Travel | Story

A Fisherman Who Survived 14 Months In A Tiny Fishing Boat In The Pacific Ocean

Mayukh Bari25 August 2020 7:20PM IST
3 min read389

This is the story of José Salvador Alvarenga. The Salvadoran fisherman was found on 30 January 2014, on the Marshall Islands after spending 14 months in a fishing boat in the Pacific Ocean.

Alvarenga was a fisherman from Mexico. His daily job was to start fishing in morning and then sell it in the market. On 17 november 2012 he went fishing with another friend in the Pacific waters. The boat was approximately 7 meters long without roof or a room. It had a icebox where they kept fishes after fishing and the boat was working on a small motor.

Everything was fine but suddenly the winds start blowing. But they did not stop fishing. At that time they were 120km from the seashore. After a while they saw a typhoon in distance. They decided to return to land, but they could not start the motor. Alvarenga contacted their boss by radio and just after that it also stopped working. The boat started to move towards the direction of the sea. The boss sent a team for the rescue. After searching for 4 days they gave up.

After 5 days they were almost 450 kilometers away from the land. The boat was very small so it was almost impossible to spot them in aerial view. They started eating fishes, tortoise and other animals from the sea. Whenever they fpund a bottle, they kept it. During rainfall they fill the bottles with rain water but when there is no rain they drink the tortoise blood or their own urine.

After 4 months Alvarenga's friend stopped eating or drinking and finally died. But Alvarenga was determined to survive at any cost. Another 4 months passed. 8 months in the sea he saw a cargo ship. Alvarenga tried to get their attention. But they could not hear calls and screams and left without any response.

In 11 months Alvarenga travelled nearly 11000 kilometers. Finally on 30th January 2014 he found an island with houses and humans after 438 days. He swam to shore at Tile Islet, a small island that is part of Ebon Atoll, on January 30. Two locals, Emi Libokmeto and Russel Laikidrik, found him naked, clutching a knife and shouting in Spanish. He was treated in a hospital in Majuro before flying to his family home in El Salvador on February 10.

Alvarenga's story was heavily reported worldwide despite initial criticism from skeptics. He is the first person in recorded history to have survived in a small boat lost at sea for more than a year. In 2015, he gave a series of interviews about his ordeal to the journalist Jonathan Franklin, who published his story as the book "438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea"