sjhstrangetales

BOUVET ISLAND – THE LAST PLACE ON EARTH

Posted on: October 10, 2015

Bouvet is the most remote island in the world.  It lies in the south Atlantic, 1600 miles from the coast of South Africa, 1700 miles from Queen Maud Land in Antarctic.  For a radius of a 1000 miles all around it, there is no other inhabited land.  It’s the only place on Earth to have this stark, frightening level of isolation.  It’s a volcanic island, largely made up of glacier.  Not surprisingly, it is completely uninhabited.

It was first sighted on New Year’s Day 1739 by Polar explorer Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier.  No one landed on it until 1825 though, and that claim is disputed.  George Norris named it Liverpool Island, and claimed it for the British Crown.  Attempts by serious seafarers, including Captain Cook, to find the island proved elusive.  It wasn’t finally fixed on a maritime map until 1898, when a German ship, the Valdivia, became the first boat to successfully circumnavigate it.  The first party to indisputably set foot on the island were the crew of a Norwegian supply vessel, the Norvegia, in 1927.  It was declared a Norwegian territory in 1930, and a nature reserve in 1971.

Pictures of it show a pretty grim and forbidding place, swathed in fog.  There is no safe landing area, surrounded as it is by sheer cliff face, so few people have actually set foot on it.   It’s snowy interior is prone to avalanches.  All of  which makes it’s most famous mystery, The Boat Of Bouvet Island, even more intriguing.

In the 1950s the island had a volcanic eruption, causing the formation of a low-lying lava plateau.  The South Africans showed an interest in establishing a weather station there, but didn’t send out a reconnaissance party until 1964.  The story goes that on Easter Sunday, 2 April,  the expedition finally landed on the island … and found an abandoned boat, 30 yards inland, in a lagoon inside the new land mass.  The boat was described as “a whaler or ship’s lifeboat”.   A copper tank and a water barrel were nearby.

The boat had no mast, sail or engine, no identifying marks, and only a pair of oars, which would have been pretty inadequate against the terrors of the south Atlantic.  Incredibly, the boat bore no signs of any damage. The party were on the island for only 45 minutes, and in that time they had to collect their rock samples and do their survey.  There was very little to explore the island and look for whoever the boat could have belonged to.  Even with even the most cursory of searches though, there should have been some evidence of human life, such a camp fire.  If the survivors had died there, where were their bodies? Others have suggested that the boat simply washed up there, but 30 yards inland, in an inshore lagoon?

No one returned to Bouvet for another 2 years, and the next party to land there found no trace of the mysterious boat.

Although the abandoned boat is the most famous mystery about this Godforsaken place, it isn’t the only one.  On 22 September 1979 there occurred the Vela Incident, aka as the South Atlantic Flash, in which an American satellite Vela 6911 detected double  flashes in the area close to Bouvet Island.  Some have speculated that this was a series of nuclear detonations.  If true, this would have gone against international law, and President Jimmy Carter ordered an inquiry into the event, much of which still remains strictly classified.  Others have argued the flashes weren’t of nuclear origin at all, but a rogue electronic signal, or a meteor hitting the Vela satellite.  Whatever the truth of the matter, the incident remains hotly disputed to this day.

In more recent times Bouvet has become the object of fascination for conspiracy theorists.  Since 1997 Bouvet, in spite of being completely uninhabited, has had it’s own Internet domain code “.BV”, which has led to some speculation that someone “high up” has a top secret base there.  In 2012 the Rev Michelle Hopkins – described by RationalWiki as “a Fundamentalist and extreme conservative” – claimed in a YouTube video to have detected mysterious HAARP signals coming from the island.

Bouvet, with it’s high cliffs and extreme isolation, has been described as the perfect lair for a Bond-style evil genius, or for the Illuminati to use as it’s headquarters.  Frankly, they’re welcome to it.

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