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    Re: Heath Hezzanith question
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2007 Oct 23, 21:58 -0400

    Peter, regarding self-steering, you wrote:
    
    "Joshua Slocum had neither. His boat seems to have sailed itself very
    nicely."
    
    In maritime circles, this was considered the real miracle of his voyage. On
    November 20, 1896, the New York Times re-published a rather lengthy article
    from the San Francisco Bulletin reporting on the voyage up until then. He
    had already been in Australia for some time when these reports reached the
    US. The article described some of his adventures and also noted the amazing
    fact that the Spray could steer itself.
    
    Slocum finally returned to the USA at the end of June, 1898. The NY Times
    published a very short article mentioning his return. The timing could not
    have been worse. His arrival was just a few days before Teddy Roosevelt's
    famous charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba, and the newspapers were filled with
    stories from the war. But during the summer of 1899, Slocum wrote his book
    and it was published serially in The Century Magazine. In the months that
    followed, the editorial page of the New York Times carried not just one, but
    three short blurbs scoffing at Slocum's claims that the boat could steer
    itself. The first published on November 7, 1899 included this line: "the
    tale is painfully hard to believe, and the teller thereof deigns no
    slightest explanation of a marvel well within hailing distance of the
    impossible." Well, well! Sounds like flamebait to me. The paper published a
    reply from Slocum a few days later saying he was "unable to further
    elucidate at this time" but he invited anyone who didn't believe him to come
    out for a sail. The NY Times was a much less important newspaper in 1899
    than in later decades, so gossipy, even catty comments, like in the
    editorial above, were more common.
    
     -FER
    
    
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