This year marks the 300th anniversary of the release of the legendary novel Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. No matter how incredible the story of Robinson's adventure may seem, history knows no less impressive cases of real survival on uninhabited islands.
Finding themselves in the wild by the will of fate or of their own free will, these people felt all the hardships of primitive life, learned how to get fire and fresh water, hunt, distinguish useful plants from poisonous ones and build dwellings from scrap materials. Twelve such brave souls who decided to test their strength after spending a month on a wild island in the Pacific Ocean, will tell about the show "Island with Bear Grylls", which airs on Sundays at 11:55 Moscow time on the Discovery Channel. In our selection, we will tell about them and other interesting cases of survival on uninhabited islands.
Alexander Selkirk, 4 years and 4 months
It is believed that the Scotsman Alexander Selkirk was the prototype of Robinson Crusoe. In 1703, 27-year-old Alexander was hired as a boatswain on the ship "Sank Por", where, thanks to an erroneous entry in the ship's log, from Selcraig he turned into Selkirk. A year later, the ship set off on an expedition to the shores of South America. During the trip, the Scotsman managed, with his hot-tempered and scandalous nature, to infuriate the entire crew of the ship. In the course of another conflict that occurred near the island of Mas a Tierra, Selkirk wished to be landed on the shore.
Tired of his antics, the captain immediately granted the request. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, the brawler tried to take his words back, but it was too late. The team left him on an uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean, generously providing a survival kit that included a gun with a supply of gunpowder and bullets, an ax, a knife, a flint, a kettle, tobacco, a chest, navigation tools and several books, including a Bible. …
Selkirk was lucky, since the island turned out to be not entirely wild - once upon a time Spanish colonists lived here, leaving behind domestic goats, which by the advent of a new neighbor had already run wild. Alexander tamed them by obtaining a constant source of meat and milk. In general, his island diet was quite varied: in addition to goat meat, it included game, shellfish, seal and turtle meat, as well as turnips, cabbage and berries. The danger for Selkirk and his reserves was posed by rats, with which he was helped to deal with cats, also probably abandoned by the Spaniards.
However, a much more serious threat to the life of the hermit was posed by Spanish ships, sometimes stopping off the coast of the island to replenish their supplies of drinking water. At that time, England and Spain were at enmity because of the Spanish inheritance, so the Spanish flags did not promise the British sailor anything good. So, at the sight of them, Selkirk did not try to light fires in order to convey news of himself, but, on the contrary, ran away and hid far in the jungle. During his stay on the island, Alexander built himself two wooden huts and an observation post, from where he looked at the horizon. He sewed clothes from goat skins, which was easy for him, since he was the son of a shoemaker and owned a leather craft. In order not to forget how to speak English and hear at least some kind of speech, he often read the Bible aloud.
After more than four years of his life as a savage, Selkirk was lucky: in 1709, the English ship Duke sailed to the island under the command of Woods Rogers, who picked up the sufferer. Selkirk was able to return to his hometown of Largo only in 1711. Upon his return, he began to talk about his adventures everywhere and with pleasure, thanks to which he became a local celebrity. However, he was not used to the urban environment, so he entered the Royal Navy as a lieutenant. Alexander Selkirk died aboard the Weymouth in 1721, presumably from yellow fever. He was buried off the coast of West Africa, and the island of Mas-a-Tierra, to which Selkirk gave more than four years of his life, was renamed Robinson Crusoe Island in 1966.
Island with Bear Grylls, 1 month
Cases when people find themselves on an uninhabited island in the role of savages voluntarily are no less interesting than involuntary survival. In the reality show "The Island with Bear Grylls" twelve people, accustomed to the benefits of civilization, will go to an uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean for a whole month to test their strength in extreme conditions. Before disembarking, each participant will receive a short briefing to study the local flora and fauna, and will receive a survival kit: a machete or knife, a day's supply of water, a first aid kit, a canister, a whistle, a headlamp, and sun and mosquito repellent. For many, life on the island may seem like a paradise vacation, but for the project participants it will be a serious test of endurance. Under the supervision of an experienced traveler and survival specialist Bear Grylls, desperate daredevils will not only have to equip their life in the wild jungle, but also look for a hundred thousand pounds hidden on the island.
