Chapter 28

 

I still felt an acute need for so many tools and facilities. For example, I needed an instrument to grind the grains and I chose a big block of hard wood for that. To make bread out of the ground grains I also needed a sieve. I used seamen’s clothes for that and although far from perfect, I managed to make three small sieves which served me well for a couple of years.

I kept making clay pots. I found a way to make myself something which resembled an oven. I made big earthen plates and would put the bread loaf between them, then cover them all with hot embers. This is how I made my first bread on the island. It was in the third year of my shipwreck.

From time to time I was still thinking of running to the beach and waiting for a ship to pass by. Yet, I did not know whether my condition might not be worse in that case. What if I was captured by cannibals?

One day I remembered that my ship’s boat was still at the beach where the storm had left it. I went to look for it. When I did, I tried to turn it the right way, but it was buried in sand. I spent a month doing this, but it was useless. I could not even move it. I could not turn or repair it properly. I left the boat there, but my desire to go sailing was just as strong as before.

I was contemplating whether I could make myself a canoe out of some great tree. I found a big one, cut it and carved it. Then I cut out the inside and burned it until I reached the desired shape. It was only then that I discovered that I had no way of moving it out of the forest and into the beach. It was to my greatest disappointment that I had to leave it there. I was a fool. It took me nearly half a year to make the canoe and the thought of how I was going to launch it in water never crossed my mind once.

I tried everything to move the canoe. I even considered digging a canal from the beach to where the canoe lay, but it was all useless. There was a hill between them and it would have taken me many years to dig the canal through the hill and push the canoe in it. Eventually I gave up on the canoe and left it there as a reminder to myself.