Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge…

Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World (edition 2007)

by Joan Druett

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
205957,211 (3.92)43
Title:Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World
Authors:Joan Druett
Info:Algonquin Books (2007), Paperback, 284 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World by Joan Druett

  1. 00
    The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard (rebeccanyc)
    rebeccanyc: Both of these books testify to the ability of people in hazardous and terrifying physical conditions to use both hard work and their mental and emotional strength to survive.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 43 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
I love survival stories and this was a great one. This details the experience of survivors of a shipwreck at the Auckland Islands, 235 miles south of New Zealand. The harsh weather and limited food resources make survival on the Islands very difficult. Druett focuses on one wreck of the ship Grafton where all five shipmates survive the wreck and band together to figure out a way to survive. They are led by Captain Musgrave, but another survivor, Francois Raynal, really saved the day. He had an amazing array of knowledge that he used to manufacture tools, create housing, make soap, and even make a boat. I was fascinated by him.

Druett contrasts this experience with another shipwreck that happened in a different part of the island during the same time. This had very different results as 16 of the 19 survivors of the shipwreck died. The men were unwilling to band together and help each other and quickly gave in to the harshness of the island.

I love these stories of humans overcoming the elements and figuring out a way to survive in the harshest areas of the earth. I thought this was a very entertaining book. ( )
  japaul22 | Sep 29, 2015 |
I owe reading this book to an LT reader whose review appears below mine.

In prose that's completely and compellingly readable, Druett tells the tale of two shipwrecks, within a few months of each other, on remote, stormy Auckland Island, south of New Zealand, that had very different fates. The Grafton ran aground first, in early January 1864 (which was the equivalent of July in the southern hemisphere), and the five crew member were able to get to shore on the southern end of the island and save the ship's boat and various other items from the wreck Four months later, in early May (the equivalent of November), the Invercauld was shipwrecked on the northern end of the island; it had a much bigger crew and 19 of them survived. But there their stories took very different turns.

The international Grafton crew stuck together, built a shelter, kept busy, had good leadership in the captain (Musgrave) and the mate (Raynal) who had previously worked in Australia's gold fields and was incredibly ingenious in making necessary items out of seemingly nothing. They evolved into a more democratic kind of arrangement, electing the captain as leader, and at night taught each other about things they each wanted to learn (reading and writing for the seamen, other languages for the officers, and more). Some of the things Raynal was able to make amazed me, including soap and a forge and bellows. Of course, the group suffered greatly. The weather was generally appallingly terrible, and the sea lions they relied on for the bulk of their food were not always available. They had hopes of being rescued because they had extracted a promise from the men who sent them on this journey to send a search party if they failed to come back in four months; winter intervened but their hopes rose in the spring, only to be dashed. They finally saved themselves, through a completely remarkable effort that I will not describe because it deserves to be read.

The crew of the Invercauld, on the other hand, did not stick together, had no leadership, quarreled with each other, hinted that cannibalism would be the way out, and largely died of starvation and accidents. The only hard-working and determined person was, apparently, a seaman, Holding, who could not get the captain and mate to cooperate with him when he tried to find food and create shelter; indeed they decided that since they were officers they should live separately from him. They were the only three survivors and were rescued by a passing ship. But Druett points out that

"It must be added, however, that while Musgrave's moral strength and Raynal's ingenuity played a large part in the survival of the Grafton group, they were fortunate in that they were stranded in the early summer when the sea lions were gathering to pup, and that they were able to cannibalize the wreck to make a sturdy house. Though they were just novice sealers, but they were mentally prepared to kill the animals, which the survivors from the Invercauld were not." p. 280

In the course of this book, which almost reads like a novel, Druett explains and explores many topics, including sealing and its unintended impact, attempts by various groups to live on Auckland and other islands, life in the gold fields, how to build a good shelter, how a forge works, and much more. All of this is worked into the story. At the end, in an Author's Note, she discusses how we know all this. It turns out that many of the men worked their diaries into books (that may have embellished the facts; interestingly, Musgrave's and Raynal's books differ in some points, as do Holding's and those published by the captain of the Invercauld. Druett explains how she decided what to put in her book.

