Wednesday 5 December 2012

Identifying Robinson Crusoe Island

Prior to being shipwrecked, Robinson Crusoe was initially headed for Africa from Brazil. The initial course was to head 10° to 12° North latitude before turning towards Africa.

“Design to stretch over for the African coast, when they came about 10 or 12 degrees of northern latitude, which it seems, was the manner of their course in those days.”

His journey started from the lower coast of Brazil towards the Cape of St. Augustine. From this point his ship sailed away from land, heading towards the Isle of Fernando Naroha while keeping the isles to the East. The ship travelled past the equator when at 7° twenty-two minutes latitude, the ship was hit by a Hurricane. After twelve days at sea of carrying through the storm, their ship came to about 11° North and 22° west of Cape. St. Augustine, which is approximately by the coast of French Guiana.

“About the twelfth day, the weather abating a little, the master made an observation as well as he could, and found that he was in about 11 degrees north latitude, but that he was 22 degrees of longitude difference.”

With a torn ship and refusing to return to Brazil, the crew and Robinson Crusoe headed indirectly towards the English colonized islands by first heading for Barbados so as to keep the current coming from the Gulf of Mexico away. At 12° eighteen minutes his ship was hit by another storm which carried him westward and shipwrecked him on land which is approximately where Saint Lucia is located.

“A second storm came upon us, which carried us away with the same impetuosity westward.”

Other Island Requirements

Saint Lucia was also chosen because it fulfilled other qualities of the island that was later brought up in the book. During his stay, Robinson Crusoe manages to survey the entire island, which is possible given that Saint Lucia is only 620km2 in area. In addition, during his surveying, Robinson Crusoe had identified another island to the Southwest with high elevations, which may very likely be island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, an island with a volcano at 1200m above-sea-level.


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