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Robinson Crusoe Island – Treasure Island

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Robinson Crusoe Island is in the Juan Fernandez Group. The three Islands that form the group lie in the Pacific Ocean some four-hundred miles off the coast of Chile and were named after the Spanish seaman, explorer, who discovered them. Juan Fernandez discovered the Islands in 1574 by accident when he strayed off course while on is way from Peru to Valparaiso and being a practical man, he named them as they lay, Mas Afuera – Further out Island, Mas a Tierra – Nearer to land Island, and the smallest, Islote de Santa Clara.

Mas a Tierra became famous as the uninhabited Island where Alexander Selkirk was marooned by Captain Stradling and managed to survive on his own for four years and four months, before being rescued by the Woodes Rogers expedition. Because Daniel Defoe used Selkirk’s story as his inspiration when writing his famous novel Robinson Crusoe, the Chilean Government decided to officially change the name of Mas a Tierra to Robinson Crusoe Island and the nearby Island of Mas Afuera to Alexandro Selkirk Island.

According to legend just six years after Alexander Selkirk was rescued a vast hoard of gold and jewels was buried on the Island. The treasure was stolen from the Inca’s during the Spanish conquest of Peru in the 16th and 17th centuries and in 1715 was loaded onboard a ship to be transferred to Spain during the Spanish wars of succession. However, the commander of the vessel Juan Esteban Ubilla y Echeverria decided to stash the treasure on the Island of Mas a Tierra, and return for it at a later date. He never did return, having sailed back to Mexico he died with his whole crew in the shipwreck of the plate fleet in a hurricane in the July of the same year.

Sometime before this occurred, Ubilla, dissatisfied with the coming to power of the Bourbon Dynasty, had opened secret negotiations with the English and as part of a deal had given them the location of the treasure. What happened to the information at that point is anyone’s guess, but eventually, in 1761 it came into the hands of Admiral Lord George Anson. Not one to procrastinate, the Admiral immediately dispatched Captain Cornelius Webb in the Unicorn to recover the loot. Webb reached the Island in 1762, dug up the booty and after loading it onboard set sail for home. Unfortunately the ship ran into a great storm and with a mast split and ship damaged, Webb returned to Mas a Tierra, reburied the treasure in a new location and sailed to Valparaiso on the Chilean mainland to carry out repairs before going back for the booty.

With the repairs complete Webb learned that crew were planning to seize the Unicorn and the treasure once they reached Mas a Tierra and he decided to exact a terrible retribution for this proposed mutiny. Once they were far enough from land, he torched the ship and rowed himself back to the mainland, leaving the crew to perish in the inferno. Back in Valparaiso Webb sent off coded messages to his sponsor, unfortunately by the time they reached England Lord Anson had already been dead for five months. At this point both Captain Webb and the messages he wrote disappeared from view.

Then amazingly, one-hundred and ninety years later the letters were found in the north of England and together with a third found near to Valparaiso, ended up in the hands of one of the richest men in Chile, and a search on the Island was instigated for the 800 barrels of gold, jewels and artefacts now valued a ten billion dollars; the search was unsuccessful.

But it was not long before another treasure hunter arrived on the scene. Bernard Keiser an American businessman arrived on the Island after seeing a programme on the television about the fabulous treasure hidden on the Island. Then in 2005, after he had been searching for seven years, a new crew arrived on the Island. They were Wagner Technologies of Chile, who using a robot named Arturito had within a short period of time pinpointed the location of the hoard fifteen metres underground. The media went wild, the story went global and then just as quickly died when nothing happened. The whole thing seems to have been a stunt to gain publicity for the robot.

Meanwhile Bernard Keiser was still hard at work and by 2010 having spent over two million dollars on five separate searches, has found nothing so far, but he has not given up yet and who knows? Maybe one day he will hit the jackpot?

Source by Fred Watson

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