Source Documents
philippe aubin : surf riding in the caribbean, 1756 

Philippe Aubin : Surf Riding in the Caribbean, 1756.

Aubin, Philippe:
Shipwreck of the sloop Betsey,
commanded by captain Philippe Aubin, on the coast of Dutch Guyana in south America in 1756.

Naufrage du sloop, Le Betsey,
commandé par le capitaine Philippe Aubin, sur la côte de la Guyane hollandaise, dans l'Amérique méridionale en 1756
Deperthes, Jean Louis Hubert Simon, (1730-1792):

Histoire des naufrages, ou Recueil des relations ...
Chez Née de la Rochelle, A Paris, 1788-89.
Volume 3, pages 256 - 301.

Goggle eBook

This unique report of surfboard riding in the Caribbean from the mid-18th century, was identified and contributed by
Hervé Manificat in November 2014, with sincere thanks.

Hervé provided the initial translation along with extensive biographical notes and supplementary research. (edited):

Philippe Aubin (1730-1801)
Note that several sources incorrectly state that he was born in 1750.

Philippe Aubin
appears to be of French ancestry, from a Protestant family who relocated to England following
Louis XIV's revocation of the Edict of Nantes, effectively declaring Protestantism illegal, in October 1685.
His father, David Aubin, was a captain in the English navy who died in Panama fighting the Spanish at the Battle of Porto Bello in 1738.
Philippe's brother also entered the English Navy, on the staff of Admiral Durell, rising to the rank of second lieutenant.
He died
in 1745, aged twenty-seven, from wounds received at the siege of Louisbourg, the then French capital of
Île-Royale, present-day Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

Following the family tradition, Aubin signed on as merchant mariner, and by 1747, at the age of 17, he was sailing on trading vessels around the Caribbean islands and off the coasts of the Americas.
Odile Gannier (1996) noted that when Europeans entered the Caribbean they were astonished by the dug-out log canoes and the extraordinary skills in  navigation, adopting the terms canoe and pirogue from the indigenous languages.
The larger pirogue was hollowed from a long
log, and paddled by a large crew, moved incredibly fast.
The native
s were excellent navigators, with  a thorough knowledge of the islands and a remarkable system for taking bearings, and they adapted techniques for fishing, preserving food and transporting it.

Right: Making a log canoe in Virginia, on the coast of North America.
Theodor de Bry: Collectiones peregrinatorium in Indiam, Frankfurt, 1590.

- Rudolph, Wolfgang: Boats, Rafts, Ships.

Adlard Coles Limited, London, 1974, Plate 13, page 26.
Translated from the German by T. Lux Feininger.

Rising to captain, Philippe Aubin sailed the Caribbean from 1750 until he was shipwrecked in late 1756.
he Betsey, under Aubin's command, was commissioned to deliver provisions and horses for Dutch traders from Carlisle Bay, Barbados, to Suniman on the coast of South America, and sank on August 5, 1756.
Arriving at Man-O-War Bay, Tobago, Aubin was restored to health by the local Caribs, and then sailed to Europe for medical treatment.
He later returned to the Caribbean and
in September 1776 he sailed to Newburyport, Massachusetts, apparently to support of the American revolutionaries in the War of Independence.
Whatever the reason, the outbreak of war had severely disrupted the prospects of merchant trade in the Caribbean.
Aubin then settled in Massachusetts and submitted the tale of his shipwreck to the Journal Anglois, published by chez Ruault, Paris, appearing in Number 18 on 30 June 1776.
Following the success of
Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719), accounts of shipwrecked castaways were popular with readers, and publishers, in Europe up to the early 19th century.
The original, as yet unseen, was possibly prepared for publication with the assistance of a professional writer.
While the original French edition was written in the first person, the English versions are often transcribed to the third person.

The Records and History of the Marine Society of Newburyport record that Captain Philip Aubin was admitted as a member on November 29, 1781, page 29.
Aubin was shipwrecked again in 1786, the Marine Society of Newburyport generously voting "to excuse Capt. Philip Aubin his dues while absent amount to he having been shipwrecked," April 27, 1786, page 54,

In 1787 he travelled to France
, possibly to encourage support for the revolution, and in January 1788 he was at Reims, east of Paris, where he was interviewed by Jean Desperthes, then preparing for the publication of the third volume of Histoire des naufrages in 1789.
Aubin "confirmed all the circumstances told in his account  of his misadventure"
to Desperthes, who then added the account of surf riding and the footnote, "Cook found the same game in the inhabitants of Othaïti (Tahiti) and the neighbouring islands."
Although several versions of have been published in English and French, listed below, Hervé  notes "this is the only one with the surf scene."

The account of surf riding is apparently at Man-O-War Bay,
on the north-west tip of Tobago, among  "the happiest people I have ever saw in 33 years I spent by the sea,"
However, as Man-O-War Bay is tightly enclosed and the chance of surf there is virtually nil, it is more likely that Aubin observed surfing at some other location on the west coast of Tobago records
three breaks on the island with five images of waves of substantial size.
Mount Irvine, located on the south-west coast, is said to be "one (if the only) consistent break on the island." (adjusted)
Also see:

Aubin also observed surf riding on the Turks islands, now Turks and Caicos islands, located in the south-east Bahamas and north of Haïti.
For the Turks and Caicos islands, records one break with two images of waves of reasonable size.

