Sunday 4 December 2016

'Miracle' sailor found clinging to overturned boat after being missing for two months

Published 03/04/2015 | 20:36

Louis Jordan, second from left, walks from the Coast Guard helicopter to the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, after being found off the North Carolina coast. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Steve Earley)
Louis Jordan, second from left, walks from the Coast Guard helicopter to the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, after being found off the North Carolina coast. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Steve Earley)
Louis Jordan, right, walks from the Coast Guard helicopter. His family says he sailed out of a marina on Jan. 23, and hadn't been heard from since. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Steve Earley)
Louis Jordan, center, walks from the Coast Guard helicopter to hospital. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Steve Earley)

A man found clinging to the overturned hull of his sail boat off the North Carolina coast after being missing for two months has been discharged from hospital in remarkably good condition.

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Louis Jordan, 37, had no signs of sunburn, dehydration or other ailments. He said he got by by rationing his water and energy and praying for help.

"Every day I was like, 'Please God, send me some rain, send me some water,'" Mr Jordan told WAVY-TV .

The crew of a German-flagged container ship found Mr Jordan on his single-masted 35-foot boat on Thursday afternoon.

Neither he nor the Coast Guard said exactly when Mr Jordan's vessel capsized. He managed to catch and eat fish during his ordeal, according to the Coast Guard, and despite reports of a shoulder injury and dehydration, he arrived at a hospital in good condition and refused treatment, a facility spokesman said.

A four-man Coast Guard helicopter crew hoisted Mr Jordan off the German vessel. In interviews at Coast Guard headquarters in Portsmouth, they said they did not see Mr Jordan's boat and did not know any details about his time at sea. By the time they picked him up Mr Jordan had been on the German vessel for a few hours and had been able to take a shower and speak to his family, the guardsmen said.

"He walked over to me as soon as I landed on deck and had a small smile on his face," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Kyle McCollum, who had the first contact with Mr Jordan. "My initial impression of him was he was in pretty good health. ... We were expecting worse with blisters and severe sunburn and dehydration."

"He was in a fairly good condition for a guy that you would normally expect to see after 60-plus days offshore," added Lt. Jack Shadwick, the helicopter's co-pilot.

Mr Jordan said he initially did not believe the container ship was real when he saw it. He said the ship's crew did not see him until he began waving his arms.

"I waved my hands real slowly, and that's the signal 'I'm in distress. Help me,'" he told WAVY. "I blew my whistles. I had three whistles. They never heard them. I turned my American flag upside down and put that up. That says, 'Rescue me.'"

Mr Jordan had been living on his 1950s-era boat at a marina in Conway, South Carolina, near Myrtle Beach, until January, when he told his family he was going into open water to sail and fish, said his mother, Norma Davis. He set out on January 23, Coast Guard officials said, and hadn't been heard from since.

Mrs Davis said: "We expected him to come back and he did not return. We knew something happened. To us it's just a miracle. We're just so thrilled that he was found alive."

Mr Jordan told WAVY that he was travelling north when his boat hit bad weather. He said he saw a wave crash into his window, and the boat eventually filled with water.

He said he rationed his water to about a pint a day, but "for such a long a time I was so thirsty".

Mr Jordan said that at one point he was flying through the air, and he thinks he broke his shoulder.

Mr McCollum, of the Coast Guard helicopter crew, said Jordan had slight bruising on his right clavicle when he was found, but it did not appear serious: "He was moving that arm so fluidly, without any skip and there wasn't any sign of pain in his face as he was moving."

On January 29, the Coast Guard in Miami was notified by his father, Frank Jordan, that he hadn't seen or heard from his son in a week, agency spokeswoman Marilyn Fajardo said.

A search began February. 8, but Ms Fajardo said the Coast Guard abandoned it after 10 days.

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