The Quick 10: 10 Real-Life Castaways

Here are a few famous castaways (of the non-Gilligan variety).

1. Alexander Selkirk. We'll start with the original. In October 1704, Selkirk was serving as a sailing master on the St. George. When the ship stopped at the archipelago of Juan Fernandez, Selkirk tried to convince most of the crew to stay on the island with him, saying that the ship was not seaworthy and the captain wasn't leading well. In the end, he was the only one who stayed on the island, and he figured that another ship would be along soon enough and he would catch a ride with them. He figured wrong: it would be nearly four and a half years before a friendly ship crossed his path (two Spanish ships showed up before then, but he didn't trust them). In the meantime, he fended for himself just fine, eating feral goats, wild turnips and black pepper berries. He even built a couple of huts for shelter. These days, the island he lived on has been renamed Robinson Crusoe, and a nearby island that he likely never set foot upon has been christened Alexander Selkirk.

2. Leendert Hasenbosch. Unlike our first two castaways, Hasenbosch was not so successful as a castaway. This Dutchman was abandoned on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic in 1725 as punishment for sodomy. His crew didn't just leave him for dead, though—a diary left behind by the man indicated that he began his stay with a tent, seeds, a month's worth of water, books, writing materials and even extra clothes. The problem? The island apparently had no fresh water source. After his month's supply ran out, Hasenbosch took to drinking turtle blood and his own urine to try to stay hydrated. He likely died after about six months; British sailors discovered his abandoned tent and diary in January, 1726. Hasenbosch didn't need to die, though: there are actually two sources of fresh water on the island, one of which actually allowed the entire crew of the HMS Roebuck to survive a shipwreck for two months in the early 1700s.

3. Marguerite de La Rocque. Marguerite was sailing to the New World with a relative in 1542—the exact nature of this relative is unknown, with varying sources claiming it was her brother, cousin or uncle—and began sleeping with a man on the ship. Her brother/uncle/cousin was displeased and turned them both out on the "Isle of Demons." It's said that he would have financially benefited from her death, so perhaps her relative's reasoning wasn't all about morality. Marguerite's maid-servant was also dumped on the island. We aren't exactly sure how long Marguerite was on the island, but it was long enough to get pregnant and have the baby, then watch the baby die from malnutrition. Her lover and her maid-servant also died, leaving Marguerite to hunt wild game to stay alive - yeah, Kate Austen's got nothing on this chick. Eventually, a group of fishermen found Marguerite and brought her back, where she relayed her captivating tale to the Queen of Navarre, which is how we know about it today. Historians are fairly sure that the "Isle of Demons" is the one we know today as Hospital or Harrington Island; Marguerite's Cave is a popular attraction on the island these days.

4. Ada Blackjack. You think being stranded on a tropical island is tough? Try being stranded in Siberia. That's what happened to Inuit Ada Blackjack in 1921. She accompanied a group of men who were sent to claim Siberia's Wrangel Island for Canada; Ada was meant to be their cook and seamstress. Things went bad quickly—rations ran out, hunting was terrible and one man was deathly ill - and in January 1923, three of the four men left to trek across the frozen sea back to the mainland to try to get help, leaving Ada and the ailing explorer, Lorne Knight, on the island. They were only gone for a couple of months when Knight died of scurvy, leaving Ada to fend for herself. And she did. For five months, Ada survived with nothing but a cat for companionship. She was rescued in August, 1923, and the three men who took out across the ice nine months earlier were never heard from again.

5. Narcisse Pelletier. I'm not sure I have the skills it would take to last on a desert island now, as an adult, let alone as a teenager. But Narcisse Pelletier did. He was only 14 when the ship he was serving on struck a reef in Papua New Guinea in 1858. When some of the crew members tried to get to nearby Rossel Island for water and supplies, they were attacked by its inhabitants. The crew members who managed to survive the attack jumped in a long boat and paddled the heck out of there. Almost two weeks later, the crew made it to an island, where they found fresh water to quench their thirst. Apparently wanting one less mouth to feed, the crew abandoned Pelletier on the island where three Aboriginal women found him. They ended up adopting him, giving him the new name "Amglo."

