During the next five years nothing out of the common happened, and Robinson’s time was mostly taken up with the getting of food, the yearly sowing and reaping of his crops, and the curing of his raisins. But towards the end of that time he made another attempt to build a boat, and this time he made one much smaller than the first, and though it took him nearly two years to finish, in the end he got her into the sea. She was not big enough for him to try to sail in to the far-off land that he had seen, and he used her only for cruising about the shores of his own island, and for fishing. In her he fixed a little mast, on which he rigged a small sail, made from a bit of one of the old ship’s sails, and, using a paddle to steer with, he found that she sailed very well. Over the stern he fixed his big umbrella, to shade him from the sun, like an awning.
Eager to go all round the island, one day Robinson put a lot of food on board, and, taking his gun, started on a voyage. All went well till he came to the east end of the island, where he found that a ledge of rocks, and beyond that a sand-bank, stretched out to sea for eight or nine miles. Robinson did not like the idea of venturing so far in a boat so small, and he therefore ran the boat ashore, and climbed a hill, to get a good view of the rocks and shoals before going near them. From the hill, he saw that a strong current was sweeping past the sand-bank, which showed just clear of the water, and on which the sea was breaking; but he thought there was an eddy which would swing him safely round the point, without bringing him near the breakers. However, that day and the next, there was a good deal of wind blowing in the direction contrary to the current, which, of course, raised a sea too big for a small boat, so Robinson stopped on shore where he was.
On the third day it was calm, and he set off. But no sooner had he come abreast of the sand-bank than he found himself in very deep water, with a current running like a mill-race, which carried the boat further and further away from the land, in spite of all that he could do with his paddle. There was no wind, and the sail was useless.
Now he gave himself up for lost, for the harder he worked, only the further away seemed the boat to be swept. The island was soon so far off that Robinson could hardly see it, and he was quite exhausted with the hard struggle to paddle the boat against the current. He was in despair, and giving up paddling, left the boat to drift where she would. Just then a faint puff of wind touched his cheek, and Robinson hurriedly hoisted his sail. Soon a good breeze blew, which carried him past a dangerous reef of rocks. Here the current seemed to divide, the part in which he now was began to swing round towards the island, and he plucked up heart again, and with his paddle did all he could to help the sail. Robinson felt like a man who is set free after he has been told that he must die; he could almost have wept for joy. Miles and miles he sailed, steadily getting nearer to the land, and late in the evening at last he got ashore, but on the other side of the point that he had tried to round in the morning. He drew up his boat on the shore of a little cove that he found, and when he had made her fast, so that the tide could not carry her away, there among the trees he lay down, and slept sound, quite worn out.