Castaway in Juan Fernandez Islands

Day 40, 15.11.2018 , Cumberland Bay, Isla Róbinson Crusoe, Juan Fernández Islands, Chile. 

Isla Róbinson Crusoe, then known as Más a Tierra, was the not-entirely-voluntary home to the marooned Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk from 1704 to 1709. Robinson Crusoe is a fictional character by novelist Daniel Defoe but is believed to be mainly inspired by Selkirk. The Chileans changed the island’s name in 1966, probably to attract passing cruise ships. It seems to work. No longer can anyone say:

I am monarch of all I survey;
My right there is none to dispute;
From the centre all round to the sea
I am lord of the fowl and the brute
O Solitude! where are the charms
That sages have seen in thy face?
Better dwell in the midst of alarms,
Than reign in this horrible place.

part of The Solitude of Alexander Selkirk by W. Cowper

Apart from this voyage, there is another British-German nautical connection to this place. The German light cruiser SMS Dresden is wrecked here fairly close to the shore. The Dresden was the only German survivor of the WW1 Battle of the Falkland Islands and was hiding out in the  Juan Fernández Islands when a radio signal to a supply ship was intercepted and decoded by the British. The Dresden was cornered in Cumberland Bay and sunk, possibly by both gunfire and scuttling charges, on 14th March 1915.  Chile was a neutral country at the time but we don’t talk about that.

We arrived this morning and the island was misty, mountainous and steep with a little rain which cleared later. We took the tender on to the pier and walked first to the cemetery with its memorial for the Dresden and some holes in a cliff face that were apparently made by shell-fire from the ship. We did a circuit of the hilly town but decided against the near vertical 2,000m slog up to Selkirk’s lookout. We went instead for an early lunch of pisco sours and spiny lobster.

The view sailing away around the mountainous and totally uninhabited north coast of the island was spectacular in the evening sun.


Day 41, 16.11.2018 , South Pacific Ocean

A sea day. Cool and sunny.

We were invited to dinner with the Captain and more lobsters, bought by the Chef on Robinson Crusoe, were sacrificed on the altar of gastronomy.

In case you were wondering – this is not the kind of cruise line where the Captain usually dines with First-Class passengers, wearing black tie, in the Titanic style. The Captain rarely leaves the bridge and anyway I would be surprised if anyone on board even has a dinner jacket with them.


Day 42, 17.11.2018 , South Pacific Ocean

Another day at sea. We are about half way between mainland South America and Easter Island.


Day 43, 18.11.2018 , South Pacific Ocean

Yet another day at sea.


Day 44, 19.11.2018 , South Pacific Ocean

And another.