Imagine you’re on an idyllic crossing, halfway between Hawaii and Fiji. The sky and sea are impossible shades of blue, the wind fills your sails, and life couldn’t get much better. You see you’re on course for a tiny, pork chop-shaped atoll in the Phoenix Island chain in the Republic of Kiribati, so you decide, "What the heck?" and weave your way into the breathtakingly beautiful lagoon. What greets you is not a jolly, healthy tribe of islanders, but a rag-tag group of 24 malnourished, real-life castaways.
That’s what happened this month to British skipper Alex Bond who, while delivering the 33-ft sailboat Mary Powell from Hawaii to Australia, stopped at Kanton Island, the Phoenix chain’s only inhabited island. As Kanton has very few natural resources — except coconuts and fish — the islanders rely on provisions brought in by boat. According to Bond, the supply boat had broken down some months before, leaving the population of 14 adults and 10 children to fend for themselves. "They have no starch, no calcium, no bananas; all they have is fish and coconuts," Bond told a British paper. "Nobody is dying, but the children have got very bowed legs, very serious calcium deficiencies and really bad teeth."
Bond immediately gave the villagers everything he could spare from his own provisions, then placed a call to the Falmouth Coastguard. They got in touch with the Honolulu Coast Guard, who are coordinating a food drop for the island. “They were extremely glad to see us and we’ve stayed on to help coordinate the food delivery," Bond said. "We’re not leaving until I know they are okay. They are wonderful people.”