This question is an old favourite. We’ve all thought about it, but what if it really happened? There are two scenarios to choose from: shipwrecked or voluntary stay. Also, the words ‘deserted island’ usually conjures up the idea of some sun blasted atoll in the middle of nowhere. Think of all the wide open spaces of the Pacific Ocean. Someplace out of the sea-lanes, uninhabited and forgotten. So, if you went to one voluntarily, for whatever reason, it is likely that you would be loaded down with equipment to make your stay more comfortable. On the other hand, what if it is the shipwrecked scenario? Let’s think about what you would wish for.
Essentials to Bring to a Deserted Island
A very useful tool. Something big like John Rambo would tote around. You wouldn’t want a knife the size of something you could attach to your keyring. A knife would be useful in many different ways, not only to cut, but a heavy-duty knife can be used to lever things or dig with. Cutting firewood, hacking a path through thick undergrowth, cutting branches or saplings and fronds to make a shelter. It can be used for hunting. Attach it to a pole and you have a spear. Of course, it can used as a simple eating utensil. Whatever your views on hunting or violence, having a big knife to hand will give you a certain peace of mind.
As you are on an island, you are surrounded by sea. It’s obvious that you would look to the water to find sustenance. A fishing net would make that a lot easier. Depending on your island, you could fish for both freshwater and saltwater species. A good sized net can be weighted and thrown in shallow water. The net could also be used as a trap in rivers or streams. Nets can be used on land too, to catch wild animals or birds.
A giant-sized, super-dooper, economy box would really come in handy. A small box or a book of matches probably won’t last very long, unless you manage to start a fire and are able to keep it going continuously. Unfortunately, matches are a finite resource, like a lighter that will run out of gas or fluid. A fire is essential, so having the means to start one is a must. A fire will give you warmth, let you cook food and act as a signal fire. A fire is a welcoming sight on dark and lonely nights.
Hammocks are good things to have on your adventure or misadventure. Even in the tropics it can get chilly during the night, if you are sleeping on the ground. It’s advisable not to have direct contact with the ground while sleeping. Without a hammock you would have to build a bed, probably of leaves, to get your body off the ground. Hammocks are also very comfortable to lie in. During the day you can use them to rest and catch breezes, especially if you land on a sweltering, tropical island. Because of its string-bag construction, you can also use it as a net to catch or carry things.
A family photo isn’t a particularly practical item to have, except in one sense. It will strengthen your motivation to survive. Looking at it will remind you of your loved ones. These are the people back home who are wondering where you are and what has happened to you. To be reminded of why you must survive and return is a major psychological boost when you are alone and depressed. Under such conditions it is easy to give up hope, so anything to harden your resolve, such as a family photo, will doubtless help.
Oh, yes! Tons and tons of bug spray. Everyone knows that in the warmer climates insects abound, especially, in thick vegetation and around water. Your island, unless it’s just a hump of sand sticking out of the water, will probably be infested with them. Apart from their droning buzz, which will drive you crazy, they also sting and bite. Some carry disease and you don’t want to get sick miles away from any medical attention. Ward them off with something that is repulsive to them. Not only do bugs fly, they also drop and crawl. Beware! Best take something really toxic that will knock down flying elephants.
Another must for the list. You don’t want to get burnt under the blistering sun. Apart from blisters and peeling skin, raw, exposed flesh can leave you vulnerable to infections. It will help ward off heat and sun-stroke. It will also moisturise your skin and help prevent it drying out. Direct and fierce sunlight will damage your skin.
An inflatable raft with oars will let you escape your island prison. That would come in handy in various ways, if you aren’t brave enough to face the open seas and prefer to wait for rescue. You can explore the island without hacking through foliage. Circle your island to find the best site for a camp. Certainly, it will aid you in your fishing expeditions, using it as a platform to fish from. An inflatable raft can also be used to lie in at night. Turned upside-down, it will shelter you from wind and rain. It will afford welcome shade from the sun.
A flashlight is definitely a good idea, as there aren’t any street or any other kind of lighting on a desert isle. There two main problems with flashlights: the bulbs have a tendency to break when dropped and the batteries run out. It’s better to take a top of the line, heavy-duty type with an extended battery life. Better still, one of the LED type, manufactured for rugged outdoor use. Many torches nowadays have rechargeable batteries using solar power. Don’t forget to pack the solar panel.
Sounds good, but if you are shipwrecked it’s doubtful that you would land on the beach clutching a spear gun or harpoon. It’s unlikely that spears are standard issue in sporting goods stores. A spear will aid you in hunting or fending off hostile wild animals. If you haven’t got a spear handy, don’t fret, you can improvise. Make a fire with your matches, cut down a sapling or branch with your big shiny knife, put the end of the wood in the fire until it is nicely charred and then sharpen the end with your knife. Or you can just tie the knife to the end of the pole.
A portable satellite phone could end all your worries. Phone home or the nearest rescue service and then sit back and wait to be rescued. Just make sure you’ve kept up the service payments before you become stranded on a deserted island.
While waiting for rescue there’s time to read a good book. Being rescued may take longer than you wish. Which book? That is the question. This is the subject of endless debate since someone thought up this question. That depends on the person. It’s very subjective. Do you want to be informed or entertained? Whatever your taste, it better to go with a thick tome, something like War & Peace or something the size of the bible.
This is a tongue-in-cheek look at essential items you would bring to a deserted island. Although it’s unlikely to happen unless you sign up for one of those TV reality shows, it would be a good idea to consider some of the things in the above list if you are up for a bit of adventuring and wondering what would you bring to a deserted island. Although you may not be the Boy Scout type and lug survival equipment around with you, but if the worst comes to the worst, you may end up on the beach with some of them. Good Luck.