HONOLULU — He spent two months adrift in the Pacific and saw three of his companions die — and the Coast Guard is calling him “fortunate.”
That’s the story of a 29-year-old Colombian mariner who arrived in Honolulu on Wednesday, according to a U.S. Coast Guard press release.
The Coast Guard said the man, whose name was not given, was picked up on April 26 by a Panamanian freighter about 2,150 miles southeast of Hilo, Hawaii.
The man told the crew of the 618-foot-long bulk carrier Nikkei Verde that he and three companions had set out from Colombia’s Pacific coast more than two months earlier in a 23-foot skiff.
When the motor on the small vessel died, the men drifted, catching and eating fish and seagulls to survive, the Coast Guard said the man reported.
He said the other three died at sea and turned over their passports, but their bodies were not on the skiff when it was found by the merchant ship, the Coast Guard said.
A Coast Guard vessel met the Nikkei Verde off Hawaii and took the survivor to Honolulu.
The fact that he was found at all was lucky, said Lt. Cmdr. John MacKinnon of the Coast Guard’s 14th District in Honolulu.
“The Pacific is vast and inherently dangerous,” MacKinnon said. “This mariner had great fortitude and is very fortunate the crew of the Nikkei Verde happened upon him, as the area he was in is not heavily trafficked.”
Speaking through a Coast Guard interpreter, the survivor said he “thanked God that he has life” and lamented the deaths of his companions, saying he “would have loved it if his friends were here with him.”
The Coast Guard said it would not be investigating the man’s story, “as the circumstances fall outside Coast Guard purview,” according to the press release.