When we are young, everything seems plausible. We dream of achieving things that adulthood and maturity make it seem are impossible to achieve. While this daringness provided by youth is not necessarily a bad thing, it can sometimes become fatal.
In this video, we tell you the story of a group of boys who set out on a reckless joyride that eventually turned into a nightmare. In 1965, six boys from Tonga borrowed a fishing boat and decided to set out on a journey that they assumed would be fun and entertaining and would at best last a few days. However, their carelessness ended up taking them to a deserted island where they were forced to find ways to survive for almost over a year.
Facts Verse presents These Friends Survived 15 Months on a Deserted Island. If you enjoy our videos, show some appreciation by liking and subscribing to our channel. And, press the bell icon if you want us to keep you updated about all our latest videos.
The month of June is hard for Tongan people — mercury levels rise to unusual levels and life on the archipelago becomes difficult.
On one such hot June day, six boys — David, kolo, Luke, Mano, Sione, and Stephen — decided to indulge in some mischief to make the day more interesting. The six boys were enrolled in a boarding school in Tonga’s capital city Nukualofa. However, the strict environment of the Catholic school where they studied was a little too much for them to adjust to. So they decided they needed a change of scenery to make life better.
All the six boys were aged between 13 to 16 and thus, sailing to Fiji where they could enjoy fishing and get a little break from the school’s boring curriculum seemed like a decent idea. However, neither did they have the money nor a vehicle to make the journey to Fiji. They, therefore, decided to steal a boat. They took away fisherman Taniela Uhila’s 24-foot-craft for the trip.
Next, the boys, excited about getting to Fiji, went shopping for the trip. They filled the boat with two bags of bananas and some coconuts. For some reason, they also decided to invest their money in a gas burner. However, young as they were, they did not think once about buying the things they would need the most during the trip — a compass or a map.
With their boat full, at least in their opinion, they decided to set for Fiji in the evening. They believed that leaving in the evening would reduce their chances of getting caught and they were right too. They left from Nukualofa’s harbor after the sunset and left no notes to anyone regarding where they were going. As they had anticipated, no one saw them leaving.
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At first, things seemed to be going in their favor — the weather was perfect for sailing and the skies were clear. Everything was going well until they made a terrible mistake. They dropped their anchor off the coast of Tongatapu, an island in the southern island group of Tonga, and went to sleep. While they were deep in sleep, a storm raged in and broke the anchor rope. It also completely damaged the sail as well as the rudder. The boys woke up to a strong gust of wind and were clueless about what had happened. However, they soon realized they were stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Their boat drifted aimlessly in the ocean for over a week. By this time, they had already run out of supplies — all they had to keep themselves alive was raw fish. Further, when it would rain, the boys would collect rainwater in coconut shells for drinking. Unfortunately, they didn’t have enough coconut shells and thus, each person would get only two sips of water each day.
After wandering in the ocean for eight days, their boat began to slowly give up on them. The boys had almost lost all hope but then they spotted an island. From afar, the island did not look inviting at all — it was merely a piece of land surrounded by rocks and cliffs on all sides with a few trees in between. Though it did not look enticing at all, the boys knew the island was their only chance to survive.
This island that the boys saw was called Ata and had been rendered uninhabitable by the Tonga people. Back in the mid-1800s, it was home to many people. However, all of the island’s inhabitants were either kidnapped and sold into slavery or died of diseases. Thus, the few who survived on the island eventually relocated to the closeby ‘Eua.
After the boys landed on Ata, the first thing they did was create some ground rules. They knew they couldn’t afford to make any more mistakes if they wanted to survive. Thus, the first thing they decided was that no one would fight. They understood well that fights could escalate and ultimately, lead to life-threatening situations on the island. Thus, they decided that in case someone lost temper, they would isolate themselves and return only when they were ready to settle things calmly. That apart, they also decided they would do all tasks in pairs. Thus, in case of danger, no one would find themselves to be completely alone. Further, they set a kitchen, garden, and several watch posts and created a schedule for duties. They would start and end their day by offering prayers. Creating and maintaining this schedule allowed them to maintain their sanity.
For the initial few days, they survived on fish, seabirds, and coconuts. However, as time passed, they began to get bored with eating the same food every day. They, therefore, decided to further explore the island. The boys eventually found the volcano around which the ‘Ata civilization had existed in the 1800s. Around the volcano, they found bananas, chickens, and wild taro. It was then that the gas burner came to use — the boys lit a fire and kept it burning for fifteen months.
That apart, the boys used tree trunks to create wooden buckets to store rainwater. They also created coops for the chicken on the island. Most importantly, to keep themselves entertained, fit, and sane, they also created a gym and a badminton court. Kolo, who was the most creative of them all and also musically inclined, used the steel wires from their damaged boat, driftwood, and coconut shells, to create a guitar. He would often keep the other four entertained with his performances.
Though the boys tried to make it work, life on the Ata wasn’t really easy. To start with, the rain was scarce and therefore, they did not have enough water to store. The boys would often go thirsty for days. They would then drink the blood of seabirds to keep themselves alive. Further, one day, Stephen fell off a cliff and broke his leg. In the absence of a doctor and medicines, the experience was horrible for Stephen but he managed. Further, the boys became completely dejected when the raft they had built to escape the island was destroyed by the ocean’s powerful waves.
By this time, the boys had become convinced that their life would end on ‘Ata and they were trying to mentally prepare themselves for their fate when one day, a fisherman named Peter Warner noticed a strange pattern on the island of ‘Ata. Curious as Peter was, he decided to take a closer look. When his boat reached closer to the island, Peter noticed a human being jump off the cliff and swim towards his boat. This was Stephen. He quickly told Peter about what had happened and how they had been stuck on the island for more than fifteen months.
Peter sent a radio message to Tonga and confirmed with the operator the boys’ story. On the island, everyone had assumed that the six boys had lost their lives in the storm. When the boys returned to Nuku’alofa everyone was surprised to hear their story — there were huge celebrations. More importantly, the doctors on the island were surprised to see how fit the boys were and how Stephen’s leg had healed perfectly. Taniela Uhila, the fisherman whose boat the boys had stolen, was in fumes after he came to know the fate his boat had met with on the trip. However, Peter Warned bought him a new boat to end things smoothly.
When the six young boys matured into men, Peter Warner commissioned a new ship and named it ‘Ata after the island where he had found the six survivor boys. He hired all six boys, thereby allowing them to finally live their dream of traveling the world and discovering what lied beyond Tonga. In 2020, the story of the six young boys who had survived fifteen months on a deserted island gained traction once again. The story reached Hollywood and New Regency, the California-based American entertainment company bought the story rights. The studio also hired the six boys as consultants.
This story of six boys isn’t the only story of friends surviving under difficult circumstances. In 2017, Jennifer Appel, 47, and Tasha Fuiava, 27, decided to sail from Honolulu to Tahiti on their yacht. The trip was supposed to take three weeks and the friends had decided to bring their dogs along. Unfortunately, a few days after they left Honolulu, a sea storm damaged their yacht, leaving the steerage system completely damaged. The two women suddenly found themselves in the middle of the Pacific with no idea about how to get out of the situation. Fortunately, Appel and Fuiava had planned the trip well and thus, had a year’s worth of food supplies with them.
Days turned into months and Jennifer and Tasha began to convince themselves that they would die on the yacht. However, on one fortunate day of October 2017, almost five months after their yacht had become damaged, a crew of Taiwanese fishermen spotted the boat. They approached the yacht thinking they would soon witness some terrible scenes. Thus, they were utterly surprised when they found Jennifer and Tasha and their two dogs alive and well. They called the U.S. Coastguard, which sent USS Ashland to rescue Jennifer and Tasha as well as their two dogs. In an interview, Appel said that seeing the Navy ship felt like ultimate salvation and is a memory she will never forget in her life.
So, what do you think of the story of the six boys who survived fifteen months on a deserted island? Do you think this is a story of hope and bravery or one of absolute carelessness? Do you know any more stories like these? If yes, please share them with us, we love hearing from you guys.
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