The newly minted islanders will live in the jungle at the peak of the dry season: they will have to withstand temperatures up to +35 degrees, constant sunshine and high humidity, rejoicing in rare rains. At the same time, danger will lie in wait for them from all sides: the island is surrounded by cliffs and rocks, and in the depths it is covered with dense jungle and mangrove forests, which are literally teeming with insects and snakes. Participants will have to fish to avoid starvation, but even fishing can be risky in an environment where coastal waters are full of large rocks and dangerous marine life.
The show includes a 20-year-old fitness enthusiast and a 75-year-old grandmother of six grandchildren, as well as a nurse, doctor, photographer, businessman and other professionals, none of whom had any experience of surviving in the wild before arriving on the island. Each of the twelve characters of the show will have to look for packages of money hidden in different parts of the island. You can keep the find for yourself, give it to another participant or hide it, however, those who leave the show before the end of the month must also give up the money they found. Who will be able to survive in extreme conditions and take possession of the coveted prize of 100,000 pounds, you can find out from the program "Island with Bear Grylls", which airs on Sundays at 11:55 Moscow time on the Discovery Channel.
Pavel Vavilov, 34 days
When it comes to uninhabited islands, many imagine the tropics somewhere in the Pacific Ocean and deserted beaches full of coconut trees. However, there are wild islands in the North - on one of them the Soviet stoker Pavel Vavilov happened to live. Vavilov was born in 1909 and in his youth worked as a sailor of river vessels, and then got a job as a fireman on ships sailing along the Northern Sea Route, where he was later promoted to a machinist. During the Great Patriotic War, he began to serve on the icebreaking steamer "Alexander Sibiryakov", which delivered people and food to the polar stations of Severnaya Zemlya.
On August 24, 1942, the steamer embarked on a regular voyage. The next day, near Belukha Island, the Alexander Sibiryakov was spotted by the German cruiser Admiral Scheer. A battle ensued and the Soviet ship was sunk. Some sailors were killed in the shelling, and the rest tried to escape on two boats, one of which the Germans damaged during the shooting. In it was Pavel Vavilov with his comrades, most of whom were sucked into the crater formed after the sinking of the steamer. Vavilov grabbed the wooden wreckage of the ship and, thanks to this, remained on the surface. He was able to climb into an empty boat, where he changed into the clothes of a murdered comrade and found several axes, a barrel of fresh water, two box of matches, a pack of biscuits and a revolver with a supply of cartridges. We also managed to catch a sack of fur clothes, a sack of bran and a sleeping bag from the water. Paul saw land nearby and went there.
So he ended up on the uninhabited island of Belukha, and the building, which he noticed while swimming, turned out to be an abandoned lighthouse. Vavilov only approximately understood where he was, so he decided not to try his luck and gave up the idea of sailing to the mainland in a boat. Instead, he stayed on the island to await help. Its only neighbors were polar bears. There was nothing to eat or drink on the island - the relief was rocky, and there was almost no vegetation. Pavel decided to hide from the bears at the lighthouse, and the sleeping bag and fur clothes helped to escape from the cold weather, which was already felt in August. Ice and snow became a source of fresh water: he melted the ice and diluted bran in the water, which was the only dish in his diet.
It was impossible to fish because of the strong surf, there was no one to hunt, and there was almost nothing to collect. The wooden parts of the building were used for firewood, but Pavel saved them, so he could not even make a signal fire. As a result, several ships passed by without noticing Vavilov. A month later, a lonely man on the island was seen by people from a steamer passing by, but the ship could not land on the shore because of the waves. The crew relayed information about the survivor, and soon a seaplane was sent for him. For four days, he could not land and only threw sacks of food and tobacco to Paul. Then the plane finally boarded the water and picked up Pavel. After the rescue, Vavilov did not abandon his favorite business and continued to work on steamers and ice drifts of the Arctic Fleet.
