View Full Version : lost at sea for nine months

08-19-2006, 03:08 PM


Fishermen Rescued After Nine Months at Sea

By Gunther Hamm, Reuters

SAN BLAS, Mexico (Aug. 17) - Three Mexican fishermen have been rescued after drifting for about nine months across thousands of miles of the Pacific Ocean in a small boat, an ordeal they survived by eating raw birds and fish and drinking rain water.
The shark fishermen said on Wednesday they left their home town of San Blas on Mexico's Pacific coast in November and were blown 5,000 miles off course after their 25-foot fiberglass boat ran out of gas and they were left to the mercy of the winds and the tides.

Their families had given them up for dead, but they found a way to survive in what appeared to be one of the most impressive feats of endurance on the high seas.

"We ate raw fish, ducks, sea gulls. We took down any bird that landed on our boat and we ate it like that, raw," Jesus Vidana, one of the three survivors, said in a Mexican radio interview from the ship that rescued them.

The news stunned friends and relatives.

"It's truly a miracle. Everyone is very happy," said Jose Guadalupe Guerra, a town hall official in San Blas.

"Everyone found out from the television. A cousin of one of them fainted from the shock. His grandfather also got very emotional -- they'd written them off as dead," he said.

The odyssey finally ended when Vidana and the other two men, identified as Salvador Ordonez and Lucio Rendon, were rescued a week ago by a Taiwanese tuna fishing trawler in waters between the Marshall Islands and Kiribati.

"They were very skinny and very hungry," Eugene Muller, manager of the fishing firm that found them, said on Wednesday.

Never Gave Up

The three men were sunburned but otherwise in good health. Vidana said they always believed they would be found.

"We never lost hope because we were always seeing boats. They passed us by, but we kept on seeing them. Every week or so, sometimes we'd go a month without seeing one, but we always saw them so we never lost hope," he said.

They were lucky to be picked up in the end because they were fast asleep and only noticed the rescue boat was coming for them when they heard its engine.

Details of the extraordinary journey were sketchy. First reports said they were lost for three months but relatives confirmed Vidana's version that they left nine months ago.

"I lived so sad. ... Now that I know my grandson is alive, I am very happy. I just want him to come home soon," Rendon's grandmother, Francisca Perez, told the Televisa news station.

"There are no words to express it. The emotion here is very strong because we thought they were dead," said Efrain Partida, a fellow fisherman in San Blas, which was once a Spanish port and is known for its bird life, tropical jungle and voracious mosquitoes and sand flies.

Mexico is sending an official to meet the survivors in the Marshall Islands and help bring them home when the trawler that picked them up returns to port in a couple of weeks.

San Blas is home to thousands of fishermen and many have battered old boats without radios or life-saving gear, Guerra said. "The fishermen here are very rudimentary. Most don't comply with navigation rules and the authorities don't demand it either."

Among other recorded cases of people surviving long periods stranded at sea, in 1942 a Chinese sailor named Poon Lim survived four months alone in the South Atlantic after a German U-boat torpedoed the British merchant ship he was working on.

In 1789, British Vice Adm. William Bligh was set adrift after the famous mutiny on "The Bounty," a merchant ship he commanded. He and 18 loyal crew members then made an impressive six-week journey to safety in Timor.

Additional reporting by Paul Tait in Sydney and Catherine Bremer in Mexico City

08/17/06 10:26 ET

08-19-2006, 04:30 PM
Neat story Pete.Really says something about the human spirit.

JD Spydo
08-19-2006, 05:03 PM
There was a show on the Discover Channel. It was actually a series type show called "I Shouldn't Be Alive". One of the Episodes was about a group of young sailors from the USA who ended up shipwrecked and floating aboard a life raft. I think there was about 7 of them all together if my memory serves me well. I think it was 4 women and 3 men. When it came down to them being rescued only 2 of them out of the 7 remained alive. The show really gave me a ton of respect for the guy and the gal who remained alive.

They even had a school of sharks that followed them and their raft and when one guy went in for a swim off of the life raft the sharks ate him right in front of his friends. That show really made me think deep as to how I would handle a situation like that. Being I have been sort of studying survival here in the last 3 years it shows me that mental tenacity may indeed be what saves you more than having adequate supplies.

One girl on the life raft literally lost her will to live. They said she went into sort of a trance where she was speaking and praying in tongues as though she knew that death was imminant. It was really brutal to watch for the 2 remaining survivors. Most of us that have lived well supplied, posh life styles here in the USA have little or no idea of the rigors or true survivalism. Most of us would have a terribly difficult time surviving under that type of duress. I do thank GOD that these men were found on the 9 month drift in the ocean.. It is a great human interest story to be sure.

I wonder what brand of knife they were carrying :rolleyes: Inquiring minds like me want to know :D

08-19-2006, 05:41 PM
I can't find the article now, but I remember reading of a fisherman in the bahamas I think who rowed from his ship across to another to get some cigarettes. halfway there his ship left, not realizing he was gone, and his attempt to row back was futile. he took refuge on a fixed aid to navigation that had a compartment inside of which he spent the days to avoid the heat, coming out to fish at night with a piece of line and a hook he found snagged on the leg of the structure. eventually he was rescued by repairmen who discovered the lock on the buoy was broken. apparently he triggered an alarm when he forced the lock.


08-20-2006, 09:13 AM
That is an amazing story!! WOW, 9 months lost at sea!! Incredible!!