4

A Man Clothed in Goat-Skins

They sighted the island of Juan Fernández at 7 a.m. on 31 January 1709. The jagged outlines of the mountain peaks were clearly visible on the horizon twenty miles away to the south-west. At two in the afternoon, when the island was still some twelve miles away, Thomas Dover persuaded Rogers to let him take the pinnace ashore with a boat’s crew to get fresh provisions and to look for a suitable anchorage. Later in the day, as it grew dark, the men on board the two ships were surprised to see what appeared to be a fire on the shore of the island. It was too bright to be the lights of the pinnace and they could only assume that there must be French ships at anchor nearby. Throughout the night Rogers and Courtney kept their ships ready for action. Guided by a gun, musket fire and lights in the rigging of the Duke and Dutchess, the pinnace returned in the early hours. The men in the pinnace had seen the fire when they were still some way from the shore and had decided to turn back, which was just as well because around midnight the wind had begun to blow.

At daybreak on 1 February they found that they had sailed past the island, so they tacked and headed back again, their progress hindered by sudden gusts of wind from the shore which were so fierce that they were forced to reef their topsails. Around midday they rounded a headland and saw before them a large bay, the only place on Juan Fernández which afforded any shelter for ships. The remaining coastline presented a forbidding wall of sheer black cliffs, broken here and there by dark inlets strewn with boulders against which the ocean swell surged and foamed. There was no sign of the French ships. Rogers sent the Duke’s yawl ashore with Captain Dover, Robert Fry (first lieutenant of the Duke) and six men, all armed as a precaution.

The wind now dropped and they had to hoist out the remaining boats and tow the ships into the bay – which in the days of Basil Ringrose and Bartholomew Sharp had been called Windy Bay, but in 1741 was renamed Cumberland Bay or Bahia Cumberland.1 A mile from the shore they anchored in fifty fathoms. When the yawl failed to return Rogers despatched the pinnace with more armed men to see what had happened. He was concerned that the Spanish might have established a garrison on the island and seized the ship’s boat. However, the pinnace soon returned, laden with crayfish and ‘with a man clothed in goat-skins, who looked wilder than the first owners of them’. It was Alexander Selkirk, who had survived a solitary existence on the island for four years and four months, following his marooning by Captain Stradling of the Cinque Ports galley.

Selkirk had seen the ships approaching the day before and, believing them to be English, he had lit the fire on the beach. Next morning, when he saw the yawl heading for the shore, he waved a white flag and shouted to attract attention. Hearing him speak in English, the men in the yawl asked him to show them the best place for anchoring the ships and landing. He gave them directions and then ran along the shore with incredible swiftness. When the crew of the yawl stepped ashore on the shingle beach he greeted them joyfully. They invited him to come out to the ships but ‘he first enquired whether a certain officer that he knew was aboard; and hearing that he was, would rather have chosen to remain in his solitude, than come away with him, ’till informed that he did not command’.2 Dampier was clearly the officer he had in mind, even though it was Stradling who had been the cause of his extended stay on the island. Selkirk was aged twenty-eight when he had been left on the beach and was now thirty-two. His physical fitness, his practical skills as a sailor and his combative, independent nature had ensured his survival. He invited Dover and Fry to see his dwelling, but ‘the way to it being hid and uncouth, only Capt. Fry bore him company; and having with much difficulty climbed up and crept down many rocks, came at last to a pleasant spot of ground full of grass and furnished with trees, where he saw two small huts, indifferently built, the one being the lodging room, the other the kitchen’.3

A recent archaeological excavation has almost certainly identified the spot where Selkirk lived and kept a lookout for approaching ships.4 On a stretch of level ground high above Cumberland Bay and close to a freshwater stream, the archaeologists discovered post holes which correspond with the descriptions by Woodes Rogers and Edward Cooke of Selkirk’s dwelling place. His two huts were constructed from the branches of pimento trees which were covered with long grass and lined with goat skins. In the larger hut he slept on a bed raised from the ground. ‘In the lesser hut, at some distance from the other, he dressed his victuals.’ The post holes, the nearby stream and the suitability of the location with its commanding views over the anchorage suggested that this was likely to be the right place, but the archaeologists also unearthed a fragment of a pair of navigational dividers which could only have been left by a seaman, and most likely by a sailor like Selkirk who was a ship’s master or navigation officer. We know that when he was marooned he had with him ‘his clothes and bedding; with a fire-lock, some powder, bullets, and tobacco, a hatchet, a knife, a kettle, a Bible, some practical pieces, and his mathematical instruments and books’.5

