Abandoned Life Boat At World’s-End

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Another short scene for GMs. Why was a life-boat and some equipment found abandoned on the most isolated island on Earth?

Bouvet Island is a cold, storm and fog shrouded speck of land lost in the immensity of the Southern Ocean. The nearest land is the Antarctic mainland 1750 kilometres away. The nearest inhabited land is somewhat further. The nearest shipping lane is over 1600 kilometers away. Nevertheless, in 1964 a South African expedition discovered an abandoned ship’s boat in an inland lagoon. On nearby rocks were found a pair of oars, pieces of wood, a 44 gallon drum and a copper buoyancy tank which had been opened out flat. More information can be found here.

There were no signs of castaways yet the boat, which was still sea-worthy, would have had to be man-hauled across beach and scree to get it to the lagoon.

Given that this was the height of the Cold War, to my mind the most likely explanation is that a clandestine Soviet expedition had recently visited the island – which was and is Norwegian territory – and had to leave quickly due to worsening conditions. The weather of climate of Bouvet Island starts out at horrible and goes downhill from there.

For gaming purposes, more outre explanations can be considered. Over on the Bad Science forums it was suggested that Bouvet Island would be the ideal place for a supervillain’s secret island base. Personally I would find the weather a little inclement and there would be a distinct lack of dusky maidens to cater to one’s every whim. On the plus side, James Bond or similar nosy types would not be able to drop in unannounced or unnoticed.

Perhaps the boat crew had been beamed up by a starship. Perhaps they were time travellers. Perhaps this island is the site of R’lyeh and the crew had fallen victim to Great Cthulhu.

Finally, in the Divine Comedy, Dante placed Purgatory on an island in the southern hemisphere. Maybe this volcanic speck hides a gateway to Hell.

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