Where Robinson is a modern woman, and the way she is saved is via Google.
Gemma Sheridan was on a boat trip with two friends in 2007 when a storm off the coast of Panama crippled their ship and washed her two friends overboard. Her heavily damaged craft drifted aimlessly for two and a half weeks, until a second storm struck and knocked her unconscious. She awoke, in a very cinematic way, on the shores of a jungle isle surrounded by the wreckage of her ship.
What follows is the incredible story (abridged) in her own words:
“Within the first hour I had a major panic attack. It was a disturbing feeling, being alone, isolated, so far from home without a hope.
There where no pools of fresh water, so I had to rig up a contraption that drew the water away from the rock and it provided for one drop every 40 seconds. That was my water source, so it was coconuts until it rained. Not a great start.
I nibbled away at the bark of a tree with a giant clam shell for 11 days just to build a shelter. It might have been bomb-proof and waterproof in the end and it’s probably still standing but if I’d had a machete, just that one tool, I would have been able to build it in a few hours.
It was four weeks before I managed to light a fire – you have no idea how happy that made me.
I made a bow and arrow, but this just went twang and fell on the floor. And my spear wasn’t sharp enough.
One day I was walking round the island looking for crabs and saw what I thought was driftwood caught up in the bottom of this tree. Then it bleated.
This goat had been eating the leaves, got its horns caught and panicked. It was a massive thing, about 45 or 50 kilos and it was meat, so I tried squeezing its windpipe but that wouldn’t do it and then I had to bash it on the head with a clam shell.
It took about 15 minutes to kill it and was quite gruesome. It showed me how far I was from being able to hunt because even though it was trapped it still took me quarter of an hour.”
Several years later:
“The physical side was tough but ultimately fine. I did a series of exercises on the beach every day – press-ups, chin-ups on a tree branch, squats with boulders on my shoulders and shuttle runs of about 300 metres.
I had managed to get to a stage when I was getting stronger.
I had a sign on the beach that was about 10 feet high, but it had sat there all this time and nothing came of it. So I decided to go all out, I spent the next few weeks clearing space and finding materials to build a huge sign in the sand on the beach.
My hope was that perhaps a plane might fly over and see it, but in all my time on the island, I had not seen 1 single plane fly over. I didn’t give up though.
“I woke up 1 morning to the sound of a plane flying over me which was unusually low, I could not believe it, I thought it was a dream. I ran to the beach screaming and waving my arms like a lunatic, the plane flew over 2 or 3 more times and then dropped a small package.
Inside was a radio, fresh water, food and a small medical kit. I switched on the radio and heard the first human voice for years. We talked for what seemed like an eternity, then I asked the voice on the other end “How did you find me” to which they replied “Some kid from Minnesota found your SOS sign on Google Earth”
I didn’t even know what Google Earth was, but I’m eternally in their debt now.”
What Sparks Our Fire: Google: saving the world, one desert island at a time.
Some speculate this was a hoax, what are your thoughts?