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People That Were Truly Cast Away


If you’ve ever seen that legendary Tom Hanks movie called Cast Away, in which he was stranded on an uninhabited island and made friends with a volleyball. While the entire story, especially the part where he makes it back, sounded a bit farfetched, there have been people in history that have (willingly or not) survived similar situations. Let’s take a look at some.



Tom Neale
Ol’ Tom wanted to go live on an uninhabited island, so that’s what he did. He wrote a book about his life on the island, called An Island to Oneself. All in all he spent a total of about 16 years on the Cook Islands. He didn’t do it all in one go, however – he returned to the mainland twice.



Juana Maria
Being the last of her tribe, Juana survived alone on an island from 1835 until 1853. Ironically, she passed away not even two months after returning to the mainland due to the fact that her gastro-intestinal system wasn’t used to handling nutrient-heavy food anymore.

Douglas Robertson and his family
Doug went out on a sailing trip with his entire family and a bunch of killer whales lived up to their name and trashed his entire boat. The six survivors of the sunken ship drifted off on a small raft, trying to reach the mainland. After 38 long days of being at sea, eating nothing but what the ocean gave them (including turtles!), they were found and rescued.

Ada Blackjack
Now, we’ve seen some incredible stories about survival – either on the open ocean or on an uninhabited island. But this little lady pretty much beats all of them. Of all the places on Earth, she survived for two years in Siberia. She was only really alone for 3-9 months, but it’s still pretty impressive.

Joe Salvador Alvarenga
Sort of like the Robertsons, Joe got caught adrift in a fishing boat and had to live off the ocean for over a year, missing the entirety of 2013. There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding this one (skepticism towards his claim off surviving at sea for 14 months, a crew mate family claiming he ate their relative to stay alive, …) but as it stands, he’s the only confirmed person to survive in the open ocean for over a year. He swam back to land himself, and his case was very prominently featured in the media.

Gerald Kingsland and Lucy Irvine
At the ripe age of 49, Gerald looked for a companion to move to an uninhabited island. Of course that companion had to be female and he picked one that was half his age. Gerald Kingsland and Lucy Irvine had to be saved after about a year because they picked an island without a decent or sustainable water supply, which sounds like beating the odds if you think of it. An island with no water. Weird.

Alexander Selkirk
Remember Robinson Crusoe? Well, this is the guy that story was based on. He spent 4 years stranded on an uninhabited island back in the early 1700s, because of an argument he had with his captain. The port where they were supposed to head to was destroyed, so ironically this kerfuffle actually saved his life. Fun fact: after his death a good decade later, two women claimed to have been married to him and argued over his inheritance. What a guy: survived 4 years on an uninhabited island ánd two marriages.