Man Survives 16-Months Adrift At Sea

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I wrote about this story yesterday at the Wenger Blog, but it is such an interesting tale, that I thought it was worth sharing here as well. Additionally, more details have come to light, shedding some insights into what exactly happened.

Last week, a small boat washed up on the shore of a remote atoll in the South Pacific after spending more than 16 months adrift at sea. Aboard was a man named Jose Salvador Alvarenga, who along with a traveling companion, was fishing off the coast of Mexico in September of 2012. A large storm hit, pushing their 24-foot boat out from shore. Without power, they were at the mercy of the Pacific currents, which carried them further and further from the coast.

With little food onboard, the two castaways were forced to forage for food, eating fish, small birds, and sharks. They collected rainwater to drink but often went for long periods of time without anything eat or drink. In order to survive, they would even drink their own urine. Alvarenga says that his teenage companion was unable to stomach their unusual diet, and slowly starved to death a little more than a month into their voyage. The 37-year old Alvarenga said he pushed the body overboard not long after the young man passed.

The Pacific tides carried the small boat away from North America and into the South Pacific. The weeks turned into months, and still the boat continued to drift. Jose said that at times he contemplated suicide as a way to escape. But he hung on, clinging to life and hoping for a possible rescue.

Last Thursday, Alvarenga’s battered little boat washed ashore on the Ebon Atoll, a small island that is part of the Marshall Islands. Over the course of his 16 months at sea, he had drifted more than 6000 miles, and he arrived in an exhausted, malnourished state.

Reportedly he is on the mend now and his family back in Mexico have identified him. But there are some holes in his story, and investigators are trying to verify what they can. The story seems remarkable and difficult to believe, but there doesn’t seem to be any other way he would arrive in the Marshall Islands.

I’m sure we’ll hear more about this in the days ahead. It is certainly an incredible tale of survival. Jose will probably have book deals and movie contracts waiting for him when he gets back home.

Thanks to Lou-Phi for sharing the original story.

Kraig Becker

2 thoughts on “Man Survives 16-Months Adrift At Sea”

  1. You don't think he looks a bit robust after an ordeal like this? My first thought was that he looks to healthy to be true. No sunburn, cracked lips, etc. etc. ???

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