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While fresh fruit and rest ashore restored the survivors, on 21 September 1742 another crisis arose when the Centurion disappeared during a storm, blown out to sea with a handful of men aboard. She reappeared on 10 October, which allowed Anson the chance to cruise to Macau. 

When he arrived there in November 1742, he was down to 210 men and a single ship of the line, but over the next five months, he was able to have Centurion repaired, and add a few more men to his crew. 

When she sailed from Macau in April 1743 with less than half her usual complement, the Centurion was ostensibly bound for England, but Anson was out to intercept the west-bound Manila galleon, which he managed to do on 20 June off Cape Espíritu Santo. 

The Nuestra Señora de Covadonga was carrying 1,313,843 pieces of eight and 35,682 ounces of pure silver and put up a determined resistance in a ninety-minute action. She was, effectively, an armed merchantman up against an undermanned 60-gun ship of the line, and the result was more or less inevitable.

Anson returned to China, sold his prize in Canton (Guangzhou), and arrived back in England without further incident in June 1744 after a four-year circumnavigation with treasure worth a staggering £400,000, a single vessel and just 145 survivors from an original complement of 1955 men. 

Most of those who died along the way succumbed to disease: 997 from scurvy, 300 from typhus or dysentery. Only four deaths resulted from enemy action.

The official account of the enterprise, A Voyage round the World by George Anson, became a best-seller when it appeared in May 1748 and was in its fifth edition by the end of the year. 

© Ian Hughes 2017