In their books of the voyage both Rogers and Cooke gave detailed accounts of how Selkirk had survived his solitary existence on the island.6 Both accounts dealt with the practical details of Selkirk’s existence but Rogers’ more thoughtful version also described how he learnt to overcome his loneliness by reading, singing psalms and praying ‘so that he said he was a better Christian while in this solitude than ever he was before, or than, he was afraid, he should ever be again’. Rogers noted that the castaway had so forgotten his language for lack of practice that he was difficult to understand, ‘for he seemed to speak his words by halves’. In addition Rogers drew some moral lessons from Selkirk’s experiences: in particular that ‘a plain and temperate way of living conduces to the health of the body and the vigour of the mind, both of which we are apt to destroy by excess and plenty’. Characteristically Rogers decided he must put an end to such reflections which were more appropriate for a philosopher than a mariner.

The great advantage of Juan Fernández, as previous castaways and visiting buccaneers had discovered, was that it had an equable climate and abundance of food and fresh water. The brief winter only produced a light frost, occasional hail and much rain. The summers were not excessively hot, and the windy, changeable and often damp weather would have been nothing unusual for a Scotsman. The cabbage trees (Juania australis) produced bunched clusters of whitish leaves which looked and tasted like garden cabbages. Turnips seeded by previous visitors to the island now covered several acres. A variety of fish could be caught in the bay, though Selkirk could not eat them ‘for want of salt because they occasioned a looseness’, so instead he caught the crayfish (like a small lobster), which were plentiful and could be boiled or made into a broth. Above all there were the goats which roamed the mountainous island in thousands. These provided Selkirk with good meat, with bedding and with clothing when his own clothes wore out. He made a coat, breeches and a cap of goat-skin ‘which he stitched together with little thongs of the same, that he cut with his knife. He had no other needle but a nail; and when his knife wore to the back, he made others as well as he could of some iron hoops that were left ashore, which he beat thin and ground upon stones.’7

There were no venomous or savage creatures on the island but Selkirk was initially plagued by the rats which had come ashore from ships and multiplied. They would gnaw his feet and clothes while he slept, until he tamed the equally numerous cats which lay in large numbers around his dwelling and kept the rats at bay. Apart from the loneliness and melancholy which afflicted him for the first eight months, his main fear was being discovered by the Spanish because he believed they would murder him or make a slave of him and send him to the silver mines. He had seen several Spanish ships pass by but only two had dropped anchor and sent men ashore. On one of these occasions the Spaniards had seen him, shot at him and chased him into the woods. He had outstripped them, climbed to the top of a tree and, although they urinated at the foot of the tree, they failed to see him, and after killing several goats they returned to their ship.

When Rogers consulted Dampier about Selkirk he was assured that he had been the best man in his ship, and on his recommendation he agreed to sign on Selkirk as a mate (we learn later that he was second mate on the Duke). In gratitude for his delivery Selkirk caught two goats which, when mixed with turnips and greens, provided an excellent broth for the men who were sick. He also pointed out where they could find watercress, parsley and other antiscorbutic greens ‘which mightily refreshed our men and cleansed them from the scurvy’. Of the twenty-one men who came ashore sick with scurvy only two died.

Meanwhile the rest of the crew were hard at work, clearing the two ships in preparation for careening them. The topmasts came down, sails and stores were sent ashore and a tented camp was set up among the pimento trees. A smith’s forge was sent ashore, the sailmakers began mending the worn and torn sails, the rigging was overhauled and the coopers supervised the cleaning and assembly of casks and barrels. A notable feature of Juan Fernández was the presence of fur seals and elephant seals which gathered in thousands along the shoreline, filling the air with a continuous clamour of moans and barks and hideous roars. They were easy to slaughter with muskets and axes and within ten days the sailors had produced eighty gallons of seal oil for use in lamps and for cooking.

By 12 February Rogers was able to note in his journal that the ships had been loaded with wood and water, the sails and rigging had been repaired, the men were all back on board and they were ready to depart. The next day a council meeting was held on the Dutchess at which it was agreed that they would head towards the mainland of Chile and then steer northwards, following the coast at a distance of six leagues (eighteen miles). The next objective was the island of Lobos, 2,000 miles from Juan Fernández and another staging post on the way to their main objective, the Manila galleon. A system of signals was worked out so that the ships could alert each other to the presence of a potential prize and could decide on the appropriate action to be taken. At three in the afternoon of 14 February they weighed anchor and sailed out of Cumberland Bay with a pleasant south-easterly wind setting them on their way.

