Men with Moxie: Alexander Selkirk

By now, you’ve all heard of our Man of Moxie series. Does the name Alexander Selkirk sound familiar? No? How about Roberson Crusoe? Because Selkirk was the guy Daniel Defoe based his famous island survivor on. Often truth is stranger than fiction. Such is the case with Mr. Selkirk.

The Man, The Myth, The Legend.
The Man, The Myth, The Legend.

Fighting on orders of the Queen, Selkirk fought as a buccaneer, pilfering Spanish ships in the South Pacific Ocean. However, on one expedition, he expressed a lack of faith in the vessel he was sailing on. In an act of supreme foresight, Selkirk proclaimed that he would rather stay on an unoccupied island in the South Pacific than continue on in the rickety vessel. Such Moxie…

So the captain obliged, stranding him on Juan Fernández Islands with his gear and nothing else. (Turns out Selkirk was right, as the ship sunk off the coast of Columbia. The crew ended up in Spanish prisons.)

His first days on the island were spent miserably eating shellfish and regretting his decision. Then, to add insult to injury, a bunch of sea lions moved onto the beach and forced him from his recent home. This turned out to be a boon for Selkirk, however, as he soon discovered feral goats that past sailors had introduced to the island.

So, like Greg from Meet the Parents, our survivor man decided to milk these little goats.

Selkirk and Goat
Selkirk and Goat

Oh then he found some wild white turnips, cabbage, and peppers.

So he was eating like a king, but then another problem crept up–rats. Aggressive and hungry rodents began hassling Selkirk at night once he moved inland. So he did what any Moxie Man would do–he domesticated a grip of feral cats to defend him.

You read that right, our man who was living in the lap of luxury, eating goat cheese over a bed of cabbage and turnips, had his own personal “kitty Secret Service.:

At one point during his exile, a Spanish galleon came ashore. Preferring his island prison to a real one back on land, Selkirk managed to evade the Spanish until they gave up looking for him. How did they know he was there? Because he had built himself two huts. The man had a bloody guest hut. I guess it’s true about the British always being ready to entertain company.

Selkirk's Huts
Selkirk’s Huts

Selkirk was eventually rescued by another British privateering ship. Well, they were actually rescued by him. After the crew came ashore suffering from scurvy, Selkirk caught 2-3 goats a day, feeding them and restoring them to health. He probably would have built them all a hut if he’d had the time.

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