Right: Turks and Caicos Islands Postage Stamp, 1979.
Series: International Year of the Child.
Issued on: 1979-11-02

Around 1788, Philippe married Abigail Greenleaf, whose family had connections to William Coombs, President of the Marine Society of Newburyport and an enthusiastic supporter of privateering as a means to advance the American Revolution. 
Abigail gave birth to Philip, 1779, followed by John born in 1781, Lydia in 1783, Joshua in 1789, and
the last, Greenleaf, born in 1795.
After the war, the family occupied
4 Orange Street, Newburyport, built by Aubin in 1783.
Philip Jr. was lost a son at sea in 1799 and John died in Martinique in 1810.
Furthermore, the record of the Newburyport Custom House Surveyor, Michael Hodge, notes a possible relative emigrating from Nova Scotia in another Bet(e)sy
on 30 October, 1790:

"the shallop Betsy, Joseph Aubin, master, arrived from Gaberaris Island, Cape Breton, after six weeks' passage.
She had on board household furniture, dried fish and oil, which were designed for the use of himself and his family, having come here with the intention of becoming a citizen of the United States.
His shallop of 30 tons was hauled up until a representation could be made to the secretary or Congress regarding his intentions," p
age 489.

The Marine Society of Newburyport records Aubin as commanding "the brigs Active, Robert, Peggy, Betsey, Hannah and Vulture and bark Ossipee" (page 333) and during the war he was in command the Massachusetts privateer Thorne when it was captured by the HMS Grantham in September 1780 (built in Sheerness in 1787?)
While he continued with his maritime career, Aubin also diversified his interests and in 1794 he was one of the incorporates of the Newburyport Woolen Manufacturing Company, one of the earliest textile mills in the area.

Philippe Aubin
died at sea on 25 August 1801, aged 71, in the the vicinity of the French-held  Guadaloupe and not far from the island of Tobago, where his life had been saved 25 years earlier.

Following Philippe's death, the Marine Society of Newburyport made provision for Abigail Aubin; on 31 January, 1805, the committee elected to "defray the expenses of repairing the damage done Mrs. Aubin by the blowing down of her chimney" (page 98), and an annual provision of widows' benefits was continued at least until 1831, and possibly up to her death in 1839.

Brick and Tree
House Stories – 4 Orange Street –The Captain Philip Aubin House

Records and History of the Marine Society of Newburyport
Compiled by captain William Bayley and Captain Oliver O. Jones
The Daily Press, 1906.
The Marine Society of Newburyport

Gannier, Odile: À la découverte d'Indiens navigateurs [In Search of Indian Navigators.]
L'Homme, [Paris], Volume 36,  Issue 138, 1996, pages 25-63.

A note on the translation.

While Aubin's use of "foot" to indicate width may seem unusual in 2014, in this era pre-dates the introduction of the metric system.
Although certain standards, such as the
pied du roi (the king's foot) had a degree of pre-eminence and were used by savants across Europe, many traders chose to use their own measuring devices, giving scope for fraud and hindering commerce and industry.
pied du roi probably approximated the Imperial (English) foot of 12 inches, or 30 centimetres.

The Wreck of the Betsey - editions.
(In some versions the spelling of Betsey is sometimes given as Betsy)

Aubin, Captain P.: Shipwreck of the Sloop Betsey,
Journal Anglois, chez Ruault, Paris, Number 18, 30 June, 1776.

Accredited by
Desperthes (1789) and listed and summarised in:
James Clarke:
Naufragia, or, Historical memoirs of shipwrecks and of the providential deliverance of vessels.
London, 1806, Volume 2, page 21.
(Google eBook)

"[Volume the Third] ...
IX. Shipwreck of the Sloop Betsey, captain P. Aubin, on the coast of Dutch Guiana, in South America, 1756, from the account by Captain Aubin, inserted in the Journal Anglois, (No. 18) 30 Juin, 1776, Paris, chez Ruault.
The Betsey sailed from Carlisle Bay, Barbadoes, on the 1st of August; she was a Bermudian sloop, built of Cedar, laden with Provisions; and had been freighted by M. M. Rosto and Nyles.
Some remarks on the Caribs are subjoined, with a short account of Captain Aubin, and a description of the Antilles"

Aubin, Philippe: Shipwreck of the sloop Betsey, commanded by captain Philippe Aubin, on the coast of Dutch Guyana in south America in 1756.
Deperthes, Jean Louis Hubert Simon, (1730-1792):

Histoire des naufrages, ou Recueil des relations ... v.3.
Chez Née de la Rochelle, A Paris, 1788-89.
Volume 3, pages 256-301.

Aubin, Phillip: The Shipwreck of the Sloop Betsy.
Philip Aubin, Commander, On the Coast of Dutch Guiana, the 5th of August, 1756.
in Archibald Duncan:
The Mariner's Chronicle: being a collection of ...
: narratives of shipwrecks, fires, famines .
J. Cundee
, 1804 vol. 1 pages 106-121.
(Google eBook)

 Aubin, Phillip: Loss of the Betsey.
in [Clarke]: Chronicles of the sea: or, Faithful narratives of shipwrecks, fires, famines.
William Mark Clarke, London, 1838-1840, Volume 1, pages 457-462.
(Google eBook)
Transcribed below.

Page 295

[Original translation by Hervé Manificat, thereafter adjusted with the assistance of Google, Translator, Bing, etc.]

The Island Caribs are almost amphibians, they spend much of their lives in the sea.
They passionately love shellfish, and in order to collect the biggest ones, they pick them sometimes six or seven fathoms deep in water, especially to catch the fish that the French Creoles call "cambies".
They dive, and bring up one in each hand, and throw them in their canoe.
There is no sea, so big and so stormy that can scare them and prevents them from diving when they want.
They make the reach the rocky point, and thus rise by degrees from rock to rock in the surf; when they are found to have water to the waist level, they present themselves sideways to the wave to split it more easily, and still go on to move forward.
If the sea is too strong for them to stand on their legs, and if they fear that the flow will drive them to the shore, they cling with both hands to the point of a rock, and let their feet and body to the flow of the wave, and let it pass them : immediately after, they appear on the water surface.

They start again and continue this way their journey through the surf, until the sea is deep enough

Page 296

that they no longer have to worry that the resulting wave will throw them against the rocks.

The habit of swimming, diving and avoiding the force of the wave is formed early by those people.
Children aged twelve and fourteen have a unique game that would frighten a European.
They choose a plain beach with no rocks; there, they will move together, each one having a plank in his hand, as wide as they can find, then they put their chest on the board ; then they abandon themselves to the wave.
Others have a square board, about a foot wide, with a hole at each end through which they hold it.
Then they advance as far as they like into the sea, all arranged in a row, and
let themselves ride on the summit of the swells toward the beach: the wave is sometimes so high that for those spectators who look at them from the shore, their heads appear like black balls on a carpet of snow.
I saw children having fun at the same exercise at the Bay of Bermuda, the Turks islands near Santo Domingo, where I made several trips to load salt for the fishing in North America (*).

(*) Footnote: Captain Cook found the same game in the inhabitants of Othaïti (Tahiti) and the neighbouring islands.

Page 297

Captain Philippe Aubin (**) was twenty-six years old when shipwrecked.
Since the age of seventeen he was in command in of the sloops or trading vessels trading among the islands of the coast of
January 1778 he was in Reims, and he confirmed all circumstances reported in the account of his misfortune.

is added a description of the Caribbean island of Tobago and its benevolent hosts, that
Readers may find of interest the following details which he forwarded as regards the Caribbean, the island of Tobago, and its benevolent hosts..

Footnote (**) His father, David Aubin, was an English Navy Captain who died in an expedition against Puerto Belo, America.
Aubin's brother also entered the English Navy, on the staff of Admiral Durell,
rising to the rank of second lieutenant.
He died
in 1745, aged twenty-seven, from wounds he received at the siege of Louisbourg.
These details were sent by Captain Aubin
by post, 3 September 1778, in response to some elucidations we had requested.

Page 295

Les Caraïbes sont presque amphibies, ils passent une grande partie de leur vie dans la mer.
Ils aiment passionnément le coquillage, et pour en pêcher de la plus grosse espèce, ils vont les chercher quelquefois à six ou sept brasses au fond de l'eau, surtout pour pêcher les poissons que les Créoles français appellent cambies.
Ils plongent, et en rapportent un dans chaque main, et les jettent dans leur canot.
Il n'est point de mer, si grosse et si orageuse qu'elle soit qui les effraie et qui les empêche de plonger lorsqu'ils en ont envie.

Ils gagnent la pointe des rochers, et s'élèvent ainsi par degrés de rochers en rochers, dans la lame ; dès qu'ils se trouvent avoir de l'eau jusqu'à la ceinture, ils présentent le flanc à la lame pour la fendre plus aisément, et continuent d'avancer toujours. Si la mer est trop forte pour qu'ils puissent se tenir sur leurs jambes, et qu'ils craignent que le flot ne les entraîne vers le rivage, ils se cramponnent avec les deux mains à la pointe d'un rocher, et abandonnent en arrière leurs pieds et leurs corps à la vague, ils la laissent passer sur eux : aussitôt après on les voit reparaître sur l'eau.
Ils recommencent et continuent ainsi leur route au travers des flots, jusqu'à ce que la mer soit assez profonde pour qu'ils

Page 296

n'aient plus à craindre que la vague en les entraînant ne les jette contre les rochers.

