Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dinner is served

When Tillerman announced this month's group writing project was "Guess who's coming for dinner", to select the one sailing-related guest you would invite to a dinner party, for me there was only one choice.

It wasn't that it was allegedly my great-to-the-n-th uncle, he is also a real legend, but a legend about whom as an individual there would be so much more to learn.

We know he was the first person to sail twice round the world, and then topped that by doing it a third time. And that was in late 17th and early 18th century, the days of real sailing - square rigged, oak and tar, scurvy and rats.

There were no grib files to forecast the weather - it was unknown all the way round. But he was a pioneer that helped change that. He wrote the book on oceanic weather systems - literally in this case, the "Discourse on Trade Winds" that was used by the British Navy for two hundred years and read by Captain Cook on his explorations years later.

He wrote many other books, including his "A New Voyage around the World" which was again literally a best seller, making him a celebrity of London. He dinned with Samual Pepys and knew the world of restoration England, again a time I'd love to hear about.

I'd like to hear more about his life - how he met his little mentioned wife, why he left her for so long, of the friendships and romances he had on his journeys.

And also he must be a source of endless stories. Of his piracy days and the pirates he knew. Of sailing adventures across the Atlantic to Africa, around the Horn, across the Pacific, the far East, landing on Australia (the first Englishman to do so), to India (where he was in charge of the guns at a fort) and on to Cape Town. Of how he was part of the expedition that marooned Selkirk on the one of the Juan Fernandez islands and also on the one that picked him up, and how that led to the story of Robinson Crusoe.

Pirate, buccaneer, slave trader, Naval Captain, navigator, writer, explorer, scientist, hydrographer, husband, friend, and much much more.

I'd like to hear about all of those, and fill in the gaps he left out in his published books.

I'd open my door and welcome him in, that old sailor, William Dampier.

5 comments:

tillerman said...

I was thinking and hoping that this would be your choice. Great post. Thanks.

JP said...

Thanks Tillerman.

Its easy to post when you've got a great subject to write about, and Dampier certainly is that.

Anonymous said...

I'm learning about first fleet

Anonymous said...

your awesome JP

JP said...

Thanks anonymous!