July 31, 1761: The French ship l'Utile, illegally transporting 160 Africans from Madagascar to Ile de France (Mauritius), approaches Sand Island. Because the captain worries about a potential revolt, he orders the hatches to be nailed shut. In the night, the ship runs into a reef and capsizes.
What follows is, arguably, the most extraordinary story of survival ever documented.
More than 70 Africans trapped in the hold died that night, while 123 French crew and passengers (18 had died) escaped. Only Read More ›