L'habitude de nager, de plonger et de tromper les coups de la lame, se forme de bonne heure chez eux. Les enfants de douze à quatorze ans se font un amusement singulier, qui ferait trembler un Européen.
Ils choisissent une grève unie et sans rochers ; là, ils vont plusieurs ensemble, ayant chacun dans la main une petite planche aussi large qu'ils la peuvent trouver, et se mettent la poitrine dessus ; ensuite ils s'abandonnent à la vague ; d'autre ont une planche carrée, d'environ un pied, avec un trou aux deux bouts par lesquels ils la tiennent.
Alors ils avancent aussi loin qu'il leur plait dans la mer, tous rangés à la file, et se laissent entraîner sur la cime des flots vers le rivage : la lame est quelquefois si haute, qu'aux yeux de ceux qui les voient du rivage, leurs têtes semblent autant de boules noires sur un tapis de neige.
J'ai vu les enfants s'amuser au même exercice à la baie des Bermudes, dans les isles des Turcs près de Saint-Domingue, où j'ai fait plusieurs voyages pour charger du sel pour la pêche du nord de l'Amérique (*).

(*) Footnote : Le capitaine Cook a retrouvé ce même jeu chez les habitants d'Othaïti (Tahiti) et des îles voisines.

Page 297

Le capitaine Philippe Aubin (**) avoit vingt-six ans lors de son naufrage. Depuis l'âge de dix-sept ans, il commandoit en chef des sloops ou vaisseaux de commerce pour les îles & côtes de l'Arique.
En 1778 , il étoit au mois de Janvier à Reims, & il confirma toutes les circonstances rapportées dans la relation de son infortune.
Le détail dans lequel il y est entré fur ce qui concerne les Caraïbes, ses hôtes bienfaisans, à l'ìle de Tabago, ne laisteroit rien à désirer à ce fujet, s'il y avoit
ajouté une légére description des Antilles dont cette île fait partie; il ne doit point être indifférent aux lecteurs de la trouver ici.

( ** ) David Aubin , son père, capitaine de la marine Angloise , mourut encore jeune, des fuites d'une expédition contre Porto-Bílo , en Amérique. Philippe Aubin resta orphelin avec un frère. Ce dernier entra aussi dans la marine Angloise, & s'attacha à l'amiral Durell.
II mourut en 1745 , à l'âge de vingt-sept ans, des blessures qu'il avoit reçues au siege de Louisbourg.
II étoit second lieutenant de vaisseau.
Ce détail nous a été envoyé le 3 Septembre 1778, par le capitaine Aubin luimême , à la fuite de quelques éclaircissemens que nous lui avions demandés.

[Philip Aubin]: Loss of the Betsey
Chronicles of the Sea, No. 58, December 15, 1838.
[Clark]: Chronicles of the sea ;
or, faithful narratives of shipwrecks, fires, famines,
and disasters incidental to a life of maritime enterprise; together with celebrated voyages, interesting anecdotes, ...
London : William Mark Clark, 1838-1840. 2 Vols.
A collection of a serial publication.

Page 457
Chronicles of the Sea
No. 58                                                                                                                                                                            December 15, 1838.
Loss of the Betsey.

Loss of the Betsey, Captain Aubin, August 5, 1756.

sloop Betsey, commanded by Philip Aubin, and bound for Surinam, sailed from Carlisle Bay, in the island of Barbadoes, on the 1st of August, 1756.
The vessel was about eighty tons burthen, built entirely of cedar, and freighted by Messrs. Roscoe and Nyles, merhants, of Bridgetown, with a cargo consisting of all kinds of provisions and horses.
The latter part of the cargo was in consequence of a law which the Dutch issued, that no English vessel should be permitted to trade with the colony, unless horses constituted a part of the cargo, as they were then greatly in want of a supply those animals; and this condition was so rigidly enforced by the Dutch, that if the horses chanced to die in the passage, the master of the vessel was obliged to preserve the ears and hoofs of the animals, and to make them, upon entering the port of Surinam, that they were alive when he embarked and destined for that colony.

The coast of Surinam, Berbice, Demerara, Oronooko, and all the adjacent ports are low lands, and inundated by large rivers which discharge themselves into the sea.
All along this coast the bottom is composed of a kind of mud or clay, in which the anchors sink to the depth of three or four fathoms, and upon which the keel sometimes strikes without stopping the vessel.
The sloop being at anchor three leagues and a half from the shore, in five fathoms water, the mouth of the river Demerara bearing S. by S.W., and it being the rainy season, the crew drew up water from the sea for their use, which was as sweet and good as river water.
The current occasioned by the trade winds, and the numerous rivers which fall into the sea, carried them at the rate of four miles an hour towards the west and northwest.

