Sunday, February 24, 2008

Island of the Lost

I've had a bit more time for reading lately, since I've been confined to the warmth of the lounge rather than the cool of the lake in an attempt to get the breathing sorted out. Yesterday I read Joan Druett's 2007 book, Island of the Lost.

A fellow Kiwi, and a maritime historian, Druett's written a can't-put-it-down story of two 1860s shipwrecks on the godforsaken Auckland Island, 459kms (285 miles) south of New Zealand. In this part of the Southern Ocean, pretty much not a day goes by without a good howling gale and freezing rain.

Unbeknownst to either party, the five-man crew of the Grafton is shipwrecked at the bottom of Auckland Island, and a disparate group of 19 from the Invercauld at the top, not 32kms (20 miles) apart.

The different approaches to survival and comradeship are key to the story, the crew of the Grafton working together for nearly two years to build a cabin, a tannery and a forge, to make tools to build a boat. All with their bare hands.

The Invercauld's 19 whittles down to three, for want of leadership and with a great dose of laziness.

One of the reasons I love a great adventure yarn like this is to learn how folks do physically and psychologically survive under such conditions, just in case I ever end up in a similar predicament.

Hey, you never know!

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