Captain Cook and the Corrupt Crusoe

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2 responses to “Captain Cook and the Corrupt Crusoe

  1. Thanks for sharing Tim. I was surprised to hear that Cook called in to Sabu always assuming that Kupang was his port of call in those parts. I wonder what happened to Lange in the end? Buried in a long forgotten grave perhaps or maybe still remembered and incorporated into the local folklore in some way?

  2. Hey Steve, glad you liked it!
    Cook did indeed drop by in Kupang first, and took on some supplies there. But relations with the Dutch were a little prickly, and so when he stumbled upon Sabu he took the chance to get some more supplies in before heading onwards to Batavia.

    He noted that at the time Sabu was so remote that it was not recorded accurately on any map he’d ever seen, and, not wanting to alarm the Dutch further, he swore his men to secrecy, making them promise not to tell anyone in Batavia that they had visited Sabu.

    The question of what happened to Lange is a fascinating one. I suppose the answer may lie in Dutch records somewhere. When the British invaded Indonesia in 1811 they did take possession of Kupang, and by the end of their interregnum they had formally taken possession of virtually all former Dutch outposts (though in the more remote spots they generally just left the previous Dutch official in place – this was the case in Sumbawa, for example). I never saw any mention of Sabu in any of the documents, however, so maybe they just forgot it was there!

    Sabu is a place where tantalising scraps do endure in the local folklore. There’s a village called Ege on the south coast, and locals claim that Ege means “English”, and that once upon a time an English ship ran aground there, and the sailors stayed in the village while they patched the holes… No one knows when this was, however, but they say that the English were very nice!

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