In the evening of the 4th of August, they were tacking about between the latitudes of ten and twelve degrees north, with a fresh breeze, which obliged them to reef the sails.
At midnight
the captain found that the wind

Page 458

increased in proportion as the moon, which was then on the wane, rose above the horizon, and that the sloop, which was deeply laden, laboured excessively; he therefore would not retire to rest until the weather became more moderate, but told his mate, whose name was Williams, to bring him a bottle of beer, and both of them sat down.
While thus occupied,
the vessel suddenly turned with her broadside to windward.
The captain called to one of the seamen to put the helm a-weather, but he replied it had been so for some time; he then directed the mate to see if the cord was not entangled, but he answered that it was not.
At this instant
the vessel swung round with her head to the sea and plunged, and immediately her head filled in such a manner that she could not rise above the surf, which broke over them to the height of the anchor-stocks; and they were very soon up to their necks in water, and everything in the cabin was washed away, while some of the crew, which consisted of nine men, were drowned in their hammocks without uttering a cry or groan.
the wave had passed, the captain took the hatchet that was hanging up near the fire-place, to cut away the shrouds, so as to prevent the ship from upsetting, but his efforts were in vain.
The vessel upset and turned over again, with her masts and sails in the water; the horses rolled one over the other and were drowned, forming altogether a spectacle the most melancholy that can be conceived.

They had but one small boat, about twelve or thirteen feet in length, and she was fixed, with a cable coiled inside of her, between the pump and the side of the ship. Providentially for their preservation, there was no occasion to lash her fast, but at this time they entertained no hope of seeing her again, as the large cable within her, together with the weight of the horses and their stalls, entangled one among another, prevented her from rising to the surface of the water.

In this dreadful situation, holding on by the shrouds, and slipping off his clothes, the captain looked around him for some plank or empty box, by which he might preserve his life as long as it should please the Almighty, when he perceived his mate and two seamen hanging by a rope, and imploring God to receive their souls.
He then advised them to undress, as he had done, and to endeavour to seize
the first object that could assist them in preserving their lives.
the mate, followed his advice, stripped himself quite naked, and instantly betook himself to swimming, at the same time looking out for anything he could find.
He had not been in
the water many minutes, before he cried out "Here is the boat keel uppermost!" upon which the captain immediately swam to him, and found him holding on to the boat by the keel.
They then set to work to turn her, but their exertions were unavailing,
till at length Williams, who was the strongest and heaviest man of the two, contrived to set his feet against the gunwale of the boat, while he laid hold of the keel with his hands, and with a violent effort nearly succeeded iu turning her.
The captain being to windward pushed and lifted her up with his shoulders on the opposite side, till at length, with the assistance of the surf, they turned her over, but she was full of water.
captain then got into her, and endeavoured, by means of a rope belonging to the rigging, to draw her to the mast of the vessel, as, in the intervals between the waves, the mast always rose to the height of fifteen or twenty feet above the water.
He passed
the end of the tope fastened to the boat once round the head of the mast, keeping hold of the end; and each time that the mast rose out of the water, it lifted up both him and the boat: he then let go the rope, and by this expedient the boat was about three-fourths emptied; but having nothing to enable him to disengage her from the mast and shroads, they fell down upon him, driving him and the boat again under water.

After repeated attempts to empty her, in which he was cruelly wounded and bruised, he began to haul the boat, thus filled with water, towards the vessel by the shrouds; but, by this time, the sloop had sunk to such a depth, that only a small part of her stern was visible, upon which the mate and two other seamen were holding fast by a rope.
He then threw himself into
the water, with the rope that was attached to the boat in his mouth swam towards them, to give them the end of the rope to lay hold of, in the hope that by their united strength they would be able to haul the boat over the stern of the vessel, to accomplish which they exerted their utmost efforts; and at this instant the captain nearly had his thigh broken by a shock of the boat, as he was between her and the ship.
At length they succeeded in hauling her over
the stern, but in this manoeuvre they had the misfortune to break a hole in her bottom.
The captain, as soon as his thigh was a little recovered from the blow, jumped into her with one of the men, and stopped & leak with a piece of his coarse shirt.
This man in being enabled to swim, had not stripped like
the others, and had thus preserved his coarse shirt, a knife that was in his pocket, and an enormous hat in the fashion.
The boat being fastened to the rigging, was sooner cleared of the greatest part of the water, than the captain's dog came to them, running along the gunwale, they took him in, and returned thanks to Providence, thus sending provision for a time of necessity.
A moment after
the dog had entered, the rope broke with a jerk of the vessel, and the boat drifted away, leaving the mate and the other seamen hanging to the wreck, mate had fortunately found a small spare topmast,

Page 459

afterwards served them for a rudder, and with this they swam to the boat, where they were assisted in by the others, and soon afterwards they lost sight of their ill-fated bark.

It was then about four o'clock in the morning, as they judged by the dawn of day, which was then beginning to appear, so that about two hours had elapsed since the calamity that had compelled them to abandon their vessel.
That which prevented her foundering sooner, was their having on board about a hundred and fifty barrels
of biscuit, as many or more sacks of flour, and three hundred firkins of butter, all of which floated upon the water, and were soaked through but slowly. As soon as they were clear of the wreck, they kept the boat before the wind as well as they could; and when it grew light, they perceived several articles that had floated from the vessel.
Soon after
the captain saw his box of clothes and linen, which had been carried out of the cabin by the violence of the waves. This unexpected circumstance gave great joy, as the box contained some bottles of orange and lime juice, a few pounds of chocolate, sugar, &c.
Reaching over
the gunwale of the boat they laid hold of the box, and made use of every effort to open it on the water, for they could not think of getting into the boat a box of size and weight sufficient to sink her; but in spite of all their endeavours, they were, to their unutterable disappointment, obliged to leave it behind, with all the good things It contained; and to add to their distress, the efforts they had made to accomplish what they desired, had almost filled their boat with water, and had more than once nearly sunk her.

They however had the good fortune to pick up thirteen onions, but were unable to reach any more, although they saw many. These thirteen onions and the dog, without a single drop of fresh water, or any liquor whatever, were all that they had to subsist upon; and they were at that time, according to the computation of the captain, about fifty leagues from land, having neither masts, sails, nor oars to direct them, nor any description of article, except the knife of the sailor who could not swim, his shirt, a piece of which they had already used to stop the leak in their boat, and his wide trowsers.
This day they cut
the remainder of his shirt into strips, which they twisted for rigging, and then went to work, alternately, to loosen the planks with which the boat was lined, by dint of time and patience, cutting round the heads of the nails that fastened them.
Of these planks they made a kind of mast, which they fixed, by tying it to the foremost bench; a piece of board was substituted for a yard, to which they fastened the two parts of the trowsers which served for sails, and -.-led in keeping the boat before the wind, while they steered with the small topmast, which the mate had wrought on board.

As the pieces of plank which they had detached from the inside of the boat were too short, and were not sufficient to go quite round the edge, they were obliged, when the sea ran very high, to lie down several times along the gunwale on each side, with their backs to the water, in order to prevent the waves from entering the boat; and thus with their bodies to repel the surf, whilst the other, with the Dutch hat, was constantly employed in baling out the water; besides which the boat continued to make water at the leak, which they were unable to stop entirely.

It was in this melancholy situation, and all of them quite naked, that they kept the boat before the wind as well as they could.
The night of the first day after their shipwreck arrived before they had well completed their sail; but although it became quite dark, they contrived to keep the boat running before the wind at the rate of about a league an hour.
The second day was more calm; they each ate an onion, at different times, and soon began to feel the effect of thirst.
Towards night the wind became violent and variable, sometimes blowing from the north, which caused them great uneasiness, as they were then obliged to steer south, in order to keep the boat before the wind, and their only hope of being saved was on their proceeding from east to west.

On the third day their sufferings were excessive, as they had not only to endure hunger and thirst, in themselves sufficiently painful, but also the heat of the sun, which scorched them in such a manner, that from the neck to the feet their skin was as red and as full of blisters as if they had been burned by a fire.
Smarting under this accumulation of bodily pain, the captain seized the dog, and plunged the knife into his throat.
They caught his blood in the hat, receiving in their hands and drinking what ran over, and then drinking in turn out of the hat, with which they felt themselves very much refreshed.

The fourth day the wind was extremely violent, and the sea very high, so that they were more than once on the point of perishing: it was on this day, in particular, that they were obliged to make a rampart of their bodies to repel the waves.
About noon a ray of hope dawned upon them, but only to experience bitter disappointment.
They perceived a sloop, commanded by Captain Southey, a particular friend of Captain Aubin, which, like the Betsey, belonged to the island of Barbadoes, and was bound for Demerara; and this vessel came so near that they could see the crew walking upon the deck, and shouted to them: but unfortunately they were neither seen nor heard.
Being obliged by the violence

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of the gale to keep the boat before the wind, for fear of foundering, they had passed her a great distance before she crossed them, the sloop steering direct south, and they bearing away to the west.
This disappointment so discouraged
the two seamen, that they refused to make any more exertions to save their lives; in spite of all that could be said, one of them would do nothing, not even bale out the water which was every minute gaining upon them.
In vain did
the captain have recourse to entreaties, and, falling on his knees, implore the assistance of the obdurate seaman; he remained unmoved; till at length the captain and mate prevailed by threatening to kill them instantly with the topmast, which they used to steer by, and to kill themselves afterwards, in order to put a period to their misery.
This menace seemed to make some impression on them, and they resumed their occupation
of baling as before.

The captain this day set the others the example of eating a piece of the dog with some onions : it was with great difficulty that he swallowed a few mouthfuls, but in the course of an hour afterwards he felt that this small morsel of food had given them new vigour.
The mate, who was of a much stronger constitution, ate more.
of the men also tasted it; but the other, whose name was Comings, absolutely refused to swallow a morsel, protesting that he could not.

The fifth day was more calm, and the sea much smoother.
At day-break they perceived an enormous shark, full as large as
the boat, which followed them for several hours as a prey that was evidently destined for him: they also found in the boat a flying-fish, which had dropped there during the night; this they divided into four parts, which they chewed to moisten their mouths, and it proved a very seasonable relief, though so little inadequate to their necessities, that on this day, when pressed with hunger and despair, the mate, Williams, had the generosity to exhort his companions to cut off a piece of his thigh, in order to refresh themselves with the blood and support life.
The wind freshened during the night, and they had several heavy showers, when they tried to get some rain-water by wringing the trowsers which served them for a sail, but when they caught it in their mouths it proved to be as salt as that of the sea, the men's clothes having been so often soaked with sea-water, that they, as well as the hat, were impregnated with salt.
They had, therefore, no other resource, but to open their mouths, and catch
the drops of rain as they fell upon their tongues to cool them: after the shower was over they again fastened the trowsers to the mast.