A month later, as they were approaching Lobos they captured the Asunción, a sixteen-ton sailing bark with a crew of nine men, mostly Indians. From them they learnt the welcome news that there were no longer any French ships on the Pacific coast of South America and no more were expected. They also learnt that Selkirk’s former ship, the Cinque Ports, had foundered on the coast near the small town of Barbacoas (close to the equator in what is now Colombia). Only Captain Stradling and half a dozen of his crew had survived the wreck but they had been captured by the Spanish and sent to Lima, where they had been imprisoned in harsh conditions for the past four years. Selkirk’s refusal to rejoin Stradling’s ‘leaky’ ship had evidently been a wise move.

Lobos Island (Isla Lobos de Afuera) was a barren outcrop with no fresh water or vegetation and a pervading smell of rotten fish. The only inhabitants were seals, gulls, pelicans and vultures. Dampier, who had called there during his previous voyage, guided them into a sheltered cove where they dropped anchor. The captured bark was hauled ashore and converted into a small privateer by the ships’ carpenters. She was fitted out with a new mainmast and mainsail, her deck was repaired and she was armed with four swivel guns. Renamed the Beginning, she was provided with a crew of thirty-two men under the command of Captain Edward Cooke. Three more prizes were taken during the eighteen days they spent in the vicinity of Lobos: the Santa Josefa, a fifty-ton merchant vessel from Guayaquil which they renamed the Increase and put under the command of Alexander Selkirk; a merchant ship of 450 tons called the Ascensión which was en route from Panama to Lima; and the Jesús, Maria y José, a vessel of thirty-five tons with a cargo of timber.

By 6 April the Duke and Dutchess and their flotilla of prizes were on their way, sailing north along the coast, past the saddle-shaped hills of Paita and past mile after mile of distant green shores lined with dense tropical forest. As they approached the equator the crews sweltered in the heat and there was some concern that they were running short of fresh water. On 12 May, at a council meeting held on board the Duke, it was decided that they would launch an attack on the town of Guayaquil, which lay at the head of a very large estuary some 200 miles ahead of them. This had never been one of their original objectives and although a surprise attack might prove almost as profitable as the capture of the Manila galleon, it was a risky enterprise.

Guayaquil was one of the largest ports on the Pacific coast of South America. It was a major shipbuilding centre and an important staging post for vessels trading between Lima and Panama. It had a population of some 2,000 and was graced by five churches, the largest of which faced a handsome square and had a lavish baroque interior with rich carvings and pictures. The town was not heavily fortified but its chief defence was its position. The hot and humid atmosphere drained the energy of those unused to it, while outbreaks of deadly fevers were commonplace. Before approaching the town an attacking force had to sail and row more than eighty miles up a river estuary lined with mangrove swamps and strewn with islands and mudbanks. They had to contend with tides so strong that it was impossible to make any progress against the ebb tide and while they anchored among the mangroves waiting for the tide to turn they would be tormented by swarms of mosquitoes which flourished in the equatorial heat. Nevertheless it was a tempting prize and had attracted a number of raids in the past. Thomas Cavendish had looted and set fire to the town in 1587, destroying four great ships which were being built on the stocks. Dutch privateers had carried out a raid in 1624; and in 1687 a combined force of English and French buccaneers had led a particularly savage attack on the town.

It may have been Dampier who convinced Rogers and his fellow officers that an attack would be worthwhile. In 1684, while serving in the buccaneer fleet led by Captain Eaton in the Batchelor’s Delight and Captain Swan of the Cygnet, he had taken part in an abortive raid on Guayaquil. They had toiled up the estuary in boats, and got within sight of the town when their presence was betrayed by one of their Indian guides who had escaped and raised the alarm. ‘Not a man after that had the heart to speak of going further.’ For Dampier the taking of the town, like the capture of the Manila galleon, was a piece of unfinished business.

