Robinson joined the London-bound ship on September 1st, 1651. The ship soon encountered a storm and Robinson became sick and frightened. Remembering his parents' warnings, he vowed to return home if he ever made it safely to land again. The other sailors onboard, however, did not think much of the storm.
The sea got calmer as the storm died down, and Robinson joined some other sailors in getting drunk on some punch. In about six days, Robinson says he had gotten over his conscience at disregarding his vows to return home. Then, the ship encountered an even worse storm. Even the experienced sailors were scared, and Robinson heard the master of the ship cry out to God for help.
Yet Robinson quickly forgets his earlier vows, and finds himself in even more danger—in storm at sea that has even the experienced captain scared. While the captain calls out to God for help, it is not until much later that Robinson will fully turn to God in his own distress.
Robinson was terrified, and some sailors said that the ship was going to founder (sink), though at that time Robinson didn't know the meaning of this word. The ship sprang some leaks and Robinson and other sailors tried to pump water out of the ship. Robinson was so scared he fainted. Another ship came to the aid of Robinson's, and rowed a boat over to rescue the sailors.
The terrified Robinson is an inexperienced sailor, unaware even of what it means for a ship to founder. But it is only through the experience of going to sea for the first time that he becomes a better seaman: he must make mistakes in order to learn.
After returning to shore, Robinson says that he should have gone back to Hull, but "ill fate" pushed him to go to London against reasonable judgment. The shipmaster told Robinson not to tempt Providence and to go back to his father, or else he would "meet with nothing but disasters and disappointments."
Citing providence, the shipmaster gives Robinson more good advice, which Robinson ignores, because God's providence and fate have something else in store for him.
Robinson traveled to London by land, debating his next course of action. He says that some "evil influence" made him disregard all of the warnings he received. He joined a ship bound for Guinea, on the coast of Africa.
According to Robinson, this was his only successful voyage. The ship's captain of the ship bound for Guinea taught him astronomy and math, and he became a sailor-merchant, bringing back three hundred pounds of gold, which filled him with the desire to return to sea and find more wealth, a desire that would be the ruin of him.
Finding some success only brings Robinson a greater desire for more. Not content with the money he acquired on the first voyage, he goes back seeking a greater fortune.