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How 6 boys spent 15 months on a desert island and survived by savvy and order

'17.11.2022'

Source: Lenta.ru report

Six boys ended up on a desert island and survived, writes Lenta.ru report. Friendship and willpower saved them.

Photo: Shutterstock

This story begins almost one on one, like William Golding's allegorical novel Lord of the Flies. Six boys, who went to the open sea in a small boat, were thrown onto a desert island. But that's where the similarity ends. If the characters of "Lord of the Flies" broke up into warring tribes, eager to destroy each other, then these teenagers did the opposite. Lenta.ru tells their amazing story.

History repeats itself

Mano noticed these sunbeams first - more precisely, he realized that it was not just light reflected from some mirror surface of a ship that had rushed onto the reef.

The ship "Fuku Maru 7" firmly sat aground, consisting of volcanic stone, and it is already gradually began to capture corals. To the nearest village on the coast was 400 kilometers. And this sunny bunny that Mano noticed was undoubtedly a cry for help.

True, the crew of the Ata ship, on which Mano and his friends were located, could not do anything at that time. They moored at Middleton Reef to escape the storm, and the only thing the guys could do was to rest and wait out the bad weather.

And while Mano and his team are asleep, it's worth telling how they ended up at that very reef.

The fact is that the owner and captain of "Ata" Peter Warner was very fond of adventure. And the reef, which was completely covered by water at high tide, seemed to him an interesting object of study. In addition, a large yacht had recently gone missing in the Tasman Sea, and Warner was thinking of finding her tracks.

However, the captain's interest was far from idle: quite recently the ship "Ata" was repaired and completely redone - it became six meters longer. The trip to Middleton Reef seemed like a great test for the ship.

Later that day, when the wind and rain had subsided, Mano decided to cross the reef. He slowly walked along its surface, stopping every minute to have a snack on fresh shellfish, of which there were many.

It was hard for Mano to believe that someone in such a fertile place could be brought to the brink of starvation. However, when he reached the Fuku Maru, he found four emaciated sailors aboard the ship, the last box of matches and an almost empty supply of water.

For the Japanese sailors that day, everything ended well. They spent six weeks on the coral reef eating canned food and raw fish. It was the summer of 1974. And "Ata" more than once set off on a journey under the leadership of Peter Warner with a team consisting of natives of the Tonga archipelago, who knew firsthand what it was like to spend on a desert island not six weeks, but almost a year and a half.

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In May 2019, an announcement was published in the New South Wales newspaper in the Australian state of Echo Daily: old sea wolf Peter Warner invites the public to the River Sailing Club for the presentation of his autobiography.

There really was something to tell - and about how "Ata" was sawn in half and then restored at a local shipyard, and about sailing on small boats to the shores of New Zealand and China, and about victories in numerous sea regattas.

“I invite everyone,” Peter said. - You can ask me, the old man, about anything. It will be an evening of stories - I want to share my memories and stories with everyone. "

Warner, who at that time was 88 years old, really had something to tell, first of all, how and where he met Mano.

Survivors

“We were afraid you had forgotten us. Everyone is alive now. We are not the same shipwrecked boys anymore, ”says Sione, one of six boys who spent 15 long months on the uninhabited island of Ata in the Tasman Sea. The rest humbly kneel and pray. One of them is Mano.

They were thrown here when Sione and his classmates decided to run away from St. Andrew's School on Haafeva Island in June 1965. The boys were between 13 and 15 years old. A small boat, which they borrowed (and really, of course, stole) from a local fisherman Taniel Uhil, crashed on the rocks of Ata, and they, mutilated but alive, ended up where no man had set foot for a long time.

The boys took with them two bunches of bananas, a few coconuts, a gas burner, and did not even bother to stock up on drinking water.

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Travelers hoped to sail to the islands of Fiji or the shores of New Zealand, but since they were inexperienced sailors, they fell asleep at night, and woke up from the fact that the sea was played out in earnest. In a panic, they tried to set sail, but it was quickly blown away by a gale, and the steering wheel of a shaky little ship broke.

It so happened that they spent the next eight days in the open sea, without water. The boys survived only because they had guessed to collect rainwater into the coconut shell and strictly dosed its intake: everyone could take a sip in the morning and evening.

On the eighth day, they saw the coast of Ata Island, which had been uninhabited since a slave ship sailed here in 1863, capturing half of the local natives as slaves. The rest of the population soon fled to the mainland. The boys abandoned their wrecked boat and spent 36 hours sailing for shore, exhausted and grabbing boards and driftwood floating in the water to rest.

Ata Island was a little like an idyllic tropical paradise with white sand and palm trees, in the shade of which you can spend your whole life carefree. The height of the rocks to which they swam was more than 300 meters

The birds that nested on the rocks became for the young islanders both food and a source of moisture for the first time. They caught them, slaughtered them, drank their blood and ate their meat, and also fished in the sea. They could not find any other food, as well as the way up. There was no way to make a fire, so they ate their prey raw. The first shelter for the night was a rock ledge, under which the guys hid. Only a few days later the boys built a hut from the pieces of wood that the sea brought.