Marguerite de La Roque de Roberval, 2 years old
Marguerite was a Frenchwoman of noble blood, and her brother Jean-François de La Roque de Roberval was patronized by King Francis I. In 1541, Jean-François became governor of New France (the territory of modern Canada) and a year later went to the New World by ship, taking from yourself and your sister. During the voyage, young Marguerite began an affair with one of the crew members. Outraged by his sister's inappropriate behavior, Roberval dropped off Marguerite at Demon Island, which is today known as Harrington Island and is part of the Canadian province of Quebec. Such a cruel decision, apparently, was dictated by puritanical morality, but there are suggestions that it was simply profitable for Roberval, mired in debt, to get rid of his sister in order to inherit her land. Together with Marguerite, her lover and maid were also expelled from the ship.
Marguerite became pregnant and had a child on the island, who soon died. After some time, the servant was gone, and then the young man. Marguerite had to learn how to shoot and hunt wild animals in order to secure her food. In 1544, the girl was accidentally discovered by the Basque whalers passing by and helped to return to the mainland. Having sailed to France, she gained fame and was awarded an audience with Queen Margaret of Navarre, who wrote down her story. Marguerite herself settled in Nortron in southwestern France and became a teacher. Information about any accusations or actions against the brother, who was still alive and well when Marguerite returned, has not been preserved.
Ada Blackjack, 2 years old
Ada Delituok, a member of one of the indigenous peoples of North America, the Inuit, was born in the small settlement of Spruce Creek in 1898. After her father's death, she was sent to Nome, Alaska, where she learned to write, read, cook, and sew at a mission school. At 16, Ada got married and took the surname Blackjack. Two of the three children of the couple died in infancy, and Ada's husband also died a few years later.
To feed Bennett's son, who had tuberculosis, 23-year-old Ada got a job as a seamstress, but still there was not enough money, as a result the boy had to be sent to an orphanage, but his mother promised that she would definitely come back for him. Soon after, Ada was offered a two-year Arctic expedition to Wrangel Island, which required an English-speaking seamstress. Upon learning that she would receive $ 50 a month, Ada realized that the money she had accumulated during the expedition would help her take her son from the orphanage, and agreed.
Four polar explorers set off on the journey: Lorne Knight, Fred Maurer, Allan Crawford and Milton Halle - they were to be accompanied by Ada. The team members took with them hunting equipment and food supplies, which were supposed to be enough for six months - then they planned to get food on their own. On September 14, 1921, all five landed on the shores of a snow-covered, mountainous island. The area was full of bears, which Ada was very afraid of, but after the hunt she made clothes from their skins.
In the summer, the team waited for a ship with supplies and letters, but it never came, unable to get through the ice. The supply of timber was depleted for several miles around, and the hunt was not going well. And then Lorne Knight became seriously ill, the symptoms resembled scurvy. Eventually, in January 1923, Crawford, Maurer, and Halle traveled to the mainland for help and food. Their ship never returned, and they themselves were never seen again. Ada now had to single-handedly care for the sick Knight, learn to set traps for animals, shoot, carry firewood, and dress skins. In June, the girl discovered a nesting place of gulls and began to feed Knight, who was already unable to eat on his own, with raw eggs. Soon Lorne died, and Ada was left completely alone. She trapped Arctic foxes, shot birds, kept a diary and took photographs. Just in case, the girl even wrote a will, in which she wished that her salary for work on the expedition was divided between her mother and sister, she asked her to take care of her son.