6. Otokichi. It's too bad Otokichi and Narcisse Pelletier never met, because they surely would have had a lot to talk about. Otokichi was also 14 when the rice transport ship he was on blew off course in 1832. It drifted for 14 months while the crew slowly ate away at their cargo. By the time the ship drifted ashore on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, only three of the 14 original crew members were still alive, including Otokichi. The men were found by the Makah Indian tribe and were enslaved before being handed over to the Hudson Bay Company.

7. Poon Lim. Here's a comparatively recent castaway—Poon Lim's tenure on a raft afloat in the South Atlantic occurred during WWII. He was working as a steward on a British ship that was torpedoed 750 miles east of the Amazon. As the ship exploded, Lim grabbed a life jacket and jumped off, making him the only survivor of his 54-man crew. As luck would have it, he floated for a couple of hours and then found a life raft that had floated away from the wreckage. It contained 40 liters of water, a small amount of food, flare guns and a few other supplies. For 133 days, Lim managed to stay alive by fishing from the raft. He was spotted by U.S. Navy planes and they dropped a marker buoy in the water so they could come back and rescue him, but sadly, a huge storm hit just after and Lim was lost again. Finally, on April 5, 1943, he hit land and was rescued by Brazilian fisherman.

8. Philip Ashton. After being captured by a band of pirates in 1722, this sailor escaped their clutches and hid in the jungle of Roatan Island in the Bay Islands of Honduras until they gave up looking for him and sailed on. For a while, Ashton's diet consisted of nothing but fruit, because he had escaped his captors with nothing but the clothes on his back. He had no weapons to kill animals with and apparently was unable to devise a way to fish. Lucky for him, he happened across another castaway. They were great friends for three days, until the unnamed man went out for food and never came back. He did, however, leave behind a great stash of gunpowder, knives and tobacco, which allowed Ashton to start killing tortoises and cooking them. He was rescued by a ship from New England shortly thereafter. Sound made up? You're not the only one who thinks so. When Ashton published his memoirs after getting back to the U.S. in 1725, everyone thought they were fiction - Robinson Crusoe had only been on bookshelves for a few years and everyone thought this was a similar adventure story.

9. Charles Barnard. In 1812, Barnard's ship rescued a British ship called Isabella, which had been wrecked off Eagle Island, part of the Falklands. While they were docked at Eagle Island, Barnard and a few of his crew decided that they would need more provisions since they were picking up this shipwrecked crew and went ashore to gather some things. Not ones to show gratitude, the crew of the Isabella took over Barnard's ship while he was out and left their rescuers to fend for themselves on Eagle Island. Luckily, they were rescued 18 months later.

10. Tom Neale. There are all of these people who were stranded on islands or boats and wanted nothing more than to get to civilization again, and then there's Tom Neale. Neale desperately wanted an island all to himself, and in October 1952, he got his chance. A boat passing by Suwarrow Island, a place uninhabited since WWII, agreed to drop him off there, along with two cats and as many supplies as he could carry. The people who had lived there before WWII had left behind chickens and pigs, so he ate the pigs and domesticated the chickens, planted a garden, built a hut and lived his happy island life. That is, until May of 1954, when he threw his back out. At least, he thought he did. He hitched a ride to Rarotonga, another one of the Cook Islands, and went to a hospital, where he was told it was just arthritis. He returned to Suwarrow in 1960 and lived similarly for another four years. His third and final stay on the island lasted from 1967 to 1977, when a yacht stopped at the island and found Neale quite ill. They took him to Rarotonga, where Neale discovered he had stomach cancer. He died eight months later.

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14 Retro Gifts for Millennials

Ravi Palwe, Unsplash
Ravi Palwe, Unsplash

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, which means the pop culture they grew up with is officially retro. No matter what generation you belong to, consider these gifts when shopping for the Millennials in your life this holiday season.

