We’ve all have that fantasy of escaping to a desert island, whiling away the days in the sun and surf with no stress beyond finding a coconut to drink and a fish to fry. The reality isn’t all that idyllic, however. Being stranded on an inhospitable island with scarce resources and little hope for rescue is no picnic. Just ask Tom Hanks and Wilson. So sit right back and read these tales of fateful trips gone horribly wrong. Here are 8 astounding stories of real castaways and shipwreck survivors marooned or adrift around the world, some of whose unintended island exiles are tourist destinations today.
1. JFK Washed Up for 6 Days on Plum Pudding Island
You may be surprised to learn that future president John F. Kennedy found himself shipwrecked on not one but two deserted islands back in 1943. It was WWII, and he was the 26 year old skipper of a PT-109 vessel that collided with a Japanese destroyer near the Solomon Islands. Kennedy and ten surviving crew members spent the night in the shark infested waters hanging onto the drifting bow. At daybreak, they managed to swim 6km to Plum Pudding Island. Sadly, there was no plum pudding nor sustenance of any kind there. In order to have a chance at survival Kennedy braved the waters yet again to swim to nearby Olasana Island. After a 6 day ordeal subsisting on an all-coconut diet, he was found by two native islanders who helped coordinate a rescue. Plum Pudding Island is now affectionately known as Kennedy Island in honor of JFK’s harrowing story of shipwreck survival.
2. Captain Charles Barnard and Crew Stranded 18 Months on Falkand’s Eagle Island
Sometimes bad things happen to good Samaritans. In 1812, the British ship Isabella was wrecked off Eagle Island near Argentina leaving its crew stranded. Along came the good ship Nanina, an American vessel captained by Charles Barnard, to heroically rescue the stranded British sailors. While the captain and 4 of his crew were gathering provisions on the island to accommodate these extra passengers, the British scoundrels took over the American ship and left these poor men to fend for themselves on the very island they had just been rescued from. Ingrates! The American sailors were stranded for 18 months until they, too, were eventually rescued on November 1814.