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13 months at sea… left two helpess sailors drinking their own urine and salvaging food from plastic refuse

José Salvador Alvarenga real story

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13 months at sea… left two helpess sailors drinking their own urine and salvaging food from plastic refuse

13 months at sea… left two helpess sailors drinking their own urine and salvaging food from plastic refuse

Jose Alvarenga was an experienced fisherman, well versed in the ways of the sea after years spent fishing commercially. But even the most experienced fishermen are no match for the strength of a tropical storm.

No, this isn’t Life of Pi but a real story. Talk about having a bad fishing day, José Salvador Alvarenga was found in the Marshall Islands after spending 13 months adrift in a fishing boat in the Pacific Ocean. Alvarenga had been fishing with another stranger, Ezequiel Córdoba when a large storm hit.

It damaged most of their ship’s electronics, leaving them helpless in the sea. Much of the fishing gear was also lost or damaged in the storm, leaving Alvarenga and Córdoba with only a handful of basic supplies and little food. As days became weeks, they learned to scavenge their food from whatever sources presented themselves. Alvarenga managed to catch fish, turtles, jellyfish, and seabirds with his bare hands, and the pair occasionally salvaged bits of food and plastic refuse floating in the water. They collected drinking water from rainfall when possible, but more frequently were forced to drink turtle blood or their own urine.

Jose Alvarenga’s boat, in which he survived for 438 days.

Eventually, Córdoba gave up hope and died of starvation when he refused to eat. Alvarenga, on the other hand, contemplated suicide but refused to because of his strong religious beliefs. He kept his corpse for 6 days before the stench made it unbearable and he had to discard it overboard.

He kept track of time by counting full moons after realising that days were simply too inefficient.

Finally, he found himself at a tiny, desolate islet, which turned out to be a remote corner of the Marshall Islands. On 30 January 2014, he abandoned his boat and swam to shore, where he stumbled upon a beach house owned by a local couple. Alvarenga’s journey had lasted 438 days.

Jose Alvarenga after being rescued.
Jose Alvarenga after being rescued.

Some say faith. I think it’s his browser history that kept him alive. He just had to clear that before he died.

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