During the writing of The Sea Wolf in October 1903 Jack took a young admirer Cloudesley Johns, on a sail to the mouth of the Sacramento River on Jack’s sloop Spray. In a discussion of things he’d done during 1903, he describes “I’d bought a small sailboat that I named Spray after Captain Slocum’s Spray.”
The namesake Spray was an 36-foot-9-inch oyster sloop which Joshua Slocum rebuilt and sailed around the world single-handed, the first voyage of its kind. The Spray was lost with Captain Slocum aboard sometime on or after November 14, 1909, after sailing from Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts, bound for South America
Other records show that Jack and Cloudesley sailed on the Sacramento River in the Spray in February-March 1905. Jack described Cloudesley as, “He is honest and loyal, young and fresh, understands the discipline of a boat and is a good cook, to say nothing of being a good-natured and genial companion.”
In his 1913 autobiographical novel John Barleycorn, Jack wrote, “For instance, for some years it had been my practice each winter to cruise for six or eight weeks on San Francisco Bay. My stout sloop yacht, the Spray, had a comfortable cabin and a coal stove. A Korean boy did the cooking, and I usually took a friend or so along to share the joys of the cruise. Also, I took my machine along and did my thousand words a day. On the particular trip I have in mind, Cloudesley and Toddy came along. This was Toddy’s first trip. On previous trips Cloudesley had elected to drink beer; so I had kept the yacht supplied with beer and had drunk beer with him.”
In 1906 Jack began building a sea going yacht with the goal of circumnavigation. He named it the Snark, after the mythical creature in a Lewis Carrol poem.