Joshua Slocum was born in 1844 and, though he never learnt to swim, he spent a life at sea. He met his first wife in Sydney, and for fifteen years she accompanied him on his journeys, along with their children. In 1895, after the death of his Australian wife and a series of events which brought his career into sharp decline, he decided to embark on a solo circumnavigation of the globe in the Spray, a hundred-year old sloop. Slocum returned to America in 1898, a celebrity, to write his extraordinary account. He disappeared on a voyage in the sea-worn Spray in 1909. His body was never found.