On 14 April 1709 the privateer fleet stood into the Gulf of Guayaquil. They sailed all night with a southerly wind and at daybreak they sighted a ship ahead of them. Not expecting any resistance, they sent two boats to intercept it. The men in the boats were lightly armed and among them was Rogers’ younger brother John, who had insisted on joining the boat’s crew led by Robert Fry. The other boat’s crew was led by Edward Cooke. After rowing hard for nearly eighteen miles the boats drew near the ship, which fired a gun at them and hoisted a Spanish flag at her main masthead. As the two boats closed in they came under heavy fire from mounted guns and more than twenty muskets and pistols. The boats dropped astern with the loss of one man dead and three wounded and then made a second attempt to come alongside and board the ship. In the words of Rogers, ‘At this attack my unfortunate brother was shot through the head and instantly died, to my unspeakable sorrow.’ The boats abandoned the attack but in the afternoon the ship surrendered to the superior force of Rogers’ fleet and the privateers found themselves in possession of the Havre de Grâce, a French-built ship of 250 tons bound for Lima with a crew of fifty Spaniards and 100 Indians and Negroes. Renamed the Marquiss [sic] she would become a useful addition to the privateer squadron.

At noon the following day, with flags at half-mast, Rogers presided over a short but harrowing ceremony. ‘About twelve we read the prayers for the dead, and threw my dear brother overboard, with one of our sailors.’ A volley of small arms was fired from the deck of the Duke, followed by the crackling of small-arms fire from the other vessels. ‘All our officers expressed a great concern for the loss of my brother, he being a very hopeful active young man, a little above twenty years of age.’ It is evident that Rogers was consumed by grief and by a sense of guilt that he had allowed his brother to take part in the attack but he was not going to allow this to deflect him from his objective: ‘I began this voyage with a resolution to go through with it, and the greatest misfortune or obstacle shall not deter me, I’ll as much as possible avoid being thoughtful and afflicting myself for what can’t be recalled, but indefatigably pursue the concerns of the voyage.’8

It had been agreed at a council meeting that the force to attack Guayaquil would consist of 200 men divided into three parties led by Rogers, Courtney and Dover. They would make their way upstream in two barks and the ships’ boats (two pinnaces, a large launch, a yawl and another boat). The Duke, the Dutchess and their prizes would remain in the vicinity of the island of Santa Clara, at the mouth of the estuary, with skeleton crews to guard the ships and their 300 prisoners. Around midnight on 18 April the raiding force left the ships and proceeded by stages up the river towards the large island of Puna, which lay across the centre of the estuary. They sailed with the incoming tide and then dropped anchor and hid among the mangrove swamps during the ebb tide. They made the final approach to Puna during the dark, rowing and towing each other with the flood tide ‘that if seen in the night we might look like drift timber’. At daybreak they entered the small settlement on Puna. This consisted of around twenty houses which were raised on stilts and were entered by ladders. The Indian inhabitants were mostly fishermen who were frequently employed as river pilots. The privateers had no difficulty in capturing the Spanish lieutenant in charge, together with his family and other villagers. It was essential that no one on the island was able to send a warning to the town upstream.

After a difficult passage through the upper reaches of the estuary the raiding party arrived within sight of Guayaquil around midnight on 22 April and were perturbed to see a fire burning on a nearby hill and numerous lights in the town itself. As they drew nearer they heard a confused noise of church bells, small-arms fire and the boom of two guns. They later learnt that the lights and the hillside fire were part of a religious festival, but in the early hours of the morning a message had reached the town that Puna had been captured and an enemy was coming up the river. The bells and gunfire were to warn the town of their approach.

With the alarm having been given and the ebb tide flowing against them, the invading force retreated back down the river and anchored. Rogers, Courtney and Dover held an urgent meeting to decide what to do next. Rogers wanted to attack at dawn to prevent the townspeople sending away their valuables and strengthening their defences. Dover thought that to attack after the alarm had been given would waste lives and jeopardise the main objective of their voyage. When Dampier was consulted he told Rogers that the buccaneers never attacked a large place after it had been alarmed. In the end it was decided that two of their Spanish prisoners (the lieutenant in charge of Puna and the captain of the Havre de Grâce) should be sent to the town with a series of proposals. In the meantime the privateers took possession of two new ships which were moored off the town as well as several smaller craft. After some comings and goings the Governor of Guayaquil arrived to discuss terms with Rogers and his two fellow captains. The Governor was a young army officer from Tenerife named Ieronimo Bosa y Solis. Although he had been in his post at Guayaquil for only two years he proved to be a competent negotiator. The privateers demanded 50,000 pieces of eight as a ransom for the town and for the two new ships and other vessels captured; they insisted that the townspeople must agree to buy the two merchant ships they had recently taken, together with their cargoes of goods and black slaves; and the town must provide hostages as surety for the payment of the ransom, which must be delivered within nine days.

