March Speaker: The Life and Times of Joshua Slocum

Joshua, an historical replica of Spray, the vessel Joshua Slocum sailed solo around the world in 1895-98, was built and is owned by Bill Harpster of Camano Island. You can see Joshua at the CWB docks during open hours (10 am to 6 pm) March 16-21.


Each month CWB finds a speaker of wit and experience to talk about his or her special knowledge. It is also an opportunity for CWB members to meet one another and the staff. The program runs from 7pm to 9pm, with opportunities to ask questions. March’s 3rd Friday lecture will be held on March 18th.

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”.

Slocum shunned his instant celebrity and returned to commercial sailing, making repeated U.S. coastal and Caribbean trading trips alone in Spray. In 1909, Slocum and the aged sloop disappeared from the waters near Martha’s Vineyard, never to be seen again. Years later, Slocum’s son, Benjamin Aymar, told then 8-year-old Susan Slocum Dyer and her siblings, “You are the great-great grandchildren of the greatest sailor who ever lived.”

Susan, now a lower elementary school teacher in Metlakatla, Alaska, took that to heart, amassing family photos, heirloom artifacts, hand-written letters and memorabilia of Joshua Slocum’s life. Much of this material has never been seen outside of the family but Susan will share it with the 3rd Friday audience. She also will bring a ceremonial flag from The Northern Light, a majestic merchant marine ship captained by Joshua Slocum in the pre-Spray days. The flag was hand-crafted by Slocum’s wife, Virginia Albertine Walker.

The event is free (donations are welcome) and light refreshments will be available.

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2 thoughts on “March Speaker: The Life and Times of Joshua Slocum”

  1. j. chris matzen says:

    Dear CWB,

    Sorry that I will not be able to attend the talk on Slocum and his epic voyage at CWB March 18 . I have a very sore ankle.
    Will a video of the presentation available online? I hope so. Also would love to see videos or stills of the replica boat, Joshua.

    When I lived in Seattle I often volunteered at CWB, mostly for groundskeeping and misc chores. But not since I moved to Bremerton November 2000. High rents and bad traffic drove me out.

    Has anyone heard from Vern Velez since he retired to Puerto Rico?
    Keep on doing what you’re doing!


    1. Judie Romeo says:


      I remember you well. You were a great volunteer!

      Sorry you had to miss the March 3rd Friday presentation. We had a full house, standing room only, and the talk was outstanding. When the huge, hand-embroidered flag from the NORTHERN LIGHT was unveiled, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

      However, you are going to get a second chance to see and hear Susan. Mark your calendar for the 40th Annual Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival July 2-4. Susan Slocum Dyer will be returning with another batch of Slocum artifacts and another chance to hear her share family lore about her great-great grandfather, Joshua Slocum. Hope you can make it.

      As for Vern, he’s still in Puerto Rico and keeps promising to visit but we haven’t been able to lure him back here yet. Maybe he’ll come when we have the grand opening of the Wagner Education Center next fall.

      Judie Romeo
      Volunteer Assistant to Dick Wagner

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