Sailor Survives 66 Days at Sea on Fish and Rainwater

Photo courtesy of Steve Earley/The Virginian-Pilot


A South Carolina sailor was rescued on April 2 after a 66 day ordeal being stranded in the Atlantic Ocean when his sailboat capsized from a lost mast in late January. Louis Jordan, a 37-year-old Conway, S.C., resident, was "planning on going out to get some fish and come back," he said in an interview. "I didn't plan on it taking that long."


Jordan told his family he was going fishing in the Gulf Stream because "that's where a lot of fish are," he said. His boat capsized while he was sleeping en route to his destination.


"The whole boat had turned around, and I was flying through the air somersaulting and the ceiling was the floor and the floor was the ceiling and this side was the other side and everything was upside down and backward."

Jordan was unable to call for assistance because his communication equipment was damaged during the accident.

He survived the ordeal by rationing whatever dry food had survived the accident, collecting rain water and catching small fish with a net from on board.

Jordan was found and rescued by the crew of the German cargo ship Houston Express almost 200 miles east of Cape Hatteras, N.C.

"I didn't believe the ship was real when I first saw it," Jordan said. "I waved my hands real slowly, and that's the signal for 'I'm in distress.'"

"My initial impression of him was he was in pretty good health... we were expecting the worst," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Kyle McCollum, who had first contact from the Coast Guard with Jordan. Jordan was flown by helicopter to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Virginia where he reported some shoulder pain but nothing more significant.

Jordan was first reported missing by his family on January 29. The 10 day search began February 8 but was suspended when there were no leads on his whereabouts. There were reports from sailors that they had spotted the boat but those reports could not be confirmed.

Because his communication equipment was ruined, Jordan had no way of letting anyone know his whereabouts, or if he was still even alive. The Coast Guard said that Jordan did not submit a float plan, which would have given them more information on his destination and how long he intended to be at sea. A float plan is not required; however, submitting a plan can drastically narrow the search field in the event that something does go wrong.

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