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Observations placeholder

Slocum, Joshua



Type of Spiritual Experience


The following provides an example of what can happen if you eat bad plums and cheese that has gone off and become delirious from illness!  Slocum has his eyes open, but he is seriously ill and this is a vision of his boat and a ‘guide’ figure – his Higher spirit  – who very interestingly does help in ways other than mentally

A description of the experience

From Sailing Alone Around the World (Paperback) by Joshua Slocum

During these days a feeling of awe crept over me.  My memory worked with startling power.  The ominous, the insignificant, the great, the small, the wonderful, the commonplace – all appeared before my mental vision in magical succession.  Pages of my history were recalled which had been so long forgotten that they seemed to belong to a previous existence.  I heard all the voices of the past laughing, crying, telling what I had heard them tell in many corners of the earth…..

I found myself upon the cabin floor in great pain.  How long I lay there I could not tell, for I became delirious.  When I came to, as I thought, from my swoon, I realised that the sloop was plunging into a heavy sea and looking out of the companionway, to my amazement I saw a tall man at the helm.  His rigid hand, grasping the spokes of the wheel, held them as in a vice.  One may imagine my astonishment.  His rig was that of a foreign sailor and the large red cap he wore was cockbilled over his left ear, and all was set off with shaggy black whiskers.  He would have been taken for a pirate in any part of the world.  While I gazed upon his threatening aspect I forgot the storm and wondered if he had come to cut my throat.  This he seemed to divine.

“Senor” said he, doffing his cap “I have come to do you no harm”.  And a smile, the faintest in the world, but still a smile, played on his face, which seemed not unkind when he spoke.

“I have come to do you no harm.  I have sailed free” he said “but was never worse than a contrabandista.  I am one of Columbus’s crew” he continued.  “I am the pilot of the Pinta come to aid you.  Lie quiet, senor captain” he added “and I will guide your ship tonight.  You have a calentura, but you will be safe….. Quien sabe, it may have been from the leche de Capra and becoming capricious “

“Avast there!”  I cried.  “I have no mind for moralising”.

I made to shift to spread a mattress and lie on that instead of the hard floor, my eyes all the while fastened on my strange guest, who remarked again that I would have “only pains and calentura” chuckled as he chanted a wild song

High are the waves, fierce, gleaming
High is the tempest roar!
High the sea bird screaming
High the Azore

I suppose I was now on the mend, for I was peevish and complained “I detest your jingle.  Your Azore should be at roost and would have been were it a respectable bird.  I begged he would tie a rope yarn on the rest of the song, if there was any more of it.  I was still in agony.

Great seas were boarding the Spray, but in my fevered brain I thought they were boats falling on the deck, that careless draymen were throwing from wagons on the pier to which I imagined the Spray was now moored, and without fenders to breast her off.  “You’ll smash your boats!”  I called out again and again, as the seas crashed on the cabin over my head.

 “You’ll smash your boats, but you can’t hurt the Spray.  She is strong” I cried.

I found, when my pains and calenture had gone, that the deck, now as white as a shark’s tooth from seas washing over it, had been swept of everything movable.

To my astonishment, I saw now at broad day that the Spray was still heading as I had left her, and was going like a race horse.  Columbus himself could not have held her more exactly on her course.  The sloop had made ninety miles in the night through a rough sea.  I felt grateful to the old pilot, but I marvelled some that he had not taken in the jib.  The gale was moderating and by noon the sun was shining.  A meridian altitude and the distance on the patent log, which I always kept towing, told me she had made a true course throughout the twenty four hours.

I was getting much better now, but was very weak, and did not turn out reefs that day or the night following, although the wind fell light; but I just put my wet clothes out in the sun when it was shining and lying down there myself, fell asleep.  Then who should visit me again but my old friend of the night before, this time, of course, in a dream.

“You did well last night to take my advice” said he “and if you would, I should like to be with you often on the voyage, for the love of adventure alone” . Finishing what he had to say, he again doffed his cap and disappeared as mysteriously as he came, returning I suppose to the phantom Pinta.

I awoke much refreshed and with the feeling that I had been in the presence of a friend and a seaman of vast experience.  I gathered up my clothes, which by this time were dry, then, by inspiration, I threw overboard all the plums in the vessel


The source of the experience

Slocum, Joshua

Concepts, symbols and science items


Higher spirit


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Food poisoning