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Poster Worthy People - The Castaway

Created On: 5/12/2024

Alexander Selkirk got into a lot of trouble.

As a youth in Scotland, he was unruly, got in fights, and was issued a summons for "indecent conduct in church."

But he never faced the music.

By the time they came to get him, he'd left for a life of buccaneering.

During his time as a buccaneer he fought in sea battles, captured merchant ships, and survived an ambush in Panama.

But his career at sea was about to get scary.

In 1704, his ship docked at an uninhabited island.

It was going to be a quick stop to gather supplies and fresh water.

But Alexander Selkirk told the captain that they needed to stay longer and repair the ship.

The captain disagreed.

So Alexander Selkirk said he'd rather stay on the island than sail in that ship.

The captain must have been sick of Alexander Selkirk, so he agreed to leave him.

And even when Selkirk begged and apologized, he still left him on the island.

Alexander Selkirk was now a castaway 400 miles from the coast of Chile.

He survived initially on the shoreline eating spiny lobsters and suffering from loneliness and remorse.

But then sea lions gathered on the shore to mate, and the noise was too much to bear.

So he moved inland.

Once inland, he found goats left by previous visitors, cabbage trees, and spices.

He had plenty of milk and food.

But huge rats would attack him at night while he slept.

So he found and domesticated some feral cats to live with him.

And while he was lonely on the island fighting for survival, he didn't know that he actually was lucky.

He was right about the ship not being seaworthy.

It started to sink off the coast of Columbia.

The entire crew was captured and endured terrible conditions in a Peruvian prison.

Meanwhile, Alexander Selkirk became a master survivalist.

During the five years that he lived alone on the island, two ships came to anchor. 

But both times they were Spanish buccaneers.

When they saw an English man on the island, they set out to kill him.

He ran and hid until they left.

Finally a British ship arrived at the island.

They found Alexander Selkirk in great health and took him home.

Back in London he briefly enjoyed a life of celebrity.

Then he got married and returned to the seas, this time with the Royal Navy.

While on a piracy patrol off the coast of Africa, swarms of mosquitos followed the boat, and Alexander Selkirk contracted yellow fever.

He did not survive the trip.

But his story became part of the inspiration for Daniel Defoe's famous novel "The Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe."

And a man that is able to survive getting attacked by rats and Spanish buccaneers while living in complete solitude for five years is definitely a Poster Worthy Person.

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