Thursday, February 2, 2012
Alfred Johnson's Centennial
Sixty six days, three thousand miles,
Record breaking, Abercastle smiles,
Liverpool, trip complete,
The courage of Captain Johnson and Centennial’s feat.
In the fishing port of Gloucester, Massachusetts a twenty nine year old schoonerman and halibut fisherman, Alfred Johnson, committed to a daredevil stunt in a fit of bravado, a crossing of the Atlantic from west to east in a twenty foot dory.
Johnson's voyage was the first recorded single-handed crossing of the Atlantic.
He began the crossing, June 15, 1876. Stopping briefly in Nova Scotia to make adjustments to his ballast, Centennial set sail into the open ocean around June 25.
Johnson maintained a log of approximately 70 miles (110 km) a day - respectable for a small boat in the open sea and survived a major gale which capsized his boat. An exhausted man, Alfred made landfall at Abercastle, Wales on Saturday, August 12. After a few days' rest, he completed the voyage, sailing into Liverpool on August 21, 1876, to an enthusiastic reception.
Johnson received some attention for his feat, and his boat was exhibited in Liverpool for several months. He was thereafter known as Alfred "Centennial" Johnson. When asked later in life why he'd done it, he said;
"I made that trip because I was a damned fool, just as they said I was."
The lines from John Gardner's interpretation of