An Island to Oneself
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Thomas Francis "Tom" Neale (November 6, 1902 - November 27, 1977) was a New Zealander bushcraft and survival enthusiast who spent much of his life in the Cook Islands and 16 years in three sessions living alone on the island of Anchorage in the Suwarrow atoll, which was the basis of this autobiography.
several of the crew — good-hearted, cheerful, bare-chested boys from the outer islands in search of adventure — and we carried nine native passengers as well as myself. There were five women and four men, all returning to Manihiki after visiting relatives in Raro, and they were bursting with the infectious exuberance of people just ending a wonderful holiday in the "big city." The forward deck was cluttered with their farewell gifts; everything from newly-plaited hats to bundles of protesting
the food safe seemed strong when I swung the door open and the three shelves were in good condition. To complete the furnishings, the coast-watchers had built a solid table — more of a bench, really — running nearly the length of the longest wall and facing out on to the yard, with shutters above it. I wonder if you can appreciate the excitement I felt when I discovered this unexpected treasure. I know I had barely landed on Anchorage, yet the sight of these solid pieces of furniture — which
distance, was a sail. I stared in momentary disbelief, but there it was, one of the most beautiful sights the Pacific can ever offer — a ship in full sail edging her way through the blue waters. She was plainly making for the entrance to the lagoon. It was so long since I had seen a sail that it took an appreciable time for the reality to sink in, for me to realise that in an hour or two I would actually be talking to other people; men, perhaps women; talking to them, instead of to myself! Once
start cooking dinner, Tom brought out a bottle of excellent rum, held it up and said, "How about a drink?" Now it was ten months since I had tasted alcohol, and never once during that time had I even so much as thought about it. I never miss drinking — but that doesn't mean to say that I don't enjoy a drink or two, particularly rum, and I looked at the bottle in Tom Worth's hand, almost afraid of the effect it might have on me. He must have noticed my hesitation for he refrained from pouring a
each time as though a powerful hand were preventing me from moving. Since then I've heard that a man with a stiff neck is totally unable to force himself to turn his head suddenly. This was my predicament, complicated almost beyond endurance since my whole body seemed clamped in one vast, torturing vice. I still do not know how I did it. I simply cannot recall exactly how I summoned the energy and determination which enabled me to crawl the ten yards to the boat. I have no idea how long it took,