A Castaway Who Survived 14 Months At Sea

Samuel Reason | September 17th, 2018

One man defied all the odds and was able to survive lost at sea for over 14 months. This is no story of being washed up on an island and finding coconuts, this man just drifted around the ocean for months on end.


He is called Jose Salvador Alvarenga and was lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for months. Found completely bearded and in rags, only able to speak a local dialect, he used hand signals to tell his tale of survival in the great blue ocean.

Floating in the ocean currents after departing from Tapachula, Mexico in late 2012 he eventually landed in the Marshall Islands in 2014. The Marshall Islands are located between Hawaii and Australia, to think he had originally just set off on a daylong fishing excursion. In a small 23 foot boat with a teenager, fierce winds took them out to sea and caused their engine to die – which meant they could only follow the currents and waves.

With no tools or emergency food rations, Alvarenga advised they ate anything they could get their hands on – fish or birds, even turtles they grabbed with their bare hands. But his colleague could not stomach the catch and died after a couple of months. He would drink rainwater and just hold his nose when eating raw meat.

Some doubt his story though, as most survivors from sea always appear malnourished but Alvarenga was quite well fed. And even more mysteriously the fishing gear that he used to survive was never located. But if what he says is true then it is undoubtedly one of the best survival stories of modern times. Marshall Island officials said though his story was a little improbably it was not actually impossible.

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