At this time, Atlantic trade generally operated along a standard ‘triangle’ route, to make the most of the prevailing winds and serve the demands of the different markets.
Slaves were taken from Africa across to the plantations in the Americas, where sugar and tobacco were picked up and transported to Europe. From there, rum and textiles were transported to Africa, where more slaves were collected.
Somewhere off South America, Crusoe is not on the standard trading routes and so has little chance of being picked up.
An equinox occurs twice a year, in autumn and spring, when the Sun is directly above the equator, thus illuminating half of the Earth and keeping the other half in shadow. At this time day and night are equally long.
The Brazilian Ironwood (Caesalpinia ferrea) is a thornless tree with yellow flowers, and extremely hard wood. Its other name, the Leopard Tree, comes from the patterns which occur when its bark peels.
Smoking tobacco to cure illnesses was based on the idea that the ‘humours’ of the body needed to be balanced: tobacco was thought to "evacuate" an excess of humours, much like letting blood. Andre Thevet wrote in 1568 that the people of Brazil smoked tobacco to clear the "superfluous humours of the brain".
More information can be found in Geoffrey M Sill’s ‘A Source for Crusoe’s Tobacco Cure’, English Language Notes 32.4 (1995), pp. 46-8.
Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
Listen on Spotify: Psalm 50 sung by King's College Choir