Story of survival - man lost at sea for 66 days on his sailboat is rescued

10 April 2015 • Written by Risa Merl

An American man, Louis Jordan, who was lost at sea for 66 days has been reunited with his family.

Frank Jordan reported his son as missing on January 29, nearly a week after Jordan took his 35-foot sailboat, Angel, out of a marina in Conway, South Carolina, for a fishing trip.

Angel was dismasted after boat capsized in rough weather. “The mast was broken and all his [communications] gear was damaged,” says Krystyn Pecora, US Coast Guard external affairs office.

This left the sailor as a sitting duck, drifting along in the Atlantic. Making the situation more challenging, Louis Jordan suffered a broken shoulder when his boat flipped, rendering it nearly impossible to make any repairs on his boat. As his shoulder healed, he says he was able to cobble together a makeshift mast and rig, but due to strong ocean currents he didn’t make much ground.

After more than two months lost at sea, a German container ship spotted Jordan nearly 200 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. The US Coast Guard was on the scene quickly, airlifting Louis Jordan to safety, where he was reunited with his family in Norfolk, Virginia.

In the video below from CNN, Louis Jordan appears with a full beard, sunburned nose and is weary-eyed, but, as Kyle McCollum, a Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd who helped rescued the sailor, points out, Jordan could be a lot worse. “You’d expect severe sunburn, blisters maybe, a bunch of medical issues that could be wrong with him for not eating for so long or not being hydrated, but for him to be in his current state is pretty amazing.”

To survive, he rationed what little water and food he had available on the boat, and when this ran out, he tried to collect rainwater, a process that was often thwarted by incoming waves. But when conditions were agreeable, Louis Jordan says he was able to fill up his 25-gallon water tank and a bucket, and he stayed hydrated by drinking about a pint a day, near the daily minimum for survival.

Louis Jordan found an innovative way to catch fish that aided in his survival. Noticing that the fish were attracted to his clothes that he’d drag behind the boat to clean his “laundry”, he found he could then scoop the fish up with a net. Though a novice sailor, he attributes his survival to the time he’s spent living on his boat recently and becoming well acquainted with his vessel.

“I’ve been struggling with work, I’ve been living on the sailboat, catching my food from the river with a net,” Louis Jordan tells CNN in the video below.

He also says his faith saw him through, referencing the Bible. “When you hear about people surviving for a long time in those conditions, they always have a Bible, that’s like the main thing that keeps people going. There’s power in that like nothing else.

Due to Louis Jordan’s apparent robustness upon his rescue, some skeptics have questioned his story of survival, even questioning his broken shoulder. Jordan says his answer is simple, that his shoulder healed over the two months. Kyle McCollum told the AP that upon examination, Jordan’s shoulder had slight bruising but was moving fluidly now.

“I don’t doubt his story at all, when I flew over and saw the smile on his face, that was good enough for me,” Kyle McCollum told CNN.

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