Across the Pacific

While the frigate yielded a precious cargo of Chinese merchandise, there was a bigger prize just over the horizon. The 900-ton galleon Nuestra Senora de Begona was not far behind the frigate, and on Christmas Day she was one of three sails that came into sight. 

The Begona, however, proved to be a much tougher proposition than the Disengano. Two days fighting, during which the privateers fired five hundred shots into the galleon without much effect, saw Rogers wounded again, and the privateers were forced to cut their losses, discontinue the action and consider the trans-Pacific crossing.

The privateers renamed the Disengano the Bachelor, with Council President Thomas Dover claiming the captain's position. Although Rogers protested in writing from his sick bed, Dover was given nominal command with no say in the ship's navigation. Selkirk was appointed as the ship's sailing master. 

After crossing the Pacific, the four vessels reached Guam on 11 March and moved on to Batavia, arriving in late June for a four-month stay to refit three vessels and sell the other (the French–built Havre-de-Grace, renamed the Marquis). 

A lengthy spell in port meant the crews required spending money, and when a quantity of booty was shared out, Selkirk acted as the transaction's commissioner. His share was eighty pieces of eight. 

From Batavia, they proceeded to for the Cape of Good Hope for another lengthy stay. A convoy of twenty-five Dutch and English ships sailed from the Cape on 6 April 1711, arrived off the Shetlands on 15 July and arrived in the Thames via the Texel on 14 October 1711. Selkirk had completed an extraordinary eight-year circumnavigation, more than half of it spent in total isolation.

Fame and Fate

© Ian Hughes 2017