xxxxxThe English explorer William Dampier circumnavigated the world three times. In 1683 he sailed to China and on his return wrote New Voyage Round the World in 1697, and Voyages and Descriptions two years later, both works testifying to his skill as an hydrographer. In 1699 he was sent out to explore the southern seas, where he chartered the waters and coastline of north-
WILLIAM DAMPIER 1651 -
Dampier: by the Scottish portrait painter Thomas Murray (1663-
xxxxxThe English explorer and buccaneer William Dampier had the distinction of circumnavigating the world three times. He was born in the village of East Coker in Somerset, and went to sea at the age of 16. For the next twelve years or so he spent a life of adventure, much of it in Central America. He tried his hand managing a Jamaican plantation, worked as a lumberjack, and did a spell as a pirate in the Caribbean Sea. At one time his exploits took him on a journey from Mexico to the Pacific coast of South America, crossing the Isthmus of Panama en route.
xxxxxIn 1683 he set out on his first circumnavigation of the globe and this voyage marked him out as an accomplished explorer and hydrographer. Having crossed the Atlantic Ocean twice, he sailed to the present-
xxxxxSuccessful though this voyage was, in 1702 Dampier was found guilty of cruelty towards his subordinates, and he was somewhat fortunate to be chosen to lead another expedition to the South Seas the following year. This expedition, in which he commanded two vessels, was bent on plundering rather than exploring, but it was not really successful at either. Furthermore, on his return in 1707, having completed his third circumnavigation of the globe, members of his crew charged him with brutality. In 1708 he went on another privateering expedition, but because of the charges made against him he was only allowed to serve as navigator. This was his last voyage, and he died in London in 1715. His career was clearly a chequered one, but in the art of seamanship he was a brilliant explorer and hydrographer, and his detailed logs and surveys, made during his voyages in the South Seas, proved of much value to future mariners.
xxxxxOn Dampier’s voyage of 1703 to 1707, the sailing master on his second vessel was a Scotsman named Alexander Selkirk (1676-
xxxxxOn Dampier’s voyage of 1703 to 1707, the sailing master on his second vessel -
xxxxxOn Captain Roger's return to England in 1711, he published an account of his rescue of Selkirk, and the fascinating story of his lonely ordeal became widely known. One passage reads:
He diverted and provided for himself as well as he could, but for the first eight months had
to bear up against melancholy, and the terror of being left alone in such a desolate place. He built
two huts with pimento trees, covered them with long grass, and lined them with the skins of goats,
which he killed with his own gun as he wanted, so long as the powder lasted, which was but a pound; and that being almost spent he got fire by rubbing two sticks of pimento wood together upon his knee.
xxxxxA number of professional writers -