The Governor returned to the town and assembled a meeting of merchants and traders to discuss the demands. Not surprisingly the townspeople were angry and protested that they could find no more than half the sum demanded. A messenger returned to the privateers to say that they could raise only 30,000 pieces of eight. No mention was made of buying the captured ships. The negotiations dragged on, the privateers suspecting that the Spaniards were playing for time and were waiting for reinforcements. On 24 April the privateers hauled down their white flag of truce and attacked the town. The boats landed seventy men, who found themselves facing a formidable line of armed men, some on horseback. Rogers led the attack: ‘We who landed kept loading and firing very fast, but the enemy made only one discharge, and retired behind their guns.’ The Spanish had positioned four guns at the end of the main street and in front of the main church. As the privateers advanced the horses bolted. ‘This encouraged me to call to our men to seize the guns, and I immediately hastened towards ’em with eight or ten of our men till within pistol shot of the guns.’ As more privateers arrived to give support, the men behind the guns fled. In less than half an hour the privateers had routed the enemy and by sunset they were in possession of the town and the English flag was flying from the church tower.

To show the Spanish what would happen if the ransom was not paid, some of the houses fronting the main church were set on fire. The other churches and storehouses and cellars were searched, though little of value was found. Unlike the raids of the buccaneers of Henry Morgan’s day, the sailors did not get riotously drunk and most behaved with considerable restraint. A much quoted incident concerned the discovery of some houses on the outskirts of the town which were full of women, ‘and particularly at one place there were above a dozen handsome genteel young women, well dressed, where our men got several gold chains and ear-rings but were otherwise so civil to them, that the ladies offered to dress them victuals, and brought them a cask of good liquor. Some of their largest gold chains were concealed and wound about their middles, legs and thighs.’9 The women were thinly clad in silk and fine linen and we learn that the sailors, under the command of Alexander Selkirk and a Mr Connelly, ran their hands ‘on the outside of the lady’s apparel’ and discovered the chains, whereupon the interpreter politely asked the women to remove them.

Negotiations for the ransom of the town were resumed on 25 April and after a threat was made to set the whole town on fire, an agreement was concluded and signed the following day. The Spanish would pay a ransom of 30,000 pieces of eight, to be paid at Puna within six days. On the payment of this sum the privateers would release all hostages and prisoners. It was time to get back to the boats. The extreme heat and humidity were draining the energy of the sailors and Rogers admitted that ‘this hot weather has weakened and disordered me very much’. The privateers marched out of the town with their colours flying, and returned to the barks, which were now heavily laden with bags of flour, beans, peas and rice; jars of oil and liquor; cordage and ironware; and more than £1,000 in gold plate and jewellery. The flotilla of barks and boats set off downstream and two days later Rogers and his men were back on board their ships, ‘where I found all our people overjoyed at our meeting again’.

On 2 May, the last day on which payment of the ransom was due, a boat came out to the ships with 22,000 pieces of eight. The money was unloaded and the messenger was sent back with the threat that unless the rest of the agreed sum was brought by the following morning the privateers would sail away, taking all the hostages with them. There was no sign of the money the next day but it was decided to allow the Lieutenant of Puna to return to his island, together with four elderly Negroes who were sick and several of the prisoners they had taken at sea. Rogers noted that they parted very friendly with them, ‘particularly an old padre that I had treated civilly at my own table, ever since we took him’.10 Four more days passed with no sign of the rest of the agreed ransom, and the hostages were becoming very uneasy at the thought that they might have to end their days in Great Britain, a fate which they apparently regarded as worse than death. On 7 May the privateer fleet was off Point Arena when a bark came alongside which had on board Señor Morell (captain of the captured ship Ascensión) and a gentleman who was related to some of the hostages. They brought with them gold and silver plate valued at around 3,500 pieces of eight, as a contribution towards the ransom. Since many of the officers were impatient to leave behind them the heat and mosquitoes of Guayaquil and head for the Galápagos Islands it was agreed that all but three of the hostages should be released. In the early hours of the next morning the fleet set sail and by 6 a.m. the little island of Santa Clara was twelve miles astern.

