The Cruise of the Snark
"...To burst all links of habit—there to wander far away. On from island unto island at the gateways of the day."
The Snark was Jack London's custom-built boat
By Russ Kingman
The name "Snark" was taken from Lewis Caroll's poem The Hunting of the Snark.
Photo 1   The Snark anchored Photo 2   Snark at sail Photo 3   London's aboard the Snark
Photo 4   Crew members Photo 5   Snark model by Warren Watson Photo 6   London's aboard the Snark

The Cruise Itinerary

Jack and Charmian London were determined to circumnavigate the globe on a yacht of Jack's design. The extensive itinerary of the cruise was planned for a leisurely seven years. The Snark had been designed small to permit inland trips. When it entered the rivers, the masts would be lowered and the engine would take over. There would be canals of China, and the Yang-tse River. They would go up the Nile, to Vienna by the Danube, up the Thames to London, and up the Seine to Paris, where they would moor opposite the Latin Quarter with a bow - line out to Notre Dame and a stern - line fast to the Morgue. Leaving the Mediterranean, they would go up the Rhone to Lyons, there enter the Saone, cross from the Saone to the Marne through the Canal de Bourgoyne, and from the Marne enter the Seine at Le Harve. After crossing the Atlantic, they would go up the Hudson, pass through the Erie canal, and go down the Mississippi by way of the Illinois River and the connecting canal, and go down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

About the Snark

The boat was to be forty-five feet long but somehow during construction two feet disappeared and the final measurements were forty-three feet on the waterline and fifty-five feet over all, with a fifteen-foot beam and seven feet, eight inches draft. Headroom below decks was six feet. There were four watertight compartments that leaked profusely all the way to Honolulu, where the boat was put into seaworthy condition. Auxiliary power was furnished by a seventy-horsepower Century engine built by the New York Yacht, Launch and Engine Co. of Morris Heights, New Jersey. There were three staterooms, an engine room, bathroom, and galley. Her speed was estimated at ten knots under sail and eight knots with motor power.

No ballast was necessary, since her iron keel weighed five tons. She was built at Anderson ways near Hunter's Point in San Francisco and outfitted alongside the Twelfth Street bridge in Oakland, CA.

Cruise Aborted

The voyage that was intended to last seven years saw the Snark sail to Hawaii, the Marquesas Islands, Tahiti, the Solomon's and ended on the Island of Guadacanal, where ill health forced Jack to sail commercially to Sydney, Australia for treatment of a skin problem feared to be Leoprosy, but diagnosed as Psoriasis. When the doctors in Sydney advised Jack to forsake the cruise and return to California, he and Charmian were heartbroken. Nobody has ever realized just how much Jack and Charmian loved that cruise. They were extremely disappointed by the turn of events. But the trip certainly was no failure. Several books, short stories, and articles had been written, and their experiences were invaluable to his and Charmian's literary future.

Source: Kingman, Russ. A Pictorial Life of Jack London. NY: Crown Publishers, 1979. (By Permission)

Related Links

Spirit of Snark Toby J. Watson's Maritime Ship Models
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