On the sixth day the seamen, notwithstanding all the remonstrances of the captain and mate, persisted in drinking sea-water, which purged them so excessively that they fell into a kind of delirium, and were no longer of the slightest service in managing their frail bark.
As for
the others, they each kept a nail in their mouths, and, from time to time, sprinkled their heads with water to cool them; from these ablutions they found their heads were more easy, and themselves generally better.
They also tried several times to eat
of the dog's flesh with a morsel of onion, and thought themselves fortunate if they could get down three or four mouthfuls.

On the seventh day the weather was fine, with a moderate breeze, and the sea perfectly calm.
The two men who had drank sea-water grew so weak about noon that they began to talk wildly, like those who are light-headed, not knowing any longer whether they were at sea or on shore.
The captain and mate were also so weak that they could hardly stand on their legs, or steer the boat in their turns, much less bale the water from the boat, which now made considerably at the leak.

On the morning of the eighth day, John Comings died, and about three hours afterwards the other seaman, George Simpson, also expired.
That same evening, just before
the sun had withdrawn his light, they had the inexpressible satisfaction of discovering the high lands on the west point of the island of Tobago.
Hope inspired them with courage and infused new strength into their limbs.
They kept
the head of the boat towards the land all night, with a light breeze and a strong current, which was in their favour.
The captain and mate were that night in an extraordinary situation; their two comrades lying dead before them, with the land in light, having very little wind, to approach it, and being assisted only by the current which drove strongly to westward.
the morning, according to their own computation, they were not more than five or six leagues from the land, and that happy day was the last of their sufferings at sea.
They kept steering the boat the whole day towards the shore, though they were no longer able to stand.
Towards evening
the wind lulled, and at night it was a perfect calm; but about two o'clock in the morning the current cast them on the beaches of Tobago, at the foot of a high shore between Tobago and Man-of-War Bay, which is the easternmost part of the island.
The boat soon bulged with the shock, and her two fortunate occupants crawled to the shore, leaving the bodies of their two deceased comrades in the boat, and the remainder of the dog, which, by this time, had become quite putrid.

They clambered, as well as they could, on all-fours along the high coast, which rose almost perpendicularly to the height of three or four hundred feet.
A great number
of leaves had fallen on the place where they were, from the numerous trees which grew over their heads, and these they collected to lay down upon

Page 461

they waited for the coming daylight.
the dawn appeared they began to search for water, and found some in the holes of the rocks, but it was brackish, and not fit to drink.
They also found on
the rocks several kinds of shell-fish, some of which they broke open with a stone, and chewed them to moisten their mouths.

Between eight and nine o'clock in the morning they were perceived by a young Caraib, who was alternately swimming and walking towards the boat.
As soon as he had reached it, he called his companions with loud shouts, at
the same time making signs of the greatest compassion.
His comrades instantly followed him, and swam towards
the captain and mate, whom they had perceived almost at the same time. The eldest of the party, a man apparently about sixty years of age, approached them with the two youngest, whom they afterwards learned were his son and son-in-law.
the sight of the poor sufferers, these compassionate men burst into tears, while the captain endeavoured, by words and signs, to make them comprehend that he and his mate had been at sea for nine days, in want of every thing.
Caraibs understood a few French words, and signified that they would fetch a boat to convey them to their dwelling.
The old man then took a handkerchief from his head, and tied round the captain's head, and one of the young Caraibs gave Williams his straw hat; the other swam round a projecting rock and brought them a calabash of fresh water, some cakes of cassova, and a piece of boiled fish; but they had been so long without food that they were unable to eat any.
The two others took the corpses out of the boat and laid them upon the rock, after which all three of them hauled the boat out of the water.
They then departed to fetch their canoe, leaving
the poor shipwrecked mariners with every mark of the utmost compassion.

About noon they returned in their canoe, to the number of six, and brought with them, in an earthern pot, something resembling soup, which they thought to be delicious.
Of this they partook, but the captain's stomach was so weak that he immediately cast it up again.
In less than two hours they arrived at
Man-of-War Bay, where the huts of the Caraibs were situate.
They had only one hammock, in which
the hospitable natives laid the captain, while the women, who were in the hut, made them a very agreeable mess of herbs and broth of quatracas and pigeons.
They also bathed his feet with a decoction
of tobacco and other plants, and every morning the man lifted him out of the hammock and carried him in his arms beneath a lemon tree, where he covered him with plantain leaves to screen him from the sun.
There they anointed
the bodies of the poor sufferers with a kind of oil, to cure the blisters raised by the sun.
Their compassionate entertainers had even
the generosity to give each of them a shirt and a pair of trowsers, which they had procured from the ships that came from time to time to trade with them for turtles and tortoise-shell.

