I recently picked up the book "A Speck on the Sea: Epic Voyages in the Most Improbable Vessels" by William Longyard. Lots of great stories: some well known, others obscure.
One of the most fascinating is the story of William Okeley, an English mercenary who was captured by a Turkish ship in 1639 and sold into slavery in Algiers. In 1644 he and other English slaves began planning an escape. Over the course of several days they built a 12-foot folding boat in pieces, assembled it to check the fit, and disassembled it again. The pieces were then smuggled out of the city and hidden. The boat was made watertight by a fabric covering that was coated with a combination of tar, pitch, and tallow.
On the appointed evening seven men slipped out of the city, assembled the boat, and prepared to cast off. They quickly found that there wasn't enough freeboard to carry all seven, and two agreed to stay behind. The other five then paddled to freedom -- 180 MILES in 6 days over the Mediterranean to the Spanish island of Mallorca.
[ 12-27-2003, 10:44 PM: Message edited by: Steve Paskey ]