Seeing no further signs of attack by the mutineers, Captain Smollett and his men enjoy some leisure time in the stockade. Gray is startled to see Dr. Livesey go walking out into the trees, taking the map with him. Gray asks whether Livesey has gone mad, but Jim answers that Livesey is going to speak to Ben Gunn. Left inside to clean up the bloody mess of the earlier attack, Jim grows impatient, yearning to do something more heroic.
On another whim, Jim decides to go search for the boat that Ben had mentioned he had built. On the shore Jim glimpses Silver and his men talking and laughing, and hears the unearthly scream of Silver’s parrot Cap’n Flint. After a bit of a search Jim finds the small handmade boat, which is a coracle (a type of boat once sailed by the ancient Britons). Jim decides he will sail out to the Hispaniola and cut it adrift. When darkness falls, he hoists the coracle on his shoulders and heads for the water.
Jim finds the coracle hard to sail, as it steers unreliably, but he eventually manages to reach the anchored ship. Grasping the hawser, or anchor rope, Jim takes out his knife and starts cutting, being careful not to let the cord snap at him when it breaks. Waiting for the wind to lessen the rope’s tension so he can finish cutting it, he sits and listens to the rude oaths and drunken nonsense coming from the pirates’ ship. One sailor is singing a morbid sea song about a ship setting out with a crew of seventy-five and returning with only one alive.
When there is a breeze, Jim is able to cut the last fibers of the rope and set the Hispaniola adrift. On a whim he clutches the trailing rope and hauls himself to window-level, peering in to see why no one has noticed the sudden motion of the ship. He discovers that the pirates are distracted, as Hands and another sailor are wrestling. Suddenly flung back into the coracle, Jim is startled to find that he has drifted near the pirates’ campfire on shore. Sure of imminent death, he commends his soul to God and falls asleep in the coracle, dreaming of home.
Upon awakening, Jim discovers that he has drifted to the southwest end of Treasure Island. Paddling toward shore is useless, as he would be dashed to death on the rocks that form this edge of the island. Jim decides to try to make his way toward a friendlier shoreline to the north. After much effort he finally reaches the cove he has aimed for, his throat burning from thirst. He spots the Hispaniola drifting aimlessly and concludes that the crew either is entirely drunk or has deserted the ship.
Jim hatches a plan to try to board the wildly drifting Hispaniola, realizing that he can overtake the ship if he sits up and paddles hard. Though he runs the risk of being spotted, he thinks the idea has an air of adventure about it, so he starts paddling. Finally reaching the ship, Jim climbs on board and searches for water to quench his thirst. He hears the sound of the ship being blown into and destroying the coracle, and knows that escape from the ship is now impossible.