15 January, 2009

Captain Woodes Rogers where are you now?

Last week a $3m ransom was parachuted onto the deck of the hijacked supertanker Sirius Star, which had been captured by well-armed Somali pirates. No doubt the insurers considered this a reasonable price to retrieve the $100m cargo and crew. The pirates wittily call themselves the Central Regional Coastguard.

The large number of warships of various countries on patrol off the Kenyan coast don't seem able to stop these ruffians from interrupting legitimate commerce. Maybe they could do with some assistance from an old-fashioned privateer such as the redoubtable Captain Woodes Rogers, who made Caribbean pirates' lives a misery in the early 1700's. He is credited with rescuing Alexander Selkirk, the inspiration for Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, from his island.

The Daily Telegraph reports that a rare copy of Woodes Rogers' journal has been unearthed in a
Bristol attic. It will be auctioned on 21st Jan and is expected to reach £3,000. Good value.

The painting above shows Woodes Rogers and his family:
"Here he is seen with his family, as his son proudly holds a plan of burgeoning Port Nassau (visible in the background). In reality, events proved less happy for the new British acquisition." Angus Konstam, The History of Pirates. Quoted here.

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