One Deserted Island
Two Dramatic Outcomes…
In 1864 two ships were wrecked on remote and uninhabited Auckland Island, some 385 miles from New Zealand. Five seamen in the far south survive, astonishingly, for nearly two years before building a vessel and setting off in what would become one of the most courageous voyages of the sea.
Twenty miles of impassable cliffs away on the same godforsaken island, nineteen other seamen succumb to utter chaos. Only three will survive.
Reviewed by KIRKUS:
April 1, 2007
ISLAND OF THE LOST:
Shipwrecked at the Edge
of the World
Algonquin (304 pp.)
Jun. 8, 2007
Swashbuckling maritime history reanimated by a noted naval enthusiast.
Mystery writer and nautical historian Druett (Run Afoul, 2006, etc.) does great justice to the saga of two large ships, the Grafton and the Invercauld, both shipwrecked on the same remote South Pacific island in 1864. The first vessel, navigated by French gold miner Francois Raynal and skilled captain Thomas Musgrave, embarked on an adventurous, intrepid voyage southeast of Australia toward Campbell Island to collect a cache of silver-laden tin. Through hurricanes and sea squalls, the Grafton reached the island, but a sudden illness and inclement weather forced the ship to attempt a return to Sydney. In his journal, Musgrave wrote that on the journey home, the sea looked “as if it were boiling.” Swallowed by an immense storm, the schooner was pounded into the jagged reefs of uninhabited Auckland Island. Its crew scrounged for shelter and food (sea lion and bird flesh, pungently described) ashore, with a plumb view of the Grafton’s rain-soaked wreckage looming as a grim reminder. Through months of navigating rugged terrain, fighting raw conditions and swarms of stinging sand flies, the castaways worked together utilizing wood from the ship’s hull to erect a cabin. Meanwhile, Scottish square-rigger Invercauld, bound for South America with a crew of 25, was being ripped apart by the perilous reefs on the other side of Auckland Island. After a year and a half, the resourceful Grafton crew built a small vessel and sailed to New Zealand; the Invercauld crew, whittled down to three survivors, had to be rescued by a passing Spanish vessel. Druett excels at recreating the men’s struggles and desperation (tempered by boundless hope) with extensive quotations from their journals. She also offers engaging biographical information on the castaways, descriptions of the island’s animal population and general historical detail.
Depicted with consistent brio, stormy seas become epic events.
. . .
REVIEWS OF THE BOOK
"Drawn from a number of memoirs, 'Island of the Lost' recounts the privations of not just one but two parties of castaways who, unbeknownst to each other, clawed themselves out of the heaving sea on opposite ends of the main island in 1864. Their divergent experiences provide a riveting study of the extremes of human nature and the effects of good (and bad)
leadership." -- New York Times
"This story goes reality TV a few steps better. . . . A clear morality tale about the pitfalls of rigidity and the benefits of adaptability and cooperation. . . . Druett, who has written other works of nautical history and a maritime mystery series, wisely lets the details make the point, resisting the temptation to oversell. Her writing style is clear and detached, her touch just right. . . . The power of the crews' divergent stories . . . propels the narrative like a trade wind."--Los Angeles Times
An "amazing saga . . . Rarely are the two opposing sides of human nature captured in such stark and illuminating relief."--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"One of the finest survival stories I've read. . . . [Druett's] tale is backed up by a solid knowledge of sailing ships and of the flora, fauna and weather of Auckland Island, an inhospitable terrain that has defied attempts at human settlement and is now a wildlife preserve."--Seattle Times
"Fascinating . . . a surprisingly gripping tale that will leave readers amazed. Grade: A."--Rocky Mountain News
"Joan Druett's well-researched Island of the Lost earns its place in any good collection of survival literature."--Entertainment Weekly
"Captivating ... Druett has a talent for storytelling ... Those yearning for a classic man vs. nature, triumph-over-terrible-odds story, get ready to set sail."--Paste Magazine
"A gripping cautionary tale."--Nevada County Prospector
"Joan Druett has done a superb job of weaving together excellent research into a highly readable and fascinating account of survival and the sea . . . a fun read of an absorbing tale which, though a work of nonfiction, moves along at the pace of a good novel.--Good Old Boat