In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (or Sorcerer's Stone), Hagrid Tells Harry he "flew" when asked how he'd gotten to the rock, but the two take the boat back to the mainland leaving the Dursleys on the rock in the little shack without transport back to the mainland themselves or Magic to help them get any.

The place is described as being so out of the way that I don't imagine cel service was good - Not that Dursley is ever described in a way that makes you think he had a phone with him to begin with.

So, first, how did they get back off the rock? and second, how is it they didn't kill Harry when he returned to them after his trip to Diagon Alley? After-all their son now has a tail and their experience trapped on the rock must have been harrowing.


6 Answers 6


The second question is easy: they were terrified of Harry's protector(s), e.g. Hagrid.

A popular theory is that the Ministry memory-flashy-thingied them to forget that, but that doesn't fly as the tail had to be surgically removed much later, and if MoM was involved, they'd have fixed that along with the memories (and see comment from @balanced mama below dispelling that theory completely).

The first question is harder - the answer is "no canon answer". Nothing in the books, nothing in JKR interviews, nothing (IIRC) on Pottermore. Either the island had some other boat, or Coastguard (or whateverthehell Limeys call it) chanced upon them and rescued them.

  • 9
    Actually, any one that believes the Ministry useda memory-flashy-thingy, missed a detail in Order of the Phoenix, when Vernon is listing grievances he has with Harry in the chapter, "Peck of Owls" and Dursley mentions the tail (pg. 39 in the scholastic edition from 2003). If a memory charm had been used on him, he wouldn't be able to list the tail. Dec 6, 2013 at 23:12
  • 13
    @DKV we call it the Maritime and Coastguard Agency or Her Majesty's Coastguard
    – CyanAngel
    Oct 20, 2014 at 8:52
  • 2
    I don't think Dursleys ever had memory charm done on them, why bother when they already know what harry is. Apr 16, 2020 at 4:02

In Chapter 4 Harry and the Dursleys could see the island and the hut from the coast:

It was very cold outside the car. Uncle Vernon was pointing at what looked like a large rock way out at sea. Perched on top of the rock was the most miserable little shack you could imagine.

So the Dursleys were probably able to wave for help after Harry and Hagrid left. Perhaps they were spotted by the toothless old man with the wicked grin when he came looking for his boat later.

  • 3
    And since this takes place at the British coast, there should be some differences in the height of the water due to tide. Maybe they just had to wait a few hours for the sealevel to drop and then make their way back on foot (even if it would have been muddy)...
    – BMWurm
    Aug 13, 2017 at 14:52

I was just thinking about this and here's my theory:

Hagrid and Harry left the boat on the shore. My guess is the old toothless man saw this and assumed they had left, so he went back out to the house to clean it up for the next guest.

When he got there he probably found the Dursleys and brought them back.

Now this assumes that the old man was the one who rented the house, and that he cares enough to clean it up. But I think it's the best explanation for this little plot hole.

My other theory is that he saw the boat, and the car, and after a day or so went out to check on them.

  • 1
    Heyo, welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy! Generally, answers are better when they provide some sort of backup for themselves, such as a quote from the books or JKR; would it be possible for you to substantiate this with something like that? :)
    – Mithical
    Dec 14, 2017 at 21:20
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    @Mothrandir True, but the idea that the old man saw the car was still there and went out to get them is much more plausible to my mind than DVK's one (also without attribution) that the coastguard chanced upon them randomly. Dec 15, 2017 at 13:09

Maybe Hagrid sent the boat back to then by magic and it just wasn't mentioned. This would be much better than him leaving them stranded.

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    This seems like sheer guesswork
    – Valorum
    Aug 13, 2017 at 11:13
  • Magic can do this (Voldemort's boat in Half-Blood Prince), so it's a known method from JKR canon.
    – Gaultheria
    Aug 13, 2017 at 15:15

Perhaps the toothless old man came back (maybe Vernon only rented it for one day and saw them there. That's the answer that makes the most sense so far.

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. You seem to be simply agreeing with an existing answer instead of adding something new (like we know for certain that the old man would have visited the hut). New answers should only be posted to provide answers that aren't covered by existing answers; please read How to Answer.
    – DavidW
    Apr 16, 2020 at 2:04

My best guess is that Hagrid magicked the boat back to the island with his pink umbrella so the Dursleys could get back home.

  • 2
    That seems like a pure guess. Hagrid is the master of beasts. Perhaps he sent them some thestrals.
    – Valorum
    Dec 29, 2017 at 20:08

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