An abandoned lifeboat at world’s end

A Blast From The Past

The unidentified whaler or ship’s lifeboat found abandoned on Bouvet Island on 2 April 1964. The boat bore no identifying marks. There were signs that survivors might have made it to shore, but no trace of them has ever been found.

There is no more forbidding place on earth.

Bouvet Island lies in the furthest reaches of the storm-wracked Southern Ocean, far south even of the Roaring Forties. It is a speck of ice in the middle of a freezing fastness: a few square miles of uninhabited volcanic basalt groaning under several hundred feet of glacier, scraped raw by gales, shrouded by drifts of sea-fog, and utterly devoid of trees, shelter, or landing places.

What it does have is a mystery.

Let us begin this tale at the beginning. Bouvet is appallingly isolated; the nearest land is the coast of Antarctica, a further 1,750km south, and it is slightly further…

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