Six years on the polar island

We all know from childhood the story of the sailor Robinson Crusoe, who lived for many years on a desert island. Interestingly, in the eighteenth century, four Russian sailors lived on an uninhabited island for more than six years, and the conditions there were much more severe than those of the hero of the book, Daniel Defoe.

In 1743, a fishing vessel with a crew of fourteen left the town of Mezen, Arkhangelsk province. The Pomors headed for the island of Spitsbergen, where whales, walruses and seals have been hunted for a long time.

On the ninth day of the journey, a strong wind arose, and the fishermen lost their course. Instead of the western coast of Svalbard, they ended up at its eastern part, near the island of Little Brun.

Four fishermen decided to disembark and find a hut, erected several years ago by hunters from Mezen. Alexey Khimkov, 47 years old, went to the island, his son (according to other sources - godson) Ivan Khimkov, 23 years old, 35-year-old Stepan Sharapov and Fyodor Verigin, 30 years old.

Two miles from the coast, the sailors found a hut, where they spent the night. In the morning they went ashore to carry food and equipment with their comrades. But they did not find their ship. A fierce storm carried the ship into the open sea and they did not see their friends again.

All the hermits' equipment consisted of a gun, twelve rounds, a pot, a knife, and twenty pounds of flour.

The struggle for survival began. There were no trees growing on the polar island; it was necessary to collect wooden wrecks of shipwrecked ships on the coast and heat their dwellings with them. Spears and arrowheads were made from nails.

With danger to their lives, they had to hunt polar bears. The meat of animals was used for food, and clothes were sewn from the skins. In addition to bears, they managed to hunt deer and arctic foxes.

In order to fight scurvy, the Pomors collected scarce vegetation on the island and drank the blood of killed animals. Fyodor Verigin could not overcome his aversion to such drinking and in 1748 died of scurvy.

Only six years and three months later did the captives see a ship approaching the island. The ship belonged to the Arkhangelsk merchant Amos Kornilov, who agreed to deliver the hermits to Arkhangelsk.

On September 28, 1749 the ship with the rescued Pomors arrived at the port. Finally, they were able to see their relatives, who had long thought they were dead.

The Russian Academy of Sciences became interested in the adventures of Russian sailors. Pundits questioned the very fact of the possibility of autonomous survival of people in such conditions. But subsequent expeditions confirmed the accuracy of the stories of the Pomors and even found a hut in which they spent a long six years.