Later in the morning, the ship ran aground on what subsequently became known as Wager Island. A complete breakdown in authority followed. While one hundred and forty officers and members of the crew made their way ashore in the ship's boats, others broke out the spirits, got drunk and began looting the vessel and fighting among themselves. Most of those who remained aboard drowned when the ship broke up the next day.

Since officers' commissions at the time were only valid for the ship to which they had been appointed, and no one was in a position to exert anything approaching official authority, in-fighting saw the survivors of the wreck split into two parties. 

One, numbering eighty-one, led by the gunner, Mr Bulkley, took to small boats planning to make their way back to England via Rio de Janeiro. 

Another party of around twenty, including Acting Captain Cheap and Byron, remained on Wager Island, and then set out to row north along the coast of Chile. An initial attempt to do so was unsuccessful, and they were forced back to Wager Island in early February 1742. By that stage, the group numbered thirteen.

A second attempt, guided by a local Indian, saw two men die en route and another six row away, never to be seen again. Their guide agreed to carry the remaining five, including Cheap and Byron, the rest of the way to Chiloe Island by canoe in return for a musket, their only remaining possession.

While they were taken prisoner after they arrived, the Spaniards treated them well, thanks to Anson's generous treatment of prisoners he had taken in the course of his voyage across the Pacific. They were eventually taken to Santiago, where they remained until late 1744. 

© Ian Hughes 2017