Boon Island: A True Story of Mutiny, Shipwreck, and Cannibalism

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Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 3/20/2023
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Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Monday, March 20, 2023
I got this softcover from an online seller, after learning about the Boon Island tragedy in a somewhat unusual way. I'd gone to the lovely Cliff House on Cape Neddick, Maine, for dinner with a friend, and as we enjoyed the spectacular ocean views from the dining-room windows (seriously, it's worth a visit for the view alone!), we noticed the blinking lights from a lighthouse far out at sea. When we asked about it, we learned that it was the Boon Island light - New England's tallest lighthouse, now solar-powered and automated.

But before the first lighthouse was built there in 1855, the area was extremely hazardous to ships, and this book is about the wreck of the Nottingham Galley in 1710 and the harrowing experiences of the survivors - who were stuck within sight of the coast on the tiny island in winter, with no shelter and very little food, surrounded by an ocean that could easily demolish any jury-rigged craft they might construct. The fact that so many of them survived for as long as they did seems remarkable, and I can't fault them for resorting to cannibalism under those circumstances. (The sacrifices of the two who manned a makeshift craft to seek aid from the mainland seem to have been forgotten by the survivors; one vanished entirely and another washed ashore, dead of exposure, but it was enough to cause a rescue attempt.)

Much of the book is not about that, though; it deals with the two very different accounts of how the wreck occurred and how each man behaved thereafter, one written by the captain and the other by three key members of the crew. And, oddly enough, even though popular opinion (and some legal opinion!) came down on the side of the crew, they seem to have disappeared into history while the captain - after rearranging his life a bit to evade his bleak reputation - had a pretty successful career. Sometimes fate is... whimsical...

The looks into the maritime laws and local feeling of the time are pretty interesting, but for me all the legal wrangling rather detracted from the basic, harsh survival story.

[The bookplate image is a photo I took from the reconstructed Celia Thaxter garden on the Isles of Shoals, not that far from Boon Island.]

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Nubble Point (see notes) in York, Maine USA on Monday, March 27, 2023

Released 2 mos ago (3/27/2023 UTC) at Nubble Point (see notes) in York, Maine USA


I plan to leave this book on a bench on the point, within view of the lovely lighthouse and ocean. Hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in ME here.]

** Released for the 2023 4 Elements challenge. **

** Released for the 2023 Oh, the Places We Can Go challenge. **

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