How To: Get Stranded on A Desert Island



1 career that places you in frequent contact with tropical islands

1 unhappy superior

Fresh water


Step 1: Royally Tick Off Your Boss

Like Christopher Columbus
The so-called discoverer of America was down on his luck by the time he'd made his fourth trip to the New World in 1502. He'd never found the vast quantities of gold needed to repay his investors (i.e. the Spanish Royal Court) and, as if to add insult to injury, he managed to get caught in a hurricane that sunk his boats and stranded him and 120 crewmen on the coast of what is now Jamaica. In fact, his crew was only 150 miles away from the Spanish fort on the island of Hispaniola but, because of that whole not-paying-back-Royal-loans thing, nobody came looking for them.

Two crewmen even risked their lives to successfully paddle a canoe to Hispaniola, but instead of receiving help, they were given prison sentences! Meanwhile, the Governor of Hispaniola sent a messenger (by boat) to Jamaica to inform Columbus that no boat could be spared to rescue him. Talk about catty. All told, Columbus was marooned on Jamaica for almost a year before his imprisoned crewmen were released and managed to charter a ship to rescue their captain.

Like Alexander Selkirk
Of course, getting marooned has worked out better for some. Take the Scottish privateer Alexander Selkirk, for example, who got in a fight with his captain over some routine ship repair back in 1704. Selkirk, the second-in-command and ship's navigator, thought the repairs needed to be made before the boat took off on another raid. The captain disagreed, so Selkirk cleverly announced that he'd rather stay on the deserted island where they'd anchored than get back on an unsafe ship. Unfortunately, he chose to end this speech with a Jerry Magiure-esque "Who's comin' with me?""¦and nobody stood up. Worse, the captain then decided to take Selkirk at his word and literally left him, marooned, on the island. Selkirk ended up living there alone for more than four years, but it wasn't all bad. The island had been the location of a failed Spanish colony, which had left behind feral goats and a and a veritable all-you-can-eat salad bar of semi-wild produce, including oats, plums, pumpkins, radishes, figs, and parsnips. There were even cats, which Selkirk tamed by the truckload, eventually sharing his cozy hut, cat-lady like, with more than a dozen. Frankly, it was a better life than you'd find on board a boat. In fact, when a British ship showed up to rescue Selkirk in 1709, he declared their worm-eaten biscuits and salted beef to be inedible. Instead, he invited the crew up to the hut for a healthy, home-cooked meal, simultaneously awing them with his kitchen skills and saving most of them from dying of scurvy. Selkirk's ability to turn lemons into lemon soufflés so impressed his countrymen that his story was later fictionalized into a rather famous novel—Robinson Crusoe.