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THE BOUVET ISLAND ROWBOAT
Bouvet Island has the distinction of being one of the most isolated places on Earth: the closest land of any kind is the uninhabited coast of Queen Maud Land in Antarctica, and that’s a full 1100 miles away.
It is on no shipping routes, contains no interesting or precious resources, and its sole purpose today is to host a weather station on one of the few patches of ground where boats can land.
It was in 1964 when the British and South African governments went to establish that weather station that they found one of the strangest abandoned ship mysteries of the modern age. A single twenty-foot boat, described as “a lifeboat or whaler,” together with a single pair of oars, a forty-four gallon drum, and a “copper flotation or buoyancy tank” that had been cut open for some reason.
No human remains or traces of habitation could be found, and the officers had almost no time to properly investigate the site—the hellish weather and aggressive wildlife left them with only 45 minutes to determine whether the area was suitable for establishing a weather station.
The weather only worsened when the crew returned to their ships, forcing the expedition to abort and return to Cape Town; when a follow-up expedition returned two years later, there was no trace of the boat or the damaged equipment.