A Colombian man has been rescued after spending a remarkable two months stranded at sea aboard a disabled 23-foot skiff.
The 29-year-old man arrived in Honolulu in relatively good condition on Wednesday after being rescued by the crew of the Panamanian flagged bulk carrier Nikkei Verde on April 26 in the middle of the Pacific Ocean more than 2,000 miles southeast of Hawaii.
According to the man, there were three other people with him aboard the skiff when its engine became disabled, but tragically all three perished. Their bodies were not on the skiff when spotted by the crew of the bulk carrier, however the survivor did surrender their passports to officials, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The man told rescuers that he caught and ate fish and seagulls to stay alive.
Following his rescue, the man told Coast Guard personnel that he “very happy” to be back on dry land, but he would have loved for his friends to be rescued along with him.
“This mariner had great fortitude and is very fortunate the crew of the Nikkei Verde happened upon him as the area he was in is not heavily trafficked,” said Lt. Cmdr. John MacKinnon, Joint Rescue Coordination Center chief with the Coast Guard 14th District. “The Pacific is vast and inherently dangerous and all mariners respect that. These merchant mariners did the right thing in rendering assistance and most mariners heed the obligation to render assistance at sea, found in the Safety Of Life At Sea Convention, out of a sense of duty and understanding rather than required compliance.”
The story is remarkable, but it’s not completely unheard of for real-life castaways to survive long stretches lost at sea.
In January 2014, a man from El Salvador washed up on a Marshall Islands atoll after allegedly surviving more than 13 months adrift in the Pacific on a 24-foot skiff. The man said him and a teenage boy set out on a one day fishing trip in December 2012, but the skiff lost power and they were swept out to sea by strong winds and current.
The boy died four months into the ordeal, but the man said he survived by drinking turtle blood and catching and eating fish, birds and sharks that he caught by hand. He was later accused – actually sued – by the boy’s family for eating his crewmate.
Below is an interview the Colombian survivor gave to the Coast Guard following his rescue: