Wednesday, March 1, 2017


Daniel Defoe (1660-1731)  

WHEN I waked it was broad day, the weather clear,
and the storm abated, so that the sea did not rage and swell
as before. But that which surprised me most was, that the
ship was lifted off in the night from the sand where she lay
by the swelling of the tide, and was driven up almost as far
as the rock which I at first mentioned, where I had been
so bruised by the wave dashing me against it. This being
within about a mile from the shore where I was, and the
ship seeming to stand upright still, I wished myself on
board, that at least I might save some necessary things for
my use.
When I came down from my apartment in the tree, I
looked about me again, and the first thing I found was the
boat, which lay, as the wind and the sea had tossed her up,
upon the land, about two miles on my right hand. I
walked as far as I could upon the shore to have got to her;
but found a neck or inlet of water between me and the
boat which was about half a mile broad; so I came back
for the present, being more intent upon getting at the
ship, where I hoped to find something for my present
A little after noon I found the sea very calm, and the
tide ebbed so far out that I could come within a quarter of
a mile of the ship. And here I found a fresh renewing of
my grief; for I saw evidently that if we had kept on board
we had been all safe - that is to say, we had all got safe on
shore, and I had not been so miserable as to be left entirety
destitute of all comfort and company as I now was. This
forced tears to my eyes again; but as there was little relief
in that, I resolved, if possible, to get to the ship; so I pulled
off my clothes - for the weather was hot to extremity -
and took the water. But when I came to the ship my
difficulty was still greater to know how to get on board;
for, as she lay aground, and high out of the water, there
was nothing within my reach to lay hold of. I swam round
her twice, and the second time I spied a small piece of
rope, which I wondered I did not see at first, hung down
by the fore-chains so low, as that with great difficulty I got
hold of it, and by the help of that rope I got up into the
forecastle of the ship. Here I found that the ship was
bulged, and had a great deal of water in her hold, but that
she lay so on the side of a bank of hard sand, or, rather
earth, that her stern lay lifted up upon the bank, and her
head low, almost to the water. By this means all her
quarter was free, and all that was in that part was dry; for
you may be sure my first work was to search, and to see
what was spoiled and what was free. And, first, I found
that all the ship’s provisions were dry and untouched by
the water, and being very well disposed to eat, I went to
the bread room and filled my pockets with biscuit, and ate
it as I went about other things, for I had no time to lose. I
also found some rum in the great cabin, of which I took a
large dram, and which I had, indeed, need enough of to
spirit me for what was before me. Now I wanted nothing
but a boat to furnish myself with many things which I
foresaw would be very necessary to me.
It was in vain to sit still and wish for what was not to
be had; and this extremity roused my application. We had
several spare yards, and two or three large spars of wood,
and a spare topmast or two in the ship; I resolved to fall to
work with these, and I flung as many of them overboard
as I could manage for their weight, tying every one with a
rope, that they might not drive away. When this was done
I went down the ship’s side, and pulling them to me, I
tied four of them together at both ends as well as I could,
in the form of a raft, and laying two or three short pieces
of plank upon them crossways, I found I could walk upon
it very well, but that it was not able to bear any great
weight, the pieces being too light. So I went to work, and
with a carpenter’s saw I cut a spare topmast into three
lengths, and added them to my raft, with a great deal of
labour and pains. But the hope of furnishing myself with
necessaries encouraged me to go beyond what I should
have been able to have done upon another occasion.
My raft was now strong enough to bear any reasonable
weight. My next care was what to load it with, and how
to preserve what I laid upon it from the surf of the sea; but
I was not long considering this. I first laid all the planks or
boards upon it that I could get, and having considered
well what I most wanted, I got three of the seamen’s
chests, which I had broken open, and emptied, and
lowered them down upon my raft; the first of these I filled
with provisions - viz. bread, rice, three Dutch cheeses, five
pieces of dried goat’s flesh (which we lived much upon),
and a little remainder of European corn, which had been
laid by for some fowls which we brought to sea with us,
but the fowls were killed. There had been some barley and
wheat together; but, to my great disappointment, I found
afterwards that the rats had eaten or spoiled it all. As for
liquors, I found several, cases of bottles belonging to our
skipper, in which were some cordial waters; and, in all,
about five or six gallons of rack. These I stowed by
themselves, there being no need to put them into the
chest, nor any room for them. While I was doing this, I
found the tide begin to flow, though very calm; and I had
the mortification to see my coat, shirt, and waistcoat,
which I had left on the shore, upon the sand, swim away.
As for my breeches, which were only linen, and openkneed,
I swam on board in them and my stockings.Read More

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