in Brazil, trying to take in and deliver enough cargo on the Aquidneck to make her voyage profitable. Through a series of mishaps he is saddled with a crew which turns out to be composed of brigands, not sailors:
My pirates thought their opportunity had surely come to capture the Aquidneck, and this they undertook to do. The ringleader of the gang was a burly scoundrel, whose boast was that he had “licked both the mate and second mate of the last vessel he had sailed in, and had “busted the captain in the jaw”…Near midnight, my wife, who had heard the first footstep on deck, quietly wakened me, saying, “We must get up, and look out for ourselves! Something is going wrong on deck; the boat tackle has been let go with a great deal of noise…” My first impulse was to step on deck in the usual way, but the earnest entreaties of my wife awoke me, like, to a danger that should be investigated with caution. Arming myself therefore, with a stout carbine repeater, and eight ball cartridges in the magazine, I stepped on deck abaft instead of forward, where evidently I had been expected…
Slocum, who landed in jail for shooting a one of the mutineers, eventually lost the Aquidneck on the reefs. Not wanting to remain a castaway in Brazil, he and his family build the Liberdade, the ship that would bring them home:
Her dimensions being — 35 feet in length over all, 7-1/2 feet breadth of beam, and 3 feet depth of hold, who shall say that she was not large enough? Her model I got from my recollections of Cape Ann dories and from a photo of a very elegant Japanese sampan which I had before me on the spot, so, as it might be expected, when finished, she resembled both types of vessel in some degree. Her rig was the Chinese sampan style, which is, I consider, the most convenient boat rig in the whole world. This was the boat, or canoe I prefer to call it, in which we purposed to sail for North America and home. Each one had been busy during the construction and past misfortunes had all been forgotten. Madam had made the sails — and very good sails they were, too!
Join the self-reliant and intrepid Slocum on his voyage and gain a glimpse into the romantic era that vanished when steam took over. And perhaps his book will inspire you to follow in his footsteps in your own Liberdade!