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Sione recalls how they were afraid of the surf: every time they were afraid that it would overwhelm and carry them into the ocean. The teenagers tried to find their way up, but they did not succeed for a long time. The struggle with the elements continued for three months, and only on about the hundredth day they discovered a path in the rocks.

The boys tried to climb the rocks for three days, but each time their attempts ended in failure - and they had to look for another way. But nevertheless, they managed to rise to the top, and here began what Jules Verne could have taken as the basis of another novel.

“The boys set up a small commune on the island with a vegetable garden, hollowed-out tree trunks for collecting rainwater, a sports ground with weights made from scrap materials, a badminton field, chicken pens and a fire that they maintained around the clock,” Peter Warner recalled. "They did all this with their hands, an old knife and willpower."

The boys settled on the top of the island, in the mouth of an extinct volcano - where the aborigines once lived. Here they found banana palms and feral chickens, which had bred in great numbers over a hundred years.

The six young robinsons did not just try to survive on the island with all their might - they came up with their own rituals and entertainments that helped brighten their life. For example, one of them built an improvised guitar from a piece of wood, half the coconut shell and the wire that was on their boat. And every day they began with songs and prayers.

Their life was completely different from the one that William Golding described in his book Lord of the Flies. According to the writer, the boys, after the shipwreck that fell on a desert island, soon divided into warring tribes and began to kill each other. But Tongan teenagers showed remarkable consciousness: their rare quarrels did not lead to enmity, because for such a case they had developed a protocol according to which the conflicting parties had to take a timeout and make peace.

When one of the boys fell off a cliff and broke his leg, the other five came down behind him, dragged him back and built a splint from the branches, thanks to which his bones had grown together, and he was able to walk again. And while he was lying and could not fulfill his duties in the team, the rest took over his work

Return

Here they were discovered by Peter Warner, who sailed past the island on his ship in September 1966. Ata attracted his attention, and the navigator decided to take a closer look at him. To his surprise, the island was not at all uninhabited, as he thought at first. When his ship approached the shore, Warner noticed how a practically naked long-haired guy jumped off a cliff into the water and swam towards him. Five of his comrades followed.

On board, they told Warner their amazing story, and Warner immediately contacted the authorities of Nuku'alofa, the capital of the Kingdom of Tonga, by radio. After twenty minutes of radio silence, the operator, almost crying, said: “You found them! All of these boys were considered dead, and funeral ceremonies had already been held. If it is them - this is a real miracle! "

It would seem that this was the end of the misadventures of the young men, and their families were supposed to celebrate the reunion with their sons, who had long been considered dead. However, in Nuku'alof, they were met by police, and the teenagers were imprisoned on charges of stealing Taniel Uhila's boat. Fortunately, Peter Warner came to their rescue again - he paid the fisherman £ 150 in damages.

When the teenagers were examined by doctors, they were surprised to note that the boys were not only not exhausted, but also pumped up quite well. And the leg of the one that fell off the cliff has grown together perfectly.

In the end, everything ended well. On the native island of Haafev, the Robinsons were met by their parents and almost the entire population, which was only 900 people. Peter Warner was granted an audience by King Taufahau Tupou IV of Tonga, who asked how the kingdom could thank him for saving the boys. The sailor asked permission to catch lobsters in local waters and set up his business in the archipelago.

The king happily agreed, and Peter moved to Tonga from Sydney, where he worked as an accountant in his father's company. On the island, he bought a fishing vessel, the team of which was the same six boys who had been saved by him from the island of Ata, in whose honor it was named.

Great hope

This story is not made up and documented, although not too widely known. There is a black and white documentary filmed a few years after the rescue of the Tongan boys from the island of Ata, in which they return to that piece of land where they spent a long 15 months and talk about their adventures. There is an autobiography of Peter Warner, which he published in 2019.

About the boys, whose amazing adventures began as in the novel Lord of the Flies, but ended in a completely different way, the whole world spoke again thanks to the historian Rutger Bregman. The other day, his new book, “Humanity,” was published, and the story of adolescents who found themselves on a desert island, did not quarrel, did not interrupt each other, but built a commune based on trust and mutual assistance, plays a key role in it.

Initially, Bregman wrote about the idea of ​​a basic guaranteed income, according to which states can regularly pay certain amounts of money to their citizens and thus eradicate poverty. Now the historian is sure that people will not spend them on alcohol or drugs, but will invest in the implementation of creative projects or use them to improve their skills and search for a new job.

But in an attempt to convince readers, and himself, that this is indeed so, Bregman as a result had to slightly change the concept of the book: he was faced with the task of proving that humanity as a whole does not consist of lazy and selfish individuals. And the story of the Tongan boys was the best way to illustrate this idea.

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