How This Fisherman Survived 14 Months Adrift In The Pacific Ocean
A human being can only persist so much before their mind or body gives in. However, there is a special breed of human beings who when faced with dire situations persevere. They have that inner strength that allows them to push beyond the limitations of ordinary people and live. That was true for Salvador Alvarenga….
1. How it All Started
This 36-year-old from El Salvador was out on his fishing boat doing what he knew best. However, his life took a turn for the worse on one of his fishing trips with a buddy of his. After just two days out in the open sea, the two men were faced with one of the hardest times of their lives.
2. The Fisherman
Salvador Alvarenga was an ordinary fisherman trying to eke out a living on his fishing boat. He was going to go on the fishing trip with Ray Perez, a friend of his. However, something came up and Ray was not able to go along on the trip. Salvador then arranged for another friend of his, Ezequiel Cordoba to come on the fishing trip with him.
3. Supplies for the Boat
They loaded their boat full of all the supplies they would need for the fishing trip. They did not forget to bring a mobile phone that they kept safely in a plastic bag. Other items that they brought along on the trip were a two-way radio, and GPS. Although they had never worked together before, they seemed to have a good idea of what they needed.
4. Going Back Home
After about two days at the sea, the fisherman began his slow advance back to the coast. The sea was a bit rough, but it did not seem to be anything alarming. Salvador was handling the situation well. However, his friend did not seem to be coping so well.
5. The Storm Gets worse
As the situation began to worsen, his buddy began to panic. He had signed on for the trip in a bid to make $50. However, he had not expected that the situation would be so bad. He held on desperately to the rails as the waves crashed into their boat. He was also vomiting and wailing quite loudly.
6. The Storm Calms Down
Salvador was able to navigate through the storm. However, when things calmed down, he could see that they had drifted away from the shore. To make the situation worse, their motor was no longer working.
7. A Desperate Call
When Salvador noticed that the boat’s motor was gone, he made a call to his boss. He told the boss about the predicament and that they had drifted miles away from shore. However, there was no response. To make things worse, their GPS was not working. The coast guard told them to anchor their boat and wait for rescue but Salvador had not brought along an anchor.
8. Boat Filling Up with Water
The waves began to crash against their boat. They did their best to unload the water, but it was a lot of work. In the distance, they could see more waves coming towards them that were much bigger than their tiny boat. The waves were unpredictable, and it took all their effort just not to be thrown off the boat.
9. It Was Freezing Cold
After being tossed around their tiny boat for hours, the effort to hold on had taken up all of their energy. They huddled together in a refrigerator-sized icebox in an effort to keep warm. The two men took turns going out into the sea to scoop out water from the boat.
10. Experience Saved Them
Salvador could see a pond of water growing at their feet. However, he tried to ignore it, He knew that he needed to have the boat aligned with the sea if he was to avoid capsizing. He knew that if he could keep them alive, he would eventually find a way for them to navigate back to shore.
11. Taking Stock of What they Had
After unloading water from the boat, the sailor and his buddy began to take stock of what they still had to worry about. Their boat was as long as two trucks and as wide as one truck. However, it had no raised structures and was thus invisible at sea. Their biggest problem, however, turned out to be their catch of fish.
12. Dumping the Fish
The fishermen had managed to catch about 1,100 pounds of fish. However, the catch had made their boat top heavy. They needed to get rid of it or their boat would capsize. However, the act of dumping the fish would haunt them for weeks.
13. They Needed An Alternative Food Source
As they continued to drift out to sea, their food supply continued to diminish. They were left with no food and no means to catch fish or to collect water. To fix their food shortage, the two began to catch sea turtles, seabirds, and jellyfish to satiate their hunger. Luckily, for them, it began to rain two weeks after they became stranded at sea.
14. Keeping it Together
While Salvador had become accustomed to eating raw fish and seabirds, his friend was not doing so well. His physical and mental health had vastly deteriorated. One time his friend got sick from eating a seabird and swore never to eat again.
15. Cordoba’s Death
Salvador promised to go the Chiapas, Mexico to tell his mother that he regretted not being able to say good-bye to her. After his friend died, Salvador was in grief he screamed at him “Don’t leave me alone! You have to fight for life! What am I going to do here alone?”
16. A Burial At Sea
For a few days, Salvador pretended that Cordoba was still alive. He talked to him and answered himself. However, he eventually accepted that he was dead and threw him overboard.
17. An Island in the Horizon
After drifting for a while after burying his friend at sea, Salvador came upon a small island. At first, he thought that it might be a hallucination. However, he eventually convinced himself it was real and moved towards it.
18. Land At Last
Salvador crawled naked on the beach before he eventually came to the realization that he had reached land. It turned out he had come upon the Tile Islet, which was part of the Ebon Atoll.
19. Saved At Last
He stumbled through the undergrowth until he reached a small canal. On the other side was a home of Emi Libokmeto and Russel Laikidrik, her husband. Despite unimaginable torment, Salvador had survived. He had been out at sea for 438 days. Soon he was reunited with his family. However, he took time to go and deliver a message to Cordoba’ mother