A gruesome tale of survival and cannibalism still fascinates after three hundred years.
In a driving snow and gale force winds on the night of December 11, 1710, the British merchant vessel Nottingham Galley struck a ledge six miles off the southern Maine coast. As the ship broke apart, her fifteen sailors jumped into the cold, raging sea and swam for the rock. There the survivors endured cold and starvation for twenty-four days.
Former Down East magazine managing editor Andrew Vietze first wrote about the gruesome events that unfolded on that barren ledge in the December 2010 issue of Down East (“They Asked If They Could Eat the Body”). Now with Boon Island: A True Story of Mutiny, Shipwreck, and Cannibalism (Globe Pequot Press, Guildford, Connecticut; paperback; 220 pages; $16.95 ), Vietze and historian Stephen Erickson delve more deeply into the gripping tale, which begins weeks before the shipwreck aboard the Nottingham Galley, under the command of the brutal Captain John Deane. The authors examine the disparate accounts of captain and crew in precise, page-turning detail.