Extraordinary details are emerging today of how a self-confessed “inexperienced sailor” allegedly survived in the open sea for 66 days by eating raw fish and drinking rainwater after a fishing trip went wrong.
A passing container ship plucked Louis Jordan, 37, from the hull of his overturned sailboat to which he was clinging, some 200 miles off the North Carolina coast, on Thursday afternoon. His boat was wrecked in a storm after just a few days at sea, Jordan said in an interview.
The Coast Guard transported the man to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Virginia, where he walked in for treatment unaided, looking remarkable healthy and well-fed considering the ordeal he had apparently undergone.
According to NBC News, which is planning on airing an interview with Jordan on Friday, he said he survived through a combination of rationing the food he had already packed for the long journey, drinking rainwater, and catching fish with a net.
Officials said he was suffering from dehydration and a broken shoulder.
According to Myrtle Beach Online, Jordan had been living on the boat at the Bucksport Marina near Conway, South Carolina, until January, when he told his family he was “going into the open water to sail and do some fishing,” said his mother, Norma Davis. Jordan sailed out of the marina on Jan. 23, Coast Guard officials said, and had not been heard from him since.
Jordan didn’t file a “float plan,” which alerts officials to his route or destination, said Marilyn Fajardo, a spokeswoman for the Coast Guard’s Seventh District. Fajardo said financial records were searched to see if Jordan actually had sneaked ashore without being noticed, but there was no indication found that he had.
In an interview with the Today show, Jordan, who described himself as an “inexperienced sailor,” said he was headed to the Gulf Stream—“where a lot of fish are” —when disaster struck.
“I was planning on catching some big ones,” he recalled. “On the way there, my boat capsized. I was actually sleeping, that’s when it happened. 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 backwards.”
He said he broke his shoulder in the accident.
The storm broke the mast of the boat, named The Angel, and damaged his communication gear, Jordan said, adding he prayed to God to protect him after encountering bad weather and “huge waves.”
Jordan’s shoulder injury required immediate medical attention, local channel WAVY-TV reported. Hospital spokesman Dale Gauding confirmed that Jordan is in good condition.
Jordan’s father, Frank Jordan, posted the news on Facebook about the rescue of his son on Thursday afternoon.
The recovery started Thursday when the Coast Guard’s Fifth District Command Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, received notification from a German container ship saying they had spotted a man and the sailboat some 200 miles east of Cape Hatteras.
The German ship, the Houston Express, took Jordan aboard.
A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew launched from Air Station Elizabeth City, in North Carolina, at approximately 3:40 p.m.
The helicopter met the Houston Express, hoisted Jordan and flew him to Sentara Norfolk General, arriving around 7:20 p.m.
Jordan and the Angel, were initially reported missing by his family to the Coast Guard on Jan. 29.
The Coast Guard has said it will conduct a full debriefing with Jordan.