On August 19, 1923, the Donaldson appeared off the coast of the island with a rescue expedition. The team took Ada home. She was overcome by journalists and photographers to hear the story of the Robinson woman, but Ada was not interested in fame - she only cared to see her son as soon as possible. The money received for the expedition and the proceeds from the sale of the fox skins brought from the island were enough to pay for his treatment. Subsequently, the resilient woman remarried and gave birth to another son, who was named Billy.
Pedro Luis Serrano, 7-8 years old
Pedro Luis Serrano was a Spanish navigator who, according to the most common version, became the only survivor of a shipwreck in the Caribbean near Nicaragua, either in the 1520s or in the 1540s. Having swam to the nearest land, Pedro found himself on a small uninhabited island, which was a sandy strip eight kilometers long. The land was completely deserted, there was not even fresh water on the island, and the only inhabitants were sea turtles. They helped the sailor not to die of hunger: he ate turtle meat dried in the sun, and made bowls from shells to collect rainwater.
There weren't even stones on the island, so Serrano had to look for them by diving into the sea in order to make fire by friction. In the absence of wood, the Spaniard collected seaweed washed up on the shore, dried them and made a fire. Sometimes ships could be seen in the distance, but they passed by without noticing the lonely islander. So Pedro lived for three years. But one day, not far from the island, a ship was shipwrecked and the only surviving sailor swam to the shore - Pedro had a companion in misfortune. The companions lived on the island for another four years, until they were rescued by the crew of a ship that approached the island.
Daniel Foss, 6 years old
Another famous long-liver of the uninhabited island was the American Daniel Foss. In 1809, the ship Negociator was hunting seals in the northern seas and swooped down on an iceberg. The crew members drifted at sea on a boat for several weeks, until only one survived. It was the sailor Daniel Foss, who managed to get to the nearest coast. To the horror of the survivor, the island turned out to be a huge stone block 800 meters long and 400 meters wide. After spending several hours looking for food and water, Foss realized that there was neither one nor the other. He collected some rocky algae and made a sleeping place out of it. Having cleared of the dirt from the depressions in the rocks, Daniel began to drink the rainwater that was collecting in them. For several days he did not eat anything, until finally the seals arrived on the island. From the inventory the sailor had with him only an oar and a knife, which he used to hunt animals. At one time, Foss killed several dozen seals to provide himself with meat for a long time.
Realizing that after prolonged forced starvation, the stomach would not be able to withstand a heavy load, he ate only a little meat, spreading the rest of the pieces on the stones for drying. He also cut the throats of the seals and drank their blood. Having settled down a little and gaining strength, Daniel decided to start building a dwelling, for which he found a place in the highest part of the island, which the waves could not reach during a storm. It took a month to build a small stone hut. In the second year of his island life, Foss took up the strengthening of his home: he erected high and thick walls around the hut, which completely protected it from strong winds and spray. Then he built a tall column, climbing on which he could survey the horizon in search of passing ships. One day a violent storm arose, and the next morning Foss found many flying fish and a large dead whale on the shore. The whale was hit by a harpoon, which gave Daniel hope that it meant that whaling ships might pass by.
The meat of the whale provided him with supplies for several months in advance, so most of his free time Foss was now engaged in recording his memories. By carving tiny letters on the oar, he recorded the highlights of his stay on the island, and also made serifs so as not to lose track of time. He even made a special seal skin cover for the paddle. When Foss was not using his precious oar, he would place it on top of a pillar he had built and attach a kind of flag made of clothing to it, in the hope of being spotted by passing ships.
After six years of living on the rocky island of Fossa, they finally spotted from a passing ship. But, alas, he could not swim to the shore to save the man - the captain was afraid that the ship would run aground. Then the sailors launched the boat to another part of the island, but she could not dock to the rocky shore either. So Foss, risking his life, threw himself into the sea and swam to her himself. And when he swam, the sailors saw a man with a beard to the ground, wrapped in skins and holding an oar in his hands. The captain of the ship admitted that he noticed Foss only thanks to the flag on top of the stone pillar. The crew were on their way to New York and took Daniel with them.