The Mystery Of The Boat In The Middle Of Bouvet Island

Bouvet Island is a small, uninhabited, and glacially-covered island located deep in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is considered one of the most isolated locations on Earth, with the nearest landmass being Antarctica. Its small size, at just nineteen square miles, and its remote location make it feel like the middle of nowhere.

But what makes the Bouvet Island even stranger is: In 1964, an abandoned lifeboat was found on this extremely isolated island. Apart from the boat, there was no other sign of human life or activity on the island and there are no trade routes running within 1,000 miles of this location. The origin of the boat is still a mystery.

Bouvet Island – The Most Isolated Place On Earth

Bouvet Island is the world's most remote island, located nearly 1,000 miles from Queen Maud Land, Antarctica and 1,400 miles from the nearest inhabited landmass, Tristan da Cunha. It is also 1,600 miles from the nearest country, South Africa, roughly the distance from Paris to Moscow.

The Mystery Behind A Boat On Bouvet Island

Bouvet Island was discovered in 1739 by Norwegian explorer Jean Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier. It is a rocky and icy wasteland, with no vegetation aside from a few lichens and mosses. From the air, it appears as a giant, flattened snowball. Norway has claimed the island as a territory since 1929, and in 1977 an automated weather station was built there. However, the island's most peculiar discovery occurred in 1964 when a team of researchers found a mysterious boat on the island, with no explanation for how it ended up there in such a remote and uninhabited location.

Bouvet – A Volcanic Island

In the 1950s, the South African government, with permission from Norway, conducted a feasibility study to determine if there was enough flat land on Bouvet Island to support the construction of a manned research station. However, they found that the island's terrain was not suitable for their needs. They also discovered that the island had grown, possibly due to a volcanic eruption, but the harsh weather conditions made it difficult to conduct a thorough study of the new landmass.

Discovery Of The Mystery Boat On Bouvet Island

In April 1964, the South African team returned to Bouvet Island to continue their study of the newer parts of the island. During their exploration, they made a strange discovery: a boat marooned in a lagoon on the island, with a pair of oars a few hundred yards away. The boat had no identifying markings and, although there was some evidence that people had been on board, no human remains were found. The mystery of how the boat ended up on the remote and uninhabited island remains unsolved.

The Questions That Remain Mystery To This Day

There are many questions surrounding the discovery of the boat on Bouvet Island. How did a boat end up in such a remote location, over a thousand miles from civilization? Who was on the boat and how did they get there with just a pair of oars? What happened to the crew? London historian Mike Dash looked into the mystery but was unable to provide any conclusive answers. The case remains unsolved.

Possible Explanations

There have been many theories about how the boat ended up on Bouvet Island, with some suggesting that it was carried there by ocean currents. However, the South African government found the boat in a lagoon on the island, with two oars nearby. There were signs that humans had been on board, but there were no bodies. Some have speculated that the bodies were washed away at sea, but this seems unlikely given the isolated location of the lagoon on the island. The mystery remains unsolved.

Some people have theorized that the crew of the boat somehow managed to drift to the island and then take the boat into the lagoon to protect it from the tide. They may have then died of starvation or dehydration near the beach, with their bodies being washed away by the sea. However, this is just speculation and there is no concrete evidence to support this theory.

According to the Transactions of the Oceanographical Institute (Moscow, 1960), page 129, the scientific reconnaissance vessel "Slava-9" began its 13th cruise with the "Slava" Antarctic whaling fleet on October 22, 1958. On November 27, it arrived at Bouvet Island and a group of sailors landed. They were unable to leave the island due to worsening weather conditions and stayed there for about three days. They were eventually rescued by helicopter on November 29, 1958. This may be the most convincing and rational explanation for the presence of the boat on the island.

There is also a theory that a group of soldiers lost at sea during World War II drifted to Bouvet Island and were eventually rescued by helicopter or ship, leaving the boat abandoned on the island. However, there is no evidence to support this claim. There are many theories about the strange discovery of the boat on Bouvet Island, but it is difficult to determine which, if any, is true.

The Vela Incident

The Vela Incident is another strange event that is sometimes linked to the mystery of the boat on Bouvet Island. The incident occurred on September 22, 1979, in the area between Bouvet and Prince Edward Islands, when the American Vela Hotel satellite 6911 recorded an unexplained double flash. While the flash has been variously interpreted as a nuclear test, a meteor, or an instrumentation glitch, many people remain curious about the true cause of the event.


Due to the remote location and inhospitable landscape of Bouvet Island, the mystery of the boat and its potential crew has gone largely unexplored for over 50 years. It is likely that this mystery will remain one of history's most sensational unsolved cases.