The method pursued by the natives in healing the numerous wounds which had broken on the bodies of these unfortunate mariners, was this: after they had completely cleansed the wounds, they kept the patient with his legs suspended in the air, and anointed them morning and evening, with an oil extracted from the tail of a small crab, something resembling what the English call the soldier-crab, because its shell is red and which is obtained by bruising a quantity of the ends of their tails, and putting them to digest upon the fire in a large shell.
After thus anointing them they were covered with plantain leaves till
the wounds were healed.

Thanks to the nourishing food procured them by the Caraibs, and the humane attention which was bestowed upon them, the captain was able, in about three weeks time, to support himself upon crutches, like a person recovering from a very severe illness; but anxious to return to his own friends, as early as possible, he cut his name with a knife upon several boards, and gave them to different Caraibs to show them to any ships which might chance to approach the coast.
Still they almost despaired
of seeing any arrive, when a sloop from Oroonoko, laden with mules, and bound for St. Pierre, in the island of Martinique, touched at the sandy point on the west side of Tobago.
The Indians showed the crew a plank, up on which was carved the name of Captain Aubin, and acquainted them with the dreadful situation of him and his companion, which those on board the vessel related, when they arrived at St. Pierre.
Several merchants with whom Captain Aubin was acquainted, and who traded under Dutch colours, happened to be there at
the time, and they transmitted the information to the owners of the Betsey, Messrs. Roscoe and Nyles, who instantly despatched a small vessel in quest of the survivors, who, after living about nine weeks with this benevolent and hospitable tribe of savages, embarked and left them; their regret at doing so being only equal to the joy and surprize which they had experienced at meeting with them.

As the vessel was ready to depart, the natives furnished them with an abundant supply of bananas, figs, yams, fowls, fish, and fruits, particularly oranges and lemons.
The captain had nothing to give them in return, as an acknowledgment for their generous treatment, but the boat, which they had repaired and used occasionally for visiting their nests of turtles, which, being larger than their canoes, was more adapted to the purpose.
Of this he made them a present, and his friend, Captain Young, who commanded the small

Page 462

vessel, assisted him to remunerate his benefactors, by giving them all the rum he had with him, which was about seven or eight bottles.
He also gave them several shirts and trowsers, some knives, fish-hooks and sailcloth for the boat, with needles and hooks.

At length, after two days spent in preparations for their departure, they were obliged to separate.
The Caraibs came down to the beach to the number of about thirty men, women, and children, and all appeared to feel the deepest sorrow, particularly the old man, who had acted as a father to them.
the vessel left the bay, the tears flowed from their eyes which still continued fixed upon their departing friends, and they remained upon the beach, in a line, until they lost sight of the vessel.

It was about cine o'clock in the morning when the vessel sailed, steering north-east, and in three days after they arrived at Barbadoes, where they received, from the whole island, marks of the most tender interest and the most generous compassion; indeed, the benevolence of the inhabitants was unbounded.
The celebrated Dr. Hilery, the author of a treatise on the diseases peculiar to the island, came to see them, accompanied by Dr. Silihorn, and both prescribed various remedies, but without effect.
of them were unable to speak but with the greatest difficulty.
Williams remained at Barbadoes, but
the captain, being more affected and less robust, was advised, by the physicians, to return to Europe.
In compliance with their advice he went to London, where he was attended by some
of the most celebrated physicians; and, after a judicious treatment of about five months, he was so far restored to a state of convalescence, as to be enabled to resume his ordinary avocation.

Odile Gannier: In Search of Indian Navigators.
When Europeans Discovered the Carib
bean area, they were astonished by the extraordinary development of the art of navigation
among the Indians there.
The concept - and the very term Itself - of "canoe" and
"Pirogue" cam from the Antilles.
These Indian canoes along were, skillfully dug-out
Paddled by a crew, they moved incredibly fast.
The discoverers,
themselves sailors, described and the manner in which the canoes were built and cared for.
Indians in the Caribbean basin, whether they were Arawak or Carib, belonged to
neighbouring peoples such as the Tupinamba, astutely Improved these boats in many ways, demonstrating a y considerable level of technical  expertise.
The crews
were not only sturdy and skillful, They were good pilots with knowledge of the islands and a remarkable system for taking bearings.
The problem of obtaining fresh supplies was
diminished by fishing, and preserving food for transportation.
life centred around the Indians' interest in navigation.
explorer's accounts shed light on the island and coastal societies of the Caribbean and of northern South America, a subject that has had limited study.

 Aubin, Philippe:
Shipwreck of the sloop Betsey,
commanded by captain Philippe Aubin, on the coast of Dutch Guyana in south America in 1756.

Naufrage du sloop, Le Betsey,
commandé par le capitaine Philippe Aubin, sur la côte de la Guyane hollandaise, dans l'Amérique méridionale en 1756
Deperthes, Jean Louis Hubert Simon, (1730-1792):

Histoire des naufrages, ou Recueil des relations ...
Chez Née de la Rochelle, A Paris, 1788-89.
Volume 3, pages 256 - 301.

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Geoff Cater and Hervé Manificat (2014) : Philip Aubin : Surf Riding in the Caribbean, 1756.