1. Reptar Funko Pop!; $29

Amazon

This vinyl Reptar figurine from Funko is as cool as anything you’d find in the rugrats’ toy box. The monster dinosaur has been redesigned in classic Pop! style, making it a perfect desk or shelf accessory for the grown-up Nickelodeon fan. It also glows in the dark, which should appeal to anyone’s inner child.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Dragon Ball Z Slippers; $20

Hot Topic

You don’t need to change out of your pajamas to feel like a Super Saiyan. These slippers are emblazoned with the same kanji Goku wears on his gi in Dragon Ball Z: one for training under King Kai and one for training with Master Roshi. And with a soft sherpa lining, the footwear feels as good as it looks.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. The Pokémon Cookbook; $15

Hop Topic

What do you eat after a long day of training and catching Pokémon? Any dish in The Pokémon Cookbook is a great option. This book features more than 35 recipes inspired by creatures from the Pokémon franchise, including Poké Ball sushi rolls and mashed Meowth potatoes.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. Lisa Frank Activity Book; $5

Urban Outfitters

Millennials will never be too old for Lisa Frank, especially when the artist’s playful designs come in a relaxing activity book. Watercolor brings the rainbow characters in this collection to life. Just gather some painting supplies and put on a podcast for a relaxing, nostalgia-fueled afternoon.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

5. Shoebox Tape Recorder with USB; $28

Amazon

The days of recording mix tapes don’t have to be over. This device looks and functions just like tape recorders from the pre-smartphone era. And with a USB port as well as a line-in jack and built-in mic, users can easily import their digital music collection onto retro cassette tapes.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Days of the Week Scrunchie Set; $12

Urban Outfitters

Millennials can be upset that a trend from their youth is old enough to be cool again, or they can embrace it. This scrunchie set is for anyone happy to see the return of the hair accessory. The soft knit ponytail holders come in a set of five—one for each day of the school (or work) week.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

7. D&D Graphic T-shirt; $38-$48

80s Tees

The perfect gift for the Dungeon Master in your life, this graphic tee is modeled after the cover of the classic Dungeons & Dragons rule book. It’s available in sizes small through 3XL.

Buy it: 80s Tees

8. Chuck E. Cheese T-shirt; $36-$58

80s Tees

Few Millennials survived childhood without experiencing at least one birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. This retro T-shirt sports the brand’s original name: Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre. It may be the next-best gift for a Chuck E. Cheese fan behind a decommissioned animatronic.

Buy it: 80s Tees

9. The Nightmare Before Christmas Picnic Blanket Bag; $40

Shop Disney

Fans of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas will recognize the iconic scene on the front of this messenger bag. Unfold it and the bag becomes a blanket fit for a moonlit picnic among the pumpkins. The bottom side is waterproof and the top layer is made of soft fleece.

Buy it: Shop Disney

10. Toy Story Alien Socks; $15

Shop Disney

You don’t need to be skilled at the claw machine to take home a pair of these socks. Decorated with the aliens from Toy Story, they’re made from soft-knit fabric and are big enough to fit adult feet.

Buy it: Shop Disney

11. Goosebumps Board Game; $24

Amazon

Fans that read every book in R.L. Stine’s series growing up can now play the Goosebumps board game. In this game, based on the Goosebumps movie, players take on the role of their favorite monster from the series and race to the typewriter at the end of the trail of manuscripts.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Tamagotchi Mini; $19

Amazon

If you know someone who killed their Tamagotchi in the '90s, give them another chance to show off their digital pet-care skills. This Tamagotchi is a smaller, simplified version of the original game. It doubles as a keychain, so owners have no excuse to forget to feed their pet.

Buy it: Amazon

13. SNES Classic; $275

Amazon

The SNES Classic is much easier to find now than when it first came out, and it's still just as entertaining for retro video game fans. This mini console comes preloaded with 21 Nintendo games, including Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II.

Buy it: Amazon

14. Planters Cheez Balls; $24

Amazon

Planters revived its Cheez Balls in 2018 after pulling them from shelves nearly a decade earlier. To Millennials unaware of that fact, this gift could be their dream come true. The throwback snack even comes in the classic canister fans remember.