I couldn't put this book down. It made me think of Cherry-Garrard's The Worst Journey in the World in which resourcefulness and determination and sticking together almost overcome horrific weather and events.
8 vote rebeccanyc | Sep 5, 2015 |
"It has seldom fallen to our lot as journalists to record a more remarkable instance of escape from the perils of shipwreck, and subsequent providential deliverance from the privations of a desolate island, after two years' sojourn, than that we have now to furnish. -- Southland News, July 29, 1865"

The Auckland Islands lie south of New Zealand, and remain uninhabited even today, where they remain a nature reserve. Attempts to build settlements and cultivate the land have never worked, mainly due to very harsh year round weather conditions and poor soil. The islands are mountainous, and the rocky coastline has proven disastrous for many ships. The main island, Auckland, is about 26 treacherous miles long. At the northern end, Port Ross is the site of the first attempt at a whaling settlement, Hardwicke, which lasted only two and half years starting in 1849. At the southern end there is a narrow channel called Carnley Harbor. This is where this true adventure story begins.

On January 3, 1864, the Schooner Grafton was shipwrecked on the southern end of the main island of the Auckland Islands. The crew of five included: the captain, Thomas Musgrave, a master mariner and gifted navigator; Francois Raynal, a Frenchman who had spent eleven years prospecting in the goldfields of New South Wales and Victoria; George Harris, a twenty year old Englishman with many years sailing experience; a twenty-eight year old Norwegian, Alexander Maclaren (Alick), with a good sailing record; and a Portuguese cook named Henry Forges. As the ship broke apart, they salvaged as much as they could, including Raynal's gun, and set up camp.

Four months later on May 10, 1864, the ship Invercauld, with its crew of twenty five shipwrecked on the northwestern end of the island. The crew included: the captain, George Dalgarno; Robert Holding, a twenty-three year old, who like Raynal, had spent time on the Australian goldfields; the first mate, Andrew Smith; and the second mate, an American seaman, James Mahoney. Neither group knew about the other.

The story details the differences in the way the two groups dealt with their predicament. And they were very very different.

The Grafton crew worked as a team, selected the captain as their leader, dropped their class differences, and did amazing things with the limited number of resources at their disposal. A cabin, forge, bellows, nails, and soap are only a few of the things that they created with their resourcefulness. The Grafton crew's saga lasted until the end of August 1865. A year and seven months of extreme hardship.

The Invercauld crew was a very different story. The captain and his first officers refused to give up their class roles. The captain's lack of leadership and resourcefulness resulted in death for most of the crew, and several members even resorted to cannibalism. The Invercauld survivors were rescued about a year later at the end of May, 1865.

It might be fair to note that while the leadership and comaraderie of the Grafton crew aided in their survival, there were other factors which may have added to their success. They were shipwrecked in January, and while the year round weather conditions of this subarctic island are harsh, it was summer. The Invercauld crew on the other hand, were stranded in May at the approach of winter. The Grafton did not completely break up and afforded much needed materials for the crew. They also had Raynal's gun which would prove helpful in the search for food. The Invercauld was quickly lost, and gave the crew little time for salvage of any kind. Both Raynal of the Grafton, and Holding of the Invercauld had spent time on the goldfields in Australia, and had learned techniques that would help with their survival, but it was the complete lack of leadership of the Invercauld's captain, who refused to take advantage of any suggestions made by Holding, that may have made the biggest difference.

Who knew that seals and sea lions were so nimble on land:

"the castaways had learned a great deal about their prey, including the best method of tackling them. As Raynal described, the prescription for approaching a mature sea lion was to fix the animal's gaze, "and, without hesitating, advance straight upon him, until you are near enough to deal a blow on his head with your cudgel exactly between the two eyes." It was crucial to hit the target exactly. If the animal did not fall at once..........., the next move was to whirl about, run like hell, "and leave the field open for him to regain the sea." Not only could a hurt and angry sea lion maul a man with his tusks and crush him to death with his weight but he was unnervingly agile on land, being perfectly prepared to pursue a fleeing castaway up a cliff if he was not given the chance to plunge back into the surf instead."

