Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island

Kindly Contributed By Geoffrey Wolff
Author of The Hard Way Around


Joshua Slocum"My family kept our 30-foot cutter, the Blackwing, on a mooring off the east coast of Conanicut Island. Jamestown, Rhode Island faces Newport, a couple of miles across Narragansett Bay from that legendary har bor where Joshua Slocum anchored after his pioneering solo circumnavigation of the world ended on June 27, 1898 after 46,000 miles — three years, two months and two days. It was on a June afternoon ninety years later that — sailing solo from Block Island — I tried to imagine what he must have felt bringing his adventure to an end. I was in dense fog at the time, not quite lost (for a wonder), trying to navigate to Pt. Judith and then to Beavertail, the light at the end of Conanicut Island that Slocum had passed close aboard a few miles from Newport.

I found Beavertail light right where it belonged, and felt such a burst of gratitude that I tricked myself into believing I could just possibly imagine a little of the anxiety, relief and pride that that great seaman must have experienced. I was wrong to imagine I could fully understand Joshua Slocum’s bravura arts and audacious crafts, but right to try."