Russian Robinsons! How four sailors spent 6 years on a desert island
Russian Robinsons! How four sailors spent 6 years on a desert island

In the middle of the 18th century, the book of the scientist Pierre Louis Leroy was discussed. In which it was told about the adventures of Russian sailors who found themselves on the island of Spitsbergen due to the outbreak of a storm, about the difficulties they had to face and courageous resilience in the face of danger.

The book was written in French, but very soon Leroy's work was translated into other languages, because the book interested so many people. Six years after the publication, the book was also translated into Russian. The name was also translated and began to sound as follows: "The adventures of four Russian sailors, brought to the island of Ost-Spitsbergen by a storm, where they lived for six years and three months."


The book has become one of the most interesting in the adventure genre. Such works have always attracted attention, and especially when they were written based on real events. So this story is not fiction, which makes it even more interesting.

The book describes the events that took place in 1743. In the summer of that year, the crew, led by Eremey Okladnikov, sailed to the island of Spitsbergen. The crew consisted of fourteen people. In these northern seas, Russian sailors had to catch whales, seals and walruses for further sale. At that time, trade in marine animals was actively developing. This business was very profitable. The trade was established, all that remained was to catch the animals and go to where the sale took place. Russian sailors have been involved in this business for a long time.

For the first eight days the weather was conducive to a calm overcoming of the path. The sailors sailed to their destination without any problems. However, on the ninth day, a storm arose, from which the sailors were thrown to the eastern part of the island of Spitsbergen, although they had to get to the western side, since that was where the merchant ships stopped. The eastern part of the island was not developed, and the sailors knew this very well.


The situation was aggravated by the fact that the sailors fell into an ice trap. In the end, they decided to leave the ship and land on the island. Alexey Khimkov, who was the navigator of the ship, recalled that Russian sailors had already once stopped on this island, or rather, they lived on the island for several months and hunted animals. Alexey also said that it was necessary to find a hut, which was then built by the sailors, because it could have survived.

In search of the hut, it was decided to send four crew members, including Aleksey Khimikov. At that time he was 47 years old. The navigator was accompanied by his godson and two sailors. They were younger than Khimikov, but all four were clever and quick-witted. The rest of the crew remained on board to wait. They did not want to go all together, so as not to leave the ship. In addition, it was not easy to move on the ice floe, and fourteen people could simply break through the ice.

The distance from the ship to the coast was short, but every centimeter was dangerous. Sailors made their way through ice floes, cracks, gaps covered with snow. It was necessary to act very carefully and carefully so as not to get injured. The sailors took some food with them, as well as a gun with cartridges, an ax, some flour, a knife, smoking tobacco with pipes, as well as a brazier and a few other things.

The sailors were able to reach the island without loss. Almost immediately they found a hut, which was quite large in size. Surely they themselves did not expect the hut to be so big. The hut was divided into two parts, one of which was an upper room.A Russian stove was installed here. It was heated in black, while the smoke came out of the doors and windows, so no one in the house felt discomfort. It was also possible to sleep on the stove.


The sailors decided to light the stove to keep warm. They were glad that they were able to find the hut, because now they will have where to spend the night. The four sailors spent the night in a hut, and in the morning went to the ship, where the rest of the crew were waiting for them. They were going to tell everyone about the hut, as well as collect all the food for the island and other things that might be needed. The sailors hoped to wait out for a while in the hut, because it was safer than being on the ship.

The sailors left the hut and headed for the shore, but they saw what they had never expected to see. The shore was clean, the sea calm, no ice and no ship. The night storm either broke the ship to pieces, or carried it to the open sea along with the ice floe into which the ship fell. The sailors realized that they would no longer see their comrades. And so it happened. The fate of the comrades remained unknown.

The sailors experienced real horror. But there was nowhere to go. They went back to the hut and began to think about what to do. They had twelve rounds with them, which meant that they could shoot just as many wild reindeer. The food issue was closed for a while. But that was not enough to survive on this island.

Then they began to think about how to insulate the hut. The fact is that during all this time, while no one lived there, huge cracks appeared on the walls. Fortunately, the sailors quickly figured out how to use moss, which was abundant on the island. They used it to caulk the walls. This improved the situation because the air was no longer blown through the hut. They also repaired the broken parts of the hut.


For heating, the sailors used the wreckage of ships that they found on the shore, and they also often stumbled upon whole trees that were uprooted and thrown ashore. Thanks to this, the hut was always warm.

So they lived for some time, but then the food ran out, and the cartridges too, and there was no more gunpowder. At this time, one of the sailors found a board on the island, into which nails and an iron hook were driven. This was very helpful, because it was with the help of this board that the sailors decided to defend themselves from polar bears, which caused them inconvenience. In addition, sailors had to hunt in order not to starve to death.

For this, spears were needed, which the sailors made from everything they found on the island, as well as from their own devices. The result was very reliable and strong spears, with the help of which the comrades could hunt. They ate the meat of bears, deer and other animals. They made clothes for themselves from the skins so as not to freeze. In short, they began to slowly adapt to life on the island.

For six years sailors provided themselves with food and clothing only with the help of these homemade weapons. Over the years, they have killed ten polar bears. And they attacked the first one themselves, because they really wanted to eat. But they had to kill the rest of the bears, because they posed a threat. The bears were breaking the hut and attacking the sailors. So it was impossible to get out of the hut without a spear. However, no one was hurt at the hands of the bears.

They ate meat half-baked, but it was impossible to do otherwise, since the fuel reserves were very small. The sailors tried to save on fuel in every way. There was no salt on the island, as well as bread and cereals. So the sailors had a very difficult time. Over time, this food was already tired, but the sailors could do nothing. There were no trees growing on the island, no plants or other animals.