It is evident from Rogers’ account that the raid on Guayaquil was a disappointment for him. They had lost three men dead (only one of these from Spanish gunfire) and they had come away with 25,500 pieces of eight in cash and gold and silver plate. They also had some useful provisions and stores, but the rewards would have been much greater if they had been able to take the town by surprise. By the time they entered Guayaquil in force most of the church plate, cash and jewellery had been removed and hidden in the surrounding woods and villages. According to some of the hostages a surprise attack would have yielded ‘above 200,000 pieces of eight in money, wrought and unwrought gold and silver, besides jewels’. The problem was the divided command and the fact that Rogers was bound by the democratic regime of the expedition to consult his fellow officers and bow to the majority decision. He had proved his resolution and personal bravery by leading the attack on the guns, but his decision to attack the town at dawn when they first arrived had been over-ruled by Thomas Dover.

The privateers’ raid also had serious after-effects. A few months before their arrival at Guayaquil the town had been swept by an outbreak of a malignant and highly contagious fever which had caused the deaths of a dozen people a day for several weeks. When the usual burial places under the church floors had been filled the townspeople had to resort to burying the putrefying corpses in a mass grave close to the main church where Rogers and his men had made their headquarters. Within a week of leaving the Gulf of Guayaquil the Duke had fifty men seriously ill and the Dutchess more than seventy. The first death from fever occurred on 15 May and by the end of the month twelve more men had died. By 10 June Rogers was writing, ‘Our men being very much fatigued, and many of them sick, and several of our good sailors dead, we are so weak, that should we meet an enemy in this condition, we could make but a mean defence.’

The Manila galleon was not expected to arrive off Mexico until November or December, so the privateers had six or seven months to wait before taking up an intercepting position between Acapulco and Cape San Lucas. It would prove a testing time for all of them but particularly for Rogers. He had to overcome a rash and ill-thought-out proposal from Thomas Dover and other officers who wanted to carry out a raid on the gold mines of Barbacoa; and he had to put down a mutiny from a group of sailors who were dissatisfied with the arrangements for dividing up the plunder from prizes. As he confided in his journal, ‘If any sea officer thinks himself endowed with patience and industry, let him command a privateer and discharge his office well in a distant voyage.’11

From Guayaquil they sailed to the Galápagos Islands, intending to rest, refit and fill up with water a safe distance from any Spanish or French warships who might be on the look out for them. They spent two weeks cruising among the remote islands which would later be made famous by Charles Darwin. They noted the numerous giant tortoises and the sailors shot some of the iguana dragons and reckoned they were good to eat, but nowhere could they find any fresh water. Forced to sail back to the mainland they made for the island of Gorgona, which Dampier knew well from his previous travels. Situated some eighteen miles off the coast of modern Colombia, the island provided a temporary refuge. The anchorage was somewhat exposed but there was fresh water, and amid the dense woods were many tall trees suitable for making masts. There was also good fishing, and a variety of animals including monkeys, guinea pigs and hares. They anchored off the eastern shore on 7 June and for the next two months the island was their base. They careened the Duke and the Dutchess, and after careening the Marquiss they replaced some of her masts and spars. As at Juan Fernández, a village of tents was set up ashore to house the sick men and to provide shelter for the ships’ carpenters, coopers, sailmakers and ropemakers while they carried out essential repairs.

The two ships sailed from Gorgona on 7 August and by the beginning of October they were off the coast of Mexico. Rogers noted in his journal that ‘Captain Dampier, near this place, five years past, met the Manila Ship in the St George, and had a fight at a distance, but he says for want of men could not board her, and after a short dispute, was forced to let her alone’. No doubt Dampier put the best possible slant on an action which had failed miserably owing mainly to his poor leadership. Slowly they made their way towards the point where the Manila ship was likely to make her landfall after her journey across the Pacific. They sailed past Cape Corrientes and spent nearly three weeks among the Tres Marias islands, where, on 24 October, the council of officers drew up a resolution. It was agreed that, having examined the opinion of Captain Dampier and taken into account the information provided by prisoners, they would cruise off Cape San Lucas, the southernmost cape of California, and ‘to wait here the coming of the Manila Ship belonging to the Spaniards, and bound for Acapulco; whose wealth on board her we hope will prompt every man to use his utmost conduct and bravery to conquer’.

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