Renowned big game hunter Sanger Rainsford was on the way to South America to track the elusive jaguar along the Amazon River when he first came upon Ship-Trap Island. Rainsford was aboard his yacht, talking with his friend, Whitney, when they passed near the island, invisible in the darkness of the night. After Whitney went to bed, Rainsford decided to enjoy a last smoke before retiring for the night. When he heard a gunshot in the distance,
He leaped upon the rail and balanced himself there, to get greater elevation; his pipe, striking a rope, was knocked from his mouth. He lunged for it; a short, hoarse cry came from his lips as he realized he had reached too far and had lost his balance. The cry was pinched off short as the blood-warm waters of the Caribbean Sea closed over his head.
Rainsford could not swim fast enough to catch up with his yacht, so he swam through the dark waters for the unseen shore. Growing tired, Rainsford began to wonder if he could make it, but when he heard the sound of waves crashing on the rocks, he summoned his last energy to pull himself ashore.