In addition, it was also difficult for them because of the climate. It was very cold on the island; it rained constantly in summer. Polar nights and mountains of snow intensified the situation. The sailors missed home very much. Alexei was expected by his wife and three children.But even informing them that he was alive was impossible. The household members, for sure, already believed that Alexei and the rest of the crew were dead.

Over time, they learned to smoke meat in order to somehow diversify their diet. There were a lot of springs on the island, so the sailors had no problems with drinking either in summer or in winter.

Soon the sailors faced another problem - scurvy. This disease was dangerous, but still it was possible to fight it. The godson of Alexei Ivan advised everyone to chew on a special herb, of which there was a lot on the island, and also to drink the warm blood of deer. Ivan also said that you need to move a lot in order not to get sick.


The comrades began to follow these recommendations and noticed that they became very mobile and active. However, one of the sailors - Fyodor Verigin - refused to drink blood because he was disgusted. He was also very slow. His illness progressed very quickly. Every day he got worse and worse. He stopped getting out of bed, and his comrades took turns taking care of him. The disease turned out to be stronger, and the sailor died. The sailors took the death of their friend very hard.

The comrades were afraid that the fire might go out. They did not have dry wood, so if the fire were extinguished, it would be very difficult to light it. They decided to make a lamp that would illuminate the hut and keep the fire going. As a result, they managed to make several lamps using clay, flour, canvas, and deer bacon. We can say that the sailors managed to make many items with their hands that they needed.

They also made needles and an awl to sew clothes from fur and leather. Without this, they would simply freeze and die. Before that, they also made clothes from hides and leather, but this took a long time. And with the help of a needle, the process went much faster. The sailors began to sew pants, shirts, and boots. In the summer they wore one dress, and in the winter they wore another. Sailors covered themselves at night with the same skins, so they were always warm.

The sailors had their own calendar, where they counted the days. It was not easy to do this, because polar days and nights lasted for several months. However, the sailors managed to count the days almost correctly. For this, Chemists Sr. made a special stick, with which he followed the movement of the sun and the stars in order to count the time.

When a ship sailed to the island after them, the islanders' calendar was August 13, but in fact it was August 15 at that time. But these two days were not considered a big mistake. It's a miracle that the sailors generally kept the countdown.


The sailors were saved in the seventh year of their stay on the island. They were going about their business that day when they saw the ship. It belonged to a Russian merchant and was on its way to Arkhangelsk. Due to the wind, the ship changed its direction and ended up in the eastern part of the island. The sailors quickly lit a fire and waved to be noticed. They were very afraid that they might not be seen, and this was the first ship in seven years.

Fortunately, the sailors were seen. The ship approached the coast, and the islanders asked to take them home. They took with them everything that they made on the island and everything that they got, including the skins and fat of animals. On the ship, the sailors breathed a sigh of relief, but began to work, because they not only asked to go home, but also promised to work as sailors on the ship.

At the end of September 1749, the ship ended up in Arkhangelsk. Three sailors stood on deck as the ship sailed to shore. Khimikov's wife was among those who met the ship. When she saw her husband, she threw herself into the water to get to him as soon as possible. All these seven years, she considered her husband dead. The woman almost drowned in the water, but everything ended well. The chemists were very frightened then, because he could lose his spouse.

The sailors made it home safely, where they became real heroes. However, not everyone believed that all these years they had really been on the island.The commission, consisting of professors from the Russian Academy of Sciences, questioned all the sailors. Ivan and Alexey Khimikovs were invited to St. Petersburg, where they again talked about life on the island. The professors believed them only when Alexey told about when the sun appeared after the polar night, and also when it disappeared.

Experts were convinced that we are talking specifically about the island of Spitsbergen, because all this characterized this particular place. There was no longer any doubt. The sailors began to be considered real heroes, everyone wanted to talk to them and find out how they managed to survive in such conditions.

All the things of the sailors were transferred to Leroy, who undertook to write a book about the adventures of Russian sailors on the island. At the end of his story, Leroy noticed that the lot of the Russian sailors fell to much more problems than Robinson Crusoe. At the very least, the literary hero was lucky with the climate. Still, it is much easier to survive the heat in a tent or in a cave, you can also swim in the ocean. But the sailors had to live in severe frosts, which, it would seem, do not end.

Unfortunately, the three of them returned home, having lost their friend and comrade Fyodor on the island. However, the sailors were confident that the sailor could cope with the disease if he listened to their recommendations. But remembering the past was already pointless. They were glad that at least three of them could return home. After a short respite and rest, the sailors returned to work. Even this story did not frighten them, but still they tried to be careful.

In his book, Leroy argued that Russian sailors had shown themselves courageous and courageous. They were not scared when they were on the island, but immediately realized what to do in order to survive. They were very lucky that there was a hut with a stove on the island. It is possible that this is what saved them. But it is likely that if there were no hut, the sailors themselves would have been able to build something, although they did not have all the necessary tools and building materials.

For a long time, they wrote about sailors in newspapers and talked about them in different parts of the country. They never tired of answering questions and telling how they lived on the island, what they ate, etc. The comrades became real heroes, but did not consider themselves to be such.

But Leroy doubts that someone would manage to live seven years on an island where it is constantly cold and frosty, where there are polar days and nights for months. He constantly emphasized that the sailors were Russian. He wanted to show how brave and strong the Russian people are.

Leroy's book was immensely popular. It is not surprising that it was translated into different languages, because people all over the world wanted to read about the feat of Russian sailors. Gradually millions of people learned about the comrades. And even after hundreds of years, the history of sailors is not forgotten. Leroy's book is recognized as one of the most interesting, related to the adventures of people on the island.

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