Six Boys Washed Up On A Desert Island, And They Survived A Year Just Fine
In 1965, six boys in Tonga decided they were sick of boarding school. So the kids, ages 13 through 16, stole a boat and sailed off, hoping to sail to Fiji. They didn't have a map, and didn't have much experience sailing, so you shouldn't be surprised to learn their boat got caught in a storm and broke down. They drifted and finally landed on a rocky uninhabited island named 'Ata.
If this were a story written to teach us that humans are naturally brutish and need civilization to keep us from killing each other, the boys would have split into warring factions. If this were more of a fun children's story, maybe by Enid Blyton, they would have brought enough biscuits to survive but would have a tense encounter with smugglers. The most realistic outcome, you'd assume, would be that without rescue, the boys would quickly starve and die.
Instead, the boys stayed on the island for 15 months, peacefully and in good health. Early on, they ate fish and birds, but after they discovered the remains of a century-old settlement, with crops and chickens, they started farming. They collected and stored fresh water. They set up one area of the island as a gym, complete with weights, and another as a badminton court. They held organized music sessions and organized prayer sessions.
Occasional conflicts popped up, inevitably, but they settled these by sentencing the fighting pair to a "time-out"—which always ended with them calming down and ready to return to the group. One of the boys, Stephen, fell off a cliff, breaking his leg. The others set his leg so that it healed perfectly and took care of him so long as he needed.
They did eventually wise up and decide they wanted to get off the island. They tried unsuccessfully to launch a raft. Finally, an Australian ship happened to pass by, spotted their signal fire, then came close enough to spy Stephen, naked on the beach. This captain completely disbelieved their story about how they got there, but when he returned the boys to the mainland, he learned it was true. The country rejoiced at the miracle of the returned boys. And also arrested them, for stealing that boat the previous year.
Seriously. But the captain helped get them out of that fix, by offering the original owner of that boat a share in the proceeds from selling the movie rights to the story.
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For other survival tales, check out:
The Kid Who Survived a Plane Crash and Tamed a Mountain
When Nazis Sunk His Boat, A Sailor Lasted On A Raft For 133 Days
Betty Lou Oliver Survives the Fall That Killed King Kong
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Top image: NASA