Legendary island ahoy

Annabelle Boudinot, second in command:

“After 3 and a half days at sea, we’re now within sight of Robinson Crusoe Island Juan Fernández.

It’s 03:00 hours in the morning, Chile time, I’m going on my watch and Martin is giving his up. We can make out the island, a dark mass for now. We cannot see a lighthouse; there is one, but the range is very small. What’s the point of shining a light if no boats are passing?

Clinging to this rock, how many boats do the 500 souls see pass by here each year? There must be supply ships, but visitors like us…?

In any case, there’s no doubt that we’re the first solar-powered boat to grace these shores!

Alone on the bridge, in the thick of the night, even though my eyelids are heavy, I realise how lucky I am to be here, to go and meet these people who live on this remote island that culminates at a height of 1,900m.

Virgin land for many years, it was discovered by Juan Fernández, a Spanish sailor of a galleon for the Spanish crown, which was getting rich on the gold of South America at the time. The Spanish stopped off here to stock up on fresh water and get excessive supplies of wood. With the land no longer being firmed up by vegetation, mudslides ensued. The Spanish also moved their goats in, which ended up grazing on any remaining vegetation. Later on, the freebooters at the service of the English crown rediscovered it, seeing it as a stopover and a strategic hiding place.

Alexander Selkirk, a Scot, was marooned on the island one day, his fellow crew opting to abandon him there when he expressed concern about the teredo (woodworm) on the ship. He was later proven to be right to worry as the English boat sank some time later for this very reason.

Alexander thought that an English boat would pass by there in the coming months. In reality though, he had to wait there 4 years and 4 months, responsible for his own survival and reading the bible so as not to lose his ability to speak the language. Back in London, he went on to meet Daniel Defoe and was said to be the inspiration for the story about Robinson Crusoe.

The lights of the village are becoming more distinct in front of me. It’s time to wake Anne and I’ll go back to bed and recover my strength for the remarkable day ahead that awaits us in a few hours’ time…”