MIAMI, Apr 3 – A US man missing at sea for more than two months was celebrating a miraculous rescue after being picked up by a passing ship and airlifted to land, the US Coast Guard said.
Louis Jordan, 37, who was reported missing on January 29, told family members he survived by catching fish with his hands and drinking rain water, according to the Coast Guard.
He was spotted drifting on his stricken sailboat — a 35 foot vessel called Angel — approximately 200 miles (322 kilometers) off the coast of North Carolina by the German-registered Houston Express tanker and taken aboard.
A US Coast Guard helicopter then hoisted him to safety back to a hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, a statement said.
Frank Jordan, the sailor’s father, told CNN he did not know what had caused his son’s boat to break down.
In an audio clip released by the Coast Guard, the father asks the son how he is feeling.
“I’m doing fine now,” Louis Jordan says.
– ‘Thought I lost you’ –
The son said he was not able to fix the boat and sail it back to South Carolina, from where he departed in January.
He said he worried every day that his parents were crying and believed he was dead.
“We were. I thought I lost you,” the father says.
US media reports said the boat had capsized and Louis Jordan was found sitting on the upturned hull when he was plucked to safety.
Frank Jordan said his son was in good spirits during a brief conversation with him following his rescue. He told CNN he had not given up hope Louis would be found alive despite his inexperience as a sailor.
“I knew he had a good seaworthy boat,” Frank Jordan said. “I felt the boat was going to keep him alive, so I had all sorts of worries because he’s not an experienced sailor.”
Louis had left the relative safety of the marina where the boat was moored to “go out and catch some fish”.
How his son ended up so far off course was unknown, Jordan said.
“I called him at one point a few days after he left land… and he was a few miles offshore. As far as how he got off track, I don’t know,” he said.
He said his son’s “strong constitution” and religious belief had kept him alive.
“He told me on the phone that he was praying the whole time, so I believe that sustained him a great deal,” he said.
In an audio recording broadcast on US media, the father thanked the skipper of the German vessel effusively for saving his son.
The captain was not named.
“You are a good man, I swear. You did what you’re supposed to do and I sure do appreciate it and I know my son appreciates it,” Jordan senior said.
“It is a pleasure for us,” the skipper responded.
“This is a beautiful world. If everybody would just do the right thing it would be great for all of us. I sure appreciate it, sir,” Frank Jordan said.
The ordeal was certainly severe but probably less tough than the 13 months that Jose Salvador Alvarenga, a native of El Salvador who set out from Mexico on a fishing trip, endured until he was rescued more than 6,000 miles away near the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific in January last year.