Buy it: Amazon

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10 Great Gifts for Teens

Fjallraven/Polaroid
Fjallraven/Polaroid

If it’s been a few years since you were a teenager, you might be feeling at a loss when it comes to finding the perfect gift for the teen in your life. But you don’t have to worry—we’ve culled the internet to figure out what’s cool these days, and we found 10 items to suit any teen (and any price point).

1. Fjällräven Kånken Mini Classic Backpack for Everyday; $70

Fjällräven/Amazon

Fjällräven’s Kånken backpack was originally introduced in 1978 as an affordable and comfortable bag for Swedish schoolchildren, but it recently took off as a trend among American high schoolers and college students. With 43 different color options, chances are you’ll be able to find the perfect trendy backpack for the teen in your life.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Hydro Flask Standard-Mouth Water Bottle; $30–$35

Hydro Flask/Amazon

Hydro Flasks aren’t only trendy, they’re sturdy and environmentally friendly. Plus, they keep hot drinks warm and icy drinks cool for an absurdly long amount of time. The standard-mouth water bottle is currently available on Amazon in 17 different colors, but the brand also offers tumbler cups and coffee mugs depending on your niece/nephew/cousin/friend/child’s preference.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Polaroid Originals OneStep+ Bluetooth-Connected Instant Film Camera; $140

Polaroid Originals/Amazon

Teens can kick it back old school with this Polaroid camera that hides some surprisingly contemporary features. Using a special app, users can fine-tune their camera settings to suit their personal tastes. Plus, this camera makes it possible to capture two scenes in a single frame, so it's that much easier to create uniquely artsy Polaroid pics.

Buy it: Amazon

4. 4th-Generation Echo Dot with Clock; $60

Amazon

Tech-wise, the fourth-generation Echo Dot is almost identical to its third-generation predecessor. But the updated spherical design seems poised to make the Echo Dot a worthy contender for traditional alarm clocks—the speaker face shows the time and it even includes a tap-to-snooze function for drowsy sleepers.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Bubble Tea Kit; $38

Uncommon Goods

Part of the reason bubble tea is so popular is that it’s customizable—and what could be more customizable than making it yourself? This kit, made by an Atlanta-based couple, comes with two reusable straws and enough supplies to make up to eight servings.

Buy it: Uncommon Goods

6. Mixtape Card Game; $20

Uncommon Goods

This party game challenges players to find the perfect songs to suit specific prompts. Some cards might prompt players to use Spotify or Youtube to search for the songs with the best guitar solos, while other cards call for participants to play their “favorite slow dance love jam from junior high.” This game is sure to be a hit at any high school sleepover or house party—or, in true 2020 style, at any digital hangout or Zoom meeting.

Buy it: Uncommon Goods

7. Giant Flour Tortilla Throw Blanket; $18-$35

Mermaker/Amazon

This goofy double-sided blanket turns any human into a giant-size burrito, and it comes in four different sizes to suit any height. One reviewer even went so far as to say that “once you wrap yourself in it, you will be convinced that you are a burrito.”

Buy it: Amazon

8. The Cup of Destiny; $22

Shelter Harbor Press/Amazon

Here’s a prediction: Your hunt for the perfect gift is almost over. This kit is ideal for the teenager who is fascinated by the supernatural and loves exploring new ideas. Included, you’ll find a 96-page illustrated instruction book along with a cup and a saucer marked with patterns and symbols.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Wreck This Journal: Now in Color; $9

Penguin Books/Amazon

This journal is not intended to be pretty. It’s made for messiness and exploration and a little bit of chaos. Artistic-minded teens will love filling out pages that prompt them to catalog various stains or poke holes through the paper. Reviewers say it’s not only a source of creative inspiration, though—it’s also a stress reliever. And considering that the middle-school and high-school years aren’t exactly known for being relaxing, this journal could be a welcome reprieve from the daily pressure of managing homework and a social life.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Therapy Dough; $15

Uncommon Goods

Some teens focus better and relax more easily when they have something to fidget with. If the teen in your life fits that description, this therapy dough may be the perfect gift for them. Each 4.5-ounce container is infused with essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus, orange, or pine, making relaxation smell delicious (and all natural!).

Buy it: Uncommon Goods

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