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1. ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
2nd February 1709
Alexander Selkirk, the real-life "Robinson Crusoe" is rescued
In September 1704, privateer Captain Stradling brought his ship, the Cinque Ports, to an island known to the Spanish as Más a Tierra, located in the uninhabited Juan Fernández archipelago, 670 km (420 mi) off the coast of Chile, for a mid-expedition restocking of fresh water and supplies.
Selkirk, a crew-member, had grave concerns about the seaworthiness of their vessel and probably wanted to make the needed repairs before going any farther. He declared that he would rather be left on Juan Fernández than continue in a dangerously leaky ship. Stradling granted his request and landed Selkirk and his personal effects on the island. Selkirk subsequently changed his mind but Stradling refused to let him back on board.
Selkirk was to be proved right - Cinque Ports did indeed later founder off the coast of what is now Colombia. Stradling and some of his crew survived the loss of their ship but were forced to surrender to the Spanish. The survivors were taken to Lima, Peru, where they endured a harsh imprisonment.
At first, Selkirk remained along the shoreline. During this time, he ate spiny lobsters and scanned the ocean daily for rescue, suffering all the while from loneliness, misery, and remorse. Hordes of raucous sea lions gathered on the beach for the mating season, and they eventually drove him to the island's interior. Once inland, his way of life took a turn for the better. More foods were available there: feral goats—introduced by earlier sailors—provided him with meat and milk, while wild turnips, cabbage leaves, and dried pepper berries offered him variety and spice. At first Rats would attack him at night, but Selkirk countered this by domesticating and living near feral cats.
Selkirk proved resourceful in using materials that he found on the island: he forged a new knife out of barrel hoops left on the beach, he built two huts out of pepper trees, one of which he used for cooking and the other for sleeping, and he employed his musket to hunt goats and his knife to clean their carcasses. As his gunpowder dwindled, he had to chase prey on foot. During one such chase, he was badly injured when he tumbled from a cliff, lying helpless and unable to move for about a day. His prey had cushioned his fall, likely sparing him a broken back.
Childhood lessons learned from his father, a tanner, now served him well. For example, when his clothes wore out, he made new ones from hair-covered goatskins using a nail for sewing. As his shoes became unusable, he had no need to replace them, since his toughened, callused feet made protection unnecessary. He sang psalms and read from the Bible, finding it a comfort in his situation and a prop for his English.
During his sojourn on the island, two vessels came to anchor. Unfortunately for Selkirk, both were Spanish. As a Scotsman and a privateer, he risked a grim fate if captured and, therefore, tried to hide himself. On one occasion, he was spotted and chased by a group of sailors from one of the ships. His pursuers urinated beneath the tree in which he was hiding, but failed to discover him. Frustrated, his would-be captors gave up and sailed away.
Selkirk's long-awaited deliverance came on 2 February 1709 by way of the Duke, a privateering ship piloted by William Dampier, and its sailing companion the Duchess. Thomas Dover led the landing party that met Selkirk. After four years and four months without human company, Selkirk was almost incoherent with joy. The Duke's captain and leader of the expedition was Woodes Rogers, who mischievously referred to him as the governor of the island. The agile castaway caught two or three goats a day, and helped restore the health of Rogers' men, who were suffering from scurvy.
Captain Rogers was impressed by Selkirk's physical vigour, and also by the peace of mind that he had attained while living on the island, observing: "One may see that solitude and retirement from the world is not such an insufferable state of life as most men imagine, especially when people are fairly called or thrown into it unavoidably, as this man was." He made Selkirk the Duke's second mate, later giving him command of one of their captured ships, the Increase, before it was ransomed by the Spanish.
Selkirk returned to privateering with enthusiasm. At Guayaquil, in present-day Ecuador, he led a boat crew up the Guayas River, where a number of wealthy Spanish ladies had fled, and relieved them of the gold and jewels they had hidden inside their clothing. His part in the hunt for treasure galleons along the coast of Mexico resulted in the capture of the Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación y Desengaño, renamed Batchelor, on which he served as sailing master under Captain Dover to the Dutch East Indies. Selkirk completed the round-the-world voyage by the Cape of Good Hope as the sailing master of the Duke, arriving at the Downs off the English coast on 1 October 1711. He had been away for eight years.
2. TODAY IN MY LIFE
Business promotional work
Client prep and session
Twitter Followers = 2,071 (up 2)
Non-followed eliminated = 0
Unfollowers eliminated = 1
New Followers followed back = 1
Spammers not followed back = 2
3. TODAY'S SELF-OBSERVATION
Missus, bless her, seeing that I was not in the best state of mind following these events, relieved me of all my usual duties and humbled me with her absolute devotion to my wellbeing. I was most profoundly grateful. An early night (for sleeping!) ensued and I awoke refreshed and grateful, with the necessary medication in the cupboard, the right external light waiting to be fitted and a missus who utterly adores me! Life's not so bad...
4. TODAY'S QUESTION FOR YOU
For what are you profoundly grateful today?
5. TODAY'S WEATHER IN BRADFORD
6. TODAY'S ONELINER
I try to avoid things that make me fat - like mirrors, scales, and non-elasticated clothing :D
7. NOW THAT'S FUNNY!
Chelsea Handler talks about sex
Adolf Hitler kept a framed photo of Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, on his desk. Henry Ford also kept a framed photo of the Nazi leader on his desk in Dearborn, Michigan. In Mein Kampf, Hitler included some anti-Semitic views attributed to Ford.
9. ZEN WISDOM
The important thing is to take that first step. Bravely overcoming one small fear gives you the courage to take on the next.