Salvador Alvarenga: 5 other survival at sea stories
The remarkable story of Jose Salvador Alvarenga, who claims he survived 13 months adrift at sea in his fishing boat, has some questioning the credibility of his tale.
But there have been other incidents of people stranded for months on the open seas and who have lived to describe their ordeal.
1. Nine months: Lucio Rendon, Salvador Ordonez and Jesus Eduardo Vidana
Three Mexican fishermen and two others had set out on a shark fishing expedition on Oct. 28, 2005, when currents dragged their eight-metre boat out to sea and sent them adrift across the Pacific after they ran out of gas.
They constructed cables and hooks from the boat’s motor and caught and ate raw fish and the occasional seabird. They also drank rainwater. But the boat's owner and another employee would not eat the catch, the fishermen claimed, resulting in their deaths. The three survivors were rescued by a Taiwanese fishing crew. Some media were suspicious of their story.
2. 133 days: Poon Lim
In late November 1942, the British merchant ship SS Benlomond, travelling from Cape Town to Surinam, was sunk by a German U-boat. Lim, a 25-year-old Chinese sailor, was the only survivor of the attack, and managed to escape onto a life-raft. A bag attached to the small raft contained some provisions, including a jug of water, biscuits and flares.
Lim was able to construct a hook to catch fish and he drank the blood of birds and small sharks to quench his thirst. Lim also swam around the raft to keep in shape.
He was finally rescued by three Brazilian fishermen.
3. 118 days: John Glennie, James Nalepka, Rick Hellriegel and Phil Hoffman
The three New Zealanders and one American were aboard the trimaran Rose Noelle in June 1989, on their way to Tonga from South Island, when their vessel was capsized by a giant wave. They lived in a small space inside the upside down wreck and were able to collect rainwater and catch fish using a gaff, according to the New Zealand Herald. The boat eventually washed up on Great Barrier Island. Authorities were initially skeptical about their story, but an inquiry confirmed their tale.
4. 117 days: Maurice and Maralyn Bailey
The English couple had set sail from Southampton in 1973 when their yacht capsized after being struck by a whale off the coast of Guatemala. They piled into a rubber dinghy, taking with them some provisions from their boat. They also lived off rainwater and fish they caught, while also contending with storms and sharks. They were eventually rescued by a Korean fishing boat crew.
5. 76 days: Steven Callahan
Callahan’s 6.5-metre self-made vessel capsized off the Canary Islands in 1982. The American moved into a life-raft, where he would remain for 2½ months, living off collected rainwater and fish he was able to spear. He was rescued by fishermen and wrote about his ordeal in the book Adrift: 76 Days Lost At Sea. Callahan was also a consultant for the film Life of Pi.