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Real Life Castaways: Five People That Were Lost at sea But Found

The need to stretch our imaginations and physique to learn how to tie knots, make rope, start fires with two sticks, or fend off bears is almost unimaginable, so stories of real-life castaways never cease to amaze us. These are just some incredible stories of survival and people who defeated all odds, overcame the deadliest obstacles, alone stranded on uninhabited land. These five castaway stories will surely amaze you.

Shackleton and his men

Ernest Shackleton and 28 men left England aboard the ship Endurance in 1914 to fulfill his dream of crossing the South Polar continent from sea to sea. During the expedition, the ship got trapped in ice. They found themselves stranded in the Antarctic for five months.

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They fed on seals and kept warm by playing hockey and dog-sled racing. Shackleton and 5 of his men set off in three small lifeboats they had recovered to find help on Elephant Island. Shackleton returned to rescue the men; they lost no crew member.

Gerald Kingsland and Lucy Irvine

In 1980 British writer/adventurer Gerald Kingsland put an ad in Time Out Magazine seeking a female companion who would go with him to a deserted island. 24-year-old Lucy Irvine accompanied him, and the two set out to Tuin Island.

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However, the problem was that water supply was scarce on the island. The couple would have perished there if it hadn’t been for Badu Islanders coming to their rescue. Kingsland and Irvine wrote separate accounts of their adventure upon their return to civilization.

Fernão Lopes

Fernão Lopes was a Portuguese soldier who had turned against his homeland and sided with Muslim natives during a conflict in India. When his former brothers-in-arms captured him, they injured him. Deformed and disgraced, Lopes stowed aboard a ship bound for Portugal in 1516. 

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Lopes lived on the island in self-imposed exile for the next several years. He eventually became a legend among Portuguese mariners, who occasionally left offerings of food and clothing for him. He continued to live alone until his death around 1545.

Juana Maria

Juana Maria had grown up in San Nicholas, but most of her tribe was slaughtered in the early 1800s by hostile hunters. Missionaries evacuated the few remaining survivors in 1835, but Juana Maria was left behind when she ran back to the island to locate her missing infant. 

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Juana Maria spent the next 18 years taking shelter in a cave and fishing with hooks made from seashells. Sadly, she could not adjust to the mainland diet and died of dysentery only two months after leaving her island.

Philip Ashton

In 1722, Massachusetts-based fisherman Philip Ashton was trawling the seas near Nova Scotia when he met with pirates. The beleaguered fisherman finally escaped in 1723 when he sprinted into the jungle to a small island off the coast of Honduras.

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Ashton constructed a crude shelter and ate fruit and raw turtle eggs to prevent starvation. He endured extreme heat, snakes, hunger, a near-deadly fever, and even an attack by the Spanish before a British ship fortunately rescued him in 1724.

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