"..........Musgrave was alone when he set out to climb the mountain to the northeast of camp........To his surprise, there were many signs of sea lions...."In going up I found seal tracks nearly to the top of the mountain, which I reckon is about four miles from the water; and about three miles up I saw a seal."

This non-fiction story is a page turner that reads like fiction. If it were not for the fact that the story is true, you would find it implausible. ( )
11 vote NanaCC | Jul 26, 2013 |
Joan Druett's Island of the Lost is an impeccably researched, well-written, well-presented history of two concurrent wrecks on the Auckland Islands in the late 19th century.

Her easy style balances journalistic integrity with the need to captivate the reader, and holds you from the first paragraph and never lags.

Overall, the stories of these two groups of shipwrecked sailors is a keen contrast between the higher ideals and purposes of humans, and our more base, predatory instincts. In fact, the actions of these real, historical people will both astonish and disgust you.

Oh, and now Auckland Islands is now the second place on earth I would never wish to visit unless I had a death-wish. ( )
  fiverivers | Jan 27, 2013 |
Joan Druett hit upon a gold mine of material for her book "Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World." Two different boats shipwrecked on tiny, inhospitable Auckland Island, miles off the coast of New Zealand. Completely unknown to each other, the two crews really illustrate the difference between men who are driven to survive and men who have given up. One crew worked together (and admittedly had a gun that made a big difference for its food supply) while the other crew fell apart, with most dying, unable to even try helping themselves. The facts of these true tales are really interesting, though I wasn't a huge fan of Druett's storytelling -- especially in the first half of the book... she includes lots of details about the island flora and fauna but the manner of the telling kind of pulled away from the story. I liked the second half of the book better as the story really started to come together. ( )
2 vote amerynth | Oct 2, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
It has seldom fallen to our lot as journalists to record a more remarkable instance of escape from the perils of shipwreck, and subsequent providential deliverance from the privations of a desolate island, after two years' sojourn, than that we have now to furnish. -Southland News, July 29, 1865

The man who has experienced shipwreck shudders even at a calm sea. -Ovid
For Roberta McIntyre, whose early encouragement could not have been more well timed.
First words
It was October 1863, early springtime in Sydney, Australia.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Auckland Island is a godforsaken place in the middle of the Southern Ocean, 285 miles south of New Zealand. With year-round freezing rain and howling winds, it is one of the most forbidding places in the world. To be shipwrecked there means almost certain death. In 1864 Captain Thomas Musgrave and his crew of four aboard the schooner Grafton wreck on the southern end of the island. Utterly alone in a dense coastal forest, plagued by stinging blowflies and relentless rain, Captian Musgrave-rather than succumb to this dismal fate-inspires his men to take action. With barely more than their bare hands, they build a cabin and, remarkably, a forge, whee they manufacture their tools. Under Musgrave's leadership, they band together and remain civilized through even the darkest and most terrifying days. Incredibly, at the same time on the opposite end of the island-twenty miles of impassable cliffs and chasms away-the Invercauld wrecks during a horrible storm. Nineteen men stagger ashore. Unlike Captain Musgrave, the captain of the Invercauld falls apart given the same dismal circumstances. His men fight and split up; some die of starvation, other turn to cannibalism. Only three survived. Musgrave and all of his men not only endure for nearly two years, they also plan their own astonishing escape, setting off on one of the most courageous sea voyages in history.
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

Telling the true story of two similar shipwreck tragedies that have drastically different outcomes, award-winning maritime historian Druett tells a gripping cautionary tale about leadership, endurance, human ingenuity, and the tenuous line between order and chaos.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
108 wanted1 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.92)
2 2
3 6
3.5 3
4 22
4.5 2
5 7

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 100,859,045 books! | Top bar: Always visible