A castaway is a person who is cast adrift or ashore. While the situation usually happens after a shipwreck, some people voluntarily stay behind on a deserted island either to evade their captors or the world in general. Alternatively a person or item can be cast away, meaning rejected or discarded. Note that when a person was left ashore as punishment, usually the term maroon (or maroon'd) was used.
The provisions and resources available to castaways may allow them to live on the island until other people arrive to take them off the island. However, such rescue missions may never happen if the person is not known to still be alive, the fact that they are missing is unknown or if the island is not mapped. These scenarios have given rise to the plots of numerous stories in the form of novels and film.
Icelander Thorgisl set out to travel to Greenland
. He and his party were first driven into a remote sound on the east coast of Greenland
, then Thorgisl, his infant son and several others were abandoned there by their thralls
. Thorgisl and his party traveled slowly along the coast to the Eystribyggð
settlement of Eric the Red
, on the southwest coast of Greenland
. Along the way they met a Viking, an outlaw, who had escaped to East Greenland. This history is told in Flóamanna Saga
and Origines Islandicae
and occurred during the early years of Viking Greenland
, while Leif Ericson
was still alive.
Icelander Grettir Ásmundarson was outlawed
by the assembly in Iceland
. After many years on the run he, with two companions, went to the forbidding island of Drangey
, where he lived several more years before his pursuers managed to kill him in 1031.
The Portuguese Fernão Lopez was marooned on the island of Saint Helena
in 1513. He had lost a hand and much of his face as a punishment for mutiny. With some interruptions he stayed on the island until his death in 1545.
Juan de Cartagena and Pedro Sánchez Reina
In August 1520 a mutiny broke out in Magellan
's fleet while at the Patagonian
seashore. After he put it down and executed some of the ringleaders, Magellan punished two others, the King of Spain
delegate Juan de Cartagena and the priest Pedro Sánchez Reina, by marooning them in that desolate place. They were never heard from again.
Gonzalo de Vigo
Gonzalo de Vigo was a Galician
sailor who in March 1521 deserted from Magellan
's fleet in the island of Guam
. He was unexpectedly found there in 1526 by the flagship
of the Loaísa Expedition
, on their way to the Spice Islands
and the second circumnavigation
of the globe. Gonzalo de Vigo was the first European castaway in the history of the Pacific Ocean
Marguerite de La Rocque
A French noblewoman, Marguerite de la Rocque was marooned in 1542 on an island in the Gulf of St Lawrence
, off the coast of Quebec
, by her near-relative, Jean-François de La Rocque de Roberval
, a nobleman privateer
, as punishment for her affair with a young man on board ship. The young man joined her, as did a servant woman. They later died, as did the baby she bore. Marguerite survived by hunting wild animals, and was later rescued by fishermen. She returned to France, and became well-known when her story was recorded by the Queen of Navarre
in her work Heptameron
Jan Pelgrom and Wouter Loos
In 1629 Jan Pelgrom and Wouter Loos were shipboys on board the Dutch ship Batavia (ship)
, famous because of its stranding on the islets of the Houtman Abrolhos
off the west coast of Australia and the subsequent mutiny and mass killings (for details see Batavia (ship)
). When all culprits were arrested on the islets, most of them were either hanged or sent to Court in the town of Batavia (now Jakarta
). However, the young culprits Jan Pelgrom and Wouter Loos were marooned on the Australian mainland, probably near the mouth of the Murchison River
; the two boys were probably the first Europeans to "live" on the Australian mainland. During the following decades captains of Dutch ships were ordered to search for the boys in case the ships would be nearby, however, the two boys were never heard from again.
A Miskito called Will
In 1681, a Miskito
named Will by his English comrades was sent ashore as part of an English
foraging party to Más a Tierra
. When he was hunting for goats in the interior of the island he suddenly saw his comrades departing in haste after having spotted the approach of enemies, leaving Will behind to survive until he was picked up in 1684.
The Juan Fernández Islands
, to which Más a Tierra belongs, was to have a more famous occupant in October 1703 when Alexander Selkirk
made the decision to stay there. (Selkirk had been born in Lower Largo
in 1680). Selkirk was concerned about the condition of the Cinque Ports
, on which he was sailing, and remained on the island. The ship later sunk with most of its crew being lost. Being a voluntary castaway, Selkirk was able to gather numerous provisions to help him to survive, including a musket
, carpenter's tools
, a knife
, a Bible
, and clothing
. He survived on the island for four years and four months, building huts and hunting the plentiful wildlife before his rescue on 2 February 1709
. His adventures are said to be an inspiration for Robinson Crusoe
, a novel by Daniel Defoe
published in 1719. In 1966, Más a Tierra was renamed Robinson Crusoe Island.
, born in Marblehead
in New England
in 1702, was captured by pirates
near the coast of Nova Scotia
in June 1722. He managed to escape in March 1723 when the pirates' ship landed at Roatán
in the Bay Islands
, hiding in the jungle
until the pirates left him there. He survived for 16 months, in spite of many insects, tropical heat and crocodiles. He had no equipment at all until he met another castaway, an Englishman. The Englishman disappeared after a few days but he left behind a knife, gunpowder, tobacco and more. Ashton was finally rescued by the Diamond
, a ship from Salem
was a Dutch
ship's officer (a bookkeeper), probably born in 1695. He was set ashore on the uninhabited Ascension Island
on 5 May 1725
as a punishment for sodomy
. He was left behind with a tent and a survival kit and an amount of water for about four weeks. He had bad luck that no ships called at the island during his stay. He ate seabirds
and green turtles
, but probably died of thirst after about six months. He wrote a diary that was found by British mariners in January 1726 who brought the diary back to Britain. The diary was rewritten and published a number of times.
As late as 2002, the full truth of the story was disclosed in a book by the Dutch historian Michiel Koolbergen (1953–2002), the first book to mention Leendert by name. Before that time, the castaway's name had not been known. The story is available in English as A Dutch Castaway on Ascension Island in 1725.
In 1812, the British ship Isabella
, captained by George Higton
, was shipwrecked off Eagle Island
, one of the Islas Malvinas
. Most of the crew were rescued by the American sealer Nanina
, commanded by Captain Charles Barnard. However, realising that they would require more provisions for the expanded number of passengers, Barnard and a few others went out in a party to retrieve more food. During his absence the Nanina
was taken over by the British crew, who left them on the island. Barnard and his party were finally rescued in November 1814. In 1829, Barnard wrote A Narrative of the Sufferings and Adventures of Captain Charles Barnard
detailing the happenings.
Castaways in popular culture
Various novels, television shows and films tell the story of castaways:
- Philosophus Autodidactus, a 12th century novel by Abubacer
- Theologus Autodidactus, a 13th century novel by Ibn al-Nafis
- Robinson Crusoe, a novel by Daniel Defoe based loosely on the real life of Alexander Selkirk, first published in 1719 and sometimes regarded as the first novel in English
- Survivor, a CBS television reality series that pits contestants against each other on various remote island areas
- Baby Island, a 1937 novel by Carol Ryrie Brink about two preteen sisters caring for four babies on a South Seas island
- The Blue Lagoon, a 1908 romance novel by Henry De Vere Stacpoole about two children stranded on a tropical island after a shipwreck which was adapted into the 1980 film starring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins
- Cast Away, a 2000 film starring Tom Hanks, directed by Robert Zemeckis
- Castaway, a 1986 film starring Amanda Donohoe and Oliver Reed, and directed by Nicolas Roeg, based on the book Castaway by Lucy Irvine.
- Castaway, a 1984 book by Lucy Irvine describing her life with Gerald Kingsland on a deserted island which was adapted into a 1986 film starring Amanda Donohoe and Oliver Reed
- Castaway 2000, a British reality television series in which a volunteer community lived for a year on the previously uninhabited Taransay in the Outer Hebrides
- The ClueFinders 5th Grade Adventures: The Secret of the Living Volcano, a 1999 PC game created by The Learning Company
- Gilligan's Island, an American TV sitcom which aired on CBS from 1964 to 1967
- Flight 29 Down, a television series on Discovery Kids about teenagers on a charter plane for a class trip to Palau. Their plane crashes on an island somewhere in the South Pacific. Created by D.J. Machale and Stan Rogow
- Hatchet, a novel that follows the life of a teenage boy as he survives in the Canadian wilderness after the plane he was on crashes. While he was brought into the situation by a plane, Hatchet's plot (and most survivalist fiction) features many similar elements to castaway stories.
- Island of the Blue Dolphins, a book by Scott O'Dell about a girl marooned on an island for 18 years
- Life of Pi, in which the title character, Pi Patel, spends months on a lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger
- Johnny Castaway, a screensaver - perhaps the most extensive ever - that follows the daily exploits of the screensaver's namesake.
- Lord of the Flies, a novel by William Golding, and several movie versions
- Lost, a 2004 drama series
- Mr. Robinson Crusoe, a 1932 Douglas Fairbanks movie
- The Mysterious Island, a 1874 novel by Jules Verne
- The Swiss Family Robinson, an 1812 book by Johann David Wyss that has been adapted into various film and television versions
- Survivor Type, a 1982 short story by Stephen King about a shipwrecked surgeon who ends up eating parts of his own body to survive.
- Swept Away... by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August (Travolti da un insolito destino nell'azzurro mare d'agosto), a 1974 film written and directed by Lina Wertmüller about a rich woman and a communist sailor stranded on a Mediterranean island
Castaways are part of other stories as well, where the event is not the central plot but is still an important aspect. Examples include:
The idea of a character becoming a castaway is common in television series, particularly ones that utilise the scenario for comic effect – it is a more extreme version of a character being stranded, but less likely and therefore more appropriate for non-serious series. Series that have had an episode about castaways include:
Desert Island Discs
Desert Island Discs
is a BBC Radio 4
chatshow in which the subject is invited to consider themselves as a castaway on a desert island, and then select their eight favourite records, favourite book and a luxury inanimate object to occupy their time. This concept has become so